Meditation Helps Teens Lower Blood Pressure
Daily Transcendental Meditation Eases Tension, Lowers Blood Pressure
April 2, 2004 -- Getting a teenager to sit still and meditate
for 15 minutes twice a day may be a challenge in itself, but a new study shows
the health rewards may be worth the effort.
Researchers found African-American adolescents at risk for
hypertension in adulthood were able to lower their blood pressure through daily
The study showed that adolescents with high-normal systolic
blood pressure who practiced meditation for four months lowered both their
systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) by an
average of 3.5 points and their diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by
an average of 3.4 points.
"Even if your blood pressure comes down a few millimeters
when you are young, if you can maintain that into adulthood, you can
significantly reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease," says researcher
Vernon Barnes, PhD, a physiologist at the Medical College of Georgia, in a news
Researchers say African Americans suffer disproportionately
from high blood pressure compared with whites and developing blood
pressure-lowering interventions that target young African Americans could
provide lasting health benefits.
Meditation Lowers Blood Pressure
In the study, published in the April issue of the American
Journal of Hypertension, researchers randomly divided 156 inner-city high
school students with systolic blood pressure readings in the highest percentile
into two groups. One group was instructed in transcendental mediation and
meditated for 15 minutes twice a day, every day, for four months. The others
acted as a comparison group and participated in health education classes.
Both groups wore 24-hour blood pressure monitoring devices that
measured their blood pressure levels every 20 minutes during the day and every
30 minutes at night.
Researchers found that the transcendental mediation group
steadily lowered their daytime blood pressure during the study period and that
their blood pressures tended to stay lower four months after the study ended.
The students in the health education group experienced no significant changes
in blood pressure.
In addition, the study showed that heart rates among those in
the meditation group also dropped.
Although the mechanisms behind how meditation works to lower
blood pressure aren't completely understood, researchers say the practice has
well-known stress-relieving benefits.
"Allowing your mind to go to that state of inner quietness
and be there for a time has an effect on the physiology by reducing stress
hormone levels like cortisol and reducing activation of the sympathetic nervous
system which controls the fight-or-flight response," says Barnes. "In a
short time, we can teach this standardized meditation method that has been
taught all over the world for 50 years. That technique can then be used
throughout a lifetime without side effects or additional expense."