Regular supervised 90-minute weekly yoga sessions over a 12-week period improved quality of life and reduced disease activity in people with ulcerative colitis (UC), compared to patients who got only self-care advice.
These results are from a clinical trial (NCT02043600) studying the physiological and psychological effects of yoga on 77 UC patients — three-fourths of them women — who were in clinical remission. The German study, “Randomised clinical trial: yoga vs written self-care advice for ulcerative colitis,” appeared in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics.
People with UC, a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), often relapse when feeling stressed. For the trial, 39 patients were randomly assigned to yoga practice and 38 to written self-care advice, two approaches to reduce stress. The primary outcome was disease-specific quality of life, as assessed by an IBD questionnaire. Secondary outcomes included disease activity, as assessed by the Rachmilewitz clinical activity index and safety measures. Outcomes were assessed at weeks 12 and 24 by blinded assessment.
Results of the study show that the yoga group had significantly higher disease-specific quality of life compared to the self-care group after 12 weeks and after 24 weeks. In the yoga group, 21 patients reached a clinical relevant increase in quality of life at week 12; n the self-care group, only 12 patients reached the same result. At week 24, numbers increased to 27 patients in the yoga group and 17 patients in the self-care group.
Disease activity was lower in the yoga group, too, after 24 weeks. Only three patients experienced serious adverse events in the yoga group (and one in the self-care group) and seven patients experienced non-severe adverse events (and eight in the self-care group).
Overall, the findings suggest that regular yoga practice might be a valuable addition to conventional medical therapy for UC.
“Many people use yoga to increase their quality of life. Our study suggests that it might be worthwhile to consider yoga as part of a multimodal integrative approach for treating ulcerative colitis,” Holger Cramer, PhD., the study’s lead author and director of yoga research at Germany’s University of Duisburg-Essen, said in a press release.