Consistent practice of transcendental meditation can help some active-duty military service members with posttraumatic stress disorder to manage symptoms and reduce or eliminate use of prescription medications, reports a study conducted at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center’s Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic at Fort Gordon, Georgia, and published in Military Medicine (2016; doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-14-00333).

“Regular practice of TM provides a habit of calming down and healing the brain,” explained lead study author Vernon A. Barnes, PhD, physiologist at the Georgia Prevention Institute at the Medical College of Georgia, in Augusta, Georgia, in a news release from the school. Barnes recommended practicing TM twice daily for 20 minutes.

Investigators noted that this was the first study to compare TM and medication use for PTSD where there was a control group and a larger sample size—74 participants. Among the 37 service members in the study who practiced TM for 1 month, 83.7% stabilized, reduced or stopped their use of drugs to treat their conditions, while 10.8% increased their medication dosage. Among those who did not meditate, 59.5% stabilized, reduced or stopped taking drugs after 1 month and 40.5% increased their medication.

The study authors recommended conducting a randomized clinical trial of TM and its effects to determine whether the practice could serve as a viable supplement to PTSD therapy or as an alternative to drug therapy.

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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