Qigong Research Abstracts

Qigong Medical Research Abstracts

Is Qi Gong suitable for the prevention of low back pain?
Wien Med Wochenschr. 2004; 154(23-24):564-7 (ISSN: 0043-5341) Zauner-Dungl A
Zentrum für Chinesische Medizin und Komplementärmedizin, Gars am Kamp, Osterreich. chinazentrum@willidungl.co

Low back pain is one of the main problems of health care, and has many causes. To prevent low back pain daily activities are highly important–static work as well as dynamic movement–carried out in an ergonomic and economical way. Studies have shown that the compliance of patients with regard to exercise training and ergonomic recommendations is not very high. The main posture of Qi Gong training is similar to the recommended posture by low back schools. Qi gong exercises respect basic physiological and ergonomic principles of movement in every way. Qi Gong fulfils the most important criteria for the prevention and therapy of idiopathic low back pain. Qi Gong training requires no special equipment. It is simple and can be undertaken everywhere. A growing number of people have become interested in Qi Gong, and train regularly and effectively. Low back pain rarely occurs in such people, and therefore Qi Gong should be considered as one of the most effective means of prevention.

Cardiac rehabilitation for the elderly: Qi Gong and group discussions.
Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2005; 12(1):5-11 (ISSN: 1741-8267)
Stenlund T; Lindström B; Granlund M; Burell G
Heart Centre, University Hospital, SE-901 85 Umeå, Sweden. therese.stenlund@vll.se

BACKGROUND: Over the last decade several studies have shown that patients with coronary artery disease even above the age of 70 can be successfully treated with advanced medical and surgical methods. Unfortunately, rehabilitation programmes for this group are rarely offered. It is important to develop forms of rehabilitation that are adapted to the specific needs of this increasing group of elderly patients. The aim of this randomized study was to investigate whether the combination of Qi Gong and group discussions would increase physical ability for elderly patients > or =73 years with coronary artery disease. METHODS: A total of 95 patients (66 men and 29 women), with documented coronary artery disease, were randomized to an intervention group (n=48) mean age 77+/-3 (73-82) or to a control group (n=47) mean age 78+/-3 (73-84). The intervention groups met weekly over 3 months. The control group got usual care. Physical ability was assessed at baseline and after the intervention. RESULTS: Patients in the intervention group increased their self-estimated level of physical activity (P=0.011), and their performance in the one-leg stance test for the right leg (P=0.029), co-ordination (P=0.021) and the box-climbing test for right leg (P=0.035). CONCLUSION: A combination of Qi Gong and group discussions appear to be a promising rehabilitation for elderly cardiac patients in terms of improving self-reported physical activity, balance and co-ordination. This could be an option for elderly patients who do not participate in the ordinary cardiac rehabilitation.

The circulatory and respiratory dynamic mechanisms of lung Qi-deficiency
Sheng Wu Yi Xue Gong Cheng Xue Za Zhi. 2002; 19(3):412-5 (ISSN: 1001-5515)
Yao W; Ding G; Shen X; Dang R; Chen H; Yang J; Chen E; Gu Q

Department of Mechanics, Applied Ion Beam Physics Laboratory, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433.
As the transportation of O2 and CO2 inside human body is an integrated aspect of Qi-blood transportation, a hemodynamic model is established based on the analysis of the respiratory and circulation system. The results of such model show that the abnormality of the circulatory and respiratory parameters always lead to a reduction of Po2 (O2 pressure) in tissue fluid, and then a Lung Qi-Deficiency Syndrome (QDS). This model can be used to quantitatively explain, to some extent, the physiological phenomena of Lung QDS, and could combine all the discoveries of in clinical researches, on Lung QDS. The measurement of Po2 in tissue fluid as an index to analyze Lung QDS is in accordance with TCM and TMM (the theory of modern medicine). This model may provide a new approach in clinical research of Lung QDS.

A preliminary study of the effect of external qigong on lymphoma growth in mice.
J Altern Complement Med. 2002; 8(5):615-21 (ISSN: 1075-5535)
Chen KW; Shiflett SC; Ponzio NM; He B; Elliott DK; Keller SE
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson-Medical School, Newark, NJ 08854, USA. chenke@umdnj.edu

OBJECTIVE: To examine the effectiveness of external qigong on the in vivo growth of transplantable murine lymphoma cells in mice. BACKGROUND: Qigong is a traditional Chinese health practice that is believed by many to have special preventive and healing power. Underlying the system is the belief in the existence of a subtle energy (qi), which circulates throughout the body, and when strengthened or balanced, can improve health and ward off or slow the progress of disease. To date, much of the literature showing the effects of qi are presented in the non-Western literature, and as such are viewed with considerable skepticism. In an attempt to demonstrate qi in a controlled setting, the effect of external qigong emission from a qigong healer on the in vivo growth of transplantable murine lymphoma cells in mice was explored in two pilot studies. METHODS: In study 1, 30 SJL/J mice were injected intravenously with lymphoma cells that localize and exhibit aggressive growth in the lymphoid tissues of untreated syngeneic recipients. These tumor-injected mice were divided into 3 groups: (1). qigong treatment (administered by a qigong healer); (2). sham treatment; and (3). no-treatment control. The sham group received the same number of treatments from a person without training in qigong, who imitated the motions of the qigong healer. The control group received no treatment at all. In study 1, the mice were sacrificed on the 9th or 11th days after tumor-cell injection, and in study 2, the mice were sacrificed on the 10th and 13th days. Tumor growth in lymph nodes (LN) was estimated by LN weight expressed as a percentage of total body weight. RESULTS: In study 1, LNs from mice in the qigong-treated group were significantly smaller than LN from mice in either the control group or in the sham treatment group (p < 0.05), suggesting that there was less tumor growth in the qigong-treated mice. In study 2, using the same design as study 1, the same pattern of difference found in study 1 emerged: LN ratio from mice in the qigong-treated group was smaller than that in either the control group or in the sham group. However, these results did not reach statistical significance, partially as a result of larger variances in all groups in this study. CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary results, while still inconclusive, suggest that qigong treatment from one particular qigong practitioner might influence the growth of lymphoma cells negatively. Further studies with different practitioners, more repeated trials, and/or different tumor models are needed to further investigate the effects of external qigong on tumor growth in mice.

Assessment of immunological parameters following a qigong training program.
Med Sci Monit. 2004; 10(6):CR264-70 (ISSN: 1234-1010)
Manzaneque JM; Vera FM; Maldonado EF; Carranque G; Cubero VM; Morell M; Blanca MJ
Department of Psychobiology and Methodology, Faculty of Psychology, University of Malaga, Campus de Teatinos, 29071 Malaga, Spain. manzaneque@uma.es

BACKGROUND: Qigong is a type of Chinese psychosomatic exercise that integrates meditation, slow physical movements, and breathing, and to which numerous physical as well as mental benefits have been classically ascribed. The aim of the present study was to analyze the effects of a qigong program on various immunological parameters. MATERIAL/METHODS: 29 naive subjects participated in the study, of whom 16 were allocated to the experimental group and the rest to the control group. The experimental subjects underwent a qigong training program, conducted by a qualified instructor, consisting of half an hour of daily practice for one month. The day before the experiment commenced and the day after it finished, blood samples were drawn from all subjects for the quantification of immunological parameters (leukocytes, immunoglobulins, and complement). As statistical analysis, analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was carried out. RESULTS: Statistically significant differences were found between the control and experimental groups, with the experimental group showing lower numbers of total leukocytes and eosinophils, number and percentage of monocytes, as well as complement C3 concentration. In addition, a similar result with a trend towards significance was observed in the number of eosinophils. CONCLUSIONS: These findings demonstrate that after one month of practicing qigong, significant immunological changes occurred between the experimental and control groups, with a consistently lower and broadly significant profile of these measures within the qigong practitioner group.

The aerobic capacity and ventilatory efficiency during exercise in Qigong and Tai Chi Chuan practitioners.
Am J Chin Med. 2004; 32(1):141-50 (ISSN: 0192-415X)
Lan C; Chou SW; Chen SY; Lai JS; Wong MK
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, National Taiwan University Hospital, and National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan. chinglan@seed.net.tw

The objective of this study was to compare cardiorespiratory responses to exercise among older Qigong participants, Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) practitioners and normal sedentary controls during cycle ergometry. Thirty-six community-dwelling men with a mean age of 59.1 +/- 6.6 years participated in this study. Each group (Qigong, TCC and control) included 12 subjects with matched age and body size. The Qigong group practiced Qigong regularly for 2.3 +/- 1.5 years; the TCC group practiced Yang TCC for 4.7 +/- 2.3 years. Heart rate (HR) responses were measured during the practice of Qigong and TCC. Additionally, breath-by-breath measurement of cardiorespiratory function was performed during the incremental exercise of leg cycling. The mean HR during Qigong and TCC practice was 91 +/- 5 bpm and 129 +/- 7 bpm, respectively. At the peak exercise and the ventilatory threshold (VeT), TCC group displayed highest oxygen uptake (VO2), O2 pulse and work rate among the three groups. The Qigong group also showed higher oxygen uptake and O2 pulse than the control group. At the same relative exercise intensity, the Qigong group had the highest tidal volume among the three groups. In conclusion, Qigong and TCC show a beneficial effect to aerobic capacity in older individuals, but TCC displays a better training effect than Qigong due to its higher exercise intensity. However, Qigong can enhance breathing efficiency during exercise due to the training effect of diaphragmatic breathing.

Qigong reduced blood pressure and catecholamine levels of patients with essential hypertension.
Int J Neurosci. 2003; 113(12):1691-701 (ISSN: 0020-7454)
Lee MS; Lee MS; Kim HJ; Moon SR
Department of Nursing, Mokpo Catholic University, Mokpo, Republic of Korea.

This study was designed to investigate the efficacy of Qigong as a non-pharmacological treatment of hypertension and evaluate the contribution of Qigong in the blood pressure (BP) reduction of essential hypertension patients. Fifty-eight patients volunteered to participate in this study and were randomly divided into either a Qigong group (n = 29), or a wait list control group (n = 29). In response to 10 weeks of Qigong, systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and rate pressure product (RPP) were decreased significantly. There was a significant reduction of norepinephrine, epinephrine, cortisol, and stress level by the Qigong. These results suggest that Qigong may reduce BP and catecholamines via stabilizing the sympathetic nervous system. Therefore, Qigong is an effective nonpharmacological modality to reduce BP in essential hypertensive patients.

Effect of a qigong exercise programme on elderly with depression.
Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2006; 21(9):890-7 (ISSN: 0885-6230)
Tsang HW; Fung KM; Chan AS; Lee G; Chan F
Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kwai Chung Hospital, Hong Kong. rshtsang@polyu.edu.hk

OBJECTIVES: This report released findings of a randomized controlled trial conducted in Hong Kong to further our understanding of the psychosocial effects of qigong on elderly persons with depression. DESIGN: Eighty-two participants with a diagnosis of depression or obvious features of depression were recruited and randomly assigned into the intervention and comparison group. The intervention group was given a 16-week period of Qigong practice while the comparison group participated in a newspaper reading group with same duration and frequency. RESULTS: After eight weeks of qigong practice, the intervention group participants outstripped themselves in improvement in mood, self-efficacy and personal well being, and physical and social domains of self-concept when compared with comparison subjects. After 16 weeks of practice, the improvement generalized to the daily task domain of the self-concept. CONCLUSIONS: This report shows that regular qigong practice could relieve depression, improve self-efficacy and personal well being among elderly persons with chronic physical illness and depression.

Qigong for schoolchildren: a pilot study.
J Altern Complement Med. 2005; 11(1):41-7 (ISSN: 1075-5535)
Witt C; Becker M; Bandelin K; Soellner R; Willich SN
Institute of Social Medicine, Epidemiology, and Health Economics, Charité University Medical Center, Berlin, Germany. claudia.witt@charite.de

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of qigong lessons on schoolchildren in terms of their achievements at school, social behavior, and general health. DESIGN: A controlled intervention pilot study was conducted with children in two second-grade classes at an elementary school and in two eighth-grade classes at a high school. SETTING/LOCATION AND INTERVENTION: One class from each school received qigong lessons for 20 minutes at least twice weekly over a period of 6 months, while the control class from the same school received no intervention. Two additional classes at two elementary schools participated in the qualitative analysis only. MEASURES: Teachers, parents, and students answered standardized questionnaires at the beginning of the study and after 6 months, covering complaints, concentration, creativity, grades, quality of life (QOL) (assessed by the KINDL questionnaire), and social behavior. In addition to this quantitative study, we conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with all participating teachers at the end of the project to evaluate individual effects. RESULTS: Of a total of 90 participants in the study (52% boys and 48% girls), 40 students attended elementary school (20 per class, mean age 7.4 +/- 0.5 years) and 50 high school (25 per class, mean age 13 +/- 0.8 years). Factor analysis yielded three scales for the teacher questionnaire (learning process, social behavior, appropriate behavior) and four scales for the parent questionnaire (creativity, concentration, well-being, restlessness). The qigong group showed significantly better results in the teacher questionnaire (especially for appropriate behavior) and in grades in comparison to the control group, but no effect was found in the parent questionnaire, medical complaints, sick days, or in the children’s assessment of QOL. Qualitative analyses indicated a relevant decrease of individual complaints for some children in the qigong group. CONCLUSIONS: The feasibility of integrating qigong in school lessons was shown. Six months after starting qigong lessons, schoolchildren improved in social behavior and showed stable grades, while inappropriate behavior decreased, compared to the control. Combining quantitative and qualitative research methods appeared to be useful to detect the effects of qigong in individuals. Due to the limitations of our pilot study, further studies with larger sample sizes and long-term follow-up are needed.

Effects of qigong on blood pressure, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and other lipid levels in essential hypertension patients.
Int J Neurosci. 2004; 114(7):777-86 (ISSN: 0020-7454)
Lee MS; Lee MS; Kim HJ; Choi ES
Department of Nursing, Mokpo Catholic University, Mokpo, Korea.

This study investigated the effectiveness of Qigong on blood pressure and several blood lipids, such as high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, Apolipoprotein A1 (APO-A1), total cholesterol (TC), and triglycerides (TG) in hypertensive patients. Thirty-six patients were randomly divided into either the Qigong group, or a wait-listed control group. Blood pressures decreased significantly after eight weeks of Qigong. The levels of TC, HDL, and APO-A1 were changed significantly in the Qigong group post-treatment compared with before treatment. In summary. Qigong acts as an antihypertensive and may reduce blood pressure by the modulation of lipid metabolism.

Efficacy of Qi-therapy (external Qigong) for elderly people with chronic pain..
Int J Neurosci. 2005; 115(7):949-63 (ISSN: 0020-7454)
Yang KH; Kim YH; Lee MS
Department of Nursing, Wonkwang Health Science College, Iksan, Republic of Korea.

To test the efficacy of Qi-therapy (external Qigong) in improving symptoms of pain and mood states in elderly peoples with chronic pain. Forty-three elderly people with chronic pain were randomly assigned either to an intervention or a general care group. The intervention group was given four weeks of Qi-therapy whereas the control group was given standard care. Compared with the control group, Qi-therapy participants experienced improvements in positive mood and psychological variables over the four-week program. Compared with baseline values, pain and psychological benefits remained significantly improved after two weeks of follow-up. These findings suggest that Qi-therapy may help the elderly cope with pain and associated mood disturbances.

Using a novel exercise programme for patients with muscular dystrophy. Part II: a quantitative study.
Disabil Rehabil. 2004; 26(10):595-602 (ISSN: 0963-8288)
Wenneberg S; Gunnarsson LG; Ahlström G
Department of Caring Sciences, University of Orebro, Orebro, Sweden.

PURPOSE: To quantitatively evaluate the effects of qigong in patients with muscular dystrophy. METHODS: Thirty-six patients with muscular dystrophy were assigned to either a treatment or comparison group, by means of a stratified randomization procedure. The intervention period lasted for 3 months. Balance and respiratory function were assessed by means of Berg’s Balance Scale and an electronic spirometer, respectively. Health-related quality of life was tested by means of a Swedish version of the Medical Outcome Study Short Form Health Survey (SF-36), coping levels by means of a Swedish version of the Ways of Coping Questionnaire and depression levels by means of a modified version of the Montgomery åsberg Depression Rating Scale. RESULTS: Perceived general health was maintained in the treatment group whereas this was not the case in the comparison group (p=0.05). Positive reappraisal coping decreased in the treatment group but not in the comparison group (p=0.05). There was a tendency to maintain balance function during training and performance of qigong whilst there was a decline when not training. CONCLUSION: Qigong may be useful as an adjunct therapy regimen in patients with muscular dystrophy in that it can bring about a decreased rate of decline in general health. The change in coping pattern in this study needs more investigation. More research is also needed in order to more fully investigate the effects of qigong on such physical variables as balance function.

Qigong exercise for the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease: a randomized, controlled pilot study..
Mov Disord. 2006; 21(4):543-8 (ISSN: 0885-3185)
Schmitz-Hübsch T; Pyfer D; Kielwein K; Fimmers R; Klockgether T; Wüllner U Department of Neurology, University of Bonn, Germany.

Irrespective of limited evidence, not only traditional physiotherapy, but also a wide array of complementary methods are applied by patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). We evaluated the immediate and sustained effects of Qigong on motor and nonmotor symptoms of PD, using an add-on design. Fifty-six patients with different levels of disease severity (mean age/standard deviation [SD], 63.8/7.5 years; disease duration 5.8/4.2 years; 43 men [76%]) were recruited from the outpatient movement disorder clinic of the Department of Neurology, University of Bonn. We compared the progression of motor symptoms assessed by Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale motor part (UPDRS-III) in the Qigong treatment group (n = 32) and a control group receiving no additional intervention (n = 24). Qigong exercises were applied as 90-minute weekly group instructions for 2 months, followed by a 2 months pause and a second 2-month treatment period. Assessments were carried out at baseline, 3, 6, and 12 months. More patients improved in the Qigong group than in the control group at 3 and 6 months (P = 0.0080 at 3 months and P = 0.0503 at 6 months; Fisher’s exact test). At 12 months, there was a sustained difference between groups only when changes in UPDRS-III were related to baseline. Depression scores decreased in both groups, whereas the incidence of several nonmotor symptoms decreased in the treatment group only.

Qi-training (qigong) enhanced immune functions: what is the underlying mechanism?
Int J Neurosci. 2005; 115(8):1099-104 (ISSN: 0020-7454)
Lee MS; Kim MK; Ryu HCenter for Integrative Medicine, Institute of Medical Science, Wonkwang University, Iksan, Republic of Korea. integmed@chol.com

The authors observed that Qi-training enhances immune function and modulates neurohormone concentrations. The exact signal and priming mechanism for enhanced neutrophil function by Qi-training has not yet been demonstrated. This study investigated the effect of Qi-training on intracellular signaling leading to the enhancement of immune function. The growth hormone (GH) concentrations and O2- production by neutrophils (PMNs) was significantly increased after 1 h of Qi-training compared with the basal state. To verify that endogenous GH mediates the priming of PMNs, serum obtained from elderly subjects in the basal state and after Qi-training was incubated with neutrophils isolated from young subjects for 60 min and triggered with N-formyl-1-methionyl-1-leucyl-1-phenylalanine (fMLP). Significant O2- production was observed in the PMNs incubated with serum collected after a Qi-training (p < .05). On the other hand, the priming effect on the PMNs was abolished in Qi-training sera depleted of endogenous GH with anti-human GH polyclonal antibody (p < .01) and the tyrosine kinase inhibitor, genistein (p < .01). The authors suggest that the endogenous GH released during and immediately after Qi-training mediates the priming events through tyrosine kinase activation in PMNs.

Effects of qi therapy (external qigong ) on premenstrual syndrome: a randomized placebo-controlled study.
J Altern Complement Med. 2004; 10(3):456-62 (ISSN: 1075-5535)
Jang HS; Lee MS Department of Nursing, Wonkwang Health Science College, Iksan, Korea.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of qi therapy on premenstrual symptoms in women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). DESIGN: A randomized placebo-controlled trial. SUBJECTS: Thirty-six (36) college women with symptoms of PMS. INTERVENTION: After 2 months of screening, subjects with PMS were randomized to receive real qi therapy (18 subjects) or placebo (18 subjects). The subjects were informed that they would receive one of two types of treatment. They did not know which treatment they received. Each intervention was performed eight times during the second and third cycles with subjects completing a PMS diary. RESULTS: There were significant improvements in the symptoms of negative feeling, pain, water retention, and total PMS symptoms in subjects receiving qi therapy compared to placebo controls. CONCLUSION: Qi therapy may be an effective complementary therapy for managing the symptoms of PMS.

Bilateral frontal activation associated with cutaneous stimulation of elixir field: an FMRI study.
Am J Chin Med. 2006; 34(2):207-16 (ISSN: 0192-415X)
Chan AS; Cheung MC; Chan YL; Yeung DK; Lam W
Centre for Neurocognitive Function Enhancement, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, China. aschan@psy.cuhk.edu.hk

Elixir Field, or Dan Tian, is the area where energy is stored and nourished in the body according to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Although Dan Tian stimulation is a major concept in Qigong healing and has been practiced for thousands of years, and while there are some recent empirical evidence of its effect, its neurophysiological basis remains unknown. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study brain activations associated with external stimulation of the lower Elixir Field in ten normal subjects, and compared the results with the stimulation of their right hands. While right-hand stimulation resulted in left postcentral gyrus activation, stimulation of the lower Elixir Field resulted in bilateral activations including the medial and superior frontal gyrus, middle and superior temporal gyrus, thalamus, insula, and cingulate gyrus. These findings suggest that stimulation of the Elixir Field is not only associated with activation of the sensory motor cortex but also with cortical regions that mediate planning, attention, and memory.