Chi Kung (Qigong) Practice

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The basic premise of chi kung (qigong) practice is contained within its name. Chi Kung translates literally as "breath ability" and so therefore it should be clear that proper breathing is the cornerstone of such practices. But it goes much deeper than this.

With regard to Chi Kung, I have often related by analogy to my own pupils, the notion of "internal weight lifting" done without weights.

Methods of Chi Kung practice vary widely but they all share two things in common. One, an attention to detail in breathing technique. Meaning a timing and nuance of when to inhale and when to exhale. Two, specific motions in the body are performed simultaneously and in connection with the breathing techniques.

This amalgam of the two components will produce pressure changes inside the body which then serve to strengthen related superficial and/or deep layer fascia (connective) tissues in the process. This then in turn lifts and realigns sagging organs due to the ravages of time and/or abuse and helps the body to achieve a more youthful and proper balanced alignment of organ structures.

Therefore, the first results a practitioner can expect is that of improved digestion, absorption and secretion. This improvement then translates to greater efficiency of the essential body processes which in turn yields a better level of overall energy in the body system.

Continued and proper practice of Chi Kung can assist the body in establishing a proper metabolic balance, increase immune response, regulate the circulatory process and normalize the blood pressure.

The importance of proper and prolonged practice under a truly qualified teacher cannot be emphasized enough. The precise body alignments and methodology of breathing is an exact discipline. And this is something that cannot be adequately learned in a weekend seminar. The teacher must have long years of experience in this discipline to be able to properly guide a student in the process of developing these methods.

Information and results from some recent studies on Chi Kung (Qigong) with regard to specific health issues can be found below:

Qigong Effective in Reducing Blood Pressure in Hypertension Patients
 
October 15, 2014 -  High blood pressure treatments include sodium restriction, pharmacological management, and lifestyle modifications. Although many cases of high blood pressure can be controlled by medication, individuals may experience side effects or incur out-of-pocket expenses, and some may not comply with the treatment regimen. Although some previous studies have shown a favorable effect for Qigong on high blood pressure, well-designed, rigorous trials evaluating the effect of Qigong on high blood pressure are scarce.

A study recently reported by the journal Alternative therapies in health and medicine aimed to evaluate the effect of Qigong on prehypertension and mild high blood pressure and to calculate a sample size for a subsequent randomized, clinical trial (RCT).

This study was conducted at the Oriental Medical Center of Dongeui University, in the Republic of Korea. Participants were randomized to a Qigong group or an untreated control group.

Participants were individuals between the ages of 19 and 65 years with systolic blood pressure (SBP) between 120 and 159 mm Hg and/or diastolic blood pressure (DBP) between 80 and 99 mm Hg.

The Qigong group attended Qigong classes 3 times a week and performed Qigong at home at least 2 times a week. Participants in the control group did not receive any intervention for high blood pressure.

Outcome measures for this study were (1) changes in blood pressure (BP); (2) quality of life (QOL) using 2 surveys: the Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) 36-item short form (SF-36) (Korean version) and the Measure Yourself Medical Outcome Profile 2 (MYMOP2); and (3) hormone levels.

Of 40 participants, 19 were randomly assigned to the Qigong group, and 21 were assigned to the control group. After 8 weeks, significant differences were observed between the Qigong and the control groups regarding changes in SBP. Among the categories of the MYMOP2 questionnaire, only wellbeing was significantly different between the 2 groups. The Qigong group showed a significantly greater improvement in the physical component score of the SF-36 compared with the control group. Regarding changes in hormone levels, there was no significant difference between the Qigong and the control groups.

The results indicate that Qigong may be an effective intervention in reducing blood pressure in prehypertension and mild high blood pressure patients. Further studies should include an appropriate sample size and methodology to determine the mechanism of Qigong on blood pressure.

Qigong Improves Sleep Quality and Gait Performance in Parkinson's Disease
 
October 15, 2014 -  Parkinson's disease (PD) involves a variety of motor and non-motor symptoms, several of which, including gait abnormalities and sleep disorders, are generally not adequately managed with standard therapy. A recent study by University of Kansas Medical Center aimed to determine the impact of Qigong as a potential complementary therapy in the management of gait and sleep related symptoms in PD.

Seven subjects, aged from 57 to 75, with PD participated in a six-week Qigong exercise intervention. Pre- and post-intervention testing was performed to assess sleep quality, cognitive function, fatigue, quality of life, gait performance (stride time, stride length, double support time, and velocity) and gait variability (stride time and length variability).

Following Qigong, subjects showed improvement in some aspects of sleep quality. Fatigue remained unchanged. Gait function was improved by a significant reduction of stride time and a slight increase in stride length. Together these changes resulted in significant improvements to gait velocity. Additionally, time spent in double limb support was reduced following the intervention. Overall gait variability improved significantly, particularly in the reduction of stride time variability.

These results suggest that Qigong may provide benefit for gait performance and sleep quality in PD patients. However, larger, controlled studies are required to determine the immediate and long-term benefits of Qigong for PD sleep and gait problems as well as the impact on other aspects of the disease.

This study is published in the September 2014 issue of the International journal of neuroscience.

Qigong Has Considerable Potential for Fibromyalgia
 
December 15, 2014 -   Qigong is currently considered as meditative movement, mindful exercise, or complementary exercise and is being explored for relief of symptoms in fibromyalgia.  A recent review published in Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine summarizes randomized controlled trials, as well as additional studies, of Qigong published to the end of 2013 and discusses relevant methodological issues.

Controlled trials indicate regular Qigong practice (daily, 6-8 weeks) produces improvements in core domains for fibromyalgia (pain, sleep, impact, and physical and mental function) that are maintained at 4-6 months compared to wait-list subjects or baselines. Compared to baseline there are significant and comparable effects. An extension trial and case studies involving extended practice (daily, 6-12 months) indicate marked benefits. Benefit appears to be related to amount of practice.

In conclusion, there is considerable potential for Qigong to be a useful complementary practice for the management of fibromyalgia. However, there are unique methodological challenges, and exploration of its clinical potential will need to focus on pragmatic issues and consider a spectrum of trial designs. Mechanistic considerations need to consider both system-wide and more specific effects.

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