Free Radicals |

Effects of the Transcendental Meditation Program on Free radicals

Ultraweak Photon Emission and Meditation

Finding: Ultraweak photon emissions are a non-invasive way to measure free radicals in the body. A study of 60 male subjects in their 40’s and 50’s found that ultraweak photon emissions were significantly lower at all 12 anatomical locations studied in subjects practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique (TM) and Other Meditation Techniques (OMT= Tao, Zen, Christian, and Hindu Yoga meditations) than in non-meditating controls (p < .0002). TM subjects also demonstrated lower emissions than OMT in 11 out of 12 anatomical locations (p < .0032). Overall, TM was 27% lower than controls, and OMT were 17% lower (ref. 1).

Interpretation: Free radicals are oxidizers in the body, which can react with lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids to damage cells. There is considerable evidence that they are one cause of chronic diseases associated with aging, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and psoriasis (refs.1-4). Previously, free radicals could only be measured by taking blood or tissue samples. Recently it has been found that the reactions of free radicals in the body emit a very subtle light (photons), which can be measured non-invasively outside the body using highly sensitive photomultipliers in a darkened room (refs. 1 & 3).

The results of this study replicate previous research using the same technique (ref. 3) and a study that measured free radicals by lipid peroxide levels in the blood (ref. 4). Reduced free radicals may be one mechanism through which the TM program decreases blood pressure in hypertensive patients (refs. 5-10), reduces atherosclerosis (ref. 11), improves cardiovascular reactivity (refs. 12-14), reduces medical care utilization and costs in all categories of disease (refs. 15-17), reduces measures of biological age (refs. 18-19), and decreases cardiovascular and all cause mortality rate (20-23).


1. Van Wijk EPA, Ludtke R, and Van Wijk R. Differential Effects of Relaxation Techniques on Ultraweak Photon Emission. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine 2008;14:241-250.

2. Sharma, H. Freedom from disease: How to reduce free radicals, a major cause of aging and disease 1993; Toronto, Veda Publishing.

3. Van Wijk EPA, Koch H, Bosman S, and Van Wijk R. Anatomical characterization of human ultraweak photon emission in practitioners of Transcendental MeditationTM and control subjects. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine 2006;12:31-38.

4. Schneider RH, Nidich SI, Salerno JW, Sharma HM, Robinson, CE, Nidich, RJ, Alexander, CN. Lower lipid peroxide levels and practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation program. Psychosomatic Medicine 1998; 60: 38-41.

5. Schneider RH, Staggers F, Alexander CN, Sheppard W, Rainforth M, Kondwani K, Smith S, King C. A randomized controlled trial of stress reduction for hypertension in older African Americans. Hypertension 1995;26:820-827.

6. Schneider RH, Alexander CN, Staggers F, Orme-Johnson D, Rainforth M, Salerno J, Sheppard W, Castillo-Richmond A, Barnes VA, Nidich SI. A randomized controlled trial of stress reduction in the treatment of hypertension in African Americans over one year. American Journal of Hypertension 2005;18:88-89.

7. Alexander CN, Schneider RH, Staggers F, Sheppard W, Clayborne BM, Rainforth M, Salerno J, Kondwani K, Smith S, Egan B. Trial of stress reduction for hypertension in older African Americans (part II): sex and risk subgroup analysis. Hypertension 1996;28:228-237.

8. Barnes VA, Johnson MH, Treiber FA. Impact of Transcendental Meditation on ambulatory blood pressure in African American adolescents. American Journal of Hypertension 2004;17:366-369.

9. Rainforth M, Schneider R, Nidich S, King C, Salerno J, Anderson J, Stress Reduction Programs in Patients with Elevated Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Current Hypertension Reports 2007;9(6):520-528.

10. Anderson, JW, Chunxu, L, Kryscio, RJ. Blood pressure response to Transcendental Meditation: A meta-analysis. American Journal of Hypertension 2008;21:310-316

11. Castillo-Richmond A, Schneider R, Alexander C, Cook R, Myers H, Nidich S, Haney C, Rainforth M, Salerno J. Effects of stress reduction on carotid atherosclerosis in hypertensive African Americans. Stroke 2000;31:568-573.

12. Barnes VA, Treiber FA, Davis H. Impact of Transcendental Meditation on cardiovascular function at rest and during acute stress in adolescents with high normal blood pressure. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 2001;51:597-605.

13. Barnes VA, Malhotra S, Treiber FA. Impact of Transcendental Meditation on vascular function in African American adolescents. Psychosomatic Medicine. 2005; 67:A31.

14. Zamarra JW, Schneider RH, Besseghini I, Robinson DK, Salerno JW. Usefulness of the Transcendental Meditation Program in the treatment of patients with coronary artery disease. American Journal of Cardiology 1996;77:867-870.

15. Orme-Johnson DW. Medical care utilization and the Transcendental Meditation program. Psychosomatic Medicine 1987;49:493–507.

16. Orme-Johnson, D.W. and Herron, R.E. (1997) An innovative approach to reducing medical care utilization and expenditures. American Journal of Managed Care, 3(1): 135-14.

17. Herron RE, Hillis SL, Mandarino JV, Orme-Johnson DW, Walton KG. The impact of the Transcendental Meditation program on government payments to physicians in Quebec. American Journal of Health Promotion 1996;10:183-191.

18. Wallace, R K, Dillbeck, MC.; Jacobe, E, and Harrington, B. The effects of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program on the aging process. International Journal of Neuroscience 1982;16: 53–58.

19. Glaser J L, Brind, JL, Vogelman, JH, Eisner MJ, Dillbeck MC, Wallace, RK.; and Orenteich, N. Elevated serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate levels in practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) and TM-Sidhi Program. A version of this paper was published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine 1992;15(4): 327-341.

20. Alexander CN, Langer EJ, Newman RI, Chandler HM, Davies JL. Transcendental Meditation, mindfulness, and longevity: An experimental study with the elderly. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1989;57:950-964.

21. Alexander CN, Barnes VA, Schneider RH, Langer EJ, Newman RI, Chandler HM, Davies JL, Rainforth M. A randomized controlled trial of stress reduction on cardiovascular and all cause mortality: Results of 8-year and 15-year follow-ups. Circulation 1996;93:P19 (Abstract).

22. Barnes VA, Schneider RH, Alexander CN, Rainforth M, Staggers F, Salerno J, Kondwani KA. Impact of Transcendental Meditation on mortality in older African Americans with hypertension—eight-year follow-up. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 2005;17:201-216.

23. Schneider RH, Alexander CN, Staggers F, Rainforth M, Salerno JW, Hartz A, S. A, Barnes VA, Nidich SI. Long-term effects of stress reduction on mortality in persons >/=55 years of age with systemic hypertension. American Journal of Cardiology 2005;95:1060-1064.