Results from a new trial examining the effects of yoga on rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients with co-morbid depression suggests that it could reduce the severity of physical and psychological RA symptoms.
The trial included 72 patients who were randomised to either eight weeks yoga-based mind-body intervention (MBI) with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDS) or a control group (DMARDs only). Those in the yoga group practised the MBI programme for 120 minutes per day, five days a week for the eight-week period. Blood samples were collected pre and post intervention for primary outcome measurements of systemic biomarkers.
At follow-up, there was a significant decrease in the severity of RA in the yoga group with a reduction in levels of various systemic inflammatory markers as well as in disease activity score 28 erythrocyte sedimentation rate (DAS28ESR) and health assessment questionnaire disability index (HAQ-DI). The yoga group also experienced a statistically significant step-wise decline in depression symptoms over the period of eight weeks, compared to the usual care group.
Writing in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, the authors said: "Yoga may aid in achieving immunological tolerance and molecular remission and hence can be beneficial as an adjunct therapy in the management of this severe debilitating disorder.”