Saturday, November 22, 2008

Yoga vs. seizures

Stress has been one of the major causes that triggers epileptic seizures.

Recent studies have proven that yoga, as an add-on therapy to surgery and medicines can reduce the frequency of seizures or attacks among patients suffering from refractory epilepsy.

November 17 is World Epilepsy Day. In Karnataka alone, five out of every 1000 people are said to be epileptic.

The all-India figure for the number of people with epilepsy is 55 lakh to 78 lakh. Irrespective of age, nation and race, epilepsy can affect anyone, and it manifests itself largely during childhood.

A study funded by Free Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Science and Technology (FCTIMST), Thiruvananthapuram, found that yoga helped to reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures. More than 50 per cent of the patients involved in the study were totally seizure-free within a year of yoga therapy.

The study was conducted by neurologist Dr Rajesh B Iyer under the guidance of Dr K Radhakrishnan, HoD of Neurology at FCTIMST and yoga guru, G Mohan Das of Yoga Centre for Health Research, Varkala.

Speaking to this website's newspaper, Dr Rajesh who is now with Narayana Hrudayalaya in Bangalore, said that the premise of the study was to check whether yoga helps in reducing the frequency of epileptic seizures. The study involved 20 patients and six months into the study all of them reported reduction in attacks, he said.

During the course of the study, a module was developed wherein the epileptic patients were made to do 20 minutes of meditation both in the morning and evening, under supervision.

Besides meditation, the yoga practice included ‘suryanamaskar’, ‘ardhakati’, ‘salabhasana’, ‘shavasana’ and ‘pranayam’, as part of their daily routine.

Dr Rajesh said: “Yoga importantly helps the epileptics on whom medicine does not work and for whom surgery is not suitable. Yoga helps to improve the alpha activity in the brain and reduces the frequency of seizures.” Reportedly, a proposal has been made to his affiliate hospital in Bangalore to conduct randomised control study for epilepsy. Approval is awaited.

Stressing on the advantage of yoga over surgery, he said: “Some epileptic patients have a misconception. They come to the hospital and ask for immediate surgery, to get rid of the disease as soon as possible. We can conduct an operation or surgery only when the exact focus of cause is detected and this happens only in about 20 per cent of the cases.” NIMHANS, Bangalore is also understood to have conducted a similar study funded by the Central Council of Research in Yoga and Naturopathy recently.

Associate Professor of Neurophysiology at NIMHANS T N Satyaprabha, said: “it was found that there was sinificant improvement in the patients and two of them were completely cured.”


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