What is Qi?
Qi (Chi) means energy. Qi is more specifically the vital energy that exists before we are born, remains in the body during our life, and persists after our lives end (Trieschmann, 1999). Qi energy is polar: it possesses a positive and negative side. In Tao philosophy all positive forces in the universe have a negative force. These opposing forces act to balance one another out. When the Qi of the body is out of balance, the body gets sick (http://www.naturalhealthweb.com). Maintaining a balanced Qi will insure health, and in order to restore health from sickness, the Qi must be brought back to a balanced state (Trieschmann, 1999). Qi Gong is a way to balance Qi and heal and ward off illness.
What is Qi Gong?
Qi Gong, also spelled Chi Kung, is a Chinese method of healing. Qi means energy and Gong means skill. Together, Qi Gong is the skill of attracting vital energy (http://www.qi.org). Qi Gong is also the act of moving the Qi energy throughout the body in order to restore balance (http://www.naturalhealthweb.com).
How is Qi Gong Performed?
Qi Gong can take many different forms, some involving a Qi Gong master who transmits energy into your body through acupuncture meridians, his palms, or by tapping the individual. A Qi Gong master can also transmit Qi energy into inanimate objects and solutions, which when held to, or consumed by the body will transmit the Qi energy into the body and restore balance. Other methods involve one individual who can control his/her Qi activity through meditation, breathing exercises or mild movements.
Information on the Web
Qi Gong can…
– Prevent and treat illness (http://www.qi.org)
– Reduce stress (http://www.qi.org)
– Enhance the body’s immune system (http://www.qi.org)
One website offers personal accounts of Qi Gong being an effective therapy for many diseases such as HIV/AIDS in that it helps the body resist diseases to which a person with AIDS would be more susceptible (http://tibetanqigong.org)
Another website (http://www.pangushengong.org) claims that Qi Gong can cure:
– Heart Problems: palpitation, coronary heart disease, hypertension
– Aches: migraine headache, shoulder and abdomen ache, wounds
– Sleep Disorders: insomnia and neurasthenia
– Infections: retinitis, tracheitis, cervical spine infection, hepatitis, and nephritis
– Gastro-Intestinal Disorders: stomach disease, duodenal ulcer, diarrhea and constipation
– Cold and Fever
– Motion Disorders: vertigo, motion sickness
– Cancer: malignant lymphoma, liver cancer, cancer of cavum
– Rheumatic arthritis and rheumatoid
An additional website (http://www.qihealer.com) prolongs life, improves wisdom and happiness.
Does Qi Exist?
According to scientific research, Qi is an energy source that exists and can be measured. Qi energy can be detected as a magnetic field, far-infrared or photon (Fukushima, Kataoka, Hamada, and Matsumoto, 2000). Qi energy has polarity, which means it has a positive (+) and negative (-) force (Omura, 1990). This Qi energy can be stored in inanimate objects such as aluminum foil, glass, stone, band-aids, clothes, papers, metals, drugs, and so forth (Omura, 1990).
Does Qi Gong Have its Promised Effect?
The websites claim that Qi Gong practice can result in healing, reduction of pain and stress, and an overall improved immune system
To address the first three issues of healing, pain and stress, it is been demonstrated that Qi Gong effective in improving circulation throughout the body. Qi Gong can alleviate microcirculatory disturbance, relax spastic muscles, lower blood pressure and open up tightened arteries (Omura, Lin, Debreceni, Losco, Freed, Muteki, and Lin, 1989).
– Improved blood flow could aid in the healing process. For example, a patient may suffer from an illness for which they are prescribed medication. With an obstructed circulatory system, the essential drugs in the medicine may not be able to reach the infected area of the body. By opening the circulatory system, drugs can freely flow to the necessary areas and can therefore have a much greater healing effect on the patient (Omura, 1990).
– By relaxing spastic muscles, Qi Gong can reduce pain. Muscle spasms can be excruciatingly painful, and are sometimes caused by poor blood flow to the tightened muscles. By restoring blood flow to the constricted area, pain can be alleviated.
– Similarly, stress, which often manifests in the tensing of muscles and vaso-constriction (narrowing of the veins), can be relieved by a widening of the veins, which would de-constrict the veins and increase blood flow. This free-flowing blood could travel into the muscles and reduce tension.
To address the last issue of Qi Gong’s positive effect on the immune system, it has been shown that Qi Gong energy can alter the effects of phostphate buffered saline (PBS), a buffer commonly used in experiments with cells and involving cellular activity (Fukushima, Kataoka, Hamada, and Matsumoto, 2000). In one study, PBS that was treated with Qi energy and non-treated PBS were added to randomized human polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMNs) suspensions, which are key cells in the body’s immune system (Fukushima, Kataoka, Hamada, and Matsumoto, 2000). It was found that PBS treated with Qi energy (from a Qi Gong master or trainee) elicited more phagocytic activity from the PMNs than the non-treated PBS (Fukushima, Kataoka, Hamada, and Matsumoto, 2000). So, at the cellular level, the leukocytes that promote a healthy immune system were positively affected by the addition of Qi-energy-treated PBS. This study could imply that Qi Gong can improve the immune system, but this might be too global a statement, since the experiment was done solely at the cellular level. Additionally, it was found that when PBS was treated with microwave irradiation and laser pulse irradiation, similar results were found, indicating that Qi energy may be similar to these types of energies (Fukushima, Kataoka, Hamada, and Matsumoto, 2000).
Can Qi Gong Really Cure So Many Specific Diseases?
Can Qi Gong cure all the previously listed diseases? (see list). Unfortunately, not enough studies on the relationship of Qi Gong to specific diseases have been preformed.
As stated before, Qi Gong has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve circulation, which could have beneficial effects on numerous ailments including heart problems, infections, and muscle aches. Also, by enhancing drug uptake, those who are receiving medication for an illness, may amplify the good effects of these drugs through Qi Gong, which might have a healing effect.
I could only find one specific study, which examined the effects of Qi Gong relaxation exercise on type II diabetes mellitus. The results of the study indicated that Qi Gong is a good additional practice for those who have type II diabetes mellitus (Tsujiuchi, Kumano, Yoshiuchi, He, Tsujiuchi, Kuboki, Suematsu, and Hirago, 2002). People with diabetes cannot produce the proper levels of insulin to control their blood-sugar levels. Qi Gong seems to either improve insulin resistance, or can improve glucose metabolism, which are both beneficial effects (Tsujiuchi, Kumano, Yoshiuchi, He, Tsujiuchi, Kuboki, Suematsu, and Hirago, 2002).
Other than this one study on Qi Gong and diabetes, there is no concrete evidence, that Qi Gong directly improves any other of the many listed health concerns.
Does Practice Improve Qi Gong Ability?
According to a study done on the brains of Qi Gong masters and beginners, the answer is YES.
Statistical brain topographic mapping was applied to EEGs that were spontaneously recorded from brains while in the Qi Gong state (Jian-Zhou, Jing-Zhen, and Qing-Nian, 1987). The study showed that the brain of a Qi Gong master enters a unique and special state when it is practicing Qi Gong. This Qi Gong state is significantly different than resting state with the eyes closed and is different from the brain state of Qi Gong beginners and controls while practicing (Jian-Zhou, Jing-Zhen, and Qing-Nian, 1987). The results for the Qi Gong beginners were not quite significant, which indicates that the Qi Gong state in the brain is more pronounced with more practice (Jian-Zhou, Jing-Zhen, and Qing-Nian, 1987).. This article suggests that the longer one practices Qi Gong, the greater the change in the brain activity.
Last updated: April 3, 2014 at 11:41 am
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