QI GONG Overview Information
Qi gong is a broadly defined traditional Chinese therapy that uses low-to-moderate intensity exercise and posture, movements, meditation, and breathing patterns. Qi gong attempts to regulate mind, body, and breath. Tai chi, a relatively well-known form of traditional Chinese exercise, is one specific type of Qi gong. Other practices such as meditation, yoga, and Reiki therapy are also considered parts of Qi gong.
Qi gong is used for treating pain, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, diabetes, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopausal symptoms, depression, high blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, and stress and fatigue. It is also used for preventing osteoporosis and falls, for maintaining weight loss, and for general health and exercise.
How does it work?
“Qi” means “vital energy” or “life force” and “gong” means “work” or “discipline.” So, “Qi gong” can be translated to mean “energy work.”
In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that disease is caused by a blockage or unbalanced energy flow in the body. Like many therapies in traditional Chinese medicine, Qi gong is thought to help unblock or balance energy flow and help the body heal.
Several Qi gong exercises have been developed to specifically open the 12 energy channels or “meridians” in the body that are recognized in traditional Chinese medicine. Opening these channels allows Qi to flow throughout the body.
There is interest in using Qi gong to boost body defense (immunity) in older adults. Developing research shows that a combination of Tai chi and Qi gong causes older adults to develop more immunity after receiving a flu shot.
There is interest in using Qi gong to improve physical activity in older adults. In these people, Qi gong exercises produce a moderate level of exertion. Qi gong increases heart rate and feelings of exertion about as much as walking. A combination of Tai chi plus Qi gong exercise also appears to improve balance in older people.
Possibly Effective for:
- High blood pressure. Some clinical research shows that Qi gong therapy can significantly lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure and may even lower the risk of death. However, some experts question these results because they believe the study was not well designed.
- A heart problem called atrial fibrillation. Early research suggests that practicing Qi gong exercises improves exercise tolerance and walking distance in people with this condition.
- Pain. Some developing research suggests that Qi gong that is applied by a trained Qi gong practitioner can significantly reduce pain in patients with chronic pain due to a variety of causes. However, the quality of this research has been questioned, casting doubt on its findings.
- Osteoarthritis. There is some evidence that Qi gong therapy that is performed by a trained Qi gong practitioner can reduce pain and improve mood in people with osteoarthritis.
- Fibromyalgia. Qi gong therapy that is performed by a trained Qi gong practitioner might decrease pain and improve functioning in women with fibromyalgia.
- Weakened bones (osteoporosis). Some research suggests that middle-aged women who practice Baduanjin Qi gong for 12 weeks lose bone more slowly than women who don’t practice Qi gong.
- Fall prevention. There is some evidence that a combination of Tai chi plus Qi gong exercise improves balance in older adults. This might lead to a lower risk of falling.
- Diabetes. Developing research suggests that Qi gong might help reduce fasting blood sugar, total cholesterol, and other blood fats (triglycerides) in people with type 2 diabetes. Some research also suggests that Qi gong might reduce HbA1C, a longer-term measure of blood sugar levels. However, research results are not consistent. Qi gong does not appear to reduce weight in people with diabetes. These findings have been questioned, however, because the studies were not well designed.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Some research shows that Qi gong that is applied by a trained Qi gong practitioner seems to significantly decrease pain in women with PMS.
- Depression. There is some evidence that a Qi gong exercise program can reduce symptoms of depression and improve feelings of well-being in depressed elderly people after 16 weeks of treatment.
- Parkinson’s disease. Developing research shows that Qi gong exercise does not significantly improve symptoms or function in people with advanced Parkinson’s disease.
- Stress. One research study shows that women with a stressful job who practice Qi gong have a lower heart rate, lower body temperature, and lower levels of the hormone noradrenaline than women with the same job who don’t practice Qi gong. This suggests that Qi gong exercise might reduce feelings of stress.
- Weight loss maintenance.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Menopausal symptoms.
- Other conditions.
QI GONG Side Effects & Safety
There are no known safety concerns. So far, no harmful side effects have been reported.