Therapeutic Trials on Yoga

K.N. Udupa, Director of the Institute of Medical Sciences, Banares Hindu University, has been researching the effects of yogic practices on different diseases. He states that because of the alarming rate of increase of stress disorders throughout the world "there is an urgent need for conducting a thorough clinical study to evaluate each one of the yogic measures in overcoming such disorders. Once the value of these measures is fully established, there is no reason why they should not be universally adopted, not only for curing diseases but also for preventing their recurrence."*1

Udupa began his study by carrying out extensive trials of asanas, pranayama and meditation in healthy young subjects. Because of the beneficial results on the health and body function of these people he began to research disease conditions, basing his therapy on the results of the original studies. He studied 30 people with thyrotoxicosis, 6 with hypertension, 2 with bronchial asthma, 6 with nervous dyspepsia, and 8 with rheumatic disorders of the spine.*2

These people were subjected to full investigations and, once the correct diagnosis was obtained, were put on conventional therapy. If this did not work after some time, the patients were transferred to a yogic regime. Udupa found that when yoga was implemented, most cases of stress disorders showed a gradual improvement both physically and mentally. In due course of time they could stop drug therapy and continue only on yoga. This improvement and the subsequent freedom from drags had the two-fold effect of both physical and mental satisfaction so that the individual develops enough confidence to resume his normal activities.

The results of the individual therapies were as follows:

  • Thyrotoxicosis - 8 of the 30 recovered completely and require only yogic asanas to maintain their benefits. Sarvangasana is thought to be the main asana responsible for this improvement. The other 22 individuals are using a combination of yoga and medication and Udupa expects that as their condition improves they will be gradually taken off their drugs. He states that present study indicates that those who perform asanas regularly and in the early stages of the disease ultimately do recover with yogic practice. However, these asanas may have to be continued for the duration of life as thyrotoxicosis is known to recur.
  • Hypertension - All six patients are taking both medicine and yoga, however, since the introduction of yoga their drag dosage is decreasing. Subjectively, all patients report that they feel much better, more sober and calmer than when they were on drugs only.
  • Bronchial asthma - Both cases (medical practitioners) felt that yoga greatly reduced the intensity of their attacks and thereby the intake of their medicines. They became less susceptible to upper respiratory tract infection.
  • Nervous dyspepsia - 4 of these were suspected of having peptic ulcer and the other two spastic colitis. Using yoga they have been able to completely overcome their condition without the need of drugs.
  • Rheumatic lesions of the spine - These were 8 cases of rigid back and severe backache labelled as "rheumatic". Yogic therapy brought prompt recovery in all the cases.

Udupa states that asanas, pranayama and meditation bring about beneficial results by balancing and normalizing the various neuro-humoral, endocrinal and metabolic disturbances that had taken place in these disorders. He calls for an appraisal of the techniques used in order to achieve some degree of standardization and thereby more satisfactory results in therapy.

References

*1. L. K.N. Udupa, "A Manual of Science and Philosophy of Yoga", Journal of Research in Indian Medicine, Yoga and Homeopathy, vol. II, no. 1, 1976, pp. 1-103.
*2. Ibid.