Endocrinologist Sandeep Chaudhary, M.D., and cardiologists Robert Schneider, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.B.M.R., and César Molina, M.D., F.A.C.C., answer questions about effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique on Type 2 diabetes:
How can the Transcendental Meditation technique influence Type 2 diabetes, which is a biochemical problem related to the inability of the body to make or to use insulin?
When you look at diabetes as a process of manifesting disease in several stages, in the initial stages the person develops insulin resistance. This means that your insulin is not working as efficiently as it should, and consequently your blood sugars start to rise. As a secondary consequence, when the pancreas has been overworked for decades, it starts secreting less and less insulin. Now you need more insulin, but your pancreas can't make any more; in fact, it slowly starts to die off because it's been overworked for years.
Research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2006 shows that the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique can help during the initial stages, by lowering insulin resistance. So even though it's true that some damage has been done to your pancreas over the years of developing diabetes, it doesn't mean you can't still be helped.
Stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenalin aggravate insulin and glucose levels. Reducing these neurohormones through the Transcendental Meditation technique helps to balance glucose and insulin in the blood. This helps to normalize metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
Does stress play a role in Type 2 diabetes as well?
Yes, for the same reason that it does in obesity. When you're stressed you tend to have higher cortisol levels, which increases insulin resistance; you also tend to eat the wrong foods, eat excessively, and eat at night because sleep patterns tend to be off in people who are anxious.
Eating at night is particularly bad for diabetics, because there is a natural five-minute spike in growth hormone at 3:00 a.m. This leads to a temporary increase in insulin resistance and subsequent higher blood sugar. If you have eaten something at midnight, blood sugars can spike even higher because of this growth hormone effect. This makes medication less effective. So it's very important to control stress and anxiety when treating diabetes. As shown by research, the Transcendental Meditation technique can help by decreasing stress and regulating sleep patterns, so the person is sleeping through the night and not eating at midnight because of stress or anxiety.
Since the Transcendental Meditation technique is a stress reduction technique, and since diabetes can be worsened by both physiological and psychological stress, it makes sense that the regular practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique may improve the ability to control diabetes.
Sandeep Chaudhary, M.D., earned a double board certification in both Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Loma Linda University Medical School and later earned his board certification in Endocrinology at the University of California, San Diego. He is currently the Medical Director of Wellspring Endocrinology at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California.
Robert Schneider, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.B.M.R., has been awarded more than $20 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for his pioneering research on natural approaches to heart disease. Dr. Schneider is the author of Total Heart Health and 100 medical research articles, and he has been featured in more than 1,000 media reports, including CNN Headline News, The New York Times, and Time magazine.
César Molina, M.D., F.A.C.C., is Medical Director of the South Asian Heart Center at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, CA. He is a graduate of Yale University School of Medicine and a fellow of the American College of Cardiology. Dr. Molina has recently appeared in the international edition of CNN discussing the benefits of diet and exercise in the treatment and prevention of coronary heart disease.
"TM is the only meditation shown to lower blood pressure."
Beyond Medications and Diet: Alternative Approaches to Lowering Blood Pressure
Summary of Policy Statement Issued by the American Heart Association 22-Apr-2013
A new report from the American Heart Association published on 22 April 2013 concluded that the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique lowers blood pressure and recommends that the TM technique may be considered in clinical practice for the prevention and treatment of hypertension.
The purpose of the report, entitled "Beyond Medications and Diet Alternative Approaches to Lowering Blood Pressure: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association," is to inform physicians which alternative approaches to lowering blood pressure (BP) have been shown by research to be effective.
After considering meta-analyses and the latest clinical trials on different types of meditation, the report stated that while the Transcendental Meditation technique is recommended to lower BP, there is not enough scientific evidence to recommend other meditation or relaxation techniques.
The AHA's recent scientific statement reports: "Because of many negative studies or mixed results and a paucity of available trials, all other meditation techniques (including MBSR) received a ‘Class III, no benefit, Level of Evidence C' recommendation. Thus, other meditation techniques are not recommended in clinical practice to lower BP at this time."
"This is an important breakthrough in the evolution of medical practice, since it is the first time that the Transcendental Meditation technique has been recognised and recommended for consideration by a national medical organisation that provides professional practice guidelines to physicians, health care payers, and policymakers," said Robert Schneider, MD, FACC, director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention who has been the principal investigator for several research studies on the Transcendental Meditation technique and cardiovascular disease. "This type of guideline statement has been what health insurance companies have been requesting for many years."
Diabetes and High Blood Pressure Decrease with TM on American Indian Reservation