Objectives: We meta-analyzed the effect of meditation on blood pressure (BP), including both transcendental meditation and non-transcendental meditation interventions.
Methods: We identified randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that examined the BP responses to meditation interventions through a systematic literature search of the PubMed, ABI/INFORM, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, and CINAHL databases (from January 1980 to October 2015). We meta-analyzed the change in SBP and DBP, stratified by type of meditation (transcendental meditation vs. non-transcendental meditation intervention) and by type of BP measurement [ambulatory BP monitoring (ABPM) vs. non-ABPM measurement].
Results: Nineteen studies met the eligibility criteria. Among the studies using the ABPM measurement, the pooled SBP effect estimate was -2.49 mmHg [95% confidence interval (CI): -7.51, 2.53] for transcendental meditation intervention (statistically insignificant) and -3.77 mmHg (95% CI: -5.33, -2.21) for non-transcendental meditation interventions, whereas the pooled DBP effect estimate was -4.26 mmHg (95% CI: -6.21, -2.31) for transcendental meditation interventions and -2.18 mmHg (95% CI: -4.28, -0.09) for non-transcendental meditation interventions. Among the studies using the non-ABPM measurement, the pooled SBP effect estimate from transcendental meditation interventions was -5.57 mmHg (95% CI: -7.41, -3.73) and was -5.09 mmHg with non-transcendental meditation intervention (95% CI: -6.34, -3.85), whereas the pooled effect size in DBP change for transcendental meditation interventions was -2.86 mmHg (95% CI: -4.27, -1.44) and was -2.57 mmHg (95% CI: -3.36, -1.79) for non-transcendental meditation interventions.
Conclusion: Non-transcendental meditation may serve as a promising alternative approach for lowering both SBP and DBP. More ABPM-measured transcendental meditation interventions might be needed to examine the benefit of transcendental meditation intervention on SBP reduction.