Yoga as adjunct therapy for adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease: A pilot clinical trial

Complement Ther Med. 2018 Dec;41:99-104. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2018.09.007. Epub 2018 Sep 11.


Objectives: To determine whether utilizing yoga as an adjunctive therapy to the medical standard of care for adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is: (1) feasible and acceptable, (2) effective in reducing disease severity, intestinal inflammation and improving wellness.

Design: Prospective, non-randomized, 8-week pilot study for adolescents with a diagnosis of IBD. Feasibility and acceptability of the intervention were assessed weekly and post-intervention via surveys and a focus group (week 8). Disease severity, intestinal inflammation, and wellness measures were assessed at baseline and post-intervention (week 8).

Intervention: Over the 8-week study period, patients were assigned three 60-minute, in-person yoga classes at weeks 1, 3 and 8, and three 30-minute, online yoga videos per week.

Main outcome measures: Primary outcome measures were feasibility and acceptability. Secondary outcome measures assessed preliminary clinical efficacy by examining pre- and post-intervention change in disease severity (PUCAI), intestinal inflammation (fecal calprotectin), and six wellness measures (PROMIS-37).

Results: Nine adolescents with IBD participated. Eight participated in one or more yoga videos per week and all nine attended at least two in-person yoga classes. Focus group themes revealed that the intervention was well liked, with all participants reporting reduced stress, improved emotional self-awareness, and increased ability to identify and manage the physical symptoms of IBD. Participants had difficulty, however, completing the yoga videos due to time limitations and competing priorities. We lacked power to detect any statistically significant changes in PUCAI, calprotectin, or any of the six PROMIS-37 domains.

Conclusions: A combination of in-person instructor led yoga with video-based yoga is a feasible and acceptable adjunct therapy for adolescents with IBD. Participants reported reduced stress and improved ability to identify and manage physical symptoms. A larger, randomized controlled trial is necessary to determine if the yoga protocol results in clinically and statistically significant improvements in inflammatory biomarkers and patient reported outcomes.

Keywords: Adolescent; Complementary and alternative medicine; Inflammatory bowel disease; Integrative medicine; Mind-body intervention; Yoga.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / psychology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / therapy*
  • Male
  • Meditation*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Self-Management
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Yoga*