Transcendental Meditation Reduces ADHD Symptoms Among Students
- This article is from Medical News Today.
The position of the Meditation Society of America
is that there are many types of meditation merthods that
may achieve the same results as the TM method that
this article mentions (and are vastly less expensive).
Also, as the article quotes parents who go against
their physician's advise, we want to mention that we
believe that you must consult with your physician
before stopping your child (or yourself) from taking
prescribed medications. But basically we find the article
interesting and valuable as the main goal of the
Meditation Society of America is to see Meditation
being offerted to all students in every age range.
Transcendental Meditation Reduces ADHD Symptoms
Among Students: New Study
The Transcendental Meditation technique may be
an effective and safe non-pharmaceutical aid
for treating ADHD, according to a promising new
study published this month in the peer-reviewed
online journal Current Issues in Education.
The pilot study followed a group of middle school
students with ADHD who were meditating twice a
day in school. After three months, researchers
found over 50 percent reduction in stress and
anxiety and improvements in ADHD symptoms.
Effect exceeds expectations
"The effect was much greater than we expected,"
said Sarina J. Grosswald, Ed.D., a George Washington
University-trained cognitive learning specialist
and lead researcher on the study. "The children
also showed improvements in attention, working
memory, organization, and behavior regulation."
Grosswald said that after the in-school meditation
routine began, "teachers reported they were able
to teach more, and students were able to learn
more because they were less stressed and anxious."
Stress interferes with the ability to learn
Prior research shows ADHD children have slower
brain development and a reduced ability to cope
with stress. "Stress interferes with the ability
to learn - it shuts down the brain," said William
Stixrud, Ph.D., a Silver Spring, Maryland, clinical
neuropsychologist and co-author of the study.
"Medication for ADHD is very effective for some
children, but it is marginally or not effective
for others. Even for those children who show
improved symptoms with the medication, the improvement
is often insufficient or accompanied by troubling
side effects," Stixrud said. "Virtually everyone
finds it difficult to pay attention, organize
themselves and get things done when they're under
stress. So it stands to reason that the TM technique
which reduces stress and organizes brain function
would reduce ADHD symptoms."
While in some cases a child cannot function without
medication, there is growing concern about the health
risks and side effects associated with the common
ADHD medications, including mood swings, insomnia,
tics, slowed growth, and heart problems. In 2006 the
FDA required manufacturers to place warning labels
on ADHD medications, listing the potential serious
These high risks and growing concerns are fueling
parents' search for alternatives that may be safer for
The study was conducted in a private K-12 school for
children with language-based learning disabilities.
Participation was restricted to 10 students, ages
11-14, who had pre-existing diagnoses of ADHD. About
half of the students were on medication. The students
meditated at school in a group for 10 minutes,
morning and afternoon.
To determine the influence of the TM technique, at
the beginning and end of the three-month period,
parents, teachers and students completed standard
ADHD assessment inventories measuring stress and
anxiety, behavior and social competency, and
executive function. Students were also given a
battery of performance tests to measure cognitive
"The results were quite remarkable"
Andy and Daryl Schoenbach's daughter was diagnosed
with ADHD in second grade. Like most ADHD children
she was taking medication. "The medication helped
but had mixed results - she still lost focus, had
meltdowns, and the medications affected her sleep
and appetite," said Andy, who lives with Daryl in
Washington D.C. "She was not performing close to
her potential and we didn't see the situation
improving. So at the end of seventh grade when
her doctor recommended increasing the medication,
we decided it was time to take a different course
- stopping the medication and using Transcendental
"The results were quite remarkable," Daryl said.
"The twice daily meditations smoothed things out,
gave her perspective, and enabled her to be in
greater control of her own life when things started
falling apart. It took some time, but it gradually
changed the way she handled crises and enabled her
to feel confident that she could take on greater
challenges - in her own words, 'climb a mountain.'"
"Everyone noticed the change," Andy added.
Grosswald explained that there is substantial
research showing the effectiveness of the TM
technique for reducing stress and anxiety, and
improving cognitive functioning among the general
population. "What's significant about these new
findings is that among children who have difficulty
with focus and attention, we see the same results.
TM doesn't require concentration, controlling the
mind or disciplined focus. The fact that these
children are able to do TM, and do it easily
shows us that this technique may be particularly
well suited for children with ADHD," she said.
This study was funded by the Abramson Family
Foundation and the Institute for Community Enrichment.
A second, recently completed TM-ADHD study with
a control group measured brain function using
electroencephalography (EEG). Preliminary data
shows that three months practice of the technique
resulted in significant positive changes in brain
functioning during visual-motor skills. Changes
were specifically seen in the circuitry of the
brain associated with attention and distractibility.
After six months TM practice, measurements of
distractibility moved into the normal range.
A third TM-ADHD study, to be funded by a $2 million
grant from the David Lynch Foundation, will more
fully investigate the effects of the technique on
ADHD and other learning disorders.
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release.