ACTH and beta-endorphin in transcendental meditation

Physiol Behav. 1998 Jun 1;64(3):311-5. doi: 10.1016/s0031-9384(98)00071-7.


We have evaluated the effect of Transcendental Meditation (TM) on the hypothalamo-hypophyseal-adrenal axis diurnal rhythms through the determination of hormone levels. Blood samples were taken at 0900 hours. and at 2000 hours. These samples were taken from 18 healthy volunteers who regularly practice TM and from nine healthy non-meditators. Cortisol, beta-endorphin, and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) were measured at both hours. TM practitioners showed no diurnal rhythm for ACTH and for beta-endorphin (ACTH, pg/mL, mean +/- SE; 13.8+/-1.2 - 12.1+/-1.5/beta-endorphin, pg/mL; 14.4+/-1.5 - 17.2+/-1.9, at 0900 hours and 2000 hours, respectively), in contrast to control subjects, who showed normal diurnal rhythm for these hormones and for cortisol (ACTH, pg/mL; 19.4+/-1.9 - 11.9+/-2.2/beta-endorphin, pg/mL; 25.4+/-1.7 - 17.7+/-1.1/Cortisol, ng/mL; 201.4+/-13.2 - 71.3+/-6.5, at 0900-2000 hours, respectively, p < 0.01 in the three cases). Practitioners of TM with similar anxiety levels to those of the control group showed a different pattern in the daytime secretion of pituitary hormones. TM thus appears to have a significant effect on the neuroendocrine axis. Because cortisol levels had a normal pattern in the TM group, these results may be due to a change in feedback sensitivity caused by this mental technique.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood*
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Male
  • Meditation / psychology*
  • beta-Endorphin / blood*


  • beta-Endorphin
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Hydrocortisone