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Photo: Lumina/Stocksy

Woo-woo wellness may be entering the mainstream, but relatively few scientific studies have actually been done on the health impact of holistic practices—which is why a a recent study co-authored by alt-health pioneer Deepak Chopra, MD, got our attention.

In the clinical trial, researchers used metabolic biomarkers to determine the benefits of certain wellness practices and integrative medicine, according to NDTV (a 24-hour news network in India).

Their findings? A vegetarian diet, meditation, yoga, and massage are tied to a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease. Major news.

The study, published in Science Reports, involved 119 participants (healthy men and women between the ages of 30 and 80), half of whom were assigned to be on a six-day Ayurvedic Panchakarma intervention.

Panchakarma refers to a detoxification and rejuvenation protocol involving massage, herbal therapy and other procedures to help strengthen and rejuvenate the body,” wrote Paul J. Mills, co-author of the study.

Afterwards, the researchers looked at the changes in the participants’ metabolites (markers in your blood). Those who were on the Ayurvedic program had a noticeable decrease in cell membrane chemicals (called phosphatidylcholines) that are associated with serum cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes risk.

“These phospholipids exert broad effects on pathways related to inflammation and cholesterol metabolism,” says Chopra. “Plasma and serum levels of the metabolites of phosphatidylcholine are highly predictive of cardiovascular disease risk.” Though the study notes that further studies are necessary in order to fully understand these (exciting) links, we’re pretty pumped that there’s now some science backing some increasingly common wellness practices on your heart health.

We tapped another doctor for a second opinion: “While it is unclear exactly what the role of the identified metabolites are in disease processes, this study demonstrated biological differences between people using Ayurvedic and non-Ayurvedic practices using Western scientific methods,” says Renu Regunathan-Shenk, MD, at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. “This is an important step in understanding how holistic practices affect our bodies and in incorporating them into the larger scientific community.”

Anyone up for some vinyasa?

How about some gut health intel? Turns out, this wellness practice could solve your digestive woes—and this vitamin could help you kiss bloating goodbye.