Qigong in Cancer Care - Updated Systemic Review and Meta-analysis

This timely article reviews twelve recent studies on Tai Chi and Qigong and its impact on cancer survivors. Using the Cochrane Collaboration Review Manager, a total of 915 subjects from 12 studies conducted since 2014 studying Qigong and Tai Chi treatments were reviewed. As before, the evidence is very supportive.  The studies all had controls, and compared usual care, support groups, waitlist control or sham Qigong control. The Qigong/Tai Chi interventions had positive effects on reducing the clinical symptoms of fatigue, sleep difficulties, anxiety, stress, and depressive symptoms, and improved overall quality of life. The only editorial comment is to watch for the sudden reversal in the graphs for which side showed the impact. For the first two graphs, the control results appeared on the left and the Qigong/Tai Chi results showed on the right.  For the remaining graphs, the Qigong/Tai Chi results showed on the left, and the control results appeared on the right. 

Written by CJ Rhoads, December 26, 2020.  

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Qigong for Diabetes

Three studies on Diabetes

 These three studies all report positive effects of either tai chi or qigong or both as a treatment for type 2 diabetes mellitus.  The first two studies were meta-analysis, with a combined total of 42 studies.  The third was a primary study with 103 subjects.  All reported beneficial results for the subjects compared to controls. Compared to aerobic exercise, the the first meta analysis indicated that tai chi had benefits over and above aerobic exercise for lowering A1C (average long term blood sugar levels) and raising hdl ( the “good” cholesterol).  The third individual study indicated that fasting blood sugar levels were improved more with qigong than tai chi, especially if the patient had had diabetes for a longer period of time.

 In all, the mounting research shows that both tai chi and qigong are effective treatments for type 2 diabetes. 

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Physical Benefits of Qigong as exercise

Effect on Strength and Endurance

Effect of Tai Chi on muscle strength, physical endurance, postural balance and flexibility: a systematic review and meta-analysis. 

Wehner C, Blank C, Arvandi M, Wehner C, Schobersberger W. Effect of Tai Chi on muscle strength, physical endurance, postural balance and flexibility: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2021;7(1):e000817.

This paper conducted a systematic review of 31 papers, including 21 in a meta-analysis, looking at the effect of Tai Chi on muscle strength, physical endurance, postural balance and flexibility as measured by tests commonly used in health-related fitness or competitive sports contexts.The number of participants in each study ranged from 14 - 368, and a vast majority of the participants were over the age of 60. Intervention periods ranged from 3 weeks to 12 months. Most of the studies were based on Yang style forms whereas three studies included Chen, Sun, and Wu styles.

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Qigong for sleep

 Qigong for Sleep

This meta-analysis considered 444 studies initially, from both English and Chinese databases.
Eventually 24 studies, published from 2014-2018, qualified for the study. 1858 adults
participated in 8-26 week trial periods. Sleep is being recognized as crucial to our health and
well-being. The article argued that poor sleep is “a universal issue in modern society, causing
insidious physical and psychological disorders.” At least 25% of adults report sleep complaints.
The social cost is found in work-absenteeism and reduced productivity. This meta-analysis found
that Tai Chi Chuan can be effective in treating sleep disorder. As the report stated: “Tai Chi
Chuan elicited moderate improvements in subjective sleep quality.” The effect was found to be
greater with Asian populations than western populations. The optimal time of Tai Chi Chuan
practice to be most effective was 60-90 minutes per session. While the results were encouraging,
more thorough studies must be conducted in order to optimize Tai Chi Chuan practices amidst
varying populations.

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Online Qigong for People with Cystic Fibrosis

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people were forced to change the way they do things, including health and wellness programs and exercising . Gyms and exercise centers were mostly closed. If places were open, people opted to stay home for safety and to protect their health. This includes people with general overhead good health and those with health conditions.

This study looked at the feasibility of offering virtual Ta Chi programs for individuals with Cystic Fibrosis. Forty participants were randomized into 2 groups- group A meeting face-to-face with a private instructor, and Group B with private lessons using a virtual set up. For each group, eight lessons were delivered over a period of three months, timetabled depending on the patient's current health status. Age groups for the study were as follows: 6–11, 12–16, >16 years. Movements were adapted from the “Eternal Spring” therapeutic Tai Chi and Qigong method, which uses animal movements and can be practiced standing or seated. A DVD and printed exercise workbook were provided for additional practice. According to the authors, this study has shown online TC is possible for people with CF and qualitative outcomes are comparable to in-person, face to face tuition. For the participants in this study, internet tuition seemed to be convenient, enabled normal family life to continue, and could engage patients who were geographically isolated or unable to join a local group.

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Effects of Tai chi qigong on cognitive function in older adults

“Meta-Analytic Review of the effects of TaiChiChuan on Cognitive Function in Older Adults with Cognitive Impairment”

Hindawi Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2020

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Qigong for High Blood Pressure - Hypertension

This article is the first meta-analysis of available literature on the effect of TaiChi/Qigong exercise [TCQE] on Essential Hypertension [EH] patients. The focus was on the effect of TCQE on blood pressure and blood levels of Nitric Oxide and Endothelin-1 in EH patients. Nine randomized controlled trials were cited involving 516 EH patients, with an intervention duration lasting from 1.5 to 6 months. The conclusions are very positive, showing that TCQE can be an effective treatment of EH. 

Summary by Dr. Charles Garrettson, George Mason University

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Qigong for Stroke prevention and treatment

Two research studies on stroke - one for prevention and one for Quality of Life post stroke

Article 1- Stroke Prevention

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Improved Mental Health in Elders with Long-term Tai chi Practice

Improved Mental Health in  Elders with Long-term Tai chi Practice

This well done, rigorous study offers a look into the impact of long term tai chi practice on the brain in elders. Decreased regret and judgment (rumination) were two interesting findings that could help elders avoid depression caused by rumination. 

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Qigong for Anti-Aging for those under age 65 and Frail Older Adults


Qigong for Anti-Aging for those under age 65 and Frail Older Adults

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Advice to Qigong Teachers

Advice to Qigong Teachers

This qualitative research study looked at adherence to ongoing practice at home. 

Key lessons learned that can benefit qigong teachers:

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Qigong for Depression and Substance abuse

The effect of tai chi and Qigong exercise on depression and anxiety of individuals with substance use disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis

There is a scarcity of systematic reviews summarizing the clinical evidence of the effect of Tai Chi and Qigong among individuals with substance use disorders. This study tries to fill this gap by measuring the effects of each in substance abuse treatment. The findings suggest a potentially beneficial effect of Qigong exercise on symptoms of anxiety among individuals with drug abuse, but no significant effect from Tai chi. The study found that qigong reduced anxiety and depression. One of the benefits of relaxation is the effect on the limbic system to replace the numbing effect of  drugs. With qigong individuals  experience less  anxiety and perhaps the chance of relapse is reduced.  Qigong practice reduced the pleasure dissonance and improved cognitive control with simplicity of movement. This is a small metastudy and more research is needed but preliminary results are positive, noting that Qigong may reduce the need for medication therapy

The effect of tai chi and Qigong exercise on depression and anxiety of individuals with substance use disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis

BMC Complement Med Ther 2020 May 29;20(1):161.doi: 10.1186/s12906-020-02967-8.

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Benefits of Qigong - a systematic review

Benefits of Qigong as an integrative and complementary practice for health: a systematic review

Nurses are using various forms of complementary medicine for patients in western health care systems.  The purpose of this article was to review and analyze the literature for the  integrative and complementary practice of Qigong with regard to the benefits to the health of adults.

This literature review is an interesting overview of 28 studies ranging from cancer to low back pain and tinnitus. The 28 articles span the years of 2008-2018amd  include: cancer; fibromyalgia; Parkinson's disease; Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; Burnout; stress; social isolation; chronic low back pain; cervical pain; buzz (tinnitus); osteoarthritis; fatigue; depression; and cardiovascular diseases.  It is interesting to note that the researchers included physicians, physical and occupational therapists, a pharmacist, and nurses.  The research locations included studies from all over the world. This reinforces the need to strengthen the use of integrative and complementary practices, such as the Qigong, in health care with a view to ensuring comprehensiveness and to improving the health care assistance offered to adults and elderly individuals.

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Tai Chi Qigong for Well Being and COPD

Tai Chi Movements for Wellbeing- Evaluation of a British Lung Foundation Pilot

Respiratory diseases are a leading cause of death and disability throughout the world.  The British Lung Foundation Pilot study examined the effects of a 12 movement sequence of Tai Chi on the level of difficulty breathing, anxiety and physical function over a three month period .  The 12 simple movements were used to  simplify the practice so it could be done by anyone, no matter what level of disability.  There were four objective measures used to evaluate the effectiveness of the program and the progress of the participants.  Fifty five percent of the participants completed the program, and a positive trend was noted for all of these participants.

The main perceived benefits were a decrease in breathlessness and improved ability to relax. More research is needed in this area as a potential alternative to traditional pulmonary rehabilitation.

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NQA origins

 Our Founders

November, 1996. Founding staff and members of the NQA, signing the Articles of Incorporation
(from L to R): Hongfei Lin, Jessie Dammann, Russell DesMarais, Roger Jahnke, James MacRitchie,
Mark Johnson, Damaris Jarboux, Richard Leirer, Berkley Freeman (legal counsel), Gunther Weil

NQA*USA - Origins

Jim MacRitchie
July 2020 
Liverpool, England, UK

The original idea for the Association came out of discussions in 1991 with a wide range of practitioners and teachers. 

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Qigong for Low Back pain

Qigong for Low Back pain

This article is a review of the current literature on the effectiveness of treating lower back pain via MMBI: Movement Based Mind-Body Interventions. Rigorous screening was conducted in choosing which articles to consider. At present, 80% of American adults experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. No thoroughly effective treatment exists, though research does exist as to the varying effectiveness of certain exercises. Otherwise, all that is currently offered is either pain medications [oftentimes opioids], surgery, and/or injections. This article, however, reports MMBI can not only reduce back pain, but also the psychological stress that often times accompanies it, especially with chronic back pain patients. The majority of articles reviewed had to do with yoga, which did show clear effectiveness in relieving this condition. Both tai chi and qigong also showed promising results, but more research needs to be conducted on both in order to be more conclusive.

Summary written by Dr. Charles Garrettson, George Mason University

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Qigong for the Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation of COVID-19 Infection in Older Adults

June 2020 Blog

Qigong has the potential to play a role in the prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of respiratory infections, such as COVID-19. Potential mechanisms of action include stress reduction, emotion regulation, strengthening of respiratory muscles, reduction of inflammation, and enhanced immune function.

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Preventing Cognitive Decline with Aging

Two groups of women were studied in-depth and contrasted to help clarify if just long term brisk walking regularly or long term practicing tai chi regularly helped more with cognitive function in later years (seniors).  Based upon the results, The tai chi group did much better on the cognitive tests, and demonstrated changes in the characteristics of brain matter compared to either walking or the control group.  Each group practiced either brisk walking regularly, or tai chi regularly, for an average of six years prior to the testing.  The investigators note that tai chi may attenuate the neural network of the human brain, influencing and staving off age-associated cognitive decline.  They conclude that long term tai chi training is more conducive than walking to optimize the brain structure and promote efficient brain function.

Description by Dr. CJ Rhoads, M.Ed., D.Ed, Kutztown University 

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Qigong for Persistent Post-Surgical Pain


Qigong Mind-Body Exercise as a Biopsychosocial Therapy for Persistent Post-Surgical Pain in Breast Cancer: A Pilot Study

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Qigong as a Treatment for Depression

This study was a meta-analysis discussing the possible mechanisms in which qigong may relieve depression. Seven studies were included in their review, which showed that qigong has a significant effect on improving depression (and lowering diastolic blood pressure). Based on the results of their review, the authors concluded that the most likely neurophysiological explanation as to how qigong helps improve symptoms of depression is through its effects on the autonomic nervous system, particularly enhancing the effects of the parasympathetic nervous system.

Summary written by Joseph Baumgarden, DPT

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