The World Health Organization estimates that 1.13 billion people worldwide have hypertension. Although pharmaceutical management of blood pressure is available, there are reasons why people prefer not to take medications including costs, adverse effects, and lack of access. Nonpharmacological healthy lifestyle methods are needed. One alternative method is transcendental meditation (TM).
The purpose of this study was to quantitatively synthesize the effects of TM on blood pressure. In addition, we examined the moderator effects of participant, methods, and intervention characteristics.
We searched 19 electronic databases without date restrictions to March 2021 including the gray literature and specific journals for primary studies evaluating TM to reduce blood pressure in adults and written in English. We coded primary studies for 5 categories (source, method, intervention, participant characteristics, and outcomes).
Across 18 primary studies (N = 1207), TM mildly improved systolic blood pressure by −3.3 mm Hg (P = .025) and diastolic blood pressure by −1.8 mm Hg (P = .008) compared with comparison groups, but the effects waned after 3 months. Transcendental meditation reduced systolic blood pressure in samples that were 65 years and older significantly more than in samples that were younger than 65 years (−1.44 vs −9.87, P = .021) but showed no differential effect on diastolic blood pressure.
Transcendental meditation mildly reduced blood pressure, but the effect waned after 3 months. Adults older than 65 years benefited more than younger adults. Transcendental meditation might be recommended as one aspect of a healthy lifestyle.