More Physicians Saying: “Meditate”

Conventional health care providers have advised meditation and other mind-body therapies to more than six million Americans, according to a report released Monday by Harvard Medical School.

Alternatives therapies seem to provide both emotional and physical relief for many types of medical ailments, according to the findings, which were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Nearly 40 percent of Americans use some form of complementary and alternative medicine, according to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey. These practices include meditation, yoga, and acupuncture, among others. And now, many are receiving the support of conventional doctors who have seen apparent benefits in some of their patients.

Some studies suggest meditation can help lower blood pressure and even improve immune function. Meditation has more recently been tried to treat eating disorders, alcoholism, psoriasis, and even impotence. More than two dozen medical centers across the country, including specialized cancer centers, have attached complementary medicine centers, or provide meditation or other mind-body classes.

However, many of these uses of meditation are experimental, and the results vary by each patient. Many experts say meditation is more likely to treat medical conditions successfully when it is used in conjunction with conventional therapies.

For more, read our feature item, Meditation: Ancient Wisdom in Modern Medicine.