Transcendental Meditation Lessens Brain's Pain Response

Long-term practitioners had lowered activity in neurological pain centers, study found

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WEDNESDAY, Aug. 9, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Transcendental meditation may reduce the brain's reaction to pain, say researchers at the University of California, Irvine.

They used neuroimaging to monitor the brains of 12 healthy people who'd been practicing transcendental meditation for 30 years.

These individuals had a 40 percent to 50 percent lower brain response to pain than 12 people in a control group who did not practice transcendental meditation.

However, after the volunteers in the control group had learned and practiced transcendental meditation for five months, their brains' responses to pain also decreased by 40 percent to 50 percent, the study said.

The findings were published in the current issue of the journal NeuroReport.

Transcendental meditation may produce a physiological state that's capable of modifying various kinds of pain, the researchers suggested.

"Prior research indicates that transcendental meditation creates a more balanced outlook on life and greater equanimity in reacting to stress. This study suggests that this is not just an attitudinal change, but a fundamental change in how the brain functions," study lead author David Orme-Johnson, a meditation researcher, said in a prepared statement.

The study was supported by a grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

More information

The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has more about meditation for health.

SOURCE: Lippincot Williams & Wilkins, news release, Aug. 9, 2006

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