Those with more moderate anxiety levels also showed changes but these were not as dramatic.
Transcendental Meditation (TM) is an effortless technique that is practiced for 20 minutes twice a day while sitting in a chair with eyes closed.
The anxiety study showed that participants with a 90th percentile anxiety – that is higher than 90pc of the rest of the population – were able to bring it down to the 57th percentile through the use of TM.
Those with levels in the 60th percentile were able to bring it down to the 48th percentile.
Said researcher Dr David Orme-Johnson “It makes sense that if you are not anxious to begin with that TM practice is not going to reduce your anxiety that much.
“Groups with an elevated anxiety received significant relief from TM and that reduction occurred rapidly in the first few weeks of practice”.
TM was also found to produce significant improvements in other areas worsened by anxiety, such as blood pressure, insomnia, emotional numbness, family problems, employment status, and drug and alcohol abuse.
Dr. Orme-Johnson answered a commonly asked question about placebo effects.
He said: “Since anxiety is a self-reported measure, one might wonder whether the effects of TM practice or any other treatment program were a placebo effect.
“Placebos are great. If you give a person a sugar pill and tell them that it will reduce anxiety, it probably will, but only for a little while before the effect wears off.
“But the effects of TM were shown to be lasting and include objective benefits.
“For example a recent study showed that TM reduces heart attacks, strokes, and death over a ten-year period. So we know its effects are real and are not just due to a placebo.”
The study is published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.