Mindfulness meditation programs can effectively improve anxiety, pain and depression in some people, according to a new review of studies from Johns Hopkins University researchers. The review, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, included 47 different randomized trials that involved 3,515 people. However, the review did not show a marked benefit of mindfulness meditation programs on substance use, sleep or weight. In addition, mantra meditation programs -- such as transcendental meditation, which involves "use of a mantra in such a way that it transcends one to an effortless state where focused attention is absent" -- did not seem to show any particular health benefits, though researchers noted that very few studies on mantra meditation met their criteria to be included in the review. Overall, the review showed researchers that more studies on meditation are needed, especially to see how greater meditation training, trainer expertise and amount of time spent practicing mindfulness meditation could potentially improve health even more.
Goroll noted that the benefits of mindfulness meditation found in the review are modest, with some studies finding no benefit. Renew Your Subscription and List Your Practice for Free!Chronic pain sufferers are using our pain specialist directory to find pain specialists in your area.
Adopting one of these mindful techniques can help reduce pain, anxiety, and depression among patients with acute and chronic pain. The practice of pain management has expanded exponentially over the past 150 years—from the introduction of opioids, advances in surgical intervention, and the introduction of electromedical devices,1 to our understanding the psychosocialbiological model of pain management. Therefore, pain physicians may have to look beyond the “conventional” medical toolbox to help their patients cope with chronic pain.
The concept of hypnosis and psychophysiology really began with Franz Anton Mesmer (1783-1815), a scientist who theorized that the “tidal” influences of the planets also operate on the human body through a universal force, which he termed “animal magnetism.”3 His work led him to experiment with altering gravitational tides in the body (hypnotic suggestion) to treat painful maladies, but his showmanship led to distain from his medical colleagues.
James Braid (1795-1860) is often credited as being the “Father of Hypnotism” for moving “mesmerism” from the occult into medical practice.4 Despite his excellent work, and considerable additional investigations by numerous other psychologists and physicians, hypnosis was not accepted widely until the mid-20th century.
At the beginning of the 20th century, physicians throughout Europe began seriously investigating hypnosis, but were often rejected by their peers. With 2,600 scientific references, the authors concluded that 80% of stress-related illnesses could be well-controlled with Autogenic Training (Table 1). Despite fairly widespread use of hypnosis by some psychologists and a few psychiatrists, the major impetus for a significant increase in professional interest in the field was the development of biofeedback training by Elmer Green, MD, in the early 1970s.
Over the next few years, I tried electroencephalography (EEG), temperature, Galvanic Skin Response, and electromyography (EMG)-guided muscle tension biofeedback, always including appropriate guided imagery, and most often accompanied with relaxing background music.


All of the patients were severely disabled with chronic pain, mostly the result of failed back surgeries.
Meanwhile, Wilbert Fordyce, MD, published his work on Operant Conditioning.10 Over a 5-year period, he had enrolled 100 chronic pain patients, mostly from failed back surgeries, in a 2-month inpatient program. The program cost $5,000 and Fordyce stated that a 10% success rate would allow the insurance system to recover their costs because of the high medical costs of these patients.
In 1975, Herb Benson’s book Relaxation Response opened the door to a broad variety of alternative approaches.11 Since then, the variety of tools for relieving pain has multiplied exponentially.
Since 1980, a number of studies have shown the efficacy of guided imagery and relaxation in a variety of pain conditions. Twenty-four patients undergoing cholecystectomy were randomly assigned to receive either guided imagery or a quiet period (controls). Lambert reported significantly less pain, shorter hospital stays, and decreased anxiety after surgery in 52 children treated with guided imagery.14 The therapy included asking children to visualize a successful procedure.
Vertical Health Media, LLC does not, by publication of the advertisements contained herein, express endorsement or verify the accuracy and effectiveness of the products and claims contained therein. Practical Pain Management is sent without charge 10 times per year to pain management clinicians in the US. Back Pain TipsBack pain tips can help any patient to find relief, improve their chances for recovery and even enjoy a true cure. Diagnosis of Piriformis SyndromeLearn about the diagnosis of piriformis syndrome and how the methods used to identify the condition are often flawed and inaccurate. The review showed that mindfulness meditation had small, positive effects in these three areas, with the improvements for depression in particular being similar to that of an anti-depressant. When we combined each component of negative affect, we saw a small and consistent signal that any domain of negative affect is improved in mindfulness programs when compared with a nonspecific active control," the researchers wrote in the study. While few studies examined potential harms of mindfulness meditation (nine of the trials), none of them reported harm. This is considering mindfulness meditation is a skill that does require time and practice, and that presumably the more and longer you do it, the greater benefits it may have.
He postures that trendiness, the desire to establish control and potentially even capitalizing on common anxieties are all reasons for why mindfulness meditation has become increasingly popular today.


In this article, I review the rise of one area of alternative treatment—that of guided imagery, mindful meditation, and hypnosis. In 1902, James Esdaile, a British surgeon working in India, performed hundreds of surgical operations on mesmerized patients.5 Despite the success of the operations, most of Esdaile’s peers remained skeptical of mesmerization. They reported great success in treating headache, back pain, depression, anxiety, and hypertension.
Interestingly, Green initially called the technique autogenic feedback, and he included the imagery associated with the basic autogenic phrases.8 In 1973, after hearing about his 84% success rate in migraine patients, I asked him about its use in back pain.
Over the next 4 years, 195 patients were treated with a comprehensive 2- or 3-week biofeedback-guided imagery program.
Upon completion of the program, 80% of patients were able to discontinue pain medication, with marked increase in physical activity, marked improvement in mood, and pain reduction of 50% to 100%.
He reported an initial 60% success rate with significant decrease in pain, improvement in activity, and freedom from medications.
Options now include guided imagery, biofeedback, self-hypnosis, meditation, music therapy, and yoga. The investigators assessed 3 measures of recovery: state anxiety, levels of urinary cortisol, and wound inflammatory responses. Vertical Health Media, LLC disclaims any liability for damages resulting from the use of any product advertised herein and suggests that readers fully investigate the products and claims prior to purchasing. However, he did not like the fact that patients became dependent upon him to go into a trance.
In addition, students, athletes, and even business executives were said to have achieved considerable improvement in their activities. However, at 6 months, only 40% of the men and 25% of the women maintained this improvement. Questioning patients as they descended into deeper states of hypnosis, Schultz concluded that patients could self-hypnotize by repeating certain phrases and imagery.



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