For the remainder of this series on the ancient healing art of Qigong, we’ll focus on specific health conditions it could help with. Here we lead off with four relatively common problems: high blood pressure; anxiety; neck pain; and fibromyalgia.
Here is a look at some specific studies for each of these conditions:
1. High blood pressure
A 30-year trial tested patients with high blood pressure. Those not doing Qigong had a 50% higher death rate (caused by a stroke). Qigong helped stabilize blood pressure, whereas the others’ conditions worsened. Qigong also helped reduce the patients’ need for the blood pressure drugs — and, incredibly, for 30% of the treatment group, it eliminated the need for drugs altogether!
A group of researchers set out under the belief that Qigong could be a useful add-on to therapy. In the past, we have found that exercise benefits one’s well-being in the mind, in the social environment, in making the heart fitter, and in raising the level of endorphins. Until now, these ideas hadn’t been applied to such a slow-moving exercise as Qigong. The researchers believe that the ideas can be reorganized into Qigong’s mind, body, and breath regulations. The study proposes that Qigong could be an excellent alternative therapy for those suffering anxiety that impedes quality of life.
A recent study showed that Qigong could help battle fibromyalgia. This is important, because fibromyalgia is a disease that is both mysterious and frustrating. Treatments are not aplenty. It’s under the arthritis umbrella, but is a chronic disease that causes widespread pain in the muscles and soft tissues in the joints. It hits the neck, shoulders, spine, and hips hardest. But there are many other nagging symptoms that can strike, too.
Qigong was used for seven weeks in 30 patients. The researchers found “significant improvements” in various aspects of pain and mental health. (Depression and distress are common among these patients.) Four months after the study, the majority of these patients were still enjoying these improvements. Researchers concluded that Qigong had “positive and reliable effects” on fibromyalgia. They believe the Chinese treatment can be an effective, safe accompaniment to conventional medicine.
4. Neck pain
A recent study tested Qigong and exercise therapy in patients who lived with neck pain for a long time. The pain doesn’t seem to have a cause; it just lingers for a long time. It’s called “nonspecific.” This is an affliction that is frustrating and treatments for it are hard to find. Patients never know if something will work or not. Since Qigong hadn’t been studied for nonspecific neck pain, researchers decided to give it a shot.
It involved 122 patients (average age: 44) who did Qigong or exercise therapy. They had at least 12 treatments over three months. During a year of follow-up, researchers noted the frequency and intensity of neck pain, overall disability, and range of motion. They discovered that both exercise therapy and Qigong were effective: they significantly improved symptoms and that improvement lasted 12 months after. The study recommends either therapy for people suffering long-term, mysterious neck pain.