Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology.

2005 Jul-Sep;49(3):319-24.

– Manjunatha S, Vempati RP, Ghosh D, Bijlani RL.

Department of Physiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.

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The study was conducted to examine the hypothesis that yogasanas help in the treatment of diabetes mellitus by releasing insulin from the pancreas. Twenty healthy young voluntees (17 male, 3 female; age 19-31 years) participated in the study. Each volunteer performed four sets of asanas in random order for 5 consecutive days each with a 2-day gap between consecutive sets of asanas. The four sets of asanas were:

 (I) dhanurasana + matsyendrasana,

 (II) halasana + vajrasana,

 (III) naukasana + bhujangasana, and

 (IV) setubandhasana + pavanamuktasana.

 Blood samples were collected on days 4 and 5 of each set of asanas for measurement of glucose and insulin levels before the asanas, within 10 min after performing the asanas, and 30 min after ingestion of 75 g glucose, which in turn was ingested immediately after the second blood sample. A standard 75 g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) was also done before and after the study. On the days of the pre-study or post-study OGTT, no asanas were done. The serum insulin levels after the asanas were lower (P<0.05) than those before the asanas. However, the serum insulin level 0.5 h after the post-asana oral 75 g-glucose challenge was higher (P<0.05) in Set IV than the 0.5 h postprandial insulin level in the pre-study OGTT; the same trend was observed in other sets as well although statistically not significant.

The observations suggest that the performance of asanas led to increased sensitivity of the B cells of pancreas to the glucose signal. The increased sensitivity seems to be a sustained change resulting from a progressive long-term effect of asanas. The study is significant in that it has for the first time attempted to probe the mechanism by which yogasanas help diabetes mellitus.