(CNSNews.com) – The federal government spent more than $160,000 to test yoga as a treatment for schizophrenia in New Delhi, India.
The project, entitled “The Impact of Yoga Supplementation on Cognitive Function Among Indian Outpatients,” is being funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant justifies basing the study in India because there are “twice as many” cases of schizophrenia there than in the United States.
“The proposed studies may lead to better treatment for schizophrenia using the ancient practice of Yoga,” the grant states.
Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in New Delhi has received $160,055 from the NIH, securing more than $50,000 in grants each year since 2010, administered by the Fogarty International Center.
The study is being led by Dr. Triptish Bhatia, a post-doctoral scholar at the hospital.
Yoga, a blend of physical, mental and spiritual exercise, has been practiced in India for over 5,000 years. It is also one of the classic systems of Hinduism, the religion practiced by roughly 80 percent of the population of India. Yoga is defined as “a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation.”
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by delusions and bizarre behavior. Its cause is unknown.
“Schizophrenia is a common, severe disorder for which treatment is inadequate and unpredictable at present,” the grant states. “Its causation is uncertain. Its lifetime prevalence is approximately 1% world-wide. It is estimated that there are approximately 2.2 million [schizophrenia] patients in the USA at present and over twice this number in India.”
“As it is a lifetime condition, [schizophrenia] entails enormous morbidity and public health costs, world-wide,” the grant continues. “Cognitive impairment is a key disabling feature of [schizophrenia].”
“Currently, medications offer only modest benefits for the cognitive dysfunction,” it states. “Hence, non- pharmacological interventions are worth consideration.”
The grant adds that yoga is “known to enhance cognitive abilities in healthy persons,” and could potentially help mentally impaired persons as well. “Our preliminary studies have shown for the first time that there may be remarkable improvement in selected cognitive domains among outpatients with [schizophrenia],” it states.
The project involves a controlled experiment to test the effectiveness of yoga on Schizophrenic patients for 21 days.
The “novel method” will then be used for further studies, to see how yoga treatment works with medications.
The study could receive additional funding on top of the $160,055 because its project end date is not until July 2015.