Ageing and longevity
A randomised double blind controlled study on 46 healthy volunteers (23 in the experimental and 23 in the control group) showed that the Ayurvedic herb Bacopa Monniera (Brahmi) significantly improved the speed of visual information processing, learning rate and memory consolidation with maximum effects noted at 12 weeks, indicating a potential for this herb in reversing memory impairment associated with ageing. Psychopharmacology 2001; 156:481-484.
At Harvard University, a randomised controlled study evaluated the effects of Transcendental Meditation, an active thinking program (mindfulness), a relaxation program (which claimed to imitate TM) along with a control group with no treatment. 73 residents of eight homes for the elderly (mean age of 81 years) were involved in this study. In the TM group 100 % of subjects were still alive 3 years after the program began compared with 87.5% for the mindfulness group, 65% for the relaxation group and 77.3% for the control group. Investigators also found that the subjects practising TM showed significant improvement on three measures of cognitive flexibility (a measure of youthfulness) compared with controls and subjects in other treatment groups, and had significantly lower systolic blood pressure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1989; 57:950-964. When followed up 8 and 15 years later, the TM group continued to demonstrate increased longevity compared to the other groups. Circulation 1996; 93:629 (Abstract).
A study comparing TM practitioners to non-meditators, ranging in age from 20 – 80, found that the meditators had levels of DHEA (DeHydroEpiAndrosterone) as high as non-meditators who were 5-10 years younger. DHEA is a hormone which declines in the blood with age. It is known that men who maintain high level of DHEA have less atherosclerosis and heart disease and lower mortality rates while women who have high levels of DHEA have less breast cancer and osteoporosis. Journal of Behavioural Medicine 1992; 15: 327-34.
A randomised double blind controlled study on 48 individuals over the age of 35 showed that MA herbal compounds (MA4 & 5) significantly improved performance of a visual discrimination task after 3 and 6 weeks relative to the placebo group indicating that MAK may enhance attentional capacity and reverse some cognitive effects of ageing. International Journal of Psychosomatics 1990; 37(1-4): 25-29.
A study of 84 individuals of average age 53 years (33 short term TM participants, 40 long term participants and 11 controls) using standard measures of ageing (auditory threshold, near point vision and systolic blood pressure), showed that those practising TM for less than 5 years had a biological age 5 years younger and those practising more than 5 years had a biological age 12 years younger than non-meditators of the same chronological age. International Journal of Neuroscience 1982; 16: 53–58.