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Study Finds that Yoga Could Replace Some Prescription Drugs


Posted by Rebecca S.

Traditional medical practitioners often turn to prescription drugs to treat depression and anxiety disorders before other alternatives are explored. What if doctors prescribed a twice-weekly yoga session instead of a pill? Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine and McLean Hospital have found that the practice of yoga appears to significantly elevate brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels, the brain's primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. Having low GABA levels is associated with depression and anxiety. A range of pharmaceutical agents has been designed to increase GABA levels. But what if there was a safer alternative to taking prescription drugs? Nearly all-conventional medications come with some unwanted side effects, ranging from annoying to lethal. Yoga, on the other hand, has only beneficial side effects (assuming you don't try an advanced pose that lands you on your head). Yoga has also been linked to benefits such as stress reduction, weight loss, greater strength, flexibility, and recently as a possible treatment for depression or anxiety.
 
Comments (7)
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Yes, I agree that lifestyle factors should be addressed before we resort to drugs. While yoga may not eradicate all symptoms of depression, who's to say it won't help? Unfortunately we all want quick results and healthy eating habits and lifestyle choices are often subtle and cumulative. We have to have faith in the process and just keep going and tweaking our choices as we go. Of course, we are thankful for the drugs for drastic cases.
Certain anxiety disorders are due to chemical imbalances in the brain-which can be remedied by prescription drugs and therapy, and rarely produces as quick results as most people would like, I believe. While I don't doubt that yoga can promote stress releif, I'm not sure if it is the best alternative for people who suffer from such ailments. Sometimes working through the "annoying" side effects of drugs can be worth it, simply for the improvement of your health. If there are life-threatening side effects, patients are often under the close watch of their doctors.
Just kidding. Wanted to draw some more attention to my posts. It's true, though. Sometimes, using a drug to relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety and the like is necessary. If you can work through your issues with meditation and yoga, way more power to you, but typically - if you're at the point where you need medication, your body and spirit is probably not going to give you that extra oomph to get yourself going on your own. But in general, yoga is truly a miracle cure.
I think the comments so far reflect two ideas: Yoga can be a great way to lift yourself out of depression, and some cases of depression are more severe (as measured by a more severe brain neurochemical imbalance) and my require a different kind of intervention, such as antidepressants. I guess the more important point is that there are alternatives to drug therapy, and unless you are so depressed that you lack all motivation, you should consider these alternatives (of which, yoga is a great one).
7. Many times I feel that the reason we take drugs for almost anything is that we have a lot of faith in our doctors. This is generally good, but then it helps to remember that doctors are also a part of the system and most of them have not really been exposed to the potential benefits of alternative treatments, like yoga. Most of these treatments go back a long way and are based upon some logic; definitely worth a try.
It's interesting to read the actual scientific explanations behind my affinity for yoga. However, I think your twice weekly prescription for yoga will only work if the person is open to it. I wonder if someone who looks down on yoga or sees it as silly could benefit from it as much as someone who gives it a chance? I try to tell people how it will benefit them but some just aren't open to it, thinking they just have to "be more active" or spouting off excuses along those lines. Sometimes, people are afraid of what is unfamiliar and it's a shame. It's not like it's skydiving, after all! Those who are willing to try really benefit from yoga.

Hmmmm well there are three things on my mind relative to this.

The first is that I'm not all that concerned about medical science and research proving efficacies of yoga that have already stood for several millenia. A study like this gets published and it just puts a smile on my face.

However, when I do have interest in research and studies I don't place too much value on a study that has a population of 19 subjects. To me any results from a population that small is inconclusive to say the least.

And finally I find this quote from one of the researchers to be very intriguing.

"The development of an inexpensive, widely available intervention such as yoga that has no side effects but is effective in alleviating the symptoms of disorders associated with low GABA levels has clear public health advantage"

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