As researchers around the world race to find a vaccine for COVID-19, the virus that has shut down economies and regular life for many, other researchers are still focusing on how to treat this lethal agent. With the most common symptoms of COVID-19 being fevers, coughs, shortness of breath, and fatigue, hospitals across the country are treating coronavirus patients with severe cases by putting them on ventilators in order to provide supplemental oxygen.
Researchers from around the country have written a new paper explaining that two ancient practices may be beneficial to those suffering from coronavirus: yoga and meditation.
In a paper, done by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California-San Diego, Chopra Library for Integrative Studies, and Harvard University, experts explain the benefits that yoga and meditation may have as an adjunctive treatment to the novel coronavirus.
How can yoga and meditation help treat COVID-19?
The “brief overview of key subjects,” published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (JACM), explains that the anti-inflammatory effects of yoga and meditation could help make them adjunctive, or supplemental, treatments to COVID-19. The practices can also help reduce the severity of the COVID-19 disease.
Previous research has found that yoga, meditation, and pranayama, which is breath control, not only help fight depression and strengthen brain networks, but also help reduce stress and inflammation in the body.
Past studies also show promising immune system effects that could improve lung health, reduce susceptibility to viruses, and improve acute respiratory infections. One study showed that 90 minutes of yogic stretching is able to increase the levels of two important antimicrobial peptides that are expressed in respiratory cells.
The benefits of yoga and meditation also extend to the interactions between the nervous system and immune system.
“There is evidence of stress and inflammation modulation, and also preliminary evidence for possible forms of immune system enhancement, accompanying the practice of certain forms of meditation, yoga, and pranayama, along with potential implications for counteracting some forms of infectious challenges,” the authors wrote.
The researchers noted that meditation and yoga may also enhance the activity of melatonin, which could be useful for possible treatment against COVID-19 as melatonin is protective against ventilator-induced lung injury in animal models.
John Weeks, the Editor-in-Chief of JACM, encourages researchers around the world to pay more attention to how more natural treatments could be useful in containing this global pandemic and in the healthcare world in general.
“The paper is another in a series in JACM and in other integrative medicine journals suggesting that research agencies in the United States and Europe would serve their citizens by upping their exploration of the potential contributions of natural health practices, especially amidst the present dearth of conventional treatments,” Weeks wrote.
While the authors are convinced that yoga and meditation could help treat the coronavirus, they also “readily acknowledge that in the context of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the ideas put forth in this article must be put to further rigorous scientific investigation.”
Jennifer Fabiano is an SEO reporter at Ladders.