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Effect of a multimodality natural medicine program on carotid atherosclerosis in older subjects: a pilot trial of Maharishi Vedic Medicine

      Abstract

      Although the onset and progression of coronary heart disease (CHD) involve multiple risk factors, few intervention studies have attempted to modify these factors simultaneously. This pilot study tested the effect of a multimodality intervention involving dietary, exercise, herbal food supplement, and stress reduction approaches from a traditional system of natural medicine, Maharishi Vedic Medicine (MVM). The primary outcome measure was carotid intima-media thickness (IMT), a noninvasive measure of peripheral atherosclerosis and surrogate measure of coronary atherosclerosis. Comparison groups included modern medicine (conventional dietary, exercise, and multivitamin approaches) and usual care (no added intervention). Of 57 healthy seniors (mean age 74 years) randomized to the 3 treatment groups, 46 completed IMT post-testing. Carotid IMT was determined by B-mode ultrasound before and after 1 year of treatment. IMT decreased in a larger fraction of MVM subjects (16 of 20) than in the modern (5 of 9) and usual care (7 of 14) groups combined (i.e., 12 of 23; odds ratio 3.7, p = 0.05). For subjects with multiple CHD risk factors (“high-risk” subjects, n = 15), IMT decreased more in the MVM (−0.32 ± 0.23 mm, mean ± SD) than in the usual care (+0.022 ± 0.085; p = 0.009) or modern (−0.082 ± 0.095, p = 0.10) groups. Within-group reductions in IMT were significant for all MVM subjects (−0.15 ± 0.21, n = 20, p = 0.004) and for high-risk MVM subjects (n = 6, p = 0.01). These results show that this multimodality traditional approach can attenuate atherosclerosis in older subjects, particularly those with marked CHD risk.
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