ArticlePDF Available

Effects of the Transcendental Meditation program on adaptive mechanisms: changes in hormone levels and responses to stress after 4 months of practice

Authors:

Abstract

Stress has been implicated in both somatic and mental disorders. The mechanisms by which stress leads to poor health are largely unknown. However, studies in animals suggest that chronic stress causes high basal cortisol and low cortisol response to acute stressors and that such changes may contribute to disease. Previous studies of the Transcendental Mediation® (TM) technique as a possible means of countering effects of stress have reported altered levels of several hormones both during the practice and longitudinally after regular practice of this technique. In this prospective, random assignment study, changes in baseline levels and acute responses to laboratory stressors were examined for four hormones—cortisol, growth hormone, thyroid-stimulating hormone and testosterone—before and after 4 months of either the TM technique or a stress education control condition. At pre- and post-test, blood was withdrawn continuously through an indwelling catheter, and plasma or serum samples were frozen for later analysis by radioimmunoassay. The results showed significantly different changes for the two groups, or trends toward significance, for each hormone over the 4 months. In the TM group, but not in the controls, basal cortisol level and average cortisol across the stress session decreased from pre- to post-test. Cortisol responsiveness to stressors, however, increased in the TM group compared to controls. The baselines and/or stress responsiveness for TSH and GH changed in opposite directions for the groups, as did the testosterone baseline. Overall, the cortisol and testosterone results appear to support previous data suggesting that repeated practice of the TM technique reverses effects of chronic stress significant for health. The observed group difference in the change of GH regulation may derive from the cortisol differences, while the TSH results are not related easily to earlier findings on the effects of chronic stress.
A preview of the PDF is not available
... Up until 2012, more than 600 studies about TM were conducted [8]. Investigations conducted with regard to the potential effects of TM on the cardiovascular system found that it can reduce hypertension [9][10][11][12][13][14], increase heart performance and delay the onset of myocardial ischemia [15][16][17][18], reduce vascular arteriosclerosis [19], lower plasma levels of stress hormones [15,[20][21][22][23], support the cession of substance abuse [24,25], and finally reduce overall morbidity and mortality [26][27][28][29]. ...
... Similar to the Bokhari et al. study, the mean duration of the studies mentioned in the introduction was 5.6 months (considering all cited studies that are related to cardiovascular parameters and that are not older than 1987 [9,13,[16][17][18][19][21][22][23]). These results indicate that possible positive effects of practicing TM may unfold in the longer term. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Cardiovascular diseases are the world's number one cause of death, with exceeding psychosocial stress load being considered a major risk factor. A stress management technique that has repeatedly shown positive effects on the cardiovascular system is the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique. The present pilot study aimed to investigate the potential effect of TM on the recovery of cardiac patients. Objectives: We hypothesized that practicing TM in patients undergoing a 4-week cardiac rehabilitation program augments the recovery of cardiovascular parameters and reduces skeletal muscle tone after rehabilitation. Methods: Twenty cardiac patients were recruited and randomly assigned to either the control or the TM group. Cardiovascular parameters were assessed with the Task Force Monitor (TFM) and skeletal muscle contractile properties by Tensiomyography during a sit-stand test, performed at the beginning and end of a 4-week in-patient rehabilitation program. Results: Systolic blood pressure (SBP) was significantly lower after 4 weeks of cardiac rehabilitation, while the RR-interval (RRI) significantly increased. At the skeletal muscle level, the contraction time and maximal displacement increased, though only in the gastrocnemius medialis and biceps femoris muscles and not in vastus lateralis. Group interactions were not observed for hemodynamic parameters nor for muscle contractile properties. Discussion: Although significant improvements in hemodynamic and muscular parameters were observed after 4 weeks of rehabilitation, we could not provide evidence that TM improved rehabilitation after 4 weeks. TM may unfold its effects on the cardiovascular system in the longer term. Hence, future studies should comprise a long-term follow-up.
... En el grupo control no se observaron cambios significativos en el cortisol, pero hubo incremento en las concentraciones de TSH, del 6,5%; una disminución significativa de la GH, del 63,5%, y una reducción de la testosterona, del 12,4%. Los investigadores concluyeron que los cambios reportados en los pacientes del grupo de meditación son consistentes con los cambios descritos en estudios anteriores: la disminución del cortisol es consistente con una reversión de los efectos de estrés crónico; la disminución de las cantidades de TSH ha sido previamente reportada en meditadores a largo plazo y se ha evidenciado un descenso agudo en sesiones de práctica individuales, y el aumento en la testosterona es consistente con resultados de estudios hechos en monos babuinos (62). ...
... Existe evidencia de que las terapias basadas en mindfulness inducen cambios biológicos positivos en los sistemas nervioso, cardiovascular, inmunológico y hormonal, lo cual explica el auge de este tipo de aproximaciones como terapias complementarias en el manejo de patologías relacionadas con los sistemas mencionados (29, [31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42][43][44][45][46][48][49][50][51][52][54][55][56][57][58][59][60][61][62][63][64][65][66]69,70). ...
Article
Full-text available
El mindfulness, una de las terapias denominadas mente-cuerpo, se define como la capacidad de trasladar la atención al momento presente. Dicha terapia fue formalizada por el Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn en 1982 para su aplicación en la práctica clínica y se ha implementado en el manejo de diversas patologías. El objetivo de este artículo es sintetizar los principales mecanismos biológicos a través–– de los cuales el mindfulness actúa, para así comprender sus beneficios en la salud física y mental. Se incluyeron 38 artículos (catorce experimentos clínicos, veintidós revisiones sistemáticas y metanálisis y dos guías de práctica clínica) que identifican los mecanismos neuronales, cardiovasculares, inmunológicos y hormonales del mindfulness. Entre los hallazgos principales se encuentran cambios cerebrales asociados con el procesamiento de información nociceptiva, reducción en cifras de presión arterial, mejoría en la perfusión miocárdica, regulación autonómica cardiovascular, disminución de las citocinas proinflamatorias y disminución del cortisol. Estos mecanismos se correlacionan con los hallazgos de la literatura, según los cuales se han reportado beneficios en el tratamiento de trastornos del afecto, condiciones que producen dolor crónico, entidades asociadas con estados inflamatorios y enfermedades cardiovasculares como la hipertensión arterial. Se considera una alternativa terapéutica segura, dada la baja frecuencia de efectos adversos reportados.
... B.P., pulse rate and serum cortisol values were studied before yoga and after six month of yoga and also studied the effect of cold pressor test before and after yoga., Statistically highly significant (p<0.000) decreased all parameters & all became hypo-reactors due to decrease sympathetic activity & increase parasympathetic activity of A.N.S. due to increase [17,18,19,20,21], in vagal tone . were statistically highly significant. ...
Article
Stress is described as a state of anxiety, strain, nervousness, tension, constant worry or pressure, to produce hypertension and other cardiovascular disorders and can greatly enhanced secretion of cortisol due to increased activity in the limbic system, especially in the region of the amygdala and hippocampus,The aims of this study was to investigate whether regular practice of yoga for sixty minutes twice a day for six months can improve the cardiovascular status and decrease serum cortisol in hyper-reactors to cold pressor test in young healthy medical students. SummaryThe regular practice of yoga for six months acts as stress buster, to reduce the hyerrectivity to cold pressor test by inducing parasympathetic predominance and cortico- hypothalamo-medullary inhibition.
... Melatonin is known to synergistically influence DHEA and enhances the inhibitory effect of GABA to improve sleep 91 . There is evidence to demonstrate the increased production of GABA in the brain with meditation practice [92][93][94][95][96] . With this background, we speculate that meditation-induced effects like higher levels of DHEA, melatonin and enhanced inhibitory effect of GABA could cumulatively have facilitated the slow-wave generation thereby enhancing N3 sleep stage. ...
Article
Objectives: Meditation practices positively influence the neural, hormonal and autonomic systems. We have demonstrated that long-term practice of mindfulness meditation increases N3 and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep stages and bring efficient autonomic modulation during sleep. In the present study, the probable humoral correlation that could bring about these changes is evaluated. Material and Methods: Long-term Vipassana meditators (n=41) and controls (n=24) (males, 30-60 years of age) underwent a two-day consecutive whole night polysomnography recording. During the second day, with exposure to 100Lux brightness, blood was sampled from the antecubital vein between 8-9 PM and in subsequent early morning. Sleep stage was scored as per American Society of Sleep Medicine (ASSM) guidelines for the second-day recording. Sleep-related hormones were estimated - melatonin by radioimmunoassay; dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), cortisol, growth hormone (GH) and prolactin with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA); DHEA/cortisol ratio was calculated. Percentage of sleep stages and hormonal levels were compared between both groups using independent ‘t’ test and Pearson’s correlation was estimated between sleep stages and hormonal levels. Results: Meditators showed increased N3, REM sleep stages. Though evening cortisol was comparable between the two groups; early morning cortisol, diurnal DHEA and melatonin were significantly higher in meditators. Diurnal DHEA correlated significantly with the N3 sleep stage in meditators. Discussion: Higher diurnal DHEA despite variations in corresponding cortisol in meditators demonstrates that long-term Vipassana meditation practice modulates the hypothalamicpituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and thereby influences sleep. Thus, the study provides evidence to explore the mechanism most likely involved with mindfulness meditation intervention in insomnia.
Article
Introduction: Burnout is pervasive among physicians and has widespread implications for individuals and institutions. This research study examines, for the first time, the effects of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique on academic physician burnout and depression. Methods: A mixed methods randomized controlled trial was conducted with 40 academic physicians representing 15 specialties at a medical school and affiliated VA hospital using the TM technique as the active intervention. Physicians were measured at baseline, 1 month, and 4 months using the Maslach Burnout Inventory, Beck Depression Inventory, Insomnia Severity Index, Perceived Stress Scale, and Brief Resilience Scale. Repeated measures analysis of covariance was used to assess adjusted mean change scores for the 1- and 4-months posttests. Qualitative interviews were conducted at baseline and 4 months and compared with the quantitative measurements. Results: Significant improvements were found for the TM group compared with controls at 4 months in total burnout (p = .020) including the Maslach Burnout Inventory dimensions of emotional exhaustion (p = .042) and personal accomplishment (p = .018) and depression (p = .016). Qualitative interviews supported quantitative outcomes. Physicians reported classic burnout and depression symptoms in baseline interviews. Those regularly practicing the TM technique reported relief from those symptoms. The control group did not state similar changes. Discussion: Mixed methods findings suggest the TM technique is a viable and effective intervention to decrease burnout and depression for academic physicians. Larger longitudinal studies with a wider range of health care providers are needed to validate these findings for extrapolation to the greater medical community.
Book
Full-text available
In ‘The Great Discourse on the Establishing of Mindfulness’, the Buddha mentioned “There is this one way for the purification of beings, for overcoming sorrow and lamentation, for extinguishing of stress and suffering, for attaining to higher knowledge, and for the realisation of liberation” (Digha Nikaya 22). This ‘one way’ is the application of mindfulness meditation on body, feelings, mind, and phenomena. Such wisdom words of an enlightened teacher uttered more than 2,500 years ago are timeless truths which modern science has just begun to uncover. For four decades since Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School to introduce the structured practice of mindfulness, the interest in mindfulness and other forms of meditation has grown exponentially. Meditation is no longer merely a spiritual quest practised at secluded religious centres but a mainstream mind-body therapy for health and wellbeing. Meditation classes are everywhere: hospitals, mental health clinics, nursing homes, the military, correctional centres, sports centres, universities, schools, and even in nurseries. Research has played a pivotal role to usher in this newfound interest in meditation. There is growing evidence supporting the health benefits of meditation in reducing stress, managing pain, enhancing cognition, improving resilience, cultivating positive emotions, and much more. However, cumulative knowledge on the study of meditation from various research disciplines including neuroscience, psychophysiology, cognitive science, mental health and public health represent only the tip of the iceberg. There is still much to discover from these ancient mind and body practices. This book is a compilation of recent research in the field of meditation. It provides a snapshot of exciting findings and developments such as the launch of a large-scale UK study to operationalise mindfulness in the mental health system, the possibility that Zen meditation can slow down cardiopulmonary ageing, a theoretical framework for describing meditation interventions in health research, the potential for meditation to address health inequality, the use of mindful self-compassion to enhance the wellbeing of adult learners, and the case study of a clinical psychologist and meditation teacher sharing her first-hand experience of living with spondylolisthesis in relative peace through applying mindfulness strategies. The included articles further contribute to our understanding of the role of meditation in health, defined by the World Health Organization as “not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, but a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing”. It is an honour to be academic editors for this Special Issue and a great pleasure to review many insightful manuscripts first-hand. We wish to thank the publisher for this excellent opportunity to serve the research community. We are also grateful for the hard work and support provided by the editorial office to make this project a success. To all the authors, thank you for your contributions. To the readers, thank you for your interest. A plethora of quality works from the latest meditation research await in the following pages. May you gain many useful insights!
Article
Stress, anxiety and depression are known to be significant factors in the onset and progression of a wide spectrum of illness ranging from cardiovascular diseases, asthma, cancer, HIV-infection & affect multiple systems of body. 'Almost any type of stress can greatly enhanced secretion of cortisol and adrenaline by stimulating the ACTH secretion and may be due to increased activity in the limbic system,especially in the region of the amygdala and hippocampus,The aim of this study was to investigate whether regular practice of yoga for sixty minutes twice a day for six months can improve the cardiovascular status and decrease serum cortisol and plasma adrenaline level in hyper-reactors to cold pressor test in young healthy medical students. Summary- The regular practice of yoga for six months acts as stress buster,to reduce the hyerrectivity to cold pressor test by inducing parasympathetic predominance and cortico- hypothalamo-medullary inhibition.
Article
This paper will highlight role of Vishuddha Chakra on the management of thyroid disorders. The asanas, mudras and pranayama for activation of vishuddha chakra have significant value in management of thyroid disorder like hyperthyroid (thyrotoxicosis) and hypothyroidism. The vishuddha chakra or throat chakra is located in the throat region. While doing yoga study I realize that long before medical science knew the existence of thyroid gland our great yogis came up with practice which not only keeps gland and body healthy but also helps to understand higher awareness.The asanas, pranayama and mudra for activation of chakras can help in various disease management. The sole aim of this research is how vishuddha chakra thyroid gland are connected, could activation of vishuddha can help in management of thyroid disorders and role of vishuddha chakra in management of thyroid disorders like hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Chapter
Over three decades of research on the role of meditation in hypertension have shown beneficial effects. The authors glue together the effects of different forms of meditation on hypertension from the earliest to the latest.KeywordsMeditationCardiovascular diseaseRisk factorsPsychological stressStress reductionMBSRTMYoga
Chapter
Cardiac arrhythmia is a common medical condition. It significantly affects the patient’s wellbeing and daily living. Cardiac arrhythmia is characterized by autonomic dysfunction. the mental health factors such as anxiety, depression, and stress are also the risk factors of cardiac arrhythmia. Yoga is one of the mind-body practices that have a positive impact on cardiac health. Yoga helps to alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression. It also helps to correct autonomic dysfunction. The scientific evidence suggests the beneficial effects of yoga in cardiac arrhythmia.
Article
Aging is a multifactorial process that results in heterogeneous patterns of progressive morbidity and disability (1–3). This complex process is influenced by multiple internal homeostatic mechanisms which are, in turn, influenced by the external stimuli or stressors. One of the best characterized homeostatic response systems is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis which coordinates multiple neuroendocrine and metabolic response to stressors. Interest in possible age-related changes in homeostatic regulation, and in HPA functioning in particular, has been stimulated by the fact that men and women who are 65 and over represent one of the fastest growing segments of the population (4). Estimates for the United States alone project that by the year 2000 there will be more than 35 million people aged 65 and over and more than 51 million by the year 2020 (5). The needs of this population in terms of healthcare resources have focused attention on identifying the factors that influence their patterns of disease and disability.
Article
The synthesis and release of GnRH within a specific subset of neurons in the hypothalamus, which serves as the primary drive to the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, is subject to various levels of control. Although a number of direct synaptic connections to GnRH-containing neurons have been identified, which presumably provide some regulatory inputs, the mechanisms responsible for hormonal regulation of GnRH synthesis and release mediated by either cell surface or intracellular receptors remain controversial. The recent demonstration that a subset of GnRH-containing neurons in the rat hypothalamus possesses immunoreactive glucocorticoid receptors (GR) implies that this class of steroid hormones could exert a direct effect to regulate the functioning of these neurons and perhaps the HPG axis. We used the GT1-3 and GT1-7 cell lines of immortalized GnRH-secreting hypothalamic neurons as a model to study the direct effects of glucocorticoids on GnRH gene expression. We demonstrated that these cell lines possess GR that bind the synthetic glucocorticoid, dexamethasone, in vitro with high affinity (Kd = 2-3 nM). These receptors are functional, as indicated by their ability to activate transcription from exogenously introduced heterologous glucocorticoid-responsive promoters. Furthermore, dexamethasone represses both the endogenous mouse GnRH gene, decreasing steady state levels of GnRH mRNA, and the transcriptional activity of transfected rat GnRH promoter-reporter gene vectors. Glucocorticoid repression of rat GnRH promoter activity appears to be mediated by sequences contained within the promoter proximal 459 basepairs and not be influenced by the relative basal activity of the GnRH promoter. Thus, our results provide the first direct demonstration of glucocorticoid repression of transcription in a hypothalamic cell line and suggest that GR acting directly within GnRH neurons could be at least partly responsible for negative regulation of the HPG axis by glucocorticoids.
Article
Chronic stress causing elevated morning (AM) corticosterone (B) concentrations of 2-8 micrograms B/dl does not appear to inhibit subsequent activity in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a surprising finding in view of the known depression in AM basal ACTH by only 3 micrograms B/dl in adrenalectomized rats. To distinguish between the possibilities that either intact rats are less sensitive to B feedback than adrenalectomized rats, or that chronic stress facilitates responses in the HPA axis, we elevated basal B levels in young male rats with slow-release B pellets in the absence of stress. Between 4-6 days after implantation of B pellets at three doses that elevated basal AM (diurnal trough) plasma B to approximately 1.2, 4, and 10 micrograms/dl, we studied basal ACTH and B at trough (AM) and peak evening (PM) times of the diurnal cycle, as well as the responses to the stress of restraint and blood collection from the tail at each time of day. We also determined mean daily plasma B, insulin, a...
Article
Although a number of previous studies have suggested that glucocorticoids influence somatostatin (SS) function at the peptide level in some tissues and SS mRNA levels in thyroid tumor cells, there has been no systematic investigation of the effects of glucocorticoids on SS gene expression in normal tissues. In the present study, we have examined the effect of dexamethasone (DEX) on SS secretion and gene expression in rat tissues using as models DEX-treated rats in vivo, primary cultures of rat islet and cerebrocortical cells, and a SS-producing rat islet tumor cell line (1027B2). In vivo DEX administration (0.5 mg/kg) for 3 or 8 days augmented SS-mRNA 2- to 3-fold in peripheral tissues (stomach, pancreas, and jejunum), but reduced it by 50-60% in brain. The DEX effect was time dependent, being more pronounced after 8 days than after 3 days of treatment. In all tissues, SS mRNA levels returned to control values 2 weeks after cessation of DEX. Changes in tissue content of immunoreactive SS paralleled those ...
Over the past 5 yr, we have examined some of the sharpest edges of the pathology of aging. We have studied the capacity of aged organisms to respond appropriately to stress and the capacity of stress to cumulatively damage aging tissue. The idea of a relationship between stress and aging has permeated the gerontology literature in two forms. First, senescence has been thought of as a time of decreased adaptiveness to stress. This idea has been supported frequently, as many aged physiological systems function normally under basal conditions, yet do not adequately respond to a challenge. For example, aged and young humans have similar basal body temperatures, but the former are relatively impaired in thermoregulatory capacities when heat- or cold-challenged. A second theme in gerontology concerning stress is that chronic stress can accelerate the aging process. Selye and Tuchweber for example, postulated a finite "adaptational energy" in an organism, with prolonged stress prematurely depleting such reserves, thus accelerating the onset of senescence. This idea was derivative of earlier idea that the "rate of living" could be a pacemaker of aging. Experimentally, varied approaches have supported the notion that at least some biomarkers of age can be accelerated by stress. The above hypotheses led us to examine the adrenocortical axis, the endocrine axis which is among the most central to the stress response. Our findings support both of these concepts. We find that the aged male rat is impaired in terminating the secretion of adrenocortical stress hormones, glucocorticoids, at the end of stress. This hormonal excess may be due to degenerative changes in a region of the brain which normally inhibits glucocorticoid release; the degeneration, in turn, is caused by cumulative exposure to glucocorticoids. Together, these effects form a feed-forward cascade with potentially serious pathophysiological consequences in the aged subject. Reproduced by permission. Robert M. Sapolsky, Lewis C. Krey, Bruce S. McEwen, The Neuroendocrinology of Stress and Aging: The Glucocorticoid Cascade Hypothesis. Endocr. Rev. 7 , 284-301 (1986).
Article
Objective: This article presents a new formulation of the relationship between stress and the processes leading to disease. It emphasizes the hidden cost of chronic stress to the body over long time periods, which act as a predisposing factor for the effects of acute, stressful life events. It also presents a model showing how individual differences in the susceptibility to stress are tied to individual behavioral responses to environmental challenges that are coupled to physiologic and pathophysiologic responses.Data Sources: Published original articles from human and animal studies and selected reviews. Literature was surveyed using MEDLINE.Data Extraction: Independent extraction and cross-referencing by us.Data Synthesis: Stress is frequently seen as a significant contributor to disease, and clinical evidence is mounting for specific effects of stress on immune and cardiovascular systems. Yet, until recently, aspects of stress that precipitate disease have been obscure. The concept of homeostasis has failed to help us understand the hidden toll of chronic stress on the body. Rather than maintaining constancy, the physiologic systems within the body fluctuate to meet demands from external forces, a state termed allostasis. In this article, we extend the concept of allostasis over the dimension of time and we define allostatic load as the cost of chronic exposure to fluctuating or heightened neural or neuroendocrine response resulting from repeated or chronic environmental challenge that an individual reacts to as being particularly stressful.Conclusions: This new formulation emphasizes the cascading relationships, beginning early in life, between environmental factors and genetic predispositions that lead to large individual differences in susceptibility to stress and, in some cases, to disease. There are now empirical studies based on this formulation, as well as new insights into mechanisms involving specific changes in neural, neuroendocrine, and immune systems. The practical implications of this formulation for clinical practice and further research are discussed.(Arch Intern Med. 1993;153:2093-2101)