Outcomes from a Whole-Systems Ayurvedic Medicine and Yoga Therapy Treatment for Obesity Pilot Study

J Altern Complement Med. 2019 Mar;25(S1):S124-S137. doi: 10.1089/acm.2018.0448.


Objectives: To determine the feasibility and acceptability of an Ayurveda/Yoga intervention for weight loss, using dual-diagnosis inclusion criteria, dual-paradigm outcomes, and a semistandardized protocol with tailoring according to the Ayurvedic constitution/imbalance profile of each participant.

Design: Seventeen participants enrolled in a weekly intervention for 3 months. Outcome measurements were performed at baseline, postintervention, and 3 and 6 months follow-up.

Setting: The intervention was conducted through the University of Arizona, Department of Family and Community Medicine from April through December 2012.

Subjects: Participants included 2 men and 15 women recruited from the community of Tucson, AZ using flyers and hospital message boards. Seventeen enrolled and 12 participants provided complete follow-up data.

Intervention: Participants met with an Ayurvedic practitioner twice monthly (six times) and followed semistandardized dietary guidelines with individual tailoring to address relevant psychophysiological imbalances obstructing weight loss and a standardized protocol of therapeutic yoga classes three times weekly with recommended home practice of two to four additional sessions.

Outcome measures: Primary outcome was weight loss. Other biomedical outcomes included body mass index, body fat percentage, waist and hip circumference, waist to hip ratio, and blood pressure. Unique instruments were designed to collect data on outcomes associated with the Ayurvedic medical paradigm, including dietary changes by food qualities, mood/affect, relationships, and changes in Ayurvedic imbalance profiles.

Results: Participants lost an average of 3.5 kg during the 3-month intervention. Weight loss at 3 and 6 months postintervention increased to an average of 5.6 kg and 5.9 kg, respectively. Participants who lost 3% of their body weight during the 12 week intervention, lost on average an additional 3% during the follow-up period. Psychosocial outcomes also improved. No additional services were provided to participants during the follow-up period.

Conclusions: A whole-systems Ayurvedic medicine and Yoga therapy approach provides a feasible promising noninvasive low-cost alternative to traditional weight loss interventions with potential added benefits associated with sustainable holistic lifestyle modification and positive psychosocial changes.

Keywords: Ayurveda; East Asian medicine; integrative medicine; obesity; whole system; yoga.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Integrative Medicine
  • Male
  • Medicine, Ayurvedic*
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Pilot Projects
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss
  • Yoga*