Study Finds Yoga Therapy Reduces Disease Activity and Inflammatory Markers In People With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Mar 29, 2022 | Research

A recent study1 published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found a reduction in disease activity and inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who participated in a yoga therapy program alongside standard medical treatment.

Participants in the yoga group practiced a yoga sequence that involved gently moving the joints followed by strengthening poses, breathing practices, and meditation. Meanwhile, the control group only received standard medical care. After 12 weeks, participants in the yoga group had statistically significant reductions in:

  • disease activity – number of tender and swollen joints
  • interleukin 1-α (IL-1α) – cytokine that is present in inflammatory process in rheumatoid arthritis
  • cortisol – primary stress hormone

Participants with rheumatoid arthritis in the yoga group also showed a shift towards parasympathetic nervous system response. In other words, participants’ nervous systems were better able to access the rest-and-digest state which implies a reduction in chronic stress.

The study’s authors conclude that an appropriate yoga therapy program alongside standard medical care can be beneficial to patients with rheumatoid arthritis. You can learn more about yoga therapy here.

1Ganesan S., Gaur, G. S., Negi V. S., Sharma, V. K., & Pal, G. K. (2020). Effect of yoga therapy on disease activity, inflammatory markers, and heart rate variability in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 501.