Integrative medical therapy: examination of meditation's therapeutic and global medicinal outcomes via nitric oxide (review)

Int J Mol Med. 2005 Oct;16(4):621-30.


Relaxation techniques are part of the integrative medicine movement that is of growing importance for mainstream medicine. Complementary medical therapies have the potential to affect many physiological systems. Repeatedly studies show the benefits of the placebo response and relaxation techniques in the treatment of hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety and mild and moderate depression, premenstrual syndrome, and infertility. In itself, relaxation is characterized by a decreased metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure, and rate of breathing as well as an increase in skin temperature. Relaxation approaches, such as progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training, meditation and biofeedback, are effective in lowering systolic and diastolic blood pressure in hypertensive patients by a significant margin. Given this association with changes in vascular tone, we have hypothesized that nitric oxide, a demonstrated vasodilator substance, contribute to physiological activity of relaxation approaches. We examined the scientific literature concerning the disorders noted earlier for their nitric oxide involvement in an attempt to provide a molecular rationale for the positive effects of relaxation approaches, which are physiological and cognitive process. We conclude that constitutive nitric oxide may crucially contribute to potentially beneficial outcomes and effects in diverse pathologies, exerting a global healing effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Hypertension / therapy
  • Meditation*
  • Models, Biological
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology
  • Vasodilation / physiology


  • Nitric Oxide