Yesterday’s post suggested that as one takes pills, it is a good idea to breathe deeply, relax, and visualize the expected effects of the medication/supplement/vitamin. This suggestion is based on the “placebo effect” — which is another way of describing how powerfully the mind can effect the body.
As far as I know, no research has been done on this particular relaxation/visualization method of taking pills. (Are you listening Big Pharma?). A similar technique, however, is that of meditation — and there has been research documenting the positive effects of meditation on the cardiovascular system. Although much of the research has been focused on Transcendental Meditation, it is likely that the effects apply other systematic meditation approaches.
National Institute of Health
Stress Reduction Programs in Patients with Elevated Blood
Pressure: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
Maxwell V. Rainforth, PhD, Robert H. Schneider, MD, Sanford I. Nidich, EdD, Carolyn Gaylord-
King, PhD, John W. Salerno, PhD, and James W. Anderson, MD
(Link to Article)
Additional Effects of the Transcendental Meditation Program on CVD Risk
Meta-analyses and controlled studies have found related effects of the Transcendental Meditation program on modulating CVD risk factors, surrogate markers, and clinical outcomes: anxiety and psychologic health, smoking and alcohol abuse , need for anti-hypertensive medications, myocardial ischemia, and carotid atherosclerosis.
For example, a systematic review and meta-analysis found that the Transcendental Meditation program is substantially more effective than other categories of stress reduction for reducing trait anxiety. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of subjects with elevated BP and average follow-up of 8 years showed a 23% lower rate of all-cause mortality and a 30% lower rate of CVD mortality in the Transcendental Meditation group compared with controls. This result is particularly salient because no other stress reduction or lifestyle modification recommended for hypertension has been shown in randomized controlled trials
to reduce mortality rates.
Finally, in terms of mechanism, the Transcendental Meditation program may promote cardiovascular balance and homeostasis through integrated neurophysiologic, neuroendocrine, and cardiovascular mechanisms. It has been documented that the brain triggers
physiologic stress responses through cortical modulation of the autonomic nervous system and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis. Of primary importance are the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system, which process cognitive and emotional responses to potentially stressful situations. Studies indicate that the Transcendental Meditation practice modulates neurophysiologic, neuroendocrine, and physiologic mechanisms associated with stress. Forexample, controlled studies have reported reduced sympathetic nervous system and
hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis activation along with more coherent neurophysiologic functioning with the Transcendental Meditation program. This more coherent and integrated functioning of the nervous system may facilitate adaptive
Rainforth et al.