Yoga Offers Relief from Back Pain, OCD and Asthma

Jul 23, 2002

Many doctors now believe that yoga, one of the country’s hottest fitness trends, can also cure what ails you, reports The Wall Street Journal. Physicians in the U.S. and abroad are conducting a variety of studies gauging whether yoga offers health benefits beyond general fitness and can relieve symptoms associated with serious medical problems. Early results suggest that a regular regimen of yoga can offer relief for patients suffering from ailments including asthma, chronic back pain, arthritis, and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Several American doctors are pursuing randomized yoga studies, and the National Institutes of Health is funding clinical trials of yoga for treating insomnia and multiple sclerosis (see

Dr. Vijay Vad, a sports medicine specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, is studying 50 patients with herniated disks who are suffering from lower back pain. After three months, 80 percent of patients in the yoga group reported that their pain was reduced by at least half. In the group taking drugs, only 44 percent improved. Three patients, or 12 percent of the yoga group, re-injured their backs during the period compared with 14, or more than half of patients in the medication group.

Another study, published in CNS Spectrums, a peer-reviewed psychiatric medical journal, examined 22 adults who suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder, an often-disabling condition that causes odd compulsions, such as excessive counting. Half the group used standard meditation, while the other half used Kundalini yoga. After three months, the yoga group posted a 40 percent improvement, compared with 14 percent in the non-yoga group. Later both groups received the yoga treatment, and after a year posted an average improvement of 70 percent.

P.K. Vedanthan, an allergist and associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver, studied 17 adults with asthma. Half the group practiced a yoga regimen that included breath slowing exercises and meditation. Although lung function tests were about the same for both groups, the yoga group was less likely to need inhalers and scored higher on quality of life questionnaires.

Mary Jo Kreitzer, director of the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota Alternative Medicine Center, recently authored an article on how yoga could be used for cardiovascular patients. Yoga has been shown to relieve stress, lower blood pressure and heart rate and improve cardiovascular endurance, she says.

Moderator Comment: Will further clinical evidence of the benefits of yoga add to the popularity of the practice? How can retailers more effectively reach consumers attracted to and/or practicing yoga? [George
Anderson – Moderator

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