Relaxation Therapy

Research Spotlight

The databases often return hundreds of medical studies for a single wellness approach. This section summarizes a sampling of five studies – providing just a taste of the available research. These Spotlights were not selected because they are the most favorable or the most recent, but to provide you an introduction to the more extensive research you'll uncover searching the four databases found in the “Research” section of this site.

  • A 2013 University of York meta-review of 16 studies (1,404 participants), evaluating the impact of various mindfulness-based interventions (including mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindfulness meditation and emotion regulation therapy) on chronic pain, found that these interventions reduced pain’s intensity. But the researchers noted that 13/16 studies were considered low quality, and that further research was needed.
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  • A small, randomized controlled trial by doctors from Wake Forest and Harvard Medical Schools found that an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course for people that suffered from migraines was beneficial for headache duration and disability - while noting that the trial’s size was so small that it could not detect significant changes in migraine frequency – and that larger studies are needed.
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  • A Tabriz University of Medical Sciences (Iran) single blinded, randomized study (220 patients) concluded that relaxation therapy combined with standard drug treatment was more effective in reducing blood pressure and managing hypertension, than drug therapy alone.
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  • A University of Melbourne (AU) review of 15 randomized controlled trials concluded relaxation therapy was effective - but not as effective as cognitive-behavior therapy - for depressed patients. Conclusion: relaxation therapy has potential as a first-line treatment for depression.
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  • A randomized controlled trial evaluating the effect of six weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on telomere length (TL) and telomerase activity (TA) in breast cancer patients, found that TA increased steadily over 12 weeks in the MBSR group (approximately 17%) compared to essentially no increase in the control group. (No between-group difference was observed for TL.) The researchers concluded that the study has implications for understanding how MBSR may extend cell longevity at the cellular level.
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