stress, among other things, triggers the frequency of epileptic fits--a disorder of the central nervous system characterized by loss of consciousness and convulsions. There is evidence that shows stress results in sudden and unexplained deaths in epileptic patients. A study conducted at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (nimhans), Bangalore, suggests certain forms of yoga, along with regular treatment, can help reduce seizures in patients suffering from refractory epilepsy. Patients suffering from refractory epilepsy get more than two seizures every month.
Epilepsy affects 40 million people worldwide. But effective treatment is not yet available. On an average, 15 per cent of patients remain epileptic despite taking more than two drugs. One of the reasons for frequent seizures is that high levels of stress lead to release of hormones (like glucocorticoids, neuropeptides and corticotrophin-releasing hormone) that excite brain cells, resulting in seizures. "Yoga maintains the functional harmony between body and mind, and enhances blood circulation, lowering stress levels," says Sumitra R K, yoga therapist and consultant with Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, Bangalore.
The study, funded by the Central Council of Research in Yoga and Naturopathy, was conducted on two groups--one that practiced yoga and the other that did simple exercises. Regular epilepsy medication was administered to both the groups.
The yoga group practiced suryanamaskar, ardhakati, chakrasana, bhujangasana, salabhasana and savasana followed by pranayam for 20 minutes, six days a week. There was significant improvement in those who practised yoga, including two who were completely cured, says T N Sathyaprabha, associate professor, neurophysiology, nimhans. The other group that was asked to do simple exercises showed higher physiological stress compared to the yoga group. No other significant changes were observed in the non-yoga group. The study was published in Epilepsy and Behaviour (Vol 12, No 2).
Mahesh Kuriyal, a psychiatrist from Dehradun says epileptic patients tend to seclude themselves. "Yoga as an adjuvant therapy can help regain the psychological fear by lowering stress levels." Nandkishore, a neurologist from Dehradun says a detailed study can yield positive treatment for epilepsy patients but it is too early to say that yoga can reduce seizures.
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