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Qigong Practices

Groundbreaking Review of the "evidence base" for Qigong and Tai Chi

The Most Comprehensive Review of the Health Benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong 

PUBLISHED FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 31, 2010 – The Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi, a training division of Health Action Inc in Santa Barbara, California, in collaboration with Arizona State University and the University of Arizona just released a comprehensive review of the health benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong, Chinese wellness practices, published in the prestigious American Journal of Health Promotion (AJHP).

The Chinese have had no need to prove that Qigong and Tai Chi are relevant, medically or scientifically as it is widely believed in Asia that these practices have great physical, mental and even spiritual benefits. The Asian societies have performed Qigong and Tai Chi consistently for millennia, i.e. these wellness practices are “tried and true." However, in the Western world Qigong and Tai Chi are not familiar. The norm is to hesitate to grant that a concept or process has relevance and credibility until it has been proven to have quantifiable benefits.

In the past, when asked about the “evidence base” for Qigong and Tai Chi, most advocates would simply respond, “The Chinese have been doing these practices for thousands of years. That is plenty of evidence of their value.” Now, a bona fide “evidence base” for Qigong and Tai Chi is emerging from within the scientific framework of the Western world.

This recent collaboration to review the Qigong and Tai Chi literature has resulted in the most comprehensive review of the research literature on Qigong and Tai Chi that has ever been produced. Dr. Roger Jahnke, OMD and his colleague Dr. Linda Larkey, applied a rigorous criterion wherein only the best randomized controlled trials were considered in the review. The total of such research between 1993 and the end of 2007 was an impressive 77 trials. This review presents the entire Qigong and Tai Chi “evidence base” in one comprehensive presentation.

The importance of the article is so significant that it was reviewed on ABC NEWS.

The total number of study participants was 6410 with the highest number of studies, 27, addressing psychological issues. Cardiac studies numbered 23 and falls prevention trials numbered 19. Other areas of positive influence included bone density, immune capacity, quality of life and physical function.

The authors concluded that, “with the mounting evidence for health benefits and the current progress in research methodology, it is likely that Tai Chi and Qigong will play a strong role in the emerging integrative medicine system as well as in prevention based interventions in the evolving health care delivery system.”

The researchers added, “The substantial potential for achieving health benefits, the minimal cost incurred by this form of self-care, the potential cost efficiencies of group delivered care, and the apparent safety of implementation across populations, points to the importance of wider implementation and dissemination of Qigong and Tai Chi.” When asked what he felt was the most important aspect of the findings lead author, Dr. Jahnke stated, “This highly visible review of the research literature on the wellness practices of Asian medicine demonstrates that there is a profoundly rich “evidence base” for the efficacy and safety of Qigong and Tai Chi.

In addition, it demonstrates that Qigong and Tai Chi have similar health benefits, clarifying that Qigong and Tai Chi are essentially equivalent forms of wellbeing enhancement practice. This is an historic and immense contribution to the research base of integrative medicine, wellness, gentle excise, mindfulness, health promotion, health-self reliance, self-care, stress mastery, mind-body practice and energy medicine.”

Dr. Jahnke’s co-investigator and co-writer, Dr. Linda Larkey, commented, “based on the findings, our recommendations are that, with the magnitude of the research demonstrating the relevance of Qigong and Tai Chi, future research should investigate more of the component aspects of these mind-body and meditative movement practices such as the amount of time required to gain benefit, the frequency of practice, the mix of the key components (movement, breath, meditation), the depth of the mind focus, etc.”


Energy Bodywork Systems

The Energy-Bodywork Tapping Techniques of Tuina has been an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Tapping on the meridians, the channels and the collaterals are techniques used by high level doctors of the Chinese Imperial Court. This is not massage, the client remains fully clothed during these sessions.

Muscle Energy Technique is a manual therapy that uses the gentle muscle contractions of the client to relax and lengthen muscles and normalize joint motion and nerve mobilization for the neck, back, pelvis, leg, arm, elbow and wrist.

Chinese Medical Qigong

"To descend a mountain is always easier than to ascend it; in like manner to become passive is easy but to regain freedom is painstaking. It requires the cooperation of the total man to retake all forfeited ground."

The Spiritual Man

According to Chinese Medical Qigong:

Qigong is the most profound health practice ever invented by mankind for the prevention of illness, reducing stress, mangaging chronic conditions, increasing longevity, and promoting healthy, active aging.

Qigong works strongly on the body fluids, including blood, lymph and the synovial and cerebrospinal fluids. Unlike aerobics, Qigong does not dramatically increase the heart rate during exercise. The object of Qigong is not to make the heart pump more strongly, but to increase the elasticity of the vascular system. As the vessels expand and contract with more vigor, the heart does not need to pump as strongly, thereby providing it with more rest.

The lymph fluids are moved primarily by tiny muscular expansions and contractions. Qigong employs some of their strongest motions where the largest lymph nodes are located; that is, the armpits, the backs of the knees, and the inguinal (groin) region. Qigong's relatively fine muscular expansions and contractions move lymph efficiently through the entire system. These actions, as well as the overall increase in qi that Qigong brings, strengthen the body's immune response.

Synovial fluid is found in joints. It lubricates them, allows joint flexibility, and when functioning normally, helps prevent arthritis and rheumatism. From the point of view of Chinese medicine, when "wind/damp" or physical obstructions (coagulated blood, calcium deposits, and so on) get struck in the joints, the results are not only specific joint problems but a decrease in the flow of chi through the entire body as well. Qigong works with the synovial fluid by compressing and expanding it, preventing and reversing all sorts of joint problems.

Cerebrospinal fluid is basically a nutrient bath and lubricating liquid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain. It keeps a constant pressure in the human body, which regulates nerve flow and affects every physical sense. The quality of your physical senses is determined by the health of your spine. Your cerebrospinal fluid, to a great degree, determines just how healthy your spinal cord is and how efficiently the spinal nerves carry messages from your brain to your body and from your body to your brain. All Qigong work strongly affects the cerebrospinal pump, both by physically pumping fluid and by moving qi, all of which encourages the spine to perform at optimal efficiency. 

Qigong also causes muscle tissue to elongate. This activity differs from stretching in the usual sense. The object here is to fill the tissues with energy, so that they stabilize at a given degree of stretch. With most forms of stretching, the body soon shrinks back to its original state when the stretch stops. With the stretches of Qigong, however, the muscles eventually attain a state similar to that of a springy rubber band. A few athletes possess this muscular springiness naturally, but anyone can attain this state with Qigong practice.

Qigong also adds greater strength and elasticity to the tendons. This contributes to the tremendous flexibility and physical power many Qigong practitioners have, which derives primarily from the tendons and ligaments, not from the muscles. Qigong has the ability to not only make ligaments more springy but also to shrink and stabilize overstretched ligaments, which make a joint too floppy-a problem experienced by many dancers.

Qigong affects the bones by directly infusing the bone marrow with energy. This technique is an advanced one, but by the time a disciplined practitioner reaches an advanced level of Qigong, the energizing of the bone marrow has started to occur. Masters of Qiigong have been healing people suffering from chronic or incurable diseases since ancient times. In China today, there are sections of hospitals and clinics that use Qigong to treat conditions unresponsive to other methods of therapy, such as Western medicine, acupuncture and herbs. Here patients learn to regulate their own qi, with a little help from their therapist. The range of maladies amenable to such treatment is quite broad, ranging from nerve diseases, such as Parkinson's, to cellular diseases, such as cancer.

Your body will awaken to Qigong in stages. If you constantly practice Qigong, your body will open up in layers. Muscles that were initially numb will begin to regain sensation. Your body will reveal itself to you gradually, in a marvelous process of rediscovery. As your body becomes more alive, you will be able to feel how your physical self works from the inside out.

It takes time for you to become sensitive to qi, but a good rule of thumb to go by is as follows: If you find yourself feeling more comfortable, or if you are able to do more things without strain, or if you do not get sick as often as you used to, or if you start developing a type of effortless concentration and ability to do physical activities you never before even thought were possible-your chi is growing whether you are aware of it or not. Keep practicing and you will eventually feel the qi in a very real, direct way.

The effect of Qigong on fibromyalgia (FMS):

a controlled randomized study.

Source: Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Uppsala, Sweden.

PURPOSE: To evaluate the effect of a 7-week Qigong intervention on subjects with Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS).

METH​ODS: The study was a controlled randomized study with repeated measures. Fifty-seven FMS female subjects were randomly assigned to an intervention group (n = 29) or a waiting-list control group (n = 28). After completion of the experimental part, the control group received the same intervention. Collection of data was made at pre- and post-treatment and at 4-month follow-up for both groups.

RESULTS: During the experimental part of the study, significant improvements were found for the intervention group, at posttreatment, regarding different aspects of pain and psychological health and distress. Almost identical results were found for the combined group. At 4-month follow-up, the majority of these results were either maintained or improved.

CONCLUSION: The overall results show that Qigong has positive and reliable effects regarding FMS. A high degree of completion, 93%, and contentment with the intervention further support the potential of the treatment. The results of the study are encouraging and suggest that Qigong intervention could be a useful complement to medical treatment for subjects with FMS.

Introducing qigong meditation into residential addiction treatment:

a pilot study where gender makes a difference.

Source: Center for Integrative Medicine and Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 520 Lombard Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to explore the feasibility and efficacy of adding integrative qigong meditation to residential treatment for substance abuse.

METHODS: Qigong meditation, which blends relaxation, breathing, guided imagery, inward attention, and mindfulness to elicit a tranquil state, was introduced into a short-term residential treatment program. At first clients chose to participate in qigong meditation on a voluntary basis during their evening break. Later they chose to participate in either meditation or Stress Management and Relaxation Training (SMART) twice a day as part of the scheduled treatment. Weekly questionnaires were completed by 248 participants for up to 4 weeks to assess their changes in treatment outcomes. Participants in the meditation group were also assessed for quality of meditation to evaluate the association between quality and treatment outcome.

RESULTS: Most clients were amenable to meditation as part of the treatment program, and two thirds chose to participate in daily meditation. While both groups reported significant improvement in treatment outcome, the meditation group reported a significantly higher treatment completion rate (92% versus 78%, p < 01) and more reduction in craving than did the SMART group. Participants whose meditation was of acceptable quality reported greater reductions in craving, anxiety, and withdrawal symptoms than did those whose meditation was of low quality. Female meditation participants reported significantly more reduction in anxiety and withdrawal symptoms than did any other group.

CONCLUSIONS: Qigong meditation appears to contribute positively to addiction treatment outcomes, with results at least as good as those of an established stress management program. Results for those who meditate adequately are especially encouraging. Meditative therapy may be more effective or acceptable for female drug abusers than for males. Further study is needed to assess ways to improve substance abusers' engagement and proficiency in meditation.

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