The Scientific Basis of Qigong and Energy Medicine
An introduction to Energy Medicine and Energy Healing
"The goal of the Qigong Institute is to promote the scientific understanding of the basis of Qigong".
Dr. Kenneth Sancier, Founder of the Qigong Institute.
Dr. James Oschman on Energy Medicine
Highlights from Dr. James Oschman's presentation at the Annual World Congress of Anti-Aging Medicine. Dr. Oschman believes that a new milestone in medicine is upon us, harnessing the diagnostic and therapeutic use of energy. This new technology which is entering mainstream medical use stimulates the repair and regeneration of tissues.
Denying the 'direct electromagnetic interactions [among] living molecules would be to deny the fundamental reaction upon which all life depends, namely the absorption of sunlight by green plants.' James Oschman in Energy Medicine - The Scientific Basis
The current status of energy medicine and its increasing challenge
to the biochemical paradigm that has dominated conventional
medicine are reviewed. Although energy medicine represents
only a small fraction of 1% of the $2.2 trillion healthcare industry,
6 properties of energy medicine give it strengths that could augment conventional health care models. These include the ways
energy medicine (1) can address biological processes at their energetic foundations (reach), (2) regulates biological processes with precision, speed, and fl exibility (effi ciency), (3) fosters health and prevents illness with interventions that can be readily, economically, and noninvasively applied (practicality), (4) includes methods that can be used on an at-home, self-help basis, fostering a stronger patient-practitioner partnership in the healing process (patient empowerment), (5) adopts non-linear concepts consistent with distant healing, the healing impact of prayer, and the role of intention in healing (quantum compatibility), and (6) strengthens the integration of body, mind, and spirit, leading not only to a focus on healing, but to achieving greater well-being, peace, and passion for life (holistic orientation). (David Feinstein, PhD; Donna Eden. Altern Ther Health Med. 2008;14(1):44-54.)
This paper characterizes Qigong as Energy Medicine by
examining the scientific basis, the medical need for, and the scientific research supporting the benefits of Energy
Medicine. It also proposes a Human Energy Project to fully research and map the human bio-energy field. The Qigong Institute.
Work by Lund, Burr, Becker, and others leads to the inescapable conclusion that organisms tend to express
quasisystemic electric changes when perturbed, and, conversely, will tend toward wellness either through en-
dogenous repair currents or the application of equivalent external currents. We show that an all-inclusive elec-
tromagnetic field representation for living systems is fully consistent with this extensive body of work. This
electrogenomic field may provide the basis for a new paradigm in biology and medicine that is radically dif-
ferent from the present emphasis on molecular biology and biochemistry. An electromagnetic field description
also enables a more rational transformation from the genome than the present endpoint, universally stated in
terms of the so-called visible characteristics. Furthermore, once the organism is described as an electromag-
netic entity, this strongly suggests the reason for the efficacy of the various electromagnetic therapies, namely
as the most direct means of restoring the body’s impacted electromagnetic field to its normal state. ABRAHAM R. LIBOFF, Ph.D.
A very complete introduction to Electromedicine, including a description of the electromagnetic spectrum and how it manifests in and affects biological organisms, and a description of EM therapeutic methods and tools. - Nenah Sylver, PhD.
Scientists have long been interested in measuring external qi (EQ or wai qi) during qigong healing, and have produced a large body of literature over the past 20 years. This paper reviews the major research on measuring EQ in China and tries to help other researchers to get a picture on what has been done so as to eliminate the simple replication of already verified results. Starting with the historical background of EQ studies in China, this paper analytically reviews the major studies of EQ effects from five different categories of detectors: 1) physical signal detectors; 2) chemical dynamics methods; 3) detectors using biological materials; 4) detectors using life sensors; and 5) detectors using the human body. By Kevin Chen, Director of Research, Qigong Institute.
Among the many conclusions of the research reported on below is that Qigong masters can consciously control blood flow and other metabolic processes, functions normally regulated by the autonomic nervous system.
Description and Bioenergetic Results
Local oxygen consumption via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
Stimulation of specific acupoints resulted in changes in activity at specific locations in the brain. For instance, stimulation of foot acupoints commonly used to treat eye disorders increased activity at the visual cortex while treatment of a foot acupoint used for pain relief deactivated the activity at pain centers at the cingulate cortex of the brain.
Independent Component Analysis of electroencephalograms (EEG)
Increase in alpha and theta waves resulting from meditation was also accompanied by an increase in beta waves. Since alpha and theta waves signify a state of relaxation and rest while beta waves reflect a state of alert consciousness, this analysis indicate that meditation is a dual state of “relaxed concentration”. This conclusion is consistent with the common notion that mediation is not only an excellent way to achieve deep rest, but also an effective way to train the mind to be sharply focused during mental activities in every day life.
The brain is both relaxing and concentrating during Qigong meditation!
(1) Cancer cells grown on culture plates had a slower growth rate following exposure to external Qi emitted by a top Zen meditation master. (2) The treated cancer cells exhibited more of the characteristics of normal cells.
Intracellular calcium concentration
Calcium ions measured with a fluorescence indicator dye assay
Exposure to external Qi caused a substantial increase in intracellular calcium concentration in cancer cells grown in culture.
Hormone concentration in blood
14 weeks after starting practice of Guolin Qigong (a style popular among Chinese cancer patients), a group of normal subjects had a substantial decrease in stress hormone (i.e., cortisol) and interleukin 10 (suppresses anti-cancer immunity) and an increase in interferon (protects against cancer) in the blood stream
Twenty-four articles from twenty-nine studies in publications from 1970 to 2007 were searched to support or refute the claim that acupuncture points or meridians possess distinct electrical properties. The reported electrical associations at acupuncture points include increased conductance, decreased resistance/impedance, elevated capacitance, and higher potential compared to controls. (Ref: Ahn, J.Alt.Compl.Med. Oct 2007. p.899).
Heart rate variability (HRV) analysis of data from electrocardiograhy (EKG) is becoming an increasingly common method to non-invasively evaluate autonomic nervous function. In many studies, low frequency variability (LF, < 0.15 Hz as shown in the power spectrum produced by fast Fourier transformation of time series data) is taken as an indicator of sympathetic function, and high frequency variability (HF, > 0.15 Hz) as an indicator of parasympathetic function
In a published study by Dr. Zhong-Yuan Shen and collaborators at the Qigong Research Institute (QRI) of the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, regulation of respiration by a group of Qigong masters produced cycles of increase and decrease in heart rate (defined medically as Heart Rate Variability) corresponding to slow and deep breathing cycles as indicated by computer analysis of electrocardiograms (EKG). This effect is apparently caused by conscious control of the autonomic nervous system, which in turn regulates the heart rate. In a related study at the QRI, Qigong meditation was accompanied by fast cycles of heart rate variability. Because such a variability pattern is normally seen during deep sleep, this result supports the notion that meditation is a very effective way to deeply refresh the mind and the body.
Laser Doppler Flowmetry and an infrared imaging system.
Qigong masters were asked to focus their intention on sending their internal Qi to their hands. This resulted in significant increases in blood flow in their hands and a corresponding increase in the temperature of that part of the body. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, qi follows intent (i.e. mind intent) and the blood follows the qi.
Single photon counting device
Detected changes in emission of visible light (i.e. biophotons) from the hands. The dark adapted eye can detect single photons
Chemical absorption of laser light shone through the skull (i.e., transcranial photon migration spectroscopy)
Qigong deep breathing and breath-holding exercises produced a strong increase in oxygen content in capillaries of the forebrain.
In 1997, the National Institutes of Health issued a Consensus Statement which officially approved acupuncture for use in medical treatment.
Neurobiological mechanisms of acupuncture analgesia. Acupuncture has been proven by biochemical, immunohistochemical, molecular biological and neurophysiological investigations. It has been shown that short term acupuncture analgesia is mediated by an activation of endogenous antinociceptive systems and descending inhibitory systems. Long term effects cannot be explained sufficiently by experimental results; however, they suggest an involvement of long term inhibitory synaptic modification at spinal cord neurons and clinical and radiological findings indicate limbic system modulation.
Low frequency (electroacupuncture) or manual acupuncture stimulates nerve fibers thus affecting large numbers of neurotransmitter systems in the brain and spinal cord, such as acetylcholine, opioids, and serotonin. Acupuncture sensitive neurons have been identified in the brain. Acupuncture has been shown to affect signalling molecules in many animal model studies. Research has found that acupoints have increased conductance, decreased resistance/impedance, elevated capacitance, and higher potential compared to controls. Yet there is still a lack of research results which adequately explain the physiological basis of meridians and the 'qi' that moves along them. Although qi and the flow of it through meridians has not been directly measured, bioenergy can be measured. Using electromyography, researchers have shown that electric energy caused by acupuncture does in fact travel along pathways roughly corresponding to meridians. This energy follows blood flow that was initiated and stimulated by acupuncture. For more information on the use of electromyography, EEG, Photon Migration Spectroscopy, Laser Doppler Flometry, and Gas Discharge Visualization to study Acupuncture, Qigong, andTtai Chi see Publications on the Laboratory for Mind-Body Signaling & Energy Research website.
Electrical properties of acupuncture points and meridians: a systematic review. Twenty-four articles from twenty-nine studies in publications from 1970 to 2007 were searched to support or refute the claim that acupuncture points or meridians possess distinct electrical properties. The reported electrical associations at acupuncture points include increased conductance, decreased resistance/impedance, elevated capacitance, and higher potential compared to controls.
Proposed catalog of the neuroanatomy and the stratified anatomy for the 361 acupuncture points of 14 channels. In spite of the extensive research on acupuncture mechanisms, no comprehensive and systematic peer-reviewed reference list of the stratified anatomical and the neuroanatomical features of all 361 acupuncture points exists. This study creates a reference list of the neuroanatomy and the stratified anatomy for each of the 361 acupuncture points on the 14 classical channels and for 34 extra points. This is a step towards western medical standardization of acupuncture points.
Recent Findings from Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine Provide New Insights into Neurobiology. "Acupoint specificity was regarded as one of the core scientific issues with respect to acupuncture practice at the Society for Acupuncture Research international symposium held in 2007. In this chapter, we reviewed the recent development in basic science and clinical studies on the role of acupoint specificity. The evidence cumulated from brain imaging and many biological studies showed that the point specificity in acupuncture does exist, although acupoint specificity-related issues such as sham acupoint and placebo phenomenon need to be seriously considered." According to the news reporters, the research concluded: "How to optimize the efficacy of acupoint and minimize the impact of sham acupuncture is an urgent issue faced by acupuncture community, and more studies are warranted on the subjects."
Evidence Map of Acupuncture. The Department of Veterans Affairs, Health Services Research & Development Service Evidence-based Synthesis Program was established to provide timely and accurate syntheses of targeted healthcare topics of particular importance to VA managers and policymakers, as they work to improve the health and healthcare of Veterans. The ESP disseminates these reports throughout VA. This report provides in-depth information on acupuncture derived from systematic reviews.
NCCAM continues to expand its online continuing medical education (CME) offerings. CEUs are available from NCCAM for these lectures.
International Perspectives on Acupuncture Research. Claudia M. Witt, M.D., M.B.A., a professor for medicine and Acting Director of the Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics at the University Medical Center Charité in Berlin, Germany. Dr. Witt is also visiting professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. This talk includes the safety of acupuncture, it's efficacy and effectiveness, neuroimaging and stimulation studies, acupuncture styles, individual treatment response, comparative effectiveness research, and more.
Neurobiological Correlates of Acupuncture. Bruce Rosen is Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Director of the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Dr. Rosen's research focuses on the development and utilization of physiological and functional nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques and the application of this technology to solve specific biological and clinical problems.
The Society for Acupuncture Research.
The society's mission is to promote, advance and disseminate scientific inquiry into Oriental medicine systems, which include acupuncture, herbal therapy and other modalities through quantitative and qualitative research addressing clinical efficacy, physiological mechanisms, patterns of use and theoretical foundations.
Meditation Practices for Health: State of Research, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This report was requested and funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Objective: To review and synthesize the state of research on a variety of meditation practices, including: the specific meditation practices examined; the research designs employed and the conditions and outcomes examined; the efficacy and effectiveness of different meditation practices for the three most studied conditions; the role of effect modifiers on outcomes; and the effects of meditation on physiological and neuropsychological outcomes.
EMF Portal. The EMF-Portal is a web-based information platform regarding the effects of electromagnetic fields on humans and on interaction with biological systems or body aids. It is provided for scientists, politicians, lawyers, physicians and interested citizens who want to be able make their own informed decisions. The site contains thousands of articles on the effects of electromagnetic fields on humans and on interaction with biological systems or body aids. Like the Qigong and Energy Medicine Database™, access is free.
Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine Journal Archive. The abstracts from these journals pertaining to Qigong and Energy Medicine research were added to the Qigong and Energy Medicine Database™ by Qigong Institute Founder Ken Sancier starting in 1990. Many other noteworthy articles have appeared here including Presidential addresses given at ISSSEEM Annual Conferences and research and presentations by leaders in the field including: Robert O. Becker, Daniel J. Benor, Larry Dossey, Konstantin Korotkov, Jeff Levin, Hiroshi Motoyama, Dean Radin, Elizabeth Rauscher, Norm Shealy, Charles Tart, William Tiller, John E. Upledger, B. Alan Wallace, and many more.
Comparison Between Mind-Body and Physical Exercise
Tai Chi and Qigong can increase bioenergy (as indicated by Bioenergetic Markers) to a greater degree than ‘hard' Kung Fu styles, riding a stationary bicycle, or lifting weights. The bioenergy increase produced by Tai Chi practice can also be measured as an increase in physical strength. Tai Chi and Qigong practices can increase both blood flow and bioenergy markers, consistent with the Chinese concept of “blood is the mother of Qi”.
The following table lists the difference (increase) in bioenergy between mind-body and physcial exercise, as indicated by the bioenergetic marker:
Higher level of heat emission at the palm
Increase in pre-polarization electrical conductance at acupoints
Motoyama’s single square voltage pulse method (averaged over hand and foot points)
Increase in biophoton emission
Single photon counting system
Greater change in bioelectrical charge measured at the finger tips
Bioelectrography: Gas discharge visualization (GDV)
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Cupping, Gua Sha
Special Herbal Medicine
Epigenetics, Psychoneuroimmunology, and Qigong
Research by the Harvard Medical School and others has demonstrated that the practice of Qigong affects gene expression, and immune, nervous system, and cellular function. Qigong positively affects telomeres and telomerase, which allows cells to live longer -- true "anti-aging" and the legendary "fountain of youth". Qigong also changes which genes are expressed, thereby promoting gene transcription for stress reduction and improvement of immune function. The scientific basis of Qigong is explained in part through the convergence of epigenetics (cell biology) and psychoneuroimmunology (neuroscience): Epigenetics, Psychoneuroimmunology, and Qigong.
"if the metabolism of the human body is perfectly balanced or poised, it is susceptible to no disease." Royal Rife, PhD.
"Every molecule, cell, living body, and object is comprised of energy that manifests as physical matter. Some of that energy is detectible as frequencies that belong to one or more radiation bands in the electromagnetic spectrum. And these frequencies correspond to biochemical and biological processes in the body." Nenah Sylver, PhD." Nenah Sylver, PhD.
Western Medicine's Increasing Acceptance of Qigong and Energy Medicine
Qigong is a mind-body discipline. As a result of the effectiveness of Qigong and other energy-based therapies (e.g. see D. Benor, M.D.'s Energy Medicine for the Internist), western medicine and scientists are beginning to realize that a person's state of mind can affect their health. This should come as no surprise since according to the Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2010 report, seventy percent of diseases can be prevented, and other research shows that seventy to ninety percent of illness is due to stress.
Up until recently, placebos and "psychosomatic" illnesses were dismissed as byproducts of "legitimate" therapies, usually involving drugs, or made up problems that had no real physical basis or effect upon a person's health. Not anymore. It's been proven without a doubt that mental state can and does affect your health. Candace Pert's ground-breaking Molecules of Emotion describes the genesis of an entirely new discipline in the field of neuroscience and medical biology: Psychoneuroimmunology, the interaction of the mind, body, emotions, and the immune system via the body's own internal chemical signaling system. Understanding the combination of the protein-receptor cellular level communication mechanism (the endocrine system) and psychoneuroimmunology is the goal of psychoneuroimmunoendocrinology. Endocrinology is the study of the protein-based chemical communcation system that controls the body's physiological processes. These processes are set in motion by a feedback system based upon energy where environmental signals affect molecular activity in the body. There is increasing evidence of the efficacy of mind-body therapies for common clinical conditions: Mind-Body Medicine: State of the Science, Implications for Practice.
Placebos have been embraced as a legitimate field of study by neuroscientists -- see Pain and the Placebo or NCCAM Funded Research for FY 2006 which includes grants to study placebo analgesia, Tai Chi, and meditation. It is encouraging that more researchers in biomedicine, biophysics, neuroscience, and complementary fields are turning their attention to Energy Medicine research and the scientific basis for Qigong's profound integrated mind-body medicine and stress reduction effectiveness.
This is an interview with Mind Body Week speaker Ted Cibik, Ph.D., ND, DMQ (China), a visionary, speaker, healer and author has been passionate about Chinese medicine, meditation, and healing since childhood. A survivor of incurable asthma and cancer, he has dedicated his life to healing himself and others. Dr. Cibik discusses the incorporation of mind-body medicine into western medical practice.
CBS News: Lesley Stahl discusses research at Harvard on the placebo effect. Your mind affects your health, and your anti-depressant may not be what you think. [video: 4:53]
In November 2005, The Stanford School of Medicine hosted a dialogue between the Dalai Lama and neuroscientists from Stanford and other universities, as well as Buddhist scholars in a day long discussion of the nature of the phenomena of craving, suffering, and choice. Read a summary of this seminar on neuroscience with the Dalai Lama . Project Compassion at the Stanford School of Medicine's Center for Compassion & Altruism Research and Education is an innovative initiative within the Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neurosciences that will undertake a rigorous scientific study of the neural, mental and social bases of compassion and altruistic behavior that draws from a wide spectrum of disciplines including psychology, neuroscience, economics and contemplative traditions. The Dalai Lama also appeared in November 2005 in Washington DC at The Science and Clinical Applications of Meditation Conference.
ABSTRACT: The current status of energy medicine and its increasing challenge to the biochemical paradigm that has dominated conventional medicine are reviewed. Although energy medicine represents only a small fraction of 1% of the $2.2 trillion healthcare industry, 6 properties of energy medicine give it strengths that could augment conventional health care models. These include the ways energy medicine (1) can address biological processes at their energetic foundations (reach), (2) regulates biological processes with precision, speed, and flexibility (efficiency), (3) fosters health and prevents illness with interventions that can be readily, economically, and noninvasively applied (practicality), (4) includes methods that can be used on an at-home, self-help basis, fostering a stronger patient-practitioner partnership in the healing process (patient empowerment), (5) adopts non-linear concepts consistent with distant healing, the healing impact of prayer, and the role of intention in healing (quantum compatibility), and (6) strengthens the integration of body, mind, and spirit, leading not only to a focus on healing, but to achieving greater well-being, peace, and passion for life (holistic orientation).
Obstacles to the Use of Energy Medicine
In spite of the slowly increasing acceptance of energy medicine, there are many reasons why its adoption is not as quick as it should be. Much of the problem is the existing western medical paradigm that is focused on the use of drugs and technology to treat symptoms instead of being focused on prevention of illness and treating the true cause of illness holistically, taking into account the mind and the body. This view is changing as the healthcare train-wreck is slowly coming into focus. Many government agencies have been at the forefront of trying to change the existing paradigm. See the United States Government and Qigong for more information. Although the government realizes the benefits of prevention of illness, there are many interest groups that are threatened by new medical paradigms. See The Suppression of Energy Medicine and the lack of science behind modern medical practice (How Scientific is Modern Medicine Really?).
15TH World Congress on Qigong and Traditional Chinese Medicine Research Symposium (2013)
"Qi" cannot be measured, but bioenergy (heat, light, and electricity) can be measured.
Coordinated breathing and movement produces the highest blood-flow. Blood flow raises electrical energy flow. Even when the blood flow stops or slows, electrical energy goes higher. Slow Tai Chi produces more electrical energy flow than fast Tai Chi.
Theta, Alpha, and Beta brain waves increase during meditation.
Research shows that Qigong produces measurable changes in physiological and bioenergy markers. Increased blood flow and conscious control of the autonomic nervous system account for many of these changes.
A low level D.C. electrical field similar to that emitted by the human body can enhance wound healing in a cell culture.
Dr. Peter Wayne, Ph.D.
Director of Research for the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Medical research is a significant factor in the evolution of Tai Chi in the West. There has been exponential growth in clinical and basic research evidence on Tai Chi from 1977 - 2012. The most common types of research in Randomized Controlled Trials involved Tai Chi for balance in older adults, fall prevention, cardiovascular conditions, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, reheumatoid arthritis, respiratory (COPD, asthma), Parkinson's, MS, stroke, depression, anxiety, mood, cognitive function, cancer and sleep.
Tai Chi complexity contributes to the challenges of running clinical trials. What exactly are the active ingredients of Tai Chi? Tai Chi has aspects of aerobic exercise, musculoskeletal strengthening, flexibilty, active relaxation, awareness, mindfulness, focused attention, natural breathing, philosophy, spiritual, and ritual aspects as well as social interaction and community. In addtion, what is the proper dose of Tai Chi for therapy? Are there differences between different types of Tai Chi?
There is a strong need for eastern asian medicine practitioners to understand western evidence-based research to be able to collaborate on research and integrated clinical care. This will help to address methodological limitations which are common in studies of all CAM therapies.
Dr. Ju Lin, Ph.D. Research Biochemist in the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics at UC San Francisco and Co-Founder and Research Director of Telome Health Inc.
Exercise and mind-body practices buffer the negative impact of stress on telomere maintenance. Lifestyle factors are associated with telomere length.
Cells with short telomeres can harm neighboring cells.
Telomore shortness is associated with common diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, alzheimer's disease, plumonary fibrosis, and liver cirrhosis. Telomere length also correlates with mortality and increased years of healthy life.
Dr. John Longhurst, M.D. Ph.D.
Director of the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine and Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Physiology & Biophysics and Pharmacology at UC Irvine.
There is not much difference between manual and electro-acupuncture (EA). EA is a little stronger and more precise.
Pain threshold can go up with acupuncture and this effect can be blocked with drugs, proving the physiological effects of acupuncture.
70% of experimental subjects are responsive to acupuncture. The 30% who are not responsive are affected by CCK, particularly its octapeptide CCK8, which inhibits the action of opiods in the central nervous system.
Manual stimulation of nerve fibers leads to local chemical production, and this may be responsible for catalyzing remote acupuncture effects. Electroacupuncture has some effect upon hypertension, even four weeks after treatment. Acupuncture points physically migrate, but the effect of needling the moving point stays the same.
Acupuncture Mechanisms: low frequency or manual acupuncture stimulates nerve fibers thus affecting many neuotransmitter systems in the brain and spinal cord, such as the opiod system. Excitatory neurotransmitters include acetylcholine. Example inhibitory neurotransmitters include opioids and serotonin. Acupuncture responsive neurons in the brain can be identified.
The World Health Organization diseases and symptoms for which acupuncture is proven effective include pain, depression, nausea and vomiting, blood pressure abnormalities, and stroke.