Ayurveda and Panchakarma: Measuring the effects of a holistic health intervention

Osher Research Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
The Scientific World Journal (Impact Factor: 1.73). 02/2009; 9:272-80. DOI: 10.1100/tsw.2009.35
Source: PubMed


Ayurveda, the traditional medical system of India, is understudied in western contexts. Using data gathered from an Ayurvedic treatment program, this study examined the role of psychosocial factors in the process of behavior change and the salutogenic process. This observational study examined associations with participation in the 5-day Ayurvedic cleansing retreat program, Panchakarma. Quality of life, psychosocial, and behavior change measurements were measured longitudinally on 20 female participants. Measurements were taken before the start of the program, immediately after the program, and 3 months postprogram. The program did not significantly improve quality of life. Significant improvements were found in self-efficacy towards using Ayurveda to improve health and reported positive health behaviors. In addition, perceived social support and depression showed significant improvements 3 months postprogram after the subjects had returned to their home context. As a program of behavior change, our preliminary results suggest that the complex intervention Panchakarma may be effective in assisting one's expected and reported adherence to new and healthier behavior patterns.

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Available from: Lisa A Conboy, Apr 04, 2014
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    • "Ayurveda is among the oldest Indian indigenous systems of medicine with documented history of about 5000 years and 80% of the population still depends upon Ayurveda for their health concerns (Goyal et al., 2011). Although, evidence base for the efficacy of the majority of CAM interventions used to treat depression remains poor (Van der Watt et al., 2008), Ayurveda and its therapeutic strategies have promising potential especially in management of MDD (Conboy et al., 2009). But efficacy, safety and neurobiology of mechanism of action of these treatments still remain to be evaluated due to lack of systematic research in this area (Qureshi and Al-Bedah, 2013; Ravindran and da Silva, 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction Ayurveda (Indian- complimentary and alternative medicine) is still most sought after in India and has promising potential in management of Vishada [Major depressive disorder (MDD)]. But, systematic research is lacking. In this study we evaluated of influence of Ayurvedic treatment (Panchakarma and Ayushman-15) on psychopathology, heart rate variability (HRV) and endocrinal parameters in patients with major depression. Methods 81 drug naive patients diagnosed as Vishada by Ayurvedic physician and MDD according to DSM IV-TR were given Ayurvedic Virechana module (therapeutic purgation) and were randomized into two groups. Patients in Group A (n = 41) received Ayushman-15 A while group B (n = 40) received Ayushman-15 B for two months and Shirodhara (forehead -oil pouring therapy). Patients were assessed with Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS), Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating scale (MADRS), Heart Rate variability (HRV). Cortisol and Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) were estimated at baseline and after ayurvedic therapy. HRV and endocrinal parameters were compared with age and gender matched healthy volunteers. Results HRV parameters showed significant sympathetic dominance in patients compared to healthy volunteers. Two months of Ayurvedic treatment significantly decreased psychopathology, showed increase in vagal tone, decrease in sympathetic tone and reduced cortisol levels. However, there was no significant difference between groups receiving Ayushman A and B. Conclusion This study provides evidence for antidepressant, cardiac (HRV) and beneficial neuroendocrine modulatory influence of Ayurveda therapy in patients of Vishada (MDD). Further studies are needed to confirm these findings. Greater insight into the neurobiology behind this therapy might provide valuable information about newer drug target.
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