Decreased blood pressure in borderline hypertensive subjects who practiced meditation

Authors
Herbert Benson, Bernard A Rosner, Barbara R Marzetta, Helen P Klemchuck
Publication
Journal of Chronic Diseases
27(3):163-9
Abstract

A prospective investigation was designed to test whether the altered behavior of the regular practice of a relaxation, meditational technique might lower blood pressure in 22 borderline hypertensive subjects. The investigation was unbiased with regard to the presence of antihypertensive agents; subject familiarity with blood pressure measurement or with the observer; observer error; and the effects of blood pressure variability. During the control period, blood pressures averaged 146.5 mm Hg systolic and 94.6 diastolic. During the experimental period, they decreased to 139.5 mm Hg systolic (p < 0.001) and 90.8 mm Hg diastolic (0.001 < p < 0.002). The results of this relaxation, meditational technique are consistent with a hypothesized integrated hypothalamic response associated with decreased sympathetic nervous system activity. It is possible that the decreased blood pressures are unrelated to the proposed mechanism of decreased sympathetic nervous system activity and represent, instead, a placebo effect. Regardless of mechanism, the described relaxation, meditational technique is an effective method of lowering borderline hypertensive blood pressures. The relaxation technique is learned easily and inexpensively, practiced at no cost, and has no pharmacologic side effects.

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