One week of Panchakarma programme — an Ayurvedic-based well being programme that features a vegetarian diet, meditation, yoga and massages — can lead to measurable decreases in a set of blood-based metabolites associated with inflammation, cholesterol regulation and cardiovascular disease risk, the results of a clinical trial have shown.
“It appears that a one-week Panchakarma programme can significantly alter the metabolic profile of the person undergoing it,” said senior author Deepak Chopra, Professor at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and a noted proponent of integrative medicine.
The findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, represent an attempt to use metabolic biomarkers to assess the reported health benefits of integrative medicine and holistic practices.
“As part of our strategy to create a framework for whole systems biology research, our next step will be to correlate these changes with both gene expression and psychological health,” Chopra said.
The research team from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine noted that alternative and integrative medicine practices, such as meditation and Ayurveda, are extremely popular, but their effects on the human microbiome, genome and physiology are not fully understood.
“Our programme of research is dedicated to addressing these gaps in the literature,” first author Christine Tara Peterson said.
“Panchakarma refers to a detoxification and rejuvenation protocol involving massage, herbal therapy and other procedures to help strengthen and rejuvenate the body,” Peterson pointed out.
The study involved 119 healthy male and female participants between 30 and 80 years of age who stayed at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, California.
Slightly more than half were assigned to the Panchakarma intervention and the remainder to a control group.
Blood plasma analyses, using liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry, were taken before and after the six-day testing period.
The researchers found that in the Panchakarma group there was a measurable decrease in 12 specific cell-membrane chemicals (phosphatidylcholines) correlating with serum cholesterol and inversely related to Type-2 diabetes risk.
“These phospholipids exert broad effects on pathways related to inflammation and cholesterol metabolism,” Peterson explained.
“Plasma and serum levels of the metabolites of phosphatidylcholine are highly predictive of cardiovascular disease risk,” Peterson noted.