Saturday, August 10, 2013

CAM: Qigong for Your Health

Under “Obama Care,”  The Affordable Care Act says that insurance companies "shall not discriminate" against any state-licensed health provider, which could lead to better coverage of chiropractic, homeopathic and naturopathic care. This means that complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)- meditation, acupuncture, chiropractic care, homeopathic treatment etc.-may become a lot more accepted. To help understand the different types of CAM, this week begins a series on various modalities.

I’m starting with Qigong, as it’s something I practice everyday and find it extremely helpful for my well being.

There is evidence that some form of Qigong was being practiced as early as 5,000 years ago. The term itself came into use in the 20th century and today it is an important part of Chinese Medicine. Qigong (Chi Kung) means cultivating energy. The types and styles range from martial arts, medical to spiritual. Regardless, they all involve sets of moves, breathing techniques and meditation. No matter what your physical condition, moves can be modified for maximum benefit. Learn more about the history of Qigong

The self-healing and health enhancement methods of China -- Qigong and Tai Chi (also Chi Kung and Taiji) -- are experiencing a kind of renaissance in the Western societies. Research on the wellness practices of China currently separates Qigong and Tai Chi into separate categories. The basic health enhancement concept in both Qigong and Tai Chi, however, is shared – purposefully manage posture/movement, breath and mind focus. It is proposed that when the research base on both is combined the magnitude of the impact on health policy and planning is increased significantly. Qigong and Tai Chi: TraditionalChinese Health Promotion Practices-Qigong and Tai Chi-in the Prevention andTreatment of Chronic Disease 
Researchers from the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi (Santa Barbara, California), Arizona State University, and the University of North Carolina analyzed 77 articles reporting the results of 66 randomized controlled trials of tai chi and qi gong. The studies involved a total of 6,410 participants. A majority of the studies compared tai chi or qi gong with a nonexercise control group, but some included a comparison group that practiced other forms of exercise, while others included both exercise and nonexercise groups to evaluate the effects of tai chi and qi gong. Of the many outcomes identified by the reviewers, current research suggests that the strongest and most consistent evidence of health benefits for tai chi or qi gong is for bone health, cardiopulmonary fitness, balance and factors associated with preventing falls, quality of life, and self-efficacy (the confidence in and perceived ability to perform a behavior). Evidence is mixed, according to the review, about tai chi or qi gong's effects on psychological factors and patient-reported outcomes (reports from patients of symptoms related to disease). NCCAM 

Qigong is offered in many different places: hospitals, health centers, cancer centers, gyms,  senior centers, community halls, support groups, private studios etc. There are also a wide variety of videos, including some that are featured as part of PBS fundraising drives. It’s very helpful to start by taking some classes so the instructor can help you with breathing, body placement etc. Costs should be nominal.

To see if Qigong is something you’d like to consider, check out the following videos:

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