Regular Meditation Can Help Lower Blood Pressure Naturally
Lowering blood pressure without medication is the most effective way to prevent many of the conditions often caused by hypertension, such as an enlarged heart, heart attack, stroke, and kidney damage to name a few. Several studies show that both yoga therapy and meditation offer promising natural remedies to reverse high blood pressure.
When you hear the word yoga, you probably think of yoga asanas, the yoga postures that are the main component of yoga classes. However, the ancient science of yoga has eight limbs. One of the Eight Limbs of Yoga is meditation. Research has demonstrated that meditating as little as twenty minutes twice a day can be an effective way to lower blood pressure naturally.
The most research done on the effects of regular meditation has been on Transcendental Meditation (TM), which was introduced to the West in the 60s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and which still is a widespread, popular meditation practice. Numerous studies have shown that the TM technique lowers blood pressure significantly in at-risk populations, including African Americans.
Research published in the journal of Hypertension showed lowered blood pressure after just a short period of regular meditation, even in people at higher risk for the condition.[i] Risk factors for hypertension are age, obesity, inactivity, smoking, excess sodium intake, high cholesterol, diabetes, alcohol, stress and genetics.[ii] Poor eating habits can also contribute to hypertension.
How would regular meditation show promise as a means to lower blood pressure naturally? An obvious pathway is through reduced stress levels. Meditation induces a deep state of inner peace and calm, thereby also reducing the level of stress hormones in the body. Through a long chain reaction of biochemical proceses, stress hormones cause wear and tear on the inner lining of the blood vessel walls, which is often a precursor of both high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.
Secondly, in the case of the TM technique, meditation appears to stimulate the excretion of hormones that reduce blood vessel constriction. The less constricted blood vessels are, the more they are able to expand with differing volumes of blood flow, which is essential for normal blood pressure. A study published in Psychosomatic Medicine, for example, showed declines in blood vessel resistance associated with hormone-related reductions in vessel constriction as a result of the TM practice.
Other research has shown that regular practice of the TM technique for 20 minutes twice a day is helpful for reducing stress and improving overall hearth health. Transcendental Meditation has been shown to reduce atherosclerosis, free radicals, stress hormones, cholesterol, triglycerides, anxiety, and depression. The technique is said to enliven the body’s inner healing potential by inducing a deep state of relaxation and spiritual transcendence.
Yoga asanas work in harmony with a practice like meditation, to provide the most powerful therapy for cardiovascular health. Utilizing yoga therapy for reducing high blood pressure is a multi-theraputic approach. Studies have also shown that yoga postures can help decrease blood pressure and drug score modifying risk factors, such as blood glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides, and improve overall well-being and quality of life. In short, both meditation and yoga asanas show great promise as natural therapy to lower blood pressure, and relieve many of the mental-emotional factors associated with high blood pressure, such as stress, anxiety, and depression. Promoting emotional health alone can promote cardiovascular health.
Michael A. Scheinbaum, M.S., C.N.A., is a Natural Health Practitioner and author of Reduce Blood Pressure Naturally (XLibris, 2005). He is a certified practitioner of Axiatonal Process, MariEl, CranioSacral Therapy, Touch for Health, and is a Tera-Mai™ Reiki Master. He also utilizes nutrition, diet, electro-acupuncture, acupressure, kinesiology, Bach Flower Remedies, gem elixirs, and other natural systems to enliven the clients’ inner healing power to create balance from a deep level of mind, body, and spirit.
[i] Alexander CN, Schneider RH, Staggers F, Sheppard W, Clayborne BM, Rainforth M, Salerno J, Kondwani K, Smith S, Walton KG, Egan B. Trial of stress reduction for hypertension in older African Americans. II. Sex and risk subgroup analysis. Hypertension. 1996 Aug; 28(2):228-37.