Research: DUSEK and others,

Listed in Issue 136


DUSEK and others, Mind/Body Medical Institute, 824 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA,, have investigated the mechanisms by which relaxation response acts.


Mind/body practices that elicit the relaxation response are currently practised by over 30% of American adults. Relaxation reduces the oxygen consumption from rest and counteracts the effects of stress. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the relaxation response is mediated by nitric oxide (NO).


A method was developed to quantify depth of relaxation using change in oxygen consumption. In randomized, controlled design, 46 subjects were randomized to either 8-weeks of relaxation training using audiotapes (n=34) or 8-weeks of exposure to receiving health-education by audiotapes (n=12). Prior to randomization, oxygen consumption and NO were measured while subjects listened to a control audiotape. Eight weeks later, oxygen consumption and NO were measured while the relaxation group listened to a relaxation tape and the control group listened to a control tape.


Prior to receiving any training, there was no association between oxygen consumption and NO. After training, there was an inverse correlation between oxygen consumption and NO in the RR group (r = -0.41, p=0.037), but not in the control group (r=0.12, p=0.78).


Depth of relaxation was associated with increased concentrations of nitric oxide after relaxation training. The relaxation response may be mediated by nitric oxide helping to explain its clinical effects in stress-related disorders.


Dusek JA, Chang BH, Zaki J, Lazar S, Deykin A, Stefano GB, Wohlhueter AL, Hibberd PL, Benson H. Association between oxygen consumption and nitric oxide production during the relaxation response. Medical Science Monitor 12 (1): CR1-10, Jan 2006.

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