A recent study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine explores the effect of yoga breathing or ‘Pranayama’ on chemotherapy associated discomforts. The study titled, ‘Yoga breathing for cancer chemotherapy associated symptoms and quality of life: results of a pilot randomized controlled trial’, is authored by Dhruva A, Miaskowski C, Abrams D, Acree M, Cooper B, Goodman S, Hecht FM.
Cancer and its treatments like chemotherapy are accompanied with quite a few discomforts and symptoms that are not totally relieved in spite of taking standard medications and other established methods. Pranayama, is set of yogic breathing techniques that may hold the potential to provide relief from chemotherapy associated issues and thereby bring about a change in the quality of life of the patient.
The research team conducted a pilot study to investigate and evaluate the efficacy and feasibility of pranayama on chemotherapy-associated symptoms. A randomized controlled clinical trial was designed that compared pranayama to normal care. Patients who received chemotherapy at one of the university medical centers (Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, University of California, and San Francisco) were randomized. Once group received pranayama immediately following chemotherapy while the control group received it after a waiting period.
Pranayama intervention included four breathing techniques taught in weekly classes to be practiced at home. The test group received pranayama intervention during two chemotherapy cycles while the control group received usual care during their first cycle and pranayama intervention for their second cycle. The patients were monitored for feasibility, cancer associated symptoms like fatigue, sleep disturbance, anxiety, depression, stress and quality of life.
- There was 100% attendance in both groups.
- 16 participants were included in the final intent-to-treat analyses.
- It was observed that any increase in pranayama dose, measured in terms of number of hours practiced at home/class led to an improved symptom or quality of life.
- Cancer associated symptoms like sleep disturbance, anxiety, and mental quality of life showed statistical significant improvement.
Thus, the research team concluded that yoga breathing was feasible intervention in patients who were receiving chemotherapy for cancer. Pranayama may be used for improving quality of life in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. However, the findings need to be confirmed using a larger study.
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