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Yoga increases GABA and improves depression


Yoga may be effective in treating patients with stress-related psychological and medical conditions like depression, anxiety, high blood pressure and even cardiac disease according to a paper by researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), New York Medical College (NYMC), and the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons (CCPS). This research suggests a mind-body practice for the prevention and treatment conditions in combination with standard treatments.

Stress can cause an imbalance in the autonomic nervous system. It can also cause under activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA. Low GABA is found in anxiety disorders, PTSD, depression epilepsy and sufferers of chronic and persistent pain.

“Western and Eastern medicine complement one another. Yoga is known to improve stress-related nervous system imbalances,” explained Chris Streeter, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at BUSM ad Boston Medical Center and lead author. “This paper provides a theory, based on neurophysiology and neuroanatomy, to understand how yoga helps patients feel better by relieving symptoms in many common disorders.”

In an earlier study by this same group of researchers, it was found that a group of walkers experienced no increase in GABA while a group of yoga practitioners did – as well as experiencing a decrease in self-reported anxiety. In another study from this group, patients with chronic low back pain responded to yoga intervention with increased GABA levels and decreased pain.

The team is now beginning to test the yoga implementation theory by incorporating mind-body practices like yoga in their clinical studies of a range of stress-related medical and psychological conditions.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Boston University Medical Center

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