By Robert Herron
Veterans of the wars in Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) found significant relief from their symptoms as a result of practicing the Transcendental Meditation® technique, according to a new study led by Dr. Robert Herron and published recently in Military Medicine.
The 41 veterans and 5 active-duty soldiers in the study had been diagnosed with clinical levels of PTSD, as measured by the PTSD Checklist-Civilian (PCL-5). After one month, 87% had a clinically significant decrease of more than 10 points. The reduction was so great that 37 participants (80%) had their symptoms reduced to below the clinical level for PTSD.
"It's remarkable that after just one month we would see such a pronounced decrease in symptoms, with four out of five veterans no longer considered to have a serious problem with PTSD," Dr. Herron said. By way of comparison, the standard treatment, which entails veterans attending counseling and re-experiencing their trauma as part of the therapy, is typically only partially successful, with approximately two-thirds still suffering from PTSD after being treated.
"Transcendental Meditation is very easy to do and results come quickly," said James Grant, director of programs for TM for Veterans, which provided partial funding for this study. "Transcendental Meditation promotes self sufficiency – it's a tool that the veteran can use for life, on his or her own." In addition, research has shown that Transcendental Meditation has a positive benefit for many of the conditions associated with PTSD, such as high anxiety, insomnia, depression, and high blood pressure. "Because it works on the neurophysiological level to reduce stress, it has broader impact than cognitively based therapies," he said.
The current study follows four previous studies on veterans that suggested a benefit for PTSD. Because of these promising findings, the U.S. Department of Defense has supported a randomized controlled trial involving 210 veterans that is now nearing completion. "The evidence is mounting that Transcendental Meditation is an effective treatment for PTSD," said Colonel Brian Rees, MD, coauthor of the current study.
Robert E. Herron is an independent researcher, writer, speaker, and consultant in medical cost reduction and health policy. He earned a B.A. in English in 1975, an MBA in 1985, and doctoral degree in management in 1993 at Maharishi University of Management. From 1996 to 1998, he completed a post-doctoral program in the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease that was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Herron has taught a wide range of business and government policy courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He has conducted research to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of various methods of disease prevention and alternative medicine.
Dr. Herron has been practicing the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique for many years and became a TM teacher. He was also a combat veteran who served in the U.S. Marine Corps and feels that TM practice saved his life.
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