Meditation, yoga, a vegetarian diet and massages are good for your health, according to a study released Friday by the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.
In a novel controlled clinical trial, participants in a six-day Ayurvedic-based well-being program experienced measurable decreases in a set of blood-based metabolites associated with inflammation, cardiovascular disease risk and cholesterol regulation.
The findings were published in today’s issue of “Scientific Reports.”
The study represents a rare attempt to use metabolic biomarkers to assess the reported health benefits of integrative medicine and holistic practices, according to Dr. Deepak Chopra, senior author of the study, which included researchers from multiple institutions. Chopra is a clinical professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UCSD School of Medicine and a noted proponent of integrative medicine.
“It appears that a one-week panchakarma program can significantly alter the metabolic profile of the person undergoing it,” Chopra said. The Chopra Foundation provided funding for the study.
“As part of our strategy to create a framework for whole systems biology research, our next step will be to correlate these changes with both gene expression and psychological health,” Chopra said.
The study was co-authored by Paul J. Mills, PhD, a professor of family medicine and public health and director of the Center of Excellence for Research and Training in Integrative Health, both at UCSD School of Medicine.
Mills noted that alternative and integrative medicine practices, such as meditation and Ayurveda, are extremely popular, but their effects on the human microbiome, genome and physiology are not fully understood.
“Our program of research is dedicated to addressing these gaps in the literature,” Mills said.
The researchers looked at the effects of a panchakarma-based Ayurvedic intervention on plasma metabolites in a controlled clinical trial, according to Christine Tara Peterson, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at UCSD School of Medicine.
“Panchakarma refers to a detoxification and rejuvenation protocol involving massage, herbal therapy and other procedures to help strengthen and rejuvenate the body, Peterson said. The study involved 119 healthy male and female participants between 30 and 80 years of age who stayed at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad. Slightly more than half were assigned to the panchakarma intervention, while the remainder were part of a control group.
Blood plasma analyses, using liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry, were taken before and after the six-day testing period. The researchers found that in the panchakarma group, there was a measurable decrease in 12 specific cell-membrane chemicals correlating with serum cholesterol and inversely related to type 2 diabetes risk.
Funding for this research came, in part, from the Fred Foundation, the MCJ Amelior Foundation, the National Philanthropic Trust, the Walton Family Foundation, the Chopra Foundation and Sybil Robson Orr.
—City News Service
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