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Qigong and Energy Medicine Dissertations

These are several academic studies that attempt to research the mind/body connection involving qigong. We invite the readers to send us other contributions to this category of research.

    Conclusion: Tai chi exercise can modulate cardiac autonomic tone by enhancing the vagal activity and reducing the sympathetic activity. Long-term beneficial effects of tai chi on cardiac autonomic function need further investigation.


    Hypothesized that Qigong meditation could reduce the level of Neuroticism and increase Extraversion. Eighty-two Qigong practitioners (mean = 47.5; SD = 9.3), were recruited through personal visits and online survey to fill out the Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI). Seventy-five non-practitioners (mean = 42.1; SD = 10.6) were recruited as a comparison. There was a significant negative relationship between the number of years of practice and the level of Neuroticism, r = -.247, p <.001 and a significant predictability, r" = .071, p<.001. The level of Extraversion of non-practitioners was significantly reduced by age, r = -.248, p < .016, compared with practitioners, r = -.021, p < .427 (n.s.). Qigong may develop treatments for people who are highly neurotic.

    This study provides an experiential ground for exploring the significance of qigong as an intentional bodily practice and presents a "physiological and organic knowledge of the body" based on the metaphor of "the body as a flow of qi." This project is situated within the context of increasing interest in the body in academia, in which the Cartesian dichotomy of the body and mind is a problematic issue. In order to overcome such a dichotomy, this study proposes the significance of exploring the intentionally chosen bodily practices, and takes qigong as an example. Then, discussing some theoretical issues of body image and body schema, as well as enactive metaphor, this study also proposes a research agenda to investigate such bodily practices, based on the phenomenology of the body by Elizabeth Behnke and the philosophy of language and experience developed by Eugene T. Gendlin. Along with this agenda, this dissertation presents a phenomenology of qigong based on interviews with three practitioners, in which a variety of qigong experiences are described in three categories: 1) fundamental notions in the practice of qigong, 2) unique experiences emerging from particular styles of qigong, and 3) the discrepancy between theory and experience. Since qigong has such a variety of styles and such a large number of practitioners all over the world, the descriptions presented here are not comprehensive but exemplary, so that other researchers and practitioners can collaboratively explore and widely accumulate such descriptions.

    A pilot study with 39 subjects suffering from DSM-IV (Psychiatric Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 4th edition) diagnosis of major Depression, Dysthymia or Bipolar Disorder were treated with the Eastern Traditional Chinese Medicine technique of qigong. Treatment included qi emission treatment by qualified practitioners, and subjects were required to practice qigong exercise for a two-month period. Significant improvement was observed, especially in the first month on the measurements of Beck's Depression Index-Revised (BDI-R) (p<0.0000) and Symptom Checklist-90R (SCL-90 R) Depression Index (p<0.00003), Interpersonal Sensitivity (p<0.00003). Scl-90 Somaticism indexes as well as three criteria from DSM-IV guidelines are also reported on indicating an overall trend of improvement over time. All subjects improved over the treatment period and it is determined that the qigong exercise is a highly effective complimentary and alternative treatment modality for depression and should be considered as an adjunct to psychotherapy treatment. No significant difference was seen in those subjects treated with qi emission. We started with 63 subjects and had 3 practitioners. 45 subjects showed up for treatment. We split them into 3 groups. The individuals in the study were screened for situational depression and psychosis. I only chose those individuals who met criteria for a long-term depression, one which would be considered biological in basis. Also, in consideration of the deviant syndrome which has been seen, I screened for any psychosis in depression. Some of the subjects had been suffering from major depression for 30 years. One individual had a brain tumor, and several had been victims of sexual abuse. These were very depressed individuals. In the first session, half were given a qi emission treatment for 10 min. There were significant decreases in BP for the treated group. The second and third time we met (30 days apart) all subjects were given a 10 min qi emission treatment. There was no difference between those who received the qi emission treatment the first time and those who did not. The qigong exercise seemed to be the main factor. There were significant decreases in other area measured by the SCL-90 as well, such as anxiety, hostility, and psychoticism, however I reported only 3 measures -Depression, Somaticism and Interpersonal Sensitivity, which is a major factor connected with depression. The results are impressive. Some of the scores fell as much as 50% (40 points) when I was hoping to get at least 10 points on the measures. We used Spring Forest Qigong - Chunyi Lin's technique. The subjects were told to practice 40 min a day and utilized video tape/audio tape to accomplish this. There was a marked difference in personal presentation between the first and last meeting ? from somber, sad and discouraging faces to joyful and excited behavior. So there was also a significant effect with bipolar subjects (3) in the study and this is an important aspect. I hope that this helps and thank you for including me in the qigong disc. As far as I know, this is the first study done in U.S. with qigong and depression.

    My purpose in this study has been to learn how qigong, an ancient Chinese system of healing and self-development, has been adopted by Western practitioners as a way of taking part in their own health care. Qigong (translated as "energy work") is a multi-faceted discipline that serves as prevention and treatment of illness as well as complementary care and to improve quality of life. What drew my attention most was the individual's participatory experience of movement and meditation is at the heart of the practice. I chose the phenomenological Experiential Method to focus on stories contributed by ten research participants describing their experiences of healing supported by qigong. This method, developed by Sunnie and James Kidd, Ph. D., "displays how a person through personal action, participates in the constitution of self-meaning." (Kidd & Kidd, 1990:1) I value these stories as they speak for themselves and also in light of the universal healing principles that underlies the practice of qigong. I have the sense that qigong fans the innate self-healing spark that everyone possesses, more or less consciously. The themes represented in the qigong students' descriptions include: general health improvements and symptoms relieved, self-care, personal growth/responsibility and integration into daily life, sensory and intuitive impressions of qi and qigong, and psycho-spiritual continuum, that is, stress reduction to transpersonal experience. In addition to my research findings I present a review of literature on qigong, Traditional Chinese Medicine and the new direction of Western medicine that has been called "Body/Mind Medicine" by a number of contemporary authors. The recognition of the integral nature of physical, psychological and spiritual aspects of being in relation to health and healing is a premise of the emerging paradigm in Western medicine and of Traditional Chinese Medicine, of which qigong is one branch. On a national level we are facing a health care crisis that will deepen as the increasing incidence of chronic and stress-related illness and an aging population place greater demands on the existing system. There is a call for innovation, preventative care, individual involvement, and serious inquiry into the time-tested wisdom of other cultures to meet this challenge. Qigong is both cost effective and therapeutically so. The very accessible nature of the practice allows it to be a vehicle for change on a large-scale beginning with individual self-care. This study illustrates the ways practitioners were helped by qigong on many levels of their healing processes.

    The concept of Qi energy has been an integral component of Eastern philosophy and medicine for thousands of years. While there is no precise Western definition of Qi energy, it is often referred to as bioelectricity. It has been well established in the West that the electrical activity in the human body produces magnetic fields, which are sometimes referred to as Bioelectromagnetic (BioEM) energy. Technological advances over the past several decades have made it possible to measure these subtle yet important electromagnetic energy fields within and around the human body. Increasing evidence suggests that the Eastern concept of Qi and the Western concept of BioEM energy may be one in the same. An exploratory experiment was designed and carried out with the intention of providing such evidence. Four adult males with reported extraordinary Qi energy manipulation abilities projected Qi energy towards copper coils that were designed to measure subtle alterations in the immediate electromagnetic environment. The results indicate that power increased or decreased significantly in the test phase at several frequencies when compared to the control phases. The analysis also indicated that the changes in power for these specific frequencies was directional. That is, these changes in power were mostly detected in one versus all three of the coils simultaneously. These results suggest that it is possible for human beings to alter the electromagnetic environment around their hands at will. Specifically, the power seen at certain frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum can be lowered or raised when a Qi Master "emits" Qi energy versus simply holding his hand over a detection device during a control phase.

    Improving levels of participation in physical activity remains an important objective in our society. Despite definitive evidence that regular involvement in moderate-intensity exercise provides innumerable health benefits, statistics indicate that less than 25% of adult Americans engage in that level of physical activity on a regular basis. And, senior citizens are the least active of all age groups. Hence, providing alternative forms of exercise modalities, in an effort to stimulate and promote expanded participation in physical activity, especially among older adults, is a critical health consideration. The primary purpose of the study was to explore whether a group of eight qigong exercises, derived from Chinese medical qigong, provided a similar moderate-intensity level of physical activity to that of traditional brisk walking for a group of older adults, age 55 to 79 years (mean: 64.2 years). A secondary purpose was to compare mood values, or psychological affect, between the two exercise conditions using the Positive Affect Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). Results for physiological factors measured indicated significant main effects for time for heart rate, breath frequency, pulse rate, rating of perceived exertion, and diastolic blood pressure. These results demonstrated that for both walking and qigong, participants experienced similar work loads. Similarly, no significant difference was found between condition for either positive affect or negative affect. There was a significant interaction of condition by time for heart rate which indicated that heart rate increased more rapidly for the walking condition, however, as exercise continued, variation of heart rate values between conditions lessened. The results of this investigation suggest that, for this age group, these qigong exercises provide a moderate-intensity level of activity similar to that of a brisk walk at a pace of 2.5 to 4 mph. In addition, the exercises also provided comparable psychological benefits in mood improvement as those derived from walking. Therefore, qigong exercises can be considered an alternate moderate-intensity exercise form for individuals who might prefer this activity, who may be interested in a variety of exercise modalities, or who might be unable to walk for a sustained length of time.

    Material of the study was a total of 29 men's heart rate variability analysis which were performed using ambulatory ECG recordings. The measurements were done in Shanghai during the autumn of 1996 and spring of 1997. These 29 men formed two age groups: young and old. Heart rate variability analysis was assessed from three different activity situations: at rest in supine and sitting positions and during taichiquan exercise (two different exercises). This study concentrated on supine position measurements but cardiovascular stress was assessed also with other activity measurements. The aim of this study was to investigate intentional physical activation's (taichiquan exercises) effect on autonomic cardiac activity using heart rate variability analysis. The cardiovascular stress during taichiquan and its safety issues were also investigated. To find the physiological basis for larger studies was also one purpose of this study. Heart rate variability was found to be a good indicator of taichiquan's effect on autonomic nervous function, e.g. on sympathetic or parasympathetic activity at certain moment. It was noticed that even a short five minutes taichiquan exercise increased clearly heart rate variability in both groups. This was indicated by both time- and frequency domain parameters. According to these findings it improved the regulatory capacity of cardiovascular system at least temporarily. The increase of the heart rate variability was greater in youngs's group. However, only in old's group the heart rate was also decreased a little after sequential taichiquan exercises. These effects indicate that parasympathetic activity became more powerful after sequential taichiquan exercises in both test groups. The cardiovascular stress of taichiquan exercises used in this study was light and those exercises are safe for almost everyone.

    The Chinese concept of Qi Energy is not easily translated into western thought or language. It has been defined as 'vital energy', 'air, breath or steam energy', 'life force', and 'living essence'. Qi is all of these and none of them. "It is that which differentiates life from death, inanimate from animate. To live is to have Qi in every part of your body. To die is to be a body without Qi. For health to be maintained, there must be a balance of Qi, neither too much nor too little" (Eisenberg, 1995, p.43). Most people are not aware of Qi energy, either within them or in the external environment, since it is considered the most fundamental element, it operates at the root of our experience (Fenton, 1996). People are also unaware of the existence of Qi because the energy is so perfectly balanced, likened to an isometric exercise where two equal forces opposing each other give the impression of nothing happening (Thurnell-Read, 1995). According to the experience of those who can feel and 'manipulate' Qi energy for healing or other purposes, "Qi can be best explained as a type of energy very much like electricity, which flows through the human or animal body" (Yang, 1998, p. 9). When this circulation of electricity-like energy becomes blocked or unbalanced, the individual or animal will become ill and if the flow is not restored, will die (Thurnell-Read, 1995; Yang, 1998). One of the roles Qi plays in the human body involves the communication and the provision of information to cells and between cells, beyond the information supplied through the nerves and the hormonal system (Thurnell-Read, 1995). Qi 'flows' through the body via channels or meridians that connect all parts of the body. These meridians have been outlined, described, and manipulated by Chinese health practitioners for thousands of years (Gao, 1997), and are not identified structures known to Western medicine (Eisenberg, 1995). These meridians contain ''gates' or points along their paths where the manipulation of Qi flow within the meridian is especially effective. By manipulating these gates or points, one can control the flow of Qi energy along the meridian by opening a blocked meridian, blocking the flow of Qi, or introducing external Qi into the body. These points, referred to as acupuncture or pressure points, are used by acupuncturists who attempt to balance Qi flow in the body by inserting tiny needles into the meridians, enhancing Qi flow. These same points are also used by Shiatsu specialists, akin to massage therapists in the West, to manipulate Qi energy flow in certain meridians by moving and manipulating the deep tissues and muscles surrounding the meridians. The masters of Shiatsu, it is said, "do not merely sense and redirect the flow of Qi; they transmit it from their own bodies into their patient's body by way of the appropriate meridian" (Eisenberg, 1995, p. 112). It is important to note that these same acupuncture, or pressure points, can be used to disrupt Qi energy flow along a meridian and cause harm to the body. As a result, traditionally, martial artists attacked these pressure points to defeat their opponents. As a result of these acupuncture meridians, there is no part of the body that does not contain Qi energy. A Blockage or disruption in any of these meridians results in the improper flow of Qi Energy throughout the body, and stagnation of Qi. If balance is not attained, then the normal physiological functioning of the body becomes impaired, allowing ever-present illness and disease (in the form of pathogens) to take hold over the weakened body (truncated abstract).

    The art of Taiji, like other Chinese healing arts, is a holistic practice based on a philosophy that integrates mind, body, and spirit. Recognizing the synergy of mixed method studies, both quantitative and qualitative methods of analyses were employed to examine effects of a 6-month Taiji and Qigong intervention on healthy older adults. The quantitative study employed traditional methods to investigate the effect of Taiji practice on fall-related balance behaviors. A randomized controlled clinical trial was designed with two groups Wait Control (WC) and Taiji/Qigong (TQ) using single blinded testers. Performance at baseline was compared with two months and at the termination of the intervention at six months. To capture the subjective experiences of participants so as to construct a broader and deeper understanding of the meanings they attributed to their experience with Taiji, a qualitative study was also performed via interview with eight TQ subjects. The results of the quantitative study suggest that a 2-month Taiji intervention on healthy older adults yielded improvement in balance, lower body strength, and appropriate adaptive responses in situations of inaccurate or conflicting sensory stimuli. Taiji practitioners also adopted significantly wider stance widths than their control group counterparts. The adoption of a wider stance may be one mechanism contributing to the observed improvements in functional balance. The qualitative study selected intervention participants who, in their own opinion, derived significant benefit from this study. We found that all of them began with physical ailments and concerns, and all experienced clear physical gains. They all experienced benefits in at least three other dimensions across a five-dimensional (physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual) model. All reported a significantly enhanced, integrated mind-body connection, significant positive psychological effects, and integrated mind/body/spirit experiences. We concluded that, for select participants, Taiji appears to produce multidimensional positive effects that are holistic and integrative in nature. The overall results from the two methodologies yield convergent results suggesting that two months of specific Taiji/Qigong curriculum practice can yield both a measured and perceived reversal in the decline of physical function due to age. Yang Yang can be contacted at yangyangtaiji@qmail.com