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Yoga and GABA

July 2, 2007

Yoga might be useful in treating depression.


Can yoga fight depression? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Yoga may boost brain chemicals that stave off anxiety and depression. This according to a study led by Chris Streeter, a psychiatrist and neurologist at the Boston University School of Medicine. The study focused on a chemical called GABA, which is known to be low in people with depression and anxiety. Streeter’s team measured GABA levels in the brains of experienced yoga practitioners, before and after an hour of yoga postures and breathing exercises. A control group simply read for an hour.

CHRIS STREETER (Boston University School of Medicine):
And the yoga people showed a 27 percent increase in GABA levels, as a group. And the controls had really no change.

While this study can’t prove that yoga alone would have this effect, some other studies also suggest that yoga may combat mood disorders – especially in combination with traditional psychiatric treatments. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.