Corante

About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: derekb.lowe@gmail.com Twitter: Dereklowe

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Emolecules
ChemSpider
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
PubChem
Not Voodoo
DailyMed
Druglib
Clinicaltrials.gov

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
Kilomentor
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
ChemBark
Realizations in Biostatistics
Chemjobber
Pharmalot
ChemSpider Blog
Pharmagossip
Med-Chemist
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
SimBioSys
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Business|Bytes|Genes|Molecules
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Depth-First
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa


Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
FuturePundit
Aetiology
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Sciencebase
Pharyngula
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net


Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
GruntDoc
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine


Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem


Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Instapundit
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus


Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« Avastin At the FDA Today: Passion Should Lose | Main | An Unethical Clinical Trial »

June 30, 2011

Transcendental Meditation: Hold That Paper!

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

I couldn't resist mentioning this one: the Archives of Internal Medicine was set to publish a paper showing a benefit for transcendental meditation in heart attack and stroke. Word was already out in the press - in the UK, the Telegraph had already published a story, with a quote from one of the paper's lead authors (from, ahem, the Maharishi University of Management) that the effect seen was as great or greater than any pharmaceutical intervention.

I don't have a link up to that particular newspaper report; its URL is no longer valid. That's because twelve minutes before the paper was set to be published online, the journal pulled it. (Other sources still have their stories up). We still don't know quite what the problem was. Nature got this statement:

“It became apparent that there was additional data not included in the manuscript that was about to be published, and the editor of Archives thought that the information was significant enough that it needed to be included as part of the paper, and then re-analyzed and verified, so she made the last-minute decision not to publish it. . .It’s an unusual situation, but the bottom line is that our journal wants to make sure that the information we put out is as accurate as can be.”

I'm glad to hear it. Larry Husten at Forbes has the data from the paper, and has a lot of questions. We'll see how things look when (and if) it ever appears. But for now, if you're looking for the latest anyone has ever pulled a paper before publication, we may well have the record.

Update: here's an excellent report on this at Retraction Watch.

Comments (19) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Snake Oil | The Scientific Literature


COMMENTS

1. whoknew on June 30, 2011 8:18 AM writes...

I don't meditate, I don't see a guru, I am pretty much completely unspiritual. But just because of this fishy paper glitch I wouldn't chalk the whole thing up to utter quackery.

It actually seems pretty reasonable to me that regularly sitting quietly and relaxing could have beneficial health effects. Stress kills! Whether the benefit is greater than, say, avastin is for the statistics to determine. Which is where I would guess this paper got tripped up.

Permalink to Comment

2. anchor on June 30, 2011 9:03 AM writes...

#1 My views are in line with you's. I do not meditate but knows others who do and they all vouch the same-meaning less stress, better quality of life and so on. Science can not explain or quantify the good feelings people feel after TM.

Permalink to Comment

3. ScardeeCat on June 30, 2011 10:34 AM writes...

Thanks for handling the topic in an even manner and presenting the issue and a fair and neutral way. Well done!

Permalink to Comment

4. RB Woodweird on June 30, 2011 10:54 AM writes...

I don't doubt that the relaxation of meditation is good for you, but I suspect that the paper is going to claim that it is Transcendental Meditation which is specifically good for you.

It would be like New Balance publishing a paper showing that, yeah, walking is good for you - but only if you are wearing their shoes.

Permalink to Comment

5. Virgil on June 30, 2011 1:19 PM writes...

Retraction watch blog has a nice write up on this.

Permalink to Comment

6. Hot Dog on June 30, 2011 2:50 PM writes...

#5
I think it is not a retraction, at least not yet.

Permalink to Comment

7. Chemist on June 30, 2011 2:56 PM writes...

Well, whatever data is missing or incorrect for that matter, the authors are clearly facing the rich and bigs in pharmaceutical research, and that too when fundings to them has been stopped. They do deserve some kudos.
For years, people (at least in asia) know the benefits of meditation, but who will fund someone to prove it scientifically and help the drug industry pakc their bags!

Permalink to Comment

8. BePatient on June 30, 2011 3:37 PM writes...

Don't misinterpret this unusual delay. This was a nine year study, and it received the normal reviews at each stage of the process.
The authors of the study welcomed this delay, as it allows additional analyses and information (which was requested only a week before the study was to be published) to be included when the study does get published. The authors are committed to producing the highest quality report.

Permalink to Comment

9. Feldman on June 30, 2011 5:18 PM writes...

Talk about a storm in a tea cup. If you have nothing better to write about than something has happened but you don't know quite what, then perhaps you should try a bit of meditation and increase your creativity!

Permalink to Comment

10. Richard on June 30, 2011 8:15 PM writes...

There are already 350 peer reviewed studies on Transcendental Meditation published in established journals, including the Archives of Internal Medicine. (The US National Institutes of Health have given $26 Million to fund research on the TM technique.) These studies have already shown reduced biological ageing, reduced mortality, reduced need for medical care, reduced hypertension, reversed atherosclerosis, reduced metabolic syndrome and much more. The direction this research is indicating is not new.
(Your "ahem" remark indicates you are not familiar with the integrity and history of research involving faculty at MUM)

Permalink to Comment

11. Richard on June 30, 2011 8:19 PM writes...

Follow up to comment above:
For example...
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a component of the National Institutes of Health, awarded Maharishi University of Management an $8 million grant from 1999–2006. The purpose of the grant was to establish a specialized center of research (SCOR) to study natural medicine in relation to cardiovascular disease in minority populations.

Permalink to Comment

12. anonymous on July 1, 2011 4:26 AM writes...

As a young man, I paid my $$$ and took a TM "course"...while I am now many years older and find much of the mystique around TM beyond foolish, meditation has been proven to have bee a very positive influence in my life (I use it in stressful situations - before "exams", talks, during family strife, etc etc). Anecdotal, to be sure....

Permalink to Comment

13. Morten on July 1, 2011 4:33 PM writes...

Hmm I did an Acem course. Way cheaper than TM and not religious. Still young enough so dunno if it did anything for my blood pressure but it was good for face wrinkles. The big ones, not crows feet. Free botox where you can still move your facial muscles.

Permalink to Comment

14. Lewis Walch on July 2, 2011 1:57 AM writes...

As mentioned by Richard above, there's been masses of research on Transcendental Meditation but still, reputable journals can feel a bit nervous of what some scientists may see as the mystical encroaching on their hallowed objective domain.
It is therefore frequently the case that journal editors require rather more convincing data of TM researchers and MUM in particular before publication of any research on this subject.
They also tend to send it out to more reviewers than they normally would, just to be on the safe side.
This makes it all the more impressive when publication actually takes place. SO, just be patient!
I wonder if the author will be as quick to notice and comment when publication eventually takes place?

Permalink to Comment

15. Roger Pelizzari on July 3, 2011 9:37 AM writes...

I couldn't resist commenting on your snide article, especially when I glanced at your bio. Apparently, working for pharmaceuticals has grossly colored your perception. There is more peer reviewed research showing the benefits of TM than of all the big pharma drugs combined.

TM researchers are only too glad to offer more details. They have nothing to hide, whereas drug companies have plenty to hide and they do. Show me one drug, other than aspirin, that does not have negative side effects.

More and more people are discovering that TM strengthens the mind-body. They already know what medication does. Truth alone triumphs.

If you're lucky, when you finally take off the shades you'll be able to see straight. Of course, if you stop pushing drugs, you'll have to give up all that money.

Permalink to Comment

16. Roger Pelizzari on July 3, 2011 10:00 AM writes...

I couldn't resist commenting on your snide article, especially when I glanced at your bio. Apparently, working for pharmaceuticals has grossly colored your perception. There is more peer reviewed research showing the benefits of TM than of all the big pharma drugs combined.

TM researchers are only too glad to offer more details. They have nothing to hide, whereas drug companies have plenty to hide and they do. Show me one drug, other than aspirin, that does not have negative side effects.

More and more people are discovering that TM strengthens the mind-body. They already know what medication does. Truth alone triumphs.

If you're lucky, when you finally take off the shades you'll be able to see straight. Of course, if you stop pushing drugs, you'll have to give up all that money.

Permalink to Comment

17. Northwest AJ on July 4, 2011 5:40 AM writes...

Oh, look, a comment war!

Entirely aside from the peculiarities of last-minute paper-yanking... Lifestyle interventions tend to be really reliable in general, and papers that back this up aren't hard to find. Exercise and diet are the ones that get all the press, but let's face it, we're a culture that encourages a distinct lack of focus on attending to one's bodily processes. Learning to breathe differently affects the cardiovascular system? Hold the presses!*

The problem with lifestyle/behavioral interventions is the lifestyle part. Compliance is lousy, because learning new tricks screws up an old dog's schedule. Physical therapy usually beats surgery in terms of long-term outcomes for back injuries, too, but one has to keep doing it, deal with the interim pain and the schedule mayhem - a task I haven't succeeded in so far, much to my chagrin.

(*Oh, wait, they did.)

Permalink to Comment

18. Anonymous on July 5, 2011 12:33 PM writes...

Dianetics works better than TM. Homeopathy beats them all.

Back to my crystal gazing...

Permalink to Comment

19. Kortney Horeth on August 18, 2012 9:47 AM writes...

Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I to find It truly helpful & it helped me out much. I hope to present one thing again and help others like you aided me.

Permalink to Comment

POST A COMMENT




Remember Me?



EMAIL THIS ENTRY TO A FRIEND

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):




RELATED ENTRIES
How Not to Do It: NMR Magnets
Allergan Escapes Valeant
Vytorin Actually Works
Fatalities at DuPont
The New York TImes on Drug Discovery
How Are Things at Princeton?
Phage-Derived Catalysts
Our Most Snorted-At Papers This Month. . .