Institute publishes ground breaking review of the “evidence base” for Qigong and Tai Chi
Tai Chi and Qigong --
The Most Comprehensive Review of the Health Benefits in History
The Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi in Santa Barbara CA in collaboration with Arizona State University and the University of Arizona has just had a breakthrough review of Chinese wellness practices — Tai Chi and Qigong — published in the prestigious American Journal of Health Promotion (AJHP).
The Chinese have had little need to prove that Qigong and Tai Chi are relevant, medically or scientifically, due to the fact that these practices have been widely utilized in Asia for centuries and are believed to have significant physical, mental and even spiritual benefits. The Asian societies have done Qigong and Tai Chi consistently for millennia – they are “tried and true” wellness practices . However, in the Western world Qigong and Tai Chi are not familiar. The norm is to hesitate to grant that a concept or process has relevance and credibility until it has been proven to have quantifiable benefits.
In the past when asked about the “evidence base” for Qigong and Tai Chi most advocates would simply respond, “The Chinese have been doing these practices for thousands of years. Isn’t that sufficient evidence of their value?” Recently, to satisfy the characteristic Western need for science, a bona fide “evidence base” for Qigong and Tai Chi has been emerging from within the conventional scientific framework of the Western world.
This recent collaboration to review the Qigong and Tai Chi literature has resulted in the most comprehensive review of the research literature on Qigong and Tai Chi that has ever been produced. Dr Roger Jahnke, OMD and his colleague Dr Linda Larkey, PHD applied a rigorous criterion wherein only the best randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were considered in the review. The total of such research between 1993 and the end of 2007 was an impressive 77 trials. This review presents the entire Qigong and Tai Chi “evidence base” in one comprehensive presentation.
The importance of the article is so significant that it was reviewed on ABC News:
The total number of study participants over the 77 trials was 6410 with the highest number of studies, 27, addressing psychological issues – stress, anxiety, insomnia. Cardiac studies, targeted at the number one killer in most first world societies, numbered an impressive 23 trials. One of the most high magnitude areas for prevention and the saving of medial dollars is falls, falls prevention trials numbered 19. Other areas of positive influence included bone density, immune capacity, quality of life and physical function.
The authors concluded that, “with the mounting evidence for health benefits and the current progress in research methodology, it is likely that Tai Chi and Qigong will play a strong role in the emerging integrative medicine system as well as in prevention based interventions in the evolving health care delivery system.”
The researchers added, “The substantial potential for achieving health benefits, the minimal cost incurred by this form of self-care, the potential cost efficiencies of group delivered care, and the apparent safety of implementation across diverse populations, points to the importance of wider implementation and dissemination of Qigong and Tai Chi.”
When asked what he felt was the most important aspect of the findings lead author, Dr Jahnke stated, “This highly visible review of the research literature on the wellness practices of Asian medicine demonstrates that there is a profoundly rich “evidence base” for the efficacy and safety of Qigong and Tai Chi. In addition, it demonstrates that Qigong and Tai Chi have similar health benefits, clarifying that Qigong and Tai Chi are essentially equivalent forms of wellbeing enhancement practice. This is an historic and immense contribution to the research base of integrative medicine, wellness, gentle excise, mindfulness, health promotion, health-self reliance, self-care, stress mastery, mind-body practice and energy medicine.”
Dr Jahnke’s co-investigator and co-writer, Dr Linda Larkey, commented, “based on the findings our recommendations are that, with the magnitude of the research demonstrating the relevance of Qigong and Tai Chi, future research should investigate more of the component aspects of these mind-body and meditative movement practices such as the amount of time required to gain benefit, the frequency of practice, the mix of the key components (movement, breath, meditation), the depth of the mind focus, etc.”
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