Native Americans combating diabetes with Transcendental Meditation

Excerpts from
Indian Country article, February 1st, 2012

Transcendental Meditation is now being used to combat the high rates of type 2 diabetes among Native peoples. Ahmed Mohammed, medical director at the Winnebago Indian Hospital in Nebraska, estimates that up to 66 percent of the Winnebago served by the facility are either type 2 diabetic or pre-diabetic. He knows that the right diet and exercise can diminish diabetes symptoms but notes that stress is often the precipitating factor for those losing the battle with the disease. To change that, some tribal members began practicing TM.

Warner Earth of the Winnebago Tribe

Warner Earth of the Winnebago Tribe says that his blood glucose level would sometimes climb to over 500 mg/dL. (Doctors say that normal levels are between 70 and 120 mg/dL.) After practicing TM for several months, his blood glucose levels are normal. “I am sold on TM,” he says.

A 2006 study at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that people practicing TM experienced significantly lower blood pressure and improved blood glucose and insulin levels. The study, conducted by C. Noel Bairey Merz, director of the Women’s Heart Center, also found a strong correlation between stress and high blood glucose levels (which are a result of insulin resistance), a hallmark of type 2 diabetes.

C. Noel Bairey Merz

…. A study at the Winnebago Indian Hospital that included tribal elders found that patients who meditated regularly showed an average drop in their hemoglobin A1c levels, which makes it easier for the body to combat diabetes. Stress and tension increase insulin resistance so the body is unable to effectively use insulin. This goes back to the study at Cedars-Sinai that found a correlation between stress and high glucose levels and insulin resistance.

The elders reported that in addition to lowering their blood glucose and blood pressure levels, they began to remember some of the traditional songs they had forgotten. “TM has helped them get in touch with the sacred again,” says Prosper Waukon (a member of the Winnebago Tribe). Waukon argues that getting in touch with the sacred is a key to healing Indian peoples, not only of diabetes but also of other ills that plague Natives. Substance abuse, violence and diabetes are symptoms that have resulted from the loss of contact with traditional spirituality, he notes.

Warner Earth: “I lost four family members to diabetes. Both my parents had their legs amputated. I don’t want this to happen to my people. If TM will help us, I want it for them.”

To view the full article, go to:

Reference: “Effects of a Randomized Controlled Trial of Transcendental Meditation on Components of the Metabolic Syndrome in Subjects With Coronary Heart Disease”
Arch Intern Med. 2006;166:1218-1224.
Click here: “2006 study at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center” to view summary of the study.