Yoga for epilepsy

No reliable evidence to support the use of yoga as a treatment for control of epilepsy.

Epilepsy is a disorder where recurrent seizures are caused by abnormal electrical discharges in the brain. Most seizures can be controlled by antiepileptic drugs but sometimes seizures develop which are resistant to those drugs. People may also wish to try non drug treatments such as yoga. This review assesses the utility of yoga as a treatment for control of epilepsy. No reliable evidence was found to support the use of yoga and further trials are needed.

Authors' conclusions: 

No reliable conclusions can be drawn regarding the efficacy of yoga as a treatment for epilepsy. Further studies are needed.

Read the full abstract...
Background: 

This is an updated version of the original Cochrane review published in Issue 1, 2002.

Yoga may induce relaxation, stress reduction, influence the electroencephalogram and the autonomic nervous system, thereby controlling seizures. Yoga would be an attractive therapeutic option for epilepsy if proved effective.

Objectives: 

To assess the efficacy of yoga in the treatment of people with epilepsy.

Search strategy: 

We searched the Cochrane Epilepsy Group Specialized Register (16 May 2011), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials ( CENTRAL Issue 2 of 4,The Cochrane Library 2011), MEDLINE (1948 to May week 1, 2011), and also registries of the Research Council for Complementary Medicine. In addition, we searched the references of all the identified studies.

Selection criteria: 

Randomized control trials and controlled clinical trials of treatment of epilepsy with yoga.

Data collection and analysis: 

Two review authors independently selected trials for inclusion and extracted data. Outcomes investigated included: percentage of people rendered seizure free; seizure frequency and duration. Analyses were on an intention-to-treat basis.

Main results: 

We found two unblinded studies enrolling a total of 50 subjects (18 treated with yoga, 32 to control interventions). Antiepileptic drugs were continued in all. Randomization was by roll of a dice in one study (Quasi).

The results of the study comparing yoga versus sham yoga or no yoga are given below:
(i) seizure free for six months - the odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for yoga versus sham yoga was 14.54 (95% CI 0.67 to 316.69) and for yoga versus no treatment group 17.31 (95% CI 0.80 to 373.45);
(ii) reduction in seizure frequency - the weighted mean difference between yoga versus sham yoga group was -2.10 (95% CI -3.15 to -1.05) and for yoga versus no treatment group -1.10 (95% CI -1.80 to -0.40);
(iii) more than 50% reduction in seizure frequency - the OR for yoga versus sham yoga group was 81.00 (95% CI 4.36 to 1504.46) and for the yoga versus no treatment group was 158.33 (95% CI 5.78 to 4335.63);
(iv) more than 50% reduction in seizure duration - the OR for yoga versus sham yoga group was 45.00 (95% CI 2.01 to 1006.75) and for yoga versus no treatment group 53.57 (95% CI 2.42 to 1187.26).

In the other study there was no significant difference between the yoga and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) groups in seizure free rates, 50% or greater reduction in seizure frequency or seizure duration at 1 year follow-up. The yoga group showed significant improvement in the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS), while the ACT group had significant improvement in the WHOQOL-BREF scale (over time).