Transcendental meditation for lowering blood pressure: An overview of systematic reviews and meta-analyses

Authors
Soo Liang Ooi, Melisa Giovino, Sok Cheon Pak
Publication
Complementary Therapies in Medicine
34: October 2017 26-34
Abstract

Background

Transcendental meditation (TM) is a stress reduction technique that can potentially lower blood pressure (BP) safely. The American Heart Association recommends that TM may be considered in clinical practice.

Objective

To provide an overview of all systematic reviews and meta-analyses of TM on BP for evidence-informed clinical decision making.

Method

Systematic searches of PubMed, EBSCOhost, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, Embase, and PsycINFO for all systematic reviews and/or meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with TM as an intervention, and outcome measures include systolic BP (SBP) and diastolic BP (DBP). Qualitative and quantitative data were synthesized. The methodological quality of the selected reviews was assessed using the AMSTAR checklist.

Results

Eight systematic reviews and meta-analyses are included. Among them is an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality report, a Cochrane systematic review, 4 independent reviews, and 2 reviews from a TM related institution. The quality of most of the included reviews is fair with a mean score of 5.75/11 on the AMSTAR scale. Overall, there exists a clear trend of increasing evidence over the years supporting the efficacy of TM in lowering BP. However, some conflicting findings remain across reviews and potential risk of bias exists in many of the RCTs included in these reviews.

Conclusion

Practising TM may potentially reduce the SBP by ∼4 mm Hg and DBP by ∼2 mm Hg. Such effect is comparable with other lifestyle interventions such as weight-loss diet and exercise. Further evidence from long-term well-designed RCTs conducted by independent researchers is needed.

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