Effects of yoga in inflammatory bowel diseases and on frequent IBD-associated extra-intestinal symptoms like fatigue and depression

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2021 Jul 29;45:101465.doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2021.101465. Online ahead of print.

E Wilke 1, W Reindl 2, P A Thomann 3, M P Ebert 2, T Wuestenberg 2, A K Thomann 2


Author information

  • 1Department of Medicine II, University Medical Center Mannheim, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Germany. Electronic address: eva.wilke@umm.de.
  • 2Department of Medicine II, University Medical Center Mannheim, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Germany.
  • 3Center for Mental Health, Odenwald District Healthcare Center, Erbach, Germany.


Quality of life (QoL) of persons with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) is often impaired by symptoms that do not primarily relate to intestinal inflammation. Among the most challenging extraintestinal symptoms are depression and fatigue, which are also frequent in other chronic diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. Yoga as an ancient Indian tradition containing postures, breathing exercises and meditation may positively influence those symptoms. This review evaluates the current literature with regard to the effect of yoga-based interventions in persons with IBD and with regard to QoL, depression and fatigue in other somatic disorders. A systematic literature search yielded three trials examining the effects of yoga in patients with IBD and 37 trials addressing depressive syndromes or fatigue in somatic disorders. In summary, both in-person and video-based yoga classes are feasible, acceptable and safe as complementary treatment in patients with IBD and significantly improve anxiety and impaired quality of life. Current literature does not provide information on the effect of yoga on depression and fatigue in patients with IBD, but research from other somatic disorders or patients with depressive disorders implies the potential of yoga in this regard for persons with IBD. This should be specifically addressed in interventional trials with standardized yoga modules including patients with IBD suffering from fatigue, depression and/or impaired QoL.

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