#1: OM and Dopamine as it relates to Parkinson’s Disease

IRB Approved
Dr. Andrew Newberg, MD at Jefferson University

Building off the Orgasmic Meditation study using FDG PET, this study looks at dopaminergic function in participants with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in relation to the practice of Orgasmic Meditation. This PET-MRI study will utilize Flurodopa PET (FDOPA) to measure dopamine function, serum markers to measure inflammation and oxidative stress, and neurological measures to assess clinical symptoms, in patients with PD who are given training in the practice of Orgasmic Meditation and who participate in a daily practice of it for 3 months.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder of unknown cause that affects more than a million Americans in regions of the brain where dopaminergic function is active. Unfortunately, by the time of clinical diagnosis for Parkinson’s, substantial neural damage has been wrought, with an 80% reduction in striatal dopamine and a 60-70% reduction of the neurons in the substantia nigra. It is believed that oxidative stress and inflammation play an important role in the pathophysiology of PD.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the potential affects the OM practice (which has been shown to alter brain function in the FDG PET study) may have on dopamine and dopamine related structures and function in the brain over a period of 3 months. Participants with PD will be evaluated with FDOPA PET-MRI imaging initially and after 3 months of doing either daily OM practice or being placed in the waitlist control group. The primary aims are the following:

Aim 1. To evaluate the neurophysiological effects of OM in patients with Parkinson’s disease using a combination of FDOPA PET and fMRI. An initial pilot study of up to 10 controls (which may be split into 5 controls and 5 PD patients) will be performed first to confirm feasibility and also determine the effect size on the dopamine system of doing the OM practice.

Aim 2. To correlate clinical improvement in Parkinson’s disease with dopaminergic changes that occur as the result of practicing OM.

Proposed Start Date: Winter 2021

#2: Depression + Relationships Study

IRB Approval not yet submitted

This study aims to evaluate the potential utility of Integrative Breathwork (IB) and Orgasmic Meditation (OM) as novel interventions for Major Depressive Disorder. 

120 individuals in committed, cohabitating relationships (i.e. 60 couples) will be randomized with 1-to-1-to-1 allocation to IB training, OM training or a wait-list control condition (20 couples randomized to IB; 20 couples randomized to OM; 20 couples randomized to wait list). Enrollment and randomization will occur on a couple-by-couple basis. In addition to being involved in a committed, cohabitating relationship, eligibility criteria will include that 1) both members of the couple are adults between the ages of 21 and 65; 2) at least one member of the couple is a biological female (a requirement for OM); and 3) one member of the couple meets DSM-5 criteria for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) of at least 30 days duration with an Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology—Self Report (IDS-SR) score ≥26 and both members of the couple are willing to complete at least one IB/OM training session per week for the first four weeks of the study. 

Subjects taking medications for their depression will be asked to be on a stable dose of these medications for 8 weeks prior to screening and will be asked not to make changes to their medication regimen during the study period. Similarly, subjects receiving psychotherapy will be required to have been in therapy with the same therapist for at least 8 weeks prior to screening. The baseline assessment will be required to be conducted within 35 days of prescreening.

Start Date: TBD

#3: Addiction; OM & Cessation of Smoking

IRB Approval not yet submitted

This study is designed to look at couples and their use of Orgasmic Meditation as a tool to aide in the cessation of smoking tobacco.

Start Date: TBD