Researchers have found evidence that suggests that a Panchakarma-based Ayurvedic intervention can be used to reduce levels of inflammation in the body, reduce cholesterol, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Ayurvedic interventions and improved diabetes control have been linked in the past, but the scientists wanted to document exactly how the intervention can affect the body, aiming to “identify altered metabolomic profiles following an Ayurveda-based intervention.”

Ayurveda is a form of Indian holistic treatment, and Panchakarma is a fivefold treatment plan that is part of Ayurveda. Panchakarma seeks to detoxify the body and boost the immune system.

The researchers, from the University of California San Diego School of Medicicne put 65 subjects on a six-day Ayurvedic intervention, and compared them to a control group of 54 people. All participants were aged between 30 and 80 years old.

The intervention included a vegetarian diet, meditation, massages and yoga, and was found to have benefits for certain diabetes biomarkers when compared between with the control group.

Deepak Chopra, MD, an expert in the field of alternative medicine and in particular of mind-body healing, who worked on the study, said that “it appears that a one-week Panchakarma program can significantly alter the metabolic profile of the person undergoing it.”

“As part of our strategy to create a framework for whole systems biology research, our next step will be to correlate these changes with both gene expression and psychological health.”

Those who underwent the intervention were found to have decreased levels of 12 cell-membrane chemicals which correlate with levels of serum cholesterol. These chemicals are also linked to the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to the study authors, and so the intervention may be able to reduce the risk of the condition.

However, the study was limited, the authors admitted, by being very short, and it is most likely that the changes observed were down to the vegetarian diet. Further studies will be needed to expand on the evidence and reliably document the benefits that Ayurvedic and Panchakarma can have.

The study was published online in Scientific Reports.