Natural Standard Monograph, Copyright © 2014 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified health care professional before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Uses based on scientific evidence
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare professional.
High blood pressure
In general, it appears that regular practice of meditation may promote relaxation and reduce blood pressure. More research is needed before conclusions can be made. However, meditation can be recommended, in addition to healthy diet and exercise, for the prevention (vs. treatment) of hypertension.
Quality of life (cancer)
There is good evidence that various types of meditation may help improve quality of life for cancer patients. Studies have shown benefits for mood, sleep quality, and the stresses of treatment. The specific effects of meditation are not fully understood. However, meditation can be recommended as a form of support for cancer patients.
The evidence indicates that meditation may help healthy people reduce the effects of stress. More studies are needed to further examine the dynamics of stress and meditation, but meditation can be recommended as a general health-promotion activity.
Meditation may help to improve cognitive function and blood pressure in the elderly, which may in turn promote overall health and longevity. More research is needed to identify the specific effects of meditation on aging. However, based on the available evidence, meditation may be recommended as a health-promoting activity for the elderly.
Meditation may offer general stress-reducing effects for treating or preventing alcohol abuse. However, more studies are needed before conclusions can be made concerning use of meditation for alcoholism treatment or prevention.
Studies suggest that meditation may offer some benefits for anger management. However, more studies are needed to recommend meditation as a form of behavioral intervention for anger.
Various forms of meditation, including mindfulness, transcendental meditation®, and "meditation-based stress reduction programs" have been studied for their effects on anxiety. Better studies are needed before a conclusion can be made.
Studies suggest that Transcendental Meditation® may benefit asthma patients. Furthermore, Sahaja yoga, which incorporates meditation techniques, may have some benefit in the management of moderate to severe asthma. Further studies of meditation alone are needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
Meditation (in the form of Tai Chi or Qi gong) may help to improve balance in healthy elderly people. More research is needed to understand the specific effects of meditation on balance.
There is preliminary evidence that meditation may help improve the quality of life during cancer treatment. However, not enough research has shown meditation to help in the prevention of cancer. More studies are needed.
There is not enough evidence that meditation has any clinical effects in cardiovascular disease. More studies are needed to determine whether meditation may have benefits and whether specific techniques might be more effective than others.
Meditation may offer general benefits for mood and stress, which are likely to aid in cardiac care. However, more studies are needed to recommend meditation as a specific treatment during cardiac rehabilitation.
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Mindfulness meditation with Qi gong may contribute to improved overall health. However, not enough studies have examined the specific effects of meditation on chronic fatigue syndrome. More studies are needed before meditation can be recommended as a treatment.
Meditation, yoga, and other stress management techniques may help to relieve chronic pain. However, since meditation is often used with many other treatments and therapies, the specific benefits of meditation are not clear. More studies are needed that examine the specific effects of meditation as a treatment for chronic pain.
Some forms of meditation may have positive effects on cognitive function. However, there is not enough clear evidence that any specific form of meditation can support or enhance cognitive function.
Congestive heart failure
Meditation may improve quality of life in elderly patients, and may even potentially reduce the risk for congestive heart failure. However, there is not enough evidence to make firm conclusions about meditation in congestive heart failure, and more studies are needed.
Meditation may improve Crohn's disease symptoms. However, there is not enough evidence to come to a conclusion about meditation in Crohn's disease, and more studies are needed.
Some forms of meditation may prevent relapse in patients who have had bouts of major depression. However, more studies are needed to confirm that meditation may be used as part of treatment for depression.
Preliminary studies show that meditation may help treat binge eating in overweight individuals. More research is needed in this area.
One randomized controlled trial has shown that meditation may reduce distress and improve positive mood states. More research is needed in this area.
Yoga meditation may help prevent seizures in epileptics, although higher quality studies are needed to come to a firm conclusion.
It has been suggested that mindfulness meditation may help improve symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia. Better quality research is necessary before a conclusion can be formed.
Preliminary research suggests that meditation may help manage high cholesterol. More research is needed in this area.
Research suggests that meditation may help improve quality of life in patients with HIV/AIDS. Meditation may even affect immune function, though the studies have been inconclusive. More studies are needed to establish how meditation may be useful as an adjunctive therapy in HIV/AIDS patients.
Research suggests that there may be increased antibody response after meditation. Further study is needed to confirm these findings.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Some forms of meditation may help to ease the symptoms of IBS. However, more research is needed before firm conclusions can be made.
Some forms of meditation may help to ease migraine symptoms. However, more research is needed before firm conclusions can be made.
For healthy subjects, there is not enough scientific evidence that meditation can improve mood. More studies are needed to determine whether meditation has any specific effects on mood.
Research suggests an improvement in multiple sclerosis symptoms after meditation. Further study is needed to confirm these findings.
It is suggested that meditation may help to improve quality of life in organ transplant patients. However, more research is needed before firm conclusions can be made.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
There is some evidence that certain meditative techniques may improve symptoms in people with PTSD. However, more studies are needed to examine the specific benefits of meditation before it is recommended for use in patients with PTSD.
Some evidence suggests that meditation may help to reduce complications in pregnancy or childbirth. However, more studies are needed to recommend meditation for specific benefits during pregnancy.
Meditation has been suggested to improve healing of psoriasis, when used in combination with standard treatments. More studies are needed to investigate the specific effects of meditation on psoriasis.
When used in combination with standard psychiatric treatment, meditation may improve treatment outcomes in patients with various psychological conditions. However, more research is needed before meditation is recommended to use along with psychotherapy.
Quality of life
Meditation has been used for improvements in quality of life in a variety of patient populations. More research is needed in this area.
The ability of meditation to improve sleep has been suggested in patients being treated for drug abuse, as well as patients with breast cancer. However, there is currently not enough clinical evidence that meditation improves sleep in patients with breast cancer, drug abuse problems, or in healthy subjects.
Available evidence does not indicate whether meditation can help people to quit smoking. More studies are needed in this area.
Meditation may not be as effective as other therapies for preventing relapse in recovering cocaine addicts. More studies are needed before a conclusion can be made about meditation as a treatment for cocaine dependence.
*Key to grades:
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
For full grading rationale, click here.
Uses based on tradition or theory
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional
Allergies, angina (chest pain), arrhythmia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), blood vessel disorders, breast milk abnormalities, chronic diseases, coping skills, decrease in heart rate, diabetes, diarrhea, disease diagnosis or treatment (psychotherapy adjunct), dyslexia, emphysema, exercise performance (in patients with chest pain), gag reflex abnormalities, infertility, inflammatory bowel syndrome, low blood cortisol levels, menopausal symptoms, muscle tension, palliative care (end-of-life care), Parkinson's disease, peripheral neuropathy (in HIV), peripheral vascular disease, post-polio pain, premenstrual syndrome, psychosis, Raynaud's disease, reducing oxygen consumption, relaxation, schizophrenia, skin disorders, stroke prevention, suicide prevention, trauma, upset stomach.
Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
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