Research shows that TM practice alters biochemistry. This fact has
implications for everyone who practices TM. Some biochemical changes may
be beneficial. For example, changes that accompany a "relaxation response"
may have a positive effect on some individuals; but are contraindicated for
others. (See abstract below: "Relaxation-induced
anxiety: mechanism and theoretical implications." Heide & Borkovec)
For TM-Sidhi Program practitioners, who may spend four hours per day in
meditation practices; and for TM "residence course" participants who
perform "rounding", which intentionally increases their time spent in
meditation practices, the intensifying of the effects has demonstrated
harmful results. (See
Harmful Effects from TM.
Of these biochemical changes, the implications for the
increase in brain neurotransmitter, serotonin, are significant and
wide-ranging in their potential negative consequences. (See
TM & Serotonin: Model of
Here are some of the
biochemical alterations (abstracts below):
- Increase in brain neurotransmitter, serotonin
- Change in secretion and release of several pituitary hormones
"similar to the effects
of synthetic anxiolytic and tranquilizing agents such as benzodiazepines"
- Increased AVP secretion
- Loss of normal diurnal rhythm for the hormones
ACTH and beta-endorphin
- Increased phenylalanine
- An increase of carbon dioxide
Serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine metabolites in transcendental
meditation-technique. Bujatti M, Riederer P J: Neural Transm
The highly significant increase of 5-HIAA (5-hydroxyindole-3-acetic acid)
in Transcendental Meditation technique suggests systemic serotonin as
"rest and fulfillment hormone" of deactivation-relaxation...
concentrations following transcendental meditation--potential
role of gamma aminobutyric acid. Elias AN, Wilson AF Department of
Medicine, University of California Medical Center, Irvine, Orange, USA:
Med Hypotheses 1995 Apr;44(4):287-91
Transcendental mediation (TM) is a stylized form of physical and mental
relaxation which is associated with changes in the secretion and release
of several pituitary hormones. The hormonal changes induced by TM mimic
the effects of the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma aminobutyric acid
(GABA). It is hypothesized that TM produces changes in pituitary hormone
secretion by enhancing hypothalamic GABAergic tone, and its anxiolytic
effects by promoting GABAergic tone in specific areas of the brain. This
mechanism is similar to the effects of synthetic anxiolytic and
tranquilizing agents such as benzodiazepines that bind to components of
the GABA-A (GABAA) receptor. TM, therefore, may produce relaxation by
enhancing the effects of an endogenous neurotransmitter analogous to the
effects of endorphins in runners who reportedly experience a 'runner's
in a state of decreased activation: potentiation of arginine vasopressin
secretion. O'Halloran JP, Jevning R, Wilson AF, Skowsky R, Walsh RN,
Alexander C: Physiol Behav 1985 Oct;35(4):591-5
Behaviorally induced stress is associated with increased arginine
vasopressin (AVP) secretion. In this report we describe a phasic
conditioned response of AVP secretion yielding 2.6-7.1 times normal
plasma concentration of this hormone in association with a physiological
state of decreased activation, that associated with the mental technique
of "transcendental meditation" (TM) in long-term practitioners (6-8 years
of regular elicitation). Such a very large phasic response of AVP was
previously unknown in the normal physiology of AVP.
beta-endorphin in transcendental meditation. Infante JR, Peran F,
Martinez M, Roldan A, Poyatos R, Ruiz C, Samaniego F, Garrido F
Clinical Analysis and Immunology Service, Virgen de las Nieves Hospital,
Granada, Spain: Physiol Behav 1998 Jun 1;64(3):311-5
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
alteration of plasma phenylalanine concentration. Jevning R,
Pirkle HC, Wilson AF: Physiol Behav 1977 Nov;19(5):611-4
The concentration of 13 neutral and acidic plasma amino acids was measured
before, during and after either 40 min of control relaxation or 40 min of
the process known as transcendental meditation (TM). An electro-oculogram,
electroencephalogram, and electromyogram were simultaneously monitored in
these subjects. Increased phenylalanine concentration was noted during TM
practice with no change during control relaxation; no difference between
the groups of total time slept or sleep stage percent was observed. The
stability of phenylalanine concentration in controls and lack of
correlation of increased phenylalanine with sleep in the long-term
practitioners seem to suggest a relationship of the phenylalanine increase
to TM practice.
somatic arousal reduction. Holmes, David S: American Psychologist,
January 1984, pp1-10. Ensuing discussion follows in four more issues:
June 1985, pp717-731; June 1986, pp712-713; September 1986, pp1007-1009;
September 1987, pp879-881.
... Meditating subjects were found to have higher levels of phenylalanine
that resting subjects, a finding which reflects high arousal in meditators.
anxiety: mechanism and theoretical implications. Heide, Frederick J. and
Borkovec, T. D. Behavioral Research Therapy, 1984, pp1-12.
anxiety enhancement due to relaxation training. Heide, Frederick J.
and T.D. Borkovec. Journal of Consulting and Clinical
Psychology, 1983, p171.
These two papers by Heide and Borkovec disclose that 54 percent of
anxiety-prone subjects tested experienced increased anxiety during
TM-like mantra meditation.
Respiratory Exchange Ratio and Apneas During [TM] Meditation. John
Kesterson and Noah F. Clinch. The American Journal
of Physiology, March 1989, R637.
A careful, in-depth investigation into the effects of TM practice on
respiration and metabolism, revealing that TM produces no deeper state
of rest than from just sitting with eyes closed, even in advanced
practitioners, and that the TM practice does not produce a
hypometabolic state as claimed by MIU's Robert Keith Wallace.
They also discovered a decrease in respiratory exchange ratio in
meditators during TM not observed in controls (i.e., an increase of
carbon dioxide). Although this research was conducted at MIU,
Kesterson and Clinch maintained their objectivity. Unlike most work by
TM movement research, this particular study was published in a major