Ulcerative Colitis Resource Center

Ulcerative Colitis Resource Center

June 16, 2016
2 min read

Yoga improves quality of life in patients with ulcerative colitis

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SAN DIEGO — A 12-week hatha yoga intervention reduced disease activity and improved quality of life and mental health in patients with ulcerative colitis, according to randomized controlled trial results presented at DDW.

Twenty percent to 61% of ulcerative colitis patients “report the use of complementary and alternative medicine due to their IBD, one of which is yoga,” Jost Langhorst, MD, from the department of integrative gastroenterology at University Duisburg-Essen in Germany, said during his presentation. In addition to the familiar physical postures, breathing exercises, deep relaxation and meditation all play a role in “a comprehensive lifestyle and stress reduction interaction.”

Langhorst and colleagues performed a single center trial to evaluate the efficacy of a 3-month hatha yoga intervention involving one 90-minute session per week compared with written self-care lifestyle advice in UC patients who were in clinical remission and had impaired quality of life. Patients were followed up an additional 3 months after the intervention, and outcomes were assessed at weeks 12 and 24 by blinded evaluators.

Disease-specific quality of life served as the primary outcome, and generic quality of life, disease activity, anxiety and depression, positive and negative affect, perceived stress, self-efficacy, laboratory parameters and fecal inflammation markers served as secondary outcomes.

Of 77 patients (75% women; mean age, 45.5 years), 39 were randomly assigned to the yoga intervention and 38 to the control group. The yoga group had significantly better disease-specific quality of life (P = .018), physical quality of life (P = .03), anxiety (P = .019), depression (P = .001) and self-efficacy at 12 weeks compared with controls, and these measures were maintained through 24 weeks. Disease activity (P = .029), mental quality of life (P = .009), positive affect (P = .02), perceived stress (P = .02) and self-efficacy (P = .019) were also improved in the yoga group vs. placebo at 24 weeks.

Study limitations included the open label setting and lack of attention control.

“A 12-week yoga intervention for patients with ulcerative colitis improved quality of life and mental health, and influenced the colitis activity score,” Langhorst concluded. “The effects persisted for at least 3 months after the end of the intervention, so yoga has potential as a complementary intervention for patients with ulcerative colitis.” – by Adam Leitenberger


Cramer H, et al. Abstract #387. Presented at: Digestive Disease Week; May 21-24, 2016; San Diego.

Disclosures: Langhorst reports grant/research support, speaking/teaching fees and/or other financial benefits from the Falk Foundation, Repha, Tech Lab and MSD. Please see the DDW disclosure list for all other researchers’ relevant financial disclosures.