The historically black college for women decided it was time to do something major to redraw its student
body’s alarming health profile: “We’ve been greeting incoming freshmen students who were pre-
hypertensive, overweight, obese,” says its health services director.
Brenda Dalton, director of Spelman’s Student Health Services, noticed that there had been a precipitous
increase in blood pressure levels and chronic conditions of new students. She remarked, “We’ve been
greeting incoming freshmen students who were pre-hypertensive, overweight, obese and may have
other chronic conditions like type II diabetes, asthma and allergies.”
Atlanta is also the base of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to their statistics,
44% of black women over 20 years of age have hypertension and 80% of African American females are
overweight or obese. Hypertension can lead to heart attack or stroke and being obese increases your
risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and some cancers.
While Spelman is making a positive attempt to better the health of its population by introducing sports
programs, healthier food on campus, fitness facilities, health awareness, and even napping stations,
there remains a nationwide epidemic of bad health, often due to long standing habits of poor food
choices and lack of exercise.
Regarding hypertension: many studies have been done on the TM technique and hypertension,
including several randomized controlled trials of African Americans since that population has the most
difficult time controlling hypertension. The American Heart Association, after a thorough review of many
non-medication, non-dietary and all alternative approaches to hypertension, recently published their
conclusions that the TM program is the only meditation or relaxation practice that has been shown to
significantly reduce high blood pressure. This benefit has been reported throughout the media, including
in an NBC news report.
Regarding obesity: one significant cause of obesity is food addiction. With the improvements proven to
take place in brain functioning during the TM practice, impulsivity is reduced. And with the
decrease of anxiety and depression that results from TM, compulsive eating also decreases. There is
evidence from a well-controlled scientific study published in Archives of Internal Medicine in 2006 that
the TM technique can reduce the components of metabolic syndrome. Patients with metabolic
syndrome are characteristically overweight, with high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and
triglycerides, and low HDL (good) cholesterol.
Regarding diabetes: research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2006 shows that the
practice of the TM technique can help during the initial stages of type 2 diabetes by lowering insulin
resistance. Further, stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline aggravate insulin
and glucose levels. Reducing these neurohormones through the Transcendental Meditation technique
helps to balance glucose and insulin in the blood. This helps to normalize diabetes.
According to the World Heart Federation, “People with diabetes develop atherosclerosis at a younger
age and more severely than people without diabetes. Hypertension is more than twice as common in
people with diabetes as in people with normal blood glucose levels. People with diabetes are more likely
to have a heart attack or stroke, than people who do not, and their prognosis is worse….”
What can women do about it? Exercise, nutritious food, and other healthy habits are significant
contributors to the solution. And adding the TM technique to a daily routine:
“Transcendental Meditation is associated with statistically significant decreased hypertension and
atherosclerosis, clinical improvements in patients with established heart disease, decreased
hospitalization rates, and improvements in other risk factors including reduced stress and even
decreased smoking and cholesterol.” – Abraham Bornstein, MD, FACC, Assistant Professor of Medicine
and Science Education, Hofstra North Shore LIJ School of Medicine
As a nurse of 40 years, I have watched the steady increase of chronic health conditions presenting in
women of all ages due to obesity and lifestyle choices. I have cared for many young women who could
have avoided critical health issues had they started a regimen including the TM technique.
If you know someone or are someone with risk factors, it is not too late. Anyone who can think a
thought and follow simple instructions can learn and successfully practice the TM technique and will
have a powerful boost to better health.