Practising Daoist Qigong has definite health benefits. Below we cite scientific studies that document the positive effects on health.
Jan. 25, 2013 — Researchers
from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have found
qigong, an ancient mind-body practice, reduces depressive symptoms and
improves quality of life in women undergoing radiotherapy for breast
The study, published in the journal Cancer, is the first to examine
qigong in patients actively receiving radiation therapy and include a
follow-up period to assess benefits over time. Even though individual
mind-body practices such as meditation and guided imagery appear to
reduce aspects of distress and improve quality of life, questions remain
about their effectiveness when conducted in conjunction with radiation
"We were also particularly interested to see if qigong would benefit
patients experiencing depressive symptoms at the start of treatment,"
said Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor in MD Anderson's Departments of
General Oncology and Behavioral Science and director of the Integrative
Medicine Program. "It is important for cancer patients to manage stress
because it can have a profoundly negative effect on biological systems
and inflammatory profiles."
For the trial, Cohen, the corresponding author, and his colleagues
enrolled 96 women with stage 1-3 breast cancer from Fudan University
Shanghai Cancer Center in Shanghai, China. Forty-nine patients were
randomized to a qigong group consisting of five 40-minute classes each
week during their five-to-six week course of radiation therapy, while 47
women comprised a waitlist control group receiving the standard of
The program incorporated a modified version of Chinese medical qigong
consisting of synchronizing one's breath with various exercises. As a
practice, qigong dates back more than 4,000 years when it was used
across Asia to support spiritual health and prevent disease.
Participants in both groups completed assessments at the beginning,
middle and end of radiation therapy and then one and three months later.
Different aspects of quality of life were measured including depressive
symptoms, fatigue, sleep disturbances and overall quality of life.
Results show benefits emerged over time
Patients in the qigong group reported a steady decline in depressive
symptom scores beginning at the end of radiation therapy with a mean
score of 12.3, through the three month post-radiation follow-up with a
score of 9.5. No changes were noted in the control group over time.
The study also found qigong was especially helpful for women reporting high baseline depressive symptoms, Cohen said.
"We examined women's depressive symptoms at the start of the study to
see if women with higher levels would benefit more," Cohen said. "In
fact, women with low levels of depressive symptoms at the start of
radiotherapy had good quality of life throughout treatment and three
months later regardless of whether they were in the qigong or control
group. However, women with high depressive symptoms in the control group
reported the worst levels of depressive symptoms, fatigue, and overall
quality of life that were significantly improved for the women in the
As the benefits of qigong were largely observed after treatment
concluded, researchers suggest qigong may prevent a delayed symptom
burden, or expedite the recovery process especially for women with
elevated depressive symptoms at the start of radiotherapy.
Cohen notes the delayed effect could be explained by the cumulative
nature of these modalities, as the benefits often take time to be
Future research needed
The authors note several limitations to the study, including the
absence of an active control group making it difficult to rule out
whether or not the effects of qigong were influenced by a patient's
expectations or simply being a light exercise. Additionally, the
homogeneity of the group, Chinese women at a single site, limits the
ability of applying the results to other populations.
According to the authors, the findings support other previously
reported trials examining qigong benefits, but are too preliminary to
offer clinical recommendations. Additional work is needed to understand
the possible biological mechanisms involved and further explore the use
of qigong in ethnically diverse populations with different forms of
The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.
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