September 2009 Newsletter
A Newsletter for Integrative Treatments

We believe that complementary treatments can be integrated with standard practices to offer patients the best of both worlds. As clinician researchers we seek new approaches to relieve emotional and physical problems while reducing medication side effects. The goal of this newsletter is to share with you Integrative Treatments we find to be safe and beneficial. We welcome your comments and ideas at:

Research Updates

Effects of a Yoga-Breath Intervention Alone and in Combination with an Exposure Therapy for PTSD and Depression in Survivors of the 2004 Southeast Asia Tsunami.

Descilo T, Vedamurtachar A, Gerbarg PL, Nagaraja D, Gangadhar BNG, Damodaran B, Adelson B, Braslow LH, Marcus M, Brown RP. Acta Psyciatr Scand 2009 [in press].

Objective: This study evaluated the effect of a yoga breath program alone and followed by a trauma reduction exposure technique on posttraumatic stress disorder and depression in survivors of the 2004 Asian tsunami.

Method: In this non-randomized study, 183 tsunami survivors who scored 50 or above on the Post-traumatic Checklist-17 (PCL-17) were assigned by camps to one of three groups: yoga breath intervention, yoga breath intervention followed by 3–8 h of trauma reduction

exposure technique or 6-week wait list. Measures for post-traumatic stress disorder (PCL-17) and depression (BDI-21) were performed at baseline and at 6, 12 and 24 weeks. Data were analyzed using anova and mixed effects regression.

Results: The effect of treatment vs. control was significant at 6 weeks (F2,178 = 279.616, P < 0.001): mean PCL-17 declined by 42.5 ± 10.0 SD with yoga breath, 39.2 ± 17.2 with Yoga breath + exposure and 4.6 ± 13.2 in the control.

Conclusion: Yoga breath-based interventions may help relieve psychological distress following mass disasters.

Significant outcomes

• Eight months after the 2004 tsunami, survivors living in refugee camps, who were given a yoga breath program (BWS) alone and followed by an exposure therapy (BWS + TIR), had significantly reduced scores on PCL-17 compared with that in a wait list control group.

• Among these survivors, the BWS and BWS + TIR interventions significantly reduced scores on BDI compared with that in the control group.

• Decreases of at least 60% in PCL-17 scores and 90% in BDI scores occurred in the BWS and BWS + TIR groups by 6 weeks and were maintained at 24-week follow-up.

This study was the result of collaboration between the Trauma Resolution Center of Miami, FL, The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences of India, Bangalore, and Ved Vignan Maha Vidya Peeth, Bangalore, India. Members of the research team were also affiliated with New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY, Rutgers University, Philadelphia, PA, New York University, Manhattan, NY, Mt Sinai School of Medicine, Manhattan, and Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, Manhattan.

Corresponding author: Patricia L. Gerbarg, MD

Longevity, Regeneration, and Optimal Health:
Integrating Eastern and Western Perspectives
Ed. C. Bushnell, E. Olivo, and N Theise.

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2009, 361 p.

This landmark volume contains 30 original papers by leading scientists, philosophers, academicians, and experienced virtuoso practitioners of mind/body practices including Indo-Tibetan and other traditions. The authors write from the cutting edge where Western science and Eastern traditions attempt to understand one another, a place where new perspectives on aging, healing, and health may germinate and lead to more effective approaches to both illness and well-being. Topics include effects of mind/body practices on cellular aging, telomeres, brain plasticity, tissue regeneration, psychoimmunology, exceptional achievement, myelin lipids, perception, attention, and cognition. We were fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend the conference from which this volume is derived on Sept. 18-21, 2006 at the Menla Mountain Retreat and Conference Center, Phoenecia, NY. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, The Mind and Life Institute, and Tibet House participated in the conference and contributed to many of the papers.

Part I. Longevity and Aging Advancements

Yoga Breathing, Meditation, and Longevity.

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2009, 1172:54-62.

Richard P. Brown and Patricia L. Gerbarg

Yoga breathing is an important part of health and spiritual practices in Indo-Tibetan

traditions. Considered fundamental for the development of physical well-being, meditation, awareness, and enlightenment, it is both a form of meditation in itself and a preparation for deep meditation. Yoga breathing (pranayama) can rapidly bring the mind to the present moment and reduce stress. In this paper, we review data indicating how breath work can affect longevity mechanisms in some ways that overlap with meditation and in other ways that are different from, but that synergistically enhance, the effects of meditation. We also provide clinical evidence for the use of yoga breathing in the treatment of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and for victims of mass disasters. By inducing stress resilience, breath work enables us to rapidly and compassionately relieve many forms of suffering.

Featured Teacher

Amy Weintraub has made important contributions to the nonpharmacological treatment of depression through her book, "Yoga for Depression" (Broadway Books, 2004) and her LifeForceYoga® workshops. A senior Kripalu teacher, she skillfully integrates yoga practices with psychotherapeutic techniques. Based on her own discoveries as she recovered from depression, Amy provides a rich collection of approaches to address the many aspects of depression including physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual. By incorporating evidence-based research, she continues to update her work. Amy's workshops provide a safe environment, minimizing the risks of adverse reactions, where she teaches movement, breath, sound, meditation, and positive affirmations. Her extensive set of DVDs and CDs support participants to continue learning and practicing. Amy also offers training workshops for health care professionals and yoga teachers who want to learn more about integrative practices. We have found Amy's workshops to be thoughtful, comprehensive, creative, therapeutic, and fun for the participants. The next one will be on January 11-17, 1010 in Tucson, AZ. For information on workshops see:

Current Projects

Serving Those Who Serve (STWS) is a non-profit group providing services to people who are still suffering from physical and emotional illnesses related to the NY September 11th World Trade Center Attacks. The 9/11 Community includes First Responders, Ground Zero workers, WTC workers, and area residents. STWS sponsors our new Breath~Body~Mind© program for relief of physical and emotional distress as well as for personal development. Workshops are open to the public and a portion of the profits are donated to STWS.

In addition to positive feedback from participants, our preliminary research data indicate significant improvement in measures of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms (Martin Katzman and Monica Vermani, in process).

Breath~Body~Mind© Courses with Dr. Richard Brown

Dr. Brown teaches a fusion of modern and ancient practices to rapidly balance the stress response system, relieve stress and anxiety, and enhance physical and mental health. Training includes QiGong breathing and movement, Christian monk breath moving techniques, Coherent Breathing, and Open Focus Meditation. Proceeds from these courses will be used to benefit the 9/11 Community.

* Manhattan, NY. SUBUD 230 W 29th St (between 7th & 8th Ave)
September 26 (10 am - 6 pm) and Sept 27 (10 am - 1 pm)

* Martha’s Vineyard, MA. Level 1 and Level 2 Courses
Level 1 for Beginners
October 3 (2 pm - 7 pm) and Oct 4 (1 pm - 6 pm)

Level 2 Prerequisite: completion of Level 1 and breath practice
October 3 (5 pm – 8:30 pm) and Oct 4 (1 pm – 7:30 pm)

Information and pre-registration will be posted in September: or

For Martha’s Vineyard courses, be sure to reserve a room in advance and check the ferry schedules at

Grand Rounds at Boston University October 15

Dr. Brown & Dr. Gerbarg

New Breath Techniques to Accelerate Recovery from PTSD

Lecture 2-3 pm with Experiential session on breathing techniques 3-4:30 pm

Reception: 4:30-5:30 pm

Dr. Richard P. Brown and Dr. Patricia Gerbarg will first outline neurophysiological mechanisms involved in the effects of breath techniques on the stress response system. They will then present the evolution of a program of breath practices based on their clinical studies of military veterans with PTSD, survivors of the 2004 South East Asia tsunami with PTSD, and severe GAD patients. The current multi-component program, a fusion of ancient and modern breath practices from several traditions, has shown promising results in relieving symptoms of PTSD in two pilot studies of First Responders affected by the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks. In the Experiential session, several of these therapeutic practices will be taught.

Boston October 17 and 18

Breath~Body~Mind™ with Dr. Richard P Brown

at The Arlington Center (near Boston, MA)

Follow-up session Oct 24, 2-4 PM. Save the date. Details to be announced

Publications & Reviews

"Yoga for Anxiety and Depression" Harvard Mental Health Letter April 2009

Review of How to Use Herbs, Nutrients, and Yoga in Mental Health Care, by Cathy Durga, LA Yoga magazine, June 2009.

About the Authors

Richard P. Brown, MD, Associate Professor in Clinical Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, NY is a psychopharmacologist and a certified teacher of Aikido (4th Dan), Yoga, Qi Gong, and meditation.

Patricia L. Gerbarg, MD, Assistant Professor in Clinical Psychiatry, New York Medical College, has a clinical practice in psychiatry and provides consultation for research on mind-body practices.