ADHD: Medicate or Meditate?

New research: An effective alternative

A study published in the journal Current Issues in Education suggests that the Transcendental Meditation technique may be an effective and safe non-drug treatment for ADHD.


The Transcendental Meditation technique is a simple, natural, effortless mental technique practiced 10-20 minutes twice daily, sitting quietly and comfortably in a chair with the eyes closed. The TM technique can be easily learned by anyone and is enjoyable to practice. The benefits of the TM technique are immediate and increase over time. The technique’s positive effects—for mind, body and relationships—have been verified by hundreds of research studies conducted at top medical schools and published in over 350 peer-reviewed scientific journals.

ADHD and the brain

Neuroscientists and researchers tell us that an imbalance in brain functioning can cause ADHD symptoms. The brain is made up of millions of cells that continually talk to each other, sending signals across the gaps or synapses between brain cells. The messenger molecules that carry these signals are called neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin regulate thinking, hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattentiveness, memory, emotions, and depression.

How medications work

The active ingredients in the most commonly used ADHD medications are amphetamines. As powerful stimulants, these amphetamines artificially increase the amount of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, speeding up brain activity. This is of great concern to doctors and parents. According to researchers, when the drugs flood the brain with these artificially produced neurotransmitters, the brain's ability to produce these neurotransmitters by itself is diminished. This can potentially cause the brain to suppress the natural growth and development of the brain cells that create the neural networks. The young brain isn’t given the chance to develop on its own and mature in its own functioning.[1]

How meditation works

The Transcendental Meditation technique doesn’t just treat the symptoms or create just a temporary effect, but can improve the condition permanently by reducing stress and creating more efficient and orderly brain functioning. Scientific research studies published in such prestigious journals as the International Journal of Neuroscience[2], Psychophysiology and others[3] have shown that the TM technique creates widespread "EEG coherence " throughout all areas of the brain. Everything good about the brain depends on its efficient, orderly functioning. Scientists have found that this improved brain functioning through daily TM practice improves IQ , creativity, comprehension, memory and academic performance. People practicing the TM technique commonly report immediate relief from anxiety and hyperactivity, and greater ability to concentrate and focus in their daily life. Under supervision of their doctors, patients with ADHD are often able to reduce or eliminate their medications within 3-6 months.

How the TM technique is different

The TM technique is unique—unlike all other forms of meditation—distinguished by its effortlessness, naturalness, and profound effectiveness. The technique doesn't take years to master and can be quickly and easily learned by anyone, even children. The technique is non-religious and requires no change in lifestyle or belief—one doesn't even have to believe in it for it to work.

Because the practice is effortless, you don't have to be able to concentrate or even sit still.

The TM technique allows awareness to naturally settle inward, transcending the busy activity of the mind, to a state of restful alertness. During the practice, the body gains deep relaxation—much deeper than ordinary relaxation or other meditation practices. Over 350 peer-reviewed scientific research studies have shown the TM technique to be the most effective mind-body practice for decreasing anxiety and depression and promoting self-actualization.

People with ADHD and other learning disorders are turning to the TM technique in growing numbers and finding relief from tension and restlessness within just a few days. Many of these people have tried counseling and other forms of meditation, without desired results, but with regular practice of the TM technique have been able to end their dependence on medications while thriving in school or work for the first time in their lives.

As concern for the long-term side effects of medication grows, it is worthwhile to become more informed about this healthy and practical approach for managing ADHD.

To view a PBS special feature on the effects of the TM technique for treating ADHD, click here.

To view ABC and NBC video news clips on the use of the TM technique for treating students with ADHD, click here.

  2. Dillbeck M. C. and Bronson E. C. Short-term longitudinal effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique on EEG power and coherence. International Journal of Neuroscience 14: 147–151, 1981.
  3. Travis F. Eyes open and TM EEG patterns after one and after eight years of TM practice. Psychophysiology 28 (3a): S58, 1991. Travis F. and Miskov S. P300 latency and amplitude during eyes-closed rest and Transcendental Meditation practice.Psychophysiology 31: S67 (Abstract), 1994. Travis F. Patterns of EEG coherence, power, and contingent negative variation characterize the integration of transcendental and waking states. Biological Psychology 61: 293-319, 2002. Wallace R.K., et al. Modification of the paired H reflex through the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program. Experimental Neurology 79: 77-86, 1983. Wallace R. K., et al. Modification of the paired H reflex through the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program. Experimental Neurology 79: 77–86, 1983. Yamamoto S., et al. Medial prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulated cortex in the generation of alpha activity induced by Transcendental Meditation: A magnetoencephalographic study.Acta Medica Okayama, 60(1): 51-58, 2006.
  4. Alexander C.N., et al. Effects of the Transcendental Meditation program on stress reduction, health, and employee development: A prospective study in two occupational settings. Anxiety, Stress and Coping: An International Journal 6: 245-262, 1993. Candelent T., et al. Teaching Transcendental Meditation in a psychiatric setting. Hospital & Community Psychiatry 26: 156-159, 1975. Dillbeck M.C. The effect of the Transcendental Meditation technique on anxiety level. Journal of Clinical Psychology 33: 1076-1078, 1977. Eppley K.R. et al. Differential effects of relaxation techniques on trait anxiety: A meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology 45: 957-974, 1989.

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