Mindful movement such as Qigong can help circulation and balance energy, improve health and prevent disease.
Medical Qigong is a mind-body medicine practice that is thought to have first been developed ca. 5000 years ago. In Chinese medicine Qigong is considered a moving mediation to harmonize body, mind and spirit. The premise of Qigong is that pain, discomfort and disease are a result of energy blockage and mindful movement as in Qigong can stimulate circulation and balance of energy; thus health can be improved, and disease can be prevented (Oh et al., 2010). Within the western construct of medicine, medical Qigong fits into the mind-body medicine model based on the relaxation response (Benson & Klipper, 1975) and the principles of psychoneuroimmunology (Psychoneuroimmunology, 2001).
Based on the mind-body medicine model Qigong seems to have an integrated hypothalamic response, balancing the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems. This balancing could contribute to decreased emotional and physical exhaustion, decreased heart rate (Lee et al., 2005), decreased blood pressure (Lee, Lee, Kim, & Moon, 2003), lowered lipid levels (Lee, Lee, Kim, & Choi, 2004), decreased levels of circulating stress hormones (Ryu et al., 1996) and enhanced immune function (Manzaneque et al., 2004; Ryu et al., 1995).
Based on a literature review by Chen & Yeung (2002) medical Qigong seems to improve physical and emotional health and well-being in cancer patients. Oh et al. (2010) conducted a randomized controlled trial to investigate the effects of medical Qigong on quality of life in cancer patients. The investigators include inflammation as a marker of the impact of medical Qigong on the cancer itself. Chronic inflammation is believed to play a role in cancer incidence, progression and possibly survival (Chan, Ho, & Chow, 2001; Miller et al., 1998; Cassileth & Deng, 2004).
Here are the details of the Oh et al. (2010) trial:
Background: Substantial numbers of cancer patients use complementary medicine therapies, even without a supportive evidence base. This randomized controlled study aimed to evaluate the use of Medical Qigong compared with usual care to improve the quality of life of cancer patients.
Patients and methods: One hundred and sixty-two patients with a variety of cancers were recruited. Quality of life and fatigue were measured by Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy—General and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy—Fatigue, respectively, and mood status by Profile of Mood State. The inflammatory marker serum C-reactive protein (CRP) was monitored serially.
Results: Regression analysis indicated that the medical Qigong group significantly improved overall quality of life (t144 = 25.761, P < 0.001), fatigue (t153 = 25.621, P < 0.001), mood disturbance (t122 =2.346, P = 0.021) and inflammation (CRP) (t99 = 2.042, P < 0.044) compared with usual care after controlling for baseline variables.
Conclusions: This study indicates that medical Qigong can increase cancer patients’ overall quality of life and mood status and reduce side-effects of treatment. It may also provide substantial benefits in the long term through reduced inflammation.
- Quality of life of cancer patients improved in all domains assessed physical-, social-, emotional-, and functional well-being.
- Fatigue as measured by FACT-F remained significantly improved at 10-week follow-up.
- Cancer patients who participated in the medical Qigong showed improved mood status as indicated by decreased tension, anxiety, depression and increased vigor.
- Inflammation, as assessed by C-Reactive Protein showed significant improvement as well, opening the door for further research of the impact of medical Qigong on cancer patients’ immune function and cytokines, so we may fully understand the mechanisms at play.
Limitations of the Study:
The following limitations should be taken under consideration when interpreting the results:
- The control group received usual care only rather than a placebo sham. This allows for speculation that significant results could be a result of the additional attention the cancer patients received during the course of participation in medical Qigong.
- Neither participants nor the instructors were blinded to the condition, subjecting the results to experimental bias and confounding factors such as cancer patients’ expectancy and social interactions.
- A further limitation of the Oh et al. (2010) medical Qigong trial is that only short-term benefits were investigated. The question arises whether or not results could be maintained long-term.
Considering the limitations, the mind-body medicine modality of medical Qigong seems to be safe and effective in improving the quality of life of cancer patients, fatigue, mood states as well as reducing the side effect symptoms of treatment. Very encouraging is the idea that medical Qigong might improve inflammation in cancer patients, as well.
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AMA: Absenger W. Oh et al., 2010-Medical Qigong, quality of life and inflammation in cancer patients. The Alternative Medicine Blog. 2013. Available at: http://amacf.org/2013/02/oh-et-al-2010-medical-qigong-quality-of-life-and-inflammation-in-cancer-patients/. Accessed…
APA: Absenger, W. (2013, February 26). Oh et al., 2010-Medical Qigong, quality of life and inflammation in cancer patients [Web log post]. The Alternative Medicine Blog. Retrieved from http://amacf.org/2013/02/oh-et-al-2010-medical-qigong-quality-of-life-and-inflammation-in-cancer-patients/
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