A systematic review of yoga on major clinical psychiatric disorders has revealed that the exercise can have positive effects against the likes of mild depression as well as sleep disturbances, even in patients not on other treatments.

Meanwhile yoga was found to be effective in patients with symptoms of schizophrenia and ADHD who are on drug therapy.

This systematic review looked at over one hundred individual studies and focused on 16 of them seeking the efficacy of yoga against these mental health disorders. The findings were published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, an open-access journal.

Almost 16 million Americans practice yoga and in popular culture the 5,000 year old practice is widely accepted as being a therapeutic exercise, according to the Harris Interactive Service Bureau.

The study authors wrote:

“Yoga has become such a cultural phenomenon that it has become difficult for physicians and patients to differentiate legitimate claims from hype. Our goal was to examine whether the evidence matched the promise.”

Of the mental health disorders tested, yoga did not provide any marked benefit in patients with cognitive disorders and eating disorders.

However, the review revealed that biomarker studies indicated that yoga actively influences key elements of the human body thought to play a role in mental health, in ways associated with the antidepressants class of drugs as well as psychotherapy.

Said Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University Medical Center, US, and lead author of the study:

“The search for improved treatments, including non-drug based, to meet the holistic needs of patients is of paramount importance and we call for more research into yoga as a global priority. If the promise of yoga on mental health was found in a drug, it would be the best selling medication world-wide.”

Researchers cautioned however that these findings should be regarded as preliminary since many of the studies were small, and future studies will need to be more scientifically rigorous.

Source: MNT