Cardiorespiratory and autonomic-nervous-system functioning of drug abusers treated by Zen meditation

Pei-Chen Lo*, Ping Hsien Tsai, Hui Jane Kang, Wu Jue Miao Tian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Addicted drugs like nicotine affect autonomic nervous system that results in arrhythmia and other cardiovascular diseases. Notable effects of Zen meditation on autonomic nervous system have been reported during the past decade. Holistic Detox Association (HDA) in Taiwan offered Zen-meditation program to drug addicts as the core scheme among a variety of drug addiction treatments. This paper reports the results of quantifying the cardiorespiratory interactions and autonomic nervous system function to evaluate the on-site effect of Zen meditation on drug rehab. Methods and schemes for quantifying time-domain heart rate variability were employed to electrocardiograph and respiratory signals. Peak-valley method was developed to quantify the respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) behavior. Poincaré Plot Analysis was adopted to evaluate the cardiorespiratory functioning. Among 18 voluntary drug addicts during the 10-minute Zen meditation session, about two-third subjects have significant improvement in autonomic nervous system function characterized by heart rate variability (SDNN, RMSSD and pNN50). Group average of RSA increases from 33.43 ms(Rest) to 69.14 ms(AR Zen meditation). Poincaré-plot analysis reveals the improvement of SD1, SD2 and SD2/SD1 by respectively 14.7%, 19.8% and 8.8%. The group averages of all the parameters exhibit significantly positive changes in the 10-minute session of abdominal-respiration Zen meditation. Even the subject with heart transplant showed the improvement of all the quantitative indicators during the AR Zen meditation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-220
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • Cardiorespiratory interaction
  • Drug addiction
  • Heart rate variability
  • Respiratory sinus arrhythmia
  • Zen meditation

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