MS & Medical Research on Tai Chi & Qigong (Chi Kung)
Medical Research on Tai Chi / Qigong & Multiple Sclerosis
- Many Chronic Illness Support Groups Recommend Tai Chi
- Journal of Body Work & Movement Therapies
- General Hospital of Psychiatry, Wales, UK
T'ai Chi and
Does Tai Chi/Qi Gong help patients with multiple sclerosis?
Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies
The usefulness of Tai Chi/Qi Gong for people with multiple sclerosis was tested in this pilot study. Eight patients were monitored over a two-month baseline and two-month intervention. Statistically significant pre to post improvements for the group as a whole were found on measures of balance and depression. Small improvements in other self-rated symptoms were also noted.
Mindfulness of movement as a coping strategy in multiple sclerosis
Gen Hospital of Psychiatry, Wales, United Kingdom
Clinical Psychologist and Course Tutor, South Wales Doctoral Course in Clinical Psychology, South Wales, UK
This study investigated the effectiveness of a short course of mindfulness of movement to help with symptom management in eight people with multiple sclerosis. Progress was compared to a control group who were asked to continue with their current care. Each participant received six individual one-to-one sessions of instruction. They were also provided with audio and videotape aides. Each participant was assessed on a test of balance, pre- and post-intervention, and at 3-month follow-up. All participants completed a rating of change of 22 symptoms relevant to multiple sclerosis. A close relative or friend was also asked to assess independently the degree of change. The mindfulness group reported improvement over a broad range of symptoms. This was verified by the relatives' independent rating and maintained at 3 month follow-up. The control group showed no improvement but instead tended towards a deterioration on many of the items. The physical assessment of balance also showed a significant improvement for the mindfulness group. This improvement was maintained at 3 month follow-up. In conclusion, training in mindfulness of movement appeared to result in improved symptom management for this group of people with multiple sclerosis. This was a pilot study, using small numbers, so the results need to be treated with caution. Several improvements to the experimental design are suggested. The role of individual therapeutic ingredients is discussed.
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS & T'AI CHI:
Adaptive Tai Chi; by Seana O’Callaghan - Sept. 2003 Edition
[Excerpt from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Journal: InsideMS]
We all know that exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifewith or without
MS. But it takes most of us more than the conviction that we ought to do it to get
ourselves out there. Finding the right kind of exercise is one problem. Many sports
and exercise programs cause the body temperature to rise, which may temporarily
worsen MS symptoms. Even more daunting, fatigue, spasticity, weakness, and lack
of balance make us fear exercise. Who wants to fail or look foolish in public? But, it
turns out, many types of exercise can be adapted to enable people with MS to
participate successfully. And although we would have guessed to the contrary,
tai chi turns out to be one of them.
. . . Tai chi is usually performed as an ordered set of slow, elegant motions that
promote balance through thoughtful consideration of movement and heightening of
body awareness. True to its Buddhist roots, tai chi seeks to relieve stress, improve
focus and muscle tone, and develop balance of the mind and the body. Recent clinical
studies have confirmed that tai chi produces measurable benefits in improving balance,
lowering blood pressure, and improving cardiovascular health. The National Institutes of
Health (NIH) has funded three current studies of tai chi as it relates to physical health,
including one that focuses specifically on balance.
None of these studies involved people with MS, however, and a discussion with a
physician or physical therapist who knows you and has experience with MS is essential
before you begin tai chi or any exercise program. Chances are that adapted tai chi will
meet strong approval. In fact, a number of National MS Society chapters sponsor programs.
For the complete article, go to The National Multiple Sclerosis Society Journal article at:
STUDY FINDS MULTIPLE QUALITY OF LIFE BENEFITS FROM TAI CHI
Harvard Medical School, Osher Institute.
12 weeks of Tai chi. Improvements in the Tai chi group were noted in quality-of-life
scores, distance walking and lower serum b-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) levels. The
Tai chi intervention was created and supervised by New England School of
Acupuncture collaborator and co-investigator Peter Wayne, PhD.
RHEUMATIC DISEASES, OSTEOARTHRITIS, MUSCULOSKELETAL
CONDITIONS (FIBROMYALGIA), MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS & T'AI CHI:
TAI CHI, by Judith Horstman
[Excerpt from the Arthritis Foundation's ARTHRITIS TODAY Publication]
With slow movements as fluid as silk, the gentle Chinese practice of Tai Chi
seems tailor-made for easing sore joints and muscles . . .
Doctors recommend tai chi for people with a variety of musculoskeletal
conditions because it improves flexibility and builds muscle strength gradually.
"There's no doubt that tai chi, done properly, can be a beneficial exercise for
people with arthritis,"says Paul Lam, MD, a Sydney-based family practitioner
and tai chi master who designed the Australian arthritis program.
Martin Lee, a tai chi authority and author of many books who has directed classes
for years, says he has seen many people's overall health improve as they do tai chi.
"Tai chi relieves stress,"he says. "It can be very healing."
Tai chi is an exercise almost anyone who can walk can do safely, says Dr. Lam,
who began doing tai chi nearly 30 years ago for his own osteoarthritis. Tai chi takes
the joints gently through their range of motion, he says, while the emphasis on breathing
and inner stillness relieves stress and anxiety. Classes are inexpensive, and it can be
practiced almost anywhere at any time, with no special equipment or clothing.
Peter Stein, MD, a Greenbrae, Calif., rheumatologist, says he finds tai chi especially
good for people with fibromyalgia and those with a high level of muscle pain. "People in
pain often can't even do yoga,"he says. "They need something milder and more soothing,
and tai chi is very good for relieving pain."
. . . some physicians who treat the elderly or those with musculoskeletal conditions such as
arthritis have been impressed by how tai chi improves pain, range of motion and physical balance.
What the Science Says
Several studies have shown that regular tai chi practice has benefits: It can reduce falls in the
elderly or those with balance disorders sometimes dramatically. In one 1996 Atlanta study,
elderly people who practiced tai chi for 15 weeks reduced their risk of multiple falls by 47.5 percent.
Falls are a particular danger for elders and others with brittle bones, or osteoporosis. For such
people, falls frequently result in broken bones.
Research has shown tai chi has other benefits, too. Participants in the Atlanta study also had
lower blood pressure at the end of the study; and a 1999 study that looked at people with
multiple sclerosis who practiced tai chi found that it contributed to an overall improvement in quality
of life for people with chronic, disabling conditions . . .
a study from 1991 that evaluates its safety for rheumatoid arthritis patients. It concluded that 10
weeks of tai chi classes did not make joint problems worse, and says the weight-bearing aspects
of this exercise has the potential to stimulate bone growth and strengthen connective tissue.
And a recent University of Arizona opinion paper on mind-body alternatives, such as tai chi and
meditation, for rheumatic diseases concluded that stress and pain are closely related, and therapies
that focus on psychological as well as physical function could be beneficial, when used
along with conventional medications . . .
"Given its low impact and evidence that it tends to increase muscle strength and balance and give
general pain relief, we think it's a worthwhile option for arthritis patients,"says William L. Haskell, PhD,
deputy director of the Stanford [University] Center for Research in Disease Prevention in California.
Stanford has offered tai chi classes for years, and is launching a major National Institute on Aging study
to assess benefits of various types of exercise on healthy aging. A year-long study of tai chi for those 60
and older is part of the project. While this study won't look at arthritis specifically, the data is expected to
provide evidence of tai chi's general benefits.
For the complete article, go to The Arthritis Foundation's ARTHRITIS TODAY Publication article at:
ATTENTION DEFICIT AND HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER & T'AI CHI:
Excerpt from Tai Chi Benefits ADHD, by Massage Magazine
-- Source: Touch Research Institute. Authors: Maria Hernandez-Reif, Ph.D., Tiffany Field, Ph.D.,
and Eric Thimas. Originally published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies,
April 2001, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 120-123
. . . During and after five weeks of tai chi lessons, adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
Disorder (ADHD) showed less anxiety, daydreaming, inappropriate emotions and hyperactivity,
according to a study by the Touch Research Institute (TRI).
"Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: benefits from Tai Chi" was conducted by Maria
Hernandez-Reif, Ph.D., Tiffany Field, Ph.D., and Eric Thimas.
ADHD, often treated by drugs such as Ritalin, is characterized by inattention, impulsivity and
hyperactivity. A 1998 TRI study showed that massage was effective in increasing focus, improving mood,
reducing fidgeting and lowering hyperactivity in adolescents with ADHD. This study examined whether
tai chi, the Chinese martial art of slow-moving, meditative exercise, would have similar effects . . .
For the complete article, go to Massage Magazine's article at:
Tai Chi Chuan and Blood Pressure
(Reuters) - . . . at a meeting sponsored by the American Heart Association. "You better believe we
were surprised by those results," one of the researchers, Dr. Deborah R.Young from Johns Hopkins
University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD said in a statement. "We were expecting to see
significant changes in the aerobic exercise group and minimal changes in the T'ai chi group
The scientists studied 62 sedentary adults, aged 60 years and older, assigning half to a program of
brisk walking and low-impact aerobics and the other half to learning T'ai chi. After 12 weeks, systolic
blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading) had fallen significantly in both groups, an
average of 8.4 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) in the aerobic exercise group and 7 mm Hg in the T'ai chi
group. "It could be that in elderly, sedentary people, just getting up and doing some slow movement could
be associated with beneficial reductions in high blood pressure," Young theorizes.
[for more medical research, visit: http://www.williamccchen.com/Medical%20Studies.htm]
BALANCE & STRENGTH, AND TAI CHI
From Harvard Medical School, Published in the HARVARD HEALTH LETTER,
Volume 21 Number 11 - Sept 1996 Issue
. . . citing a study by the American Geriatric Society on Tai Chi:
A study in the May 1996 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society showed that
Tai Chi -- an ancient Chinese martial art that employs slow, precise movements -- helped improve
balance and strength among seniors. Those who underwent Tai Chi training for 15 weeks reduced
their risk of falling by 47.5% compared with those who didn't take classes.
[for more medical research, visit: http://www.williamccchen.com/Medical%20Studies.htm]
From University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter
The Newsletter of Nutrition, Fitness & Stress Management
Volume 15, Issue 2 November 1998 From the School of Public Health
Here are some of the potential health benefits of tai chi:
Flexibility: The choreographed exercises gently take your joints through their full range of motion.
Studies show that the controlled movements can be helpful for people with arthritis (but they should
check with their doctors before starting any exercise program).
Physical therapy: Some research has found that tai chi can be a form of physical therapy and aid
in the recovery of injuries.
Balance: The smooth, slow movements help instill physical confidence and may enhance balance
Strengthening: Tai chi helps tone muscles in the lower body, especially the thighs, buttocks and calves.
Posture: Your head, neck, and spine are usually aligned, thus relieving strain on the neck and lower back.
Relaxation: Tai Chi can have some of the same psychological benefits of yoga. The concentration on the
body's fluid motion and on breathing helps many people relax, and can relieve tension and anxiety.
Lower blood pressure: Though studies have had conflicting results, a recent study presented at the American
Heart Association meeting found that 12 weeks of tai chi resulted in a small but significant drop in
blood pressure in older people.
[for more medical research, visit: http://www.williamccchen.com/Medical%20Studies.htm]
A movement towards t'ai chi - Harvard Health Letter, July, 1997 by Katie Baer
This daily ritual, called t'ai chi ch'uan (pronounced tie-chee-chwann), has been practiced by millions of Chinese people for centuries. Now t'ai chi is attracting great interest from Americans looking for new forms of exercise. At the same time, U.S. researchers have found possible physical and mental health benefits to t'ai chi, particularly for older people.
Recent studies show that t'ai chi improves balance in seniors and reduces the likelihood of falls. Indeed, falls are the leading cause of death from injury in older people. And the lives of some who survive are changed dramatically: 15%-25% of those who sustain a hip fracture remain in long-term care institutions a year after the injury.
A study by Emory University researchers in the May 1996 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society evaluated a 15-week course of t'ai chi taken by 72 men and women age 70 and over; another 128 people of similar ages took part in balance training and discussion groups. Those who completed the t'ai chi course reduced their risk of falling by 47.5% compared with the control group. The researchers suspect that t'ai chi not only improved balance but helped students abort falls by teaching them how to cope with missteps and precarious positions.
The t'ai chi group also had significantly lower blood pressure measurements following a brisk walk when compared to such readings before beginning the classes. Another major benefit of t'ai chi was a decreased fear of falling -- a concern that often prevents older people from being as active as they'd like.
. . . People who practice t'ai chi are said to exploit the strength of yin (the earth) and the chi (energy) of yang (the heavens) to focus their physical and spiritual energies on enabling the mind and body to work together to improve balance, strength, and flexibility.
Unlike many types of exercise, t'ai chi is accessible to people of all ages. It requires no expensive gear, and once the basic form is learned through classroom instruction, it can be practiced anywhere. An average routine takes about 10 minutes. It is safe for most people who are mobile, but sedentary, older people should check with a doctor before starting a class. . . .
. . . for more on this article refer to . . . President and Fellows of Harvard College.
Aerobic Activity vs. T'ai Chi: Effects on Blood Pressure - American Family Physician, Sept 1, 1999 by Grace Brooke Huffman
Numerous health benefits are derived from regular exercise, such as a reduced incidence of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease. The level of intensity required to lower blood pressure is unclear, however. Moderate-intensity activity appears to be as useful as high-intensity activity in lowering blood pressure. Young and colleagues conducted this randomized clinical trial to determine whether 12 weeks of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or t'ai chi could help lower blood pressure in a group of sedentary older patients. . . .
. . . The authors conclude that t'ai chi, a low-intensity physical activity, can have antihypertensive effects in sedentary older persons similar to those associated with moderate aerobic activity. Patients who practice t'ai chi need no specialized clothing or equipment, and it is accessible to those who have been sedentary and may be discouraged by the thought of aerobic exercise. Further studies are needed to determine what "dose" of activity is needed to reduce blood pressure in elderly patients who are sedentary.
for more on this refer to: Young DR, et al. The effects of aerobic exercise and t'ai chi on blood pressure in older people: results of a randomized trial. J Am Geriatr Soc March 1999;47:277-84.
American Academy of Family Physicians
Tai Chi for Older People Reduces Falls, May Help Maintain Strength
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH RELEASE: - Thursday, May 2, 1996
Public Information Office
Tai Chi, a martial arts form that enhances balance and body awareness through slow, graceful, and precise body movements, can significantly cut the risk of falls among older people and may be beneficial in maintaining gains made by people age 70 and older who undergo other types of balance and strength training. The news comes in two reports appearing in the May 1996 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
The two studies are the first involving Tai Chi to be reported by scientists in a special frailty reduction program sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
. . . for more on this click to visit the NIH website.