Yoga helps rheumatoid arthritis

There’s quite a body of research into the beneficial effects of yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises and so on, with some real but often modest improvements in various health conditions.

Yet what marks many of these studies is the fairly low ‘dose’ of the practice – for example a weekly class, or perhaps a couple of classes a week.

When we want to see how effectively one of these non-medical interventions can change serious, chronic conditions, it seems obvious that we should experiment with a higher dose.

This is exactly what a recent study into the effects of yoga practice on active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – a debilitating auto-immune disease causing swelling and pain in many different joints in the body.

In this case, the yoga – described as ‘intensive’ – was practised for 2 hours a day, five days a week, for eight weeks.

Participants in the yoga study were compared to a control group who did not practise yoga. Both groups received conventional RA medication.

Compared to the control group, the participants in the yoga group showed significant reductions in various markers of inflammation, autoimmune activity and cellular aging, alongside reduced levels of disability, physical impairment and depression.

Professor Rima Dada, lead investigator, concluded, , “This study offers a new option. Pharmacological treatments can be supplemented with alternative and complementary interventions like yoga to alleviate the symptoms at both physical and psychosomatic levels.”

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