The panacea for chronic pain and mental stress in women with fibromyalgia is out: practice yoga twice a week for eight weeks to reduce the symptoms of pain and stress. This was revealed by a study that looked at the effects of yoga on levels of the hormone cortisol in women who are suffering from fibromyalgia. The condition, which predominantly affects women, is associated with chronic pain and fatigue, and symptoms such as muscle stiffness, sleep disturbances, and depression.
Previous research has found that women with fibromyalgia have lower-than-average cortisol levels, which can contribute to pain, fatigue, and stress sensitivity, according to the researchers. In the new study, participants’ saliva revealed enhanced cortisol levels following a program of 75 minutes of Hatha yoga twice a week, over the course of eight weeks. Also, patients reported significant reductions in their pain levels, as well as a mental boost from the yoga practice.
“Ideally, our cortisol levels peak about 30-40 minutes after we get up in the morning and decline throughout the day until we’re ready to go to sleep,” said the study’s lead author, Kathryn Curtis, a PhD student at York University in Canada. “The secretion of the hormone, cortisol, is dysregulated in women with fibromyalgia.”
The study, published in the Journal of Pain Research, follows another published report earlier this year that found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis, who practiced yoga, showed significant improvements in their symptoms.
Earlier this year, a study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience that found that meditation also delivered powerful pain-relieving effects to the brain with even just 80 minutes training in an exercise called focused attention. In the study, the subjects each took four 20-minute sessions to learn how to control their breathing and put aside their emotions and thoughts.
A quick look at the study
Women with fibromyalgia have lower than average cortisol levels that contributes to pain, fatigue and stress.
Doing Hatha yoga twice a week for eight weeks increases cortisol levels and thus helps to reduce pains.
Yoga helped many women patients with fibromyalgia with significant results. The patients noticed reduction in chronic pain and a mental boost by doing yoga, the study claims.