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State of complementary and alternative medicine in cardiovascular, lung, and blood research

15 Aug
A special report published in Circulation by the American Heart Association, The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine examines the impact of mind-body techniques, and, because it is seen as the most widely researched method, Transcendental Medititation on Heart Disease.

The report states that the first major study to show that TM could reduce blood pressure was conducted by Robert Schneider with a population of hypertensive African Americans. In addition, this study showed that the technique had high cultural acceptability and compliance in a high-risk minority population.

The report references follow-up randomized trials and other controlled studies which continued to report reductions in other cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as smoking, alcohol abuse, psychosocial stress, and oxidized lipids. In addition, more recent studies have demonstrated reductions in myocardial ischemia and reduced hardening of the arteries (carotid atherosclerosis) in subjects randomized to a TM program compared with controls.

Consistently, clinical outcome studies report reduced rates of cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality in TM practitioners compared with controls. The cost-effectiveness of the TM program in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease is also emphasized.

Vernon Barnes further showed that a decrease in vasoconstrictive tone during TM may be the hemodynamic mechanism responsible for reducing blood pressure. Changes of the levels of stress-related neuromodulators, such as cortisol, catecholamines, and serotonin, have also been found to occur during or after TM practice.

Citation: Michael C. Lin, PhD, Richard Nahin, PhD, M. Eric Gershwin, MD, John C. Longhurst, MD, PhD, Kenneth K. Wu, MD, PhD. State of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Cardiovascular, Lung, and Blood Research: Executive Summary of a Workshop. Circulation. 2001;103:2038.
Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award