AIIMS study shows yoga can be used to effectively manage rheumatoid arthritis

The AIIMS study shows that eight weeks of yoga practice significantly reduced disease activity, normalised the biomarkers associated with inflammation.

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The AIIMS study has been published in 'scientific reports' in September 2023 .The AIIMS study has been published in 'scientific reports' in September 2023 .

Press Trust of India | October 11, 2023 | 10:30 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Yoga can be used as an adjunct therapy in the management of chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis, according to an AIIMS study. The study was conducted by Uma Kumar, Head of Rheumatology, and Rima Dada, professor in department of anatomy, at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

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It demonstrated that eight weeks of yoga practice significantly reduced disease activity, normalized the biomarkers associated with inflammation, and re-established immunological tolerance. The study has been published in the scientific reports in September 2023. Yoga is an integrative health strategy which focuses on both physical and psychological aspects of a disease and improves quality of life, Uma Kumar said.

"The prevalence of rheumatological illnesses has gone up in the last two decades because of environment and lifestyle-related factors and early diagnosis and aggressive treatment is important in management," she said, emphasizing that it is a multisystemic disease and other organs can get involved if not treated adequately and the target of treatment is "zero joint inflammation". Dada said yoga is a profound science and is mind body energy medicine.

"This study is the first to highlight the positive impact of yoga in reducing inflammation, oxidative stress and increasing expression of anti-inflammatory genes," she claimed. "We found that eight weeks of yoga practice significantly reduced disease activity, normalised the biomarkers associated with inflammation and re-established immunological tolerance," Dada said. It was a randomised controlled trial on 64 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients with active disease. "Further, yoga reduced the rate of immunological aging. Our findings suggest that yoga positively modified the epigenome and switched on the internal pharmacy which regulates gene expression patterns.

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"These findings suggest that yoga possesses an immune-modulatory potential which induces molecular remission in RA and re-establishes immunological tolerance. Yoga also reduced the severity of comorbid depression by promoting neuroplasticity," Dr Dada said. Taken together, yoga reduces RA severity, and aids in immune-modulation and hence can be beneficial as an adjunct therapy, Dr Dada said.

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