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Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a genetic X chromosome-linked disorder,is marked by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. Presently, no cure exists for this condition.
Medical and rehabilitative therapy for genetic defects may help maintain function and provide some comfort. Corticosteroids represent the only palliative therapeutic option for DMD; however, they are linked with several side effects. In the current scenario of lack of any effective therapeutic options for DMD, yoga and Ayurvedic drugs may come to the rescue of these patients.
A study published in the Indian Journal of Palliative Care evaluated the impact of 18 months of yoga practice and Ayurvedic drugs on patients with DMD. Serum creatine phosphokinase (CPK) value was high in all the patients. Yoga interventions were based on Patanjalis Yoga Sutras and the Ayurvedic medications included poly-herbal tablets and liquid decoctions. Investigators assessed mobility, self-care, and level of comfort. Of the 16 enrolled patients, 10 completed 18 months of follow-up. Out of these 10 patients, 3 practiced yoga regularly for 18 months, 5 patients were irregular, while 2 stopped practicing yoga before completing 18 months. A positive outcome in mobility, self-care, and respiratory ease was evident at the end of the 18 months’ study period in the 3 patients who were regular with yoga and Ayurveda. The 5 patients irregular with yoga and Ayurveda either took some other alternative treatment (n=3) or restarted corticosteroid treatment (n=2). Those who took steroids had considerable increase in weight, resulting in difficulty in balancing. The 3 patients who took other alternative therapies and were irregular with yoga and Ayurveda, had deterioration in self-care and mobility while respiratory ease remained unaffected. At study end, improvement was noted patients who were regular with yoga and Ayurveda regimen.
Yoga has been shown to increase flexibility, muscle strength and tone and improves respiration. Pranayama therapy is also beneficial in DMD. Pranayama strengthens the heart and lungs, improves digestion and calms the mind. Ayurvedic herbomineral drugs also have a potential role in the long-term management of muscular dystrophy.
Yoga and Ayurveda can therefore play significant roles in the care and management of patients with DMD.