rheumatoid arthritis

Yoga regimen reduces severity of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms

New research supports adding yoga as an adjunctive therapy to treat this chronic inflammatory disease

February 5, 2019

Science Daily/IOS Press

According to a new study, eight weeks of intensive yoga practice significantly decreases the severity of physical and psychological symptoms in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a debilitating chronic auto-immune inflammatory disease. Marked improvements were seen in the levels of certain inflammatory biomarkers and assessments of functional status and disease activity in patients studied, demonstrating yoga's promotive, preventive, curative, and rehabilitative potential for achieving optimal health.

 

"Our findings show measurable improvements for the patients in the test group, suggesting an immune-regulatory role of yoga practice in the treatment of RA. An intensive yoga regimen concurrent with routine drug therapy induced molecular remission and re-established immunological tolerance. In addition, it reduced the severity of depression by promoting neuroplasticity," explained lead investigator, Rima Dada, MD, PhD, Professor, Department of Anatomy, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, India. She noted that high disease activity and underlying depression are associated with increased disability, reduced quality of life, and minimized rates of clinical remission and treatment response.

 

The study was a mind-body intervention (MBI) randomized trial (with parallel active and control groups) to analyze the effects of practicing 120 minutes of yoga, five days a week for eight weeks on 72 RA patients. Both the test and control groups were simultaneously undergoing routine drug therapies (DMARDs). The findings show significant improvement in systemic biomarkers of neuroplasticity, inflammation, immune-modulation, cellular health integrity, and aging in association with the positive clinical outcome of reduction in depression severity, disease activity, and disability quotient in RA patients following the intensive yoga based MBI.

 

Existing research has evaluated the role of yoga as an effective intervention to assist the management of RA with respect to clinical symptoms, quality of life, psychosocial outcomes, and functional ability. This study is one of the first to look at how yoga practice affects the systemic biomarkers of inflammation, cellular aging, and oxidative stress, especially in RA. "Our results provide evidence that yoga positively modifies the pathobiology of autoimmunity at cellular and molecular levels by targeting mind-body communications. Further research is needed for the exploration of possible mechanisms underlying the cumulative effect of yoga on multiple pathways at a cellular level," added Dr. Dada. "Yoga facilitates the mind's capacity to affect bodily function and symptoms mediated though a variety of downstream pathways and bring about natural immunological tolerance."

 

RA is a heterogeneous autoimmune disease that results from the interplay of genetic and environmental factors and causes extensive systemic inflammation, cartilage damage, and synovial hyperplasia that cause physical disability and psychiatric comorbidity. The co-existence of depression and RA in individuals poses a significant healthcare burden on the patients, their caregivers, healthcare systems, and society as a whole. Existing medical therapies have a limited scope and fail to cure the psychological component of the disease and have numerous side effects. Depression seems to decrease patients' compliance and adherence to medical treatment and results in worse health outcomes and increases disease severity. Improvement in psychological health and reductions in severity made the yoga group more compliant and able to perform more daily chores without much difficulty.

 

Dr. Dada 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." With yoga based MBI providing a holistic treatment dimension, reaching a state of remission is becoming a more achievable treatment goal. As a majority of diseases have a psychosomatic component, this approach may be widely applicable.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190205115301.htm

Meditation Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

October 2, 2007

Science Daily/John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

A revered contemplative practice for centuries, meditation has recently inspired research into its therapeutic value for everything from anxiety disorders to heart attack prevention. A painful, progressive autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis is associated with a high risk of depression -- double the risk of the healthy population, by conservative estimates -- and various forms of psychological distress. Increasingly, RA patients are turning to alternative therapies like meditation to ease the toll of their disease. Mindfulness-based stress reduction shows promise for easing psychological distress associated with disease symptoms.

 

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a meditation training program developed by Dr. Kabat-Zinn and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. MBSR teaches participants to relate differently to thoughts and emotions, and continually focus the mind on the present moment to increase clarity and calmness. The program has been shown to improve psychological symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia, cancer, and multiple sclerosis, among other conditions.

 

Researchers with the University of Maryland School of Medicine set out to assess the effect of this meditation therapy on depressive symptoms, psychological distress, general well-being, and disease activity among RA patients. Featured in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, their study supports the potential benefits of prescribing a course in MBSR along with the conventional course of physical and pharmacological therapy.

 

"The study demonstrated that for patients with RA under routine medical supervision, an 8-week MBSR class plus a 4-month maintenance program had beneficial effects, and that it was safe and appealing to participants," notes investigator Elizabeth Pradhan, PhD. "For doctors wishing to offer patients a complement to medical management, mindfulness meditation may offer hope for improving psychological distress and strengthening well-being in patients with RA."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070928092147.htm

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