"Mindfulness meditation" - a Buddhist technique aimed at focusing on the present moment - showed promise in alleviating stress and enhancing quality of life, scientists found.
Researchers analysed data from 47 clinical trials involving 3500 participants looking at the effects of meditation on a multitude of problems, including depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, diabetes, heart disease, chronic pain and cancer.
They found "moderate" evidence that eight weeks of meditation training improved symptoms of anxiety, depression and pain.
Low evidence of reduced stress and better quality of life was also seen, while there was insufficient evidence for other benefits.
Lead researcher Dr Madhav Goyal, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, US, said: "A lot of people have this idea that meditation means sitting down and doing nothing, but that's not true. Meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness."
The evidence indicated that the benefits of meditation were not simply due to a placebo effect, said Dr Goyal.