ENDO - Feeling Stressed? Try Yoga

For Immediate Release

New Research Shows Link Between Yoga and Reduction of Stress Hormone

ENDO2003logo

PHILADELPHIA, June 19  - Cortisol, a hormone linked to stress, is significantly reduced in people who practice yoga, according to new research being presented this week at ENDO 2003, the 85th Annual Meeting of The Endocrine Society. The findings may help to pave the way for therapeutic applications of yoga in modifying hormone levels in healthy people or those with endocrine disorders.

The Center for Integrative Medicine of Thomas Jefferson University, in collaboration with the Yoga Research Society, verified previous research by showing that a single, one-hour session of classical yoga can lower blood cortisol levels in healthy males and females with no past yoga experience. Similarly, after seven consecutive days of practice, a one hour session of yoga again resulted in significantly lowered blood cortisol.

"Cortisol plays a crucial role in a person's response to stress," explains Justin Mager, the first author on the study. "We wanted to test if yoga can impact the levels of cortisol in a person's body, potentially helping to reduce stress."

On day one, cortisol levels were measured in 16 healthy men and women before and after a 50-minute 'quiet period,' without the intervention of classical yoga (control day). The next day, cortisol levels were measured in the same group before and after a 50-minute session of classical yoga. During the next five days, the subjects participated in 50-minute yoga sessions each day. On the seventh day, cortisol levels were measured before and after the yoga session.

In 42 out of 48 samples the decrease in cortisol levels was consistent with a normal daily decrease in cortisol levels between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. However, when the cortisol levels from yoga practice days were compared with the control day levels, greater decreases were observed on the yoga practice days.

"Our findings are consistent with our previous research into the relationship between yoga and hormone levels. These findings help to establish the impact of yoga on hormone secretion from the adrenal gland," notes George Brainard, Ph.D., Professor of Neurology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University. "Additionally, these findings provide preliminary data for how classical yoga may be applied as a therapeutic intervention."

Ultimately, further research is needed to elucidate the effects of yoga on endocrine physiology and stress response in humans. Vijayendra Pratap, Ph.D., Director of the Yoga Research Society, states "We are interested in working with scientists and physicians to empirically test the efficacy of classical yoga for improving health and quality of life."

The Endocrine Society is the world's oldest, largest, and most active organization devoted to research on hormones, and the clinical practice of endocrinology. Endocrinologists are specially trained doctors who diagnose, treat and conduct basic and clinical research on complex hormonal disorders such as diabetes, thyroid disease, osteoporosis, obesity, hypertension, cholesterol and reproductive disorders. Today, The Endocrine Society's membership consists of over 10,000 scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students, in more than 80 countries. Together, these members represent all basic, applied, and clinical interests in endocrinology. The Endocrine Society is based in Chevy Chase, Maryland. To learn more about the Society, and the field of endocrinology, visit the Society's web site at www.endo-society.org

For Immediate Release

New Research Shows Link Between Yoga and Reduction of Stress Hormone

ENDO2003logo

PHILADELPHIA, June 19  - Cortisol, a hormone linked to stress, is significantly reduced in people who practice yoga, according to new research being presented this week at ENDO 2003, the 85th Annual Meeting of The Endocrine Society. The findings may help to pave the way for therapeutic applications of yoga in modifying hormone levels in healthy people or those with endocrine disorders.

The Center for Integrative Medicine of Thomas Jefferson University, in collaboration with the Yoga Research Society, verified previous research by showing that a single, one-hour session of classical yoga can lower blood cortisol levels in healthy males and females with no past yoga experience. Similarly, after seven consecutive days of practice, a one hour session of yoga again resulted in significantly lowered blood cortisol.

"Cortisol plays a crucial role in a person's response to stress," explains Justin Mager, the first author on the study. "We wanted to test if yoga can impact the levels of cortisol in a person's body, potentially helping to reduce stress."

On day one, cortisol levels were measured in 16 healthy men and women before and after a 50-minute 'quiet period,' without the intervention of classical yoga (control day). The next day, cortisol levels were measured in the same group before and after a 50-minute session of classical yoga. During the next five days, the subjects participated in 50-minute yoga sessions each day. On the seventh day, cortisol levels were measured before and after the yoga session.

In 42 out of 48 samples the decrease in cortisol levels was consistent with a normal daily decrease in cortisol levels between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. However, when the cortisol levels from yoga practice days were compared with the control day levels, greater decreases were observed on the yoga practice days.

"Our findings are consistent with our previous research into the relationship between yoga and hormone levels. These findings help to establish the impact of yoga on hormone secretion from the adrenal gland," notes George Brainard, Ph.D., Professor of Neurology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University. "Additionally, these findings provide preliminary data for how classical yoga may be applied as a therapeutic intervention."

Ultimately, further research is needed to elucidate the effects of yoga on endocrine physiology and stress response in humans. Vijayendra Pratap, Ph.D., Director of the Yoga Research Society, states "We are interested in working with scientists and physicians to empirically test the efficacy of classical yoga for improving health and quality of life."

The Endocrine Society is the world's oldest, largest, and most active organization devoted to research on hormones, and the clinical practice of endocrinology. Endocrinologists are specially trained doctors who diagnose, treat and conduct basic and clinical research on complex hormonal disorders such as diabetes, thyroid disease, osteoporosis, obesity, hypertension, cholesterol and reproductive disorders. Today, The Endocrine Society's membership consists of over 10,000 scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students, in more than 80 countries. Together, these members represent all basic, applied, and clinical interests in endocrinology. The Endocrine Society is based in Chevy Chase, Maryland. To learn more about the Society, and the field of endocrinology, visit the Society's web site at www.endo-society.org