To learn more visit

TM Research

University of California at Irvine

University of California at Irvine

University of California at Irvine Study Finds Transcendental Meditation Reduces the Brain’s Reaction to Pain

9th Aug 2006

Media Advisory: Author contact: David Orme-Johnson, Ph.D., call 850-231-2866, or 850-830-5847 (mobile phone) or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Twelve healthy long-term meditators who had been practicing Transcendental Meditation for 30 years showed a 40-50% lower brain response to pain compared to 12 healthy controls, reported by a latest NeuroReport journal article, published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (Vol.17 No.12; 21 August 2006:1359-1363). Further, when the 12 controls then learned and practiced Transcendental Meditation for 5 months, their brain responses to pain also decreased by a comparable 40-50%. Current issue (Aug 9).

Transcendental Meditation could reduce the brain’s response to pain because neuroimaging and autonomic studies indicate that it produces a physiological state capable of modifying various kinds of pain. In time it reduces trait anxiety, improves stress reactivity and decreases distress from acute pain.

According to Orme-Johnson, lead author of this research, “Prior research indicates that Transcendental Meditation creates a more balanced outlook on life and greater equanimity in reacting to stress. This study suggests that this is not just an attitudinal change, but a fundamental change in how the brain functions”.

Pain is part of everyone’s experience and 50 million people worldwide suffer from chronic pain. Transcendental Meditation would have a long term effect in reducing responses in the affective component of the pain matrix. Future research could focus on other areas of the pain matrix and the possible effects of other meditation techniques to relieve pain.

Research study supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Facts on Pain
According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, chronic pain afflicts 50 million people worldwide, and acute pain is the most common reason people seek medical attention. Stress responses to untreated pain adversely impact virtually all systems of the body, especially the cardiovascular, endocrine, respiratory, and immune systems. The cost of treating pain is estimated at $100 billion each year in the U.S. alone.

About Transcendental Meditation
Transcendental Meditation, derived from the ancient Vedic tradition in India, is taught through a standard protocol involving lectures, personal instruction and group meetings, according to background information in the article.

About Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

LWW is a unit of Wolters Kluwer Health, a group of leading information companies offering specialized publications and software in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, science, and related areas. Operating companies include Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Adis International, Ovid Technologies, and Facts and Comparisons.

About the Authors

  1. David Orme-Johnson, PhD, has been a pioneering researcher on meditation since 1970.  He has over 100 publications on meditation in a wide variety of fields, including electroencephalography, psychophysiology, health, intelligence, creativity, drug and prison rehabilitation, higher states of consciousness, collective consciousness, quality of life, and conflict resolution. Dr. Orme-Johnson, now retired and living in Seagrove, Florida, was formerly Chairman of the Psychology Department and Dean of Research at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa. David’s vita:
  2. Zhang-Hee Cho, Ph.D., is the Director of the Neuroimaging Laboratory at the University of California at Irvine, where the study was conducted. Dr. Cho, a physicist by background, is widely recognized as a leading expert in neuroimaging. He was one of the inventors of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and is a member of the US National Academy of Science.  Dr. Cho is currently in Korea setting up an MRI there.
  3. Robert Schneider, MD, is Director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention, which sponsored the study through an NIH grant. The Institute is one of nine NIH-supported centers in the country for studying natural medicine, and the only one with specialization in minority health. Dr. Schneider has many publications on the effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique on improving cardiovascular health in minority elderly.

Contact David Orme-Johnson for additional background information.


back to top