Meditation study suggests no physical health benefit

A recent meditation study suggests no physical health benefit. Reported on in Forbes, the study offers:
no evidence that meditation eases health problems, according to an exhaustive review of the accumulated data by Canadian researchers.

"There is an enormous amount of interest in using meditation as a form of therapy to cope with a variety of modern-day health problems, especially hypertension, stress and chronic pain, but the majority of evidence that seems to support this notion is anecdotal, or it comes from poor quality studies," concluded researchers Maria Ospina and Kenneth Bond of the University of Alberta/Capital Health Evidence-based Practice Centre, in Edmonton.

They analyzed 813 studies focused on the impact of meditation on various conditions, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and substance abuse.

Released Monday, the report looked at studies on five types of meditation practices: mantra meditation; mindfulness meditation; yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong.
There were some positives, however: "Some of the studies suggested that certain types of meditation could help reduce blood pressure and stress and that yoga and other practices increased verbal creativity and reduced heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol in healthy people."

Classically, the researchers pointed to limitations on methdology in prior studies showing health benefits from meditation. But this is nothing new. Studies of health benefits of meditation actually go at least as far back as research by Herbert Benson, MD on the benefits of what he called "the relaxation response," a medicalized term for what happens in meditation.

The study was funded by the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Bethesda, Md., part of the National Institutes of Health.
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