New Study Links Mindfulness, Brain Changes, and Pain Sensitivity. People who are naturally more mindful report less pain and show lower activation of a specific region of the brain in response to an unpleasant heat stimulus, according to a new study supported by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). The study, conducted by researchers from Wake Forest University and collaborating institutions, was published in the journal Pain.
The vagus afferent network: emerging role in translational connectomics. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is increasingly considered for the treatment of intractable epilepsy and holds potential for the management of a variety of neuropsychiatric conditions. The emergence of the field of connectomics and the introduction of large-scale modeling of neural networks has helped elucidate the underlying neurobiology of VNS, which may be variably expressed in patient populations and related to responsiveness to stimulation.
International Medical Tai Chi and Qigong Association. This is a brand new organization backed by the Benson and Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine and Harvard Medical School's Teaching Hospital that is planning to establish standards and certification for Medical Tai Chi and Qigong instructors. They aim to be the main accreditation organization acting as an advocacy and representative body for qualified Medical Tai Chi and Qigong instructors in their dealings with government agencies, the general public and the medical community. The inaugural conference will be October 5 - 6, 2018 in Boston, a date which conflicts with the National Qigong Association West Conference in Portland, Oregon on October 6 and 7. Anyone who offers their Tai Chi and/or Qigong as "Medical" may be affected by this new organization.
Making Sense of… the Microbiome in Psychiatry. "The human gut microbiome has been shown to influence many aspects of host health including more recently the brain.Several modes of interaction between the gut and the brain have been discovered, including via the synthesis of metabolites and neurotransmitters, activation of the vagus nerve and activation of the immune system. A growing body of work is implicating the microbiome in a variety of psychological processes and neuropsychiatric disorders. These include mood and anxiety disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia, and even neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease. Moreover, it is probable that most psychotropic medications have an impact on the microbiome." Note that the vagus nerve is affected by both the microbiome and the practice of Qigong. More on Qigong and the vagus nerve can be found on the Integrative Medicine and Medical Qigong Therapy page on the Qigong Institute website.
The effect of movement-focused and breath-focused yoga practice on stress parameters and sustained attention: A randomized controlled pilot study. "Yoga-based practices (YBP) typically involve a combination of movement sequences, conscious regulation of the breath, and techniques to engage attention. However, little is known about whether effects of YBP result from the synergistic combination of these components, or whether a subset may yield similar effects. In this study we compared the effect of a movement-focused practice and a breath-focused practice on stress parameters (perceived stress and salivary cortisol) and sustained attention (response inhibition) in yoga naïve university students. While participants of both programs showed a reduction in perceived stress and salivary cortisol, only the breath-focused group showed improvements in sustained attention." This research is another confirmation of the benefits of Qigong (lowering stress and improving attention span) through movement and breathing practices.
Which Facets of Mindfulness Protect Individuals from the Negative Experiences of Obsessive Intrusive Thoughts (OIT)? Individuals who are high in nonjudgment, nonreactivity and act with awareness facets of mindfulness experience fewer OITs. The attentional component of mindfulness (act with awareness) reflects an ability to focus on the task at hand, which would suggest that individuals who score high on acting with awareness may be less prone to intrusions, such as OITs. The authors also make the interesting finding that the observe facet (e.g. ‘I intentionally stay aware of my feelings’) of mindfulness appears to be related to more negative experiences of OITs. This tendency to observe experiences is also related to how individuals respond to their OITs, with a tendency toward negative reactions and appraisals and ineffective strategies. Teaching people how to be more aware of their thoughts and feelings and yet letting them go and changing their habitual reactions to them are a part of the interoceptive component of Qigong practice.
The Influence of Breathing on the Central Nervous System. The authors present some detailed information about the diaphragm and breathing in relation to body functions such as movement of the brain mass, oscillation of the neural network, motor coordination, and blood circulation. They note that the movement of the diaphragm affects posture and emotional states. The vagus nerve is one of the main nerves which innervates the diaphragm. "The breath modulates the limbic (the brain's emotional system) oscillations, the cognitive and motor functions of the cortex. This process occurs with greater force when inhalation takes place through the nose; on the other hand, the effect is less forceful if the breath is carried out with an open mouth". "The same respiratory rhythm is recorded differently from specific brain areas, from which the neural oscillations, which allow communication between them, start. The greater the oscillations are coordinated, the greater the function expressed by the different cerebral areas involved." The movement of the diaphragm transmits interoceptive and proprioceptive information that influences neural oscillations and cognitive activity.
Acupuncture (PDQ®): Health Professional Version. This PDQ cancer information summary for health professionals provides comprehensive, peer-reviewed, evidence-based information about the use of acupuncture in the treatment of people with cancer. It is intended as a resource to inform and assist clinicians who care for cancer patients. It does not provide formal guidelines or recommendations for making health care decisions. This summary is reviewed regularly and updated as necessary by the PDQ Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Effects of Meditative Movements on Major Depressive Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Meditative movement interventions, i.e. Qigong and Tai Chi, showed significantly improved treatment remission rate and response rate over passive controls. "Emphasizing the therapeutic effects of meditative movements [e.g. Qigong and Tai Chi] for treating major depressive disorder (MDD) is critical because it may provide a useful alternative to existing mainstream treatments (drug therapy and psychotherapy) for MDD. Given the fact that meditative movements are safe and easily accessible, clinicians may consider recommending meditative movements for symptomatic management in this population.
Stress Management. Some individuals have a greater innate, or trait, capacity for mindfulness. These individuals, who have not participated in mindfulness-training interventions, tend to experience better physical health, report fewer physiological symptoms such as pain, and utilize fewer healthcare resources. Trait mindfulness has been associated with lower ratings of anxiety and depression in a variety of medical and non-medical populations. Trait mindfulness may emerge from a genetic predisposition. A recent epidemiological study of adolescent twins revealed that trait mindfulness was 32% heritable. The same study also revealed that 66% of the variance in trait mindfulness was due to environmental factors, suggesting that is also a skill that can be learned.
The neurobiology of interoception in health and disease. Interoception is a key component of the practice of Qigong. This research explains how "Interoceptive mechanisms ensure physiological health through the cerebral coordination of homeostatic reflexes and allostatic responses that include motivational behaviors and associated affective and emotional feelings...interoceptive processing can contribute to the mechanistic understanding of physical and psychological disorders. We present a neurobiological overview of interoception and describe how interoceptive impairments at different levels relate to specific physical and mental health conditions, including sickness behaviors and fatigue, depression, eating disorders, autism, and anxiety."
Use of Mind-Body Therapies Among Young Adults Aged 18-24 Years: Findings From the 2012 National Health Interview Survey . UCLA Department of Community Health Sciences recommends mind-body practices for young adults: "Young adulthood is a critical period in the life course when individuals are establishing lifestyle and health behaviors that can be enduring. Because stress is a persistent problem, and many MBTs can be helpful with management of stress and anxiety, young adult may be underutilizing these modalities. Public health and educational strategies for greater engagement in MBT among young adults are warranted."
The Effect of Exercise on Breast Cancer-Related Lymphedema: What the Lymphatic Surgeon Needs to Know. For many years, it was considered best practice for patients with breast cancer to avoid exercise; however, in recent years, research has begun to challenge this belief. Several forms of exercise including Qigong appear to be safe interventions for clinicians to use when treating this population and offer benefits such as improved quality of life, strength, body mass index, and mental health and decreased pain and lymphatic swelling.
Biopsychosocial benefits of movement-based complementary and integrative health therapies for patients with chronic conditions. Movement-based therapies including Qigong improved physical and mental health, reduced opiate and psychotropic use, enhanced emotional well-being, and improved social relationships. Changes were attributed to physical improvements, development of coping skills, and increased self-awareness. This VA medical center study also recommends that providers treating patients with complex comorbidities may consider referrals to movement-based therapy programs to address multiple concerns simultaneously, particularly among patients seeking alternatives to medication or adjunctive to an opiate reduction strategy.
Study quantifies changes in stress after meditation. "Through a new method of processing HRV [Heart Rate Variability] time series data, the researchers developed a way to measure the change in the level of stress provided by meditation. This measure assigns a number to the level of variability of heartbeat interval time series before and during meditation. This number indicates precisely how much stress is alleviated by control of the heart-brain coupling through meditation...Historically, one purpose of meditation has been to reduce stress, however, the Army's long-term goal is to use it to mitigate the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. West said the potential for this to succeed has been dramatically increased with the new ability to quantify the degree of effectiveness in stress reduction using different meditation techniques."
Your Strength Routine's Most Important 15 Minutes. Although there are as many recovery techniques on the market as there are exercises, qigong (chee-gong) presents a unique and previously unexplored method to eliminate the negative effects of stress and give you a 25% increase in strength in 8 weeks.
PDQ Cancer Information Summaries [Internet]. This PDQ cancer information summary for health professionals provides comprehensive, peer-reviewed, evidence-based information about the use of acupuncture in the treatment of people with cancer. It is intended as a resource to inform and assist clinicians who care for cancer patients.
Cholinergic modulation of the immune system presents new approaches for treating inflammation. Over the past two decades, there has been explosive growth in the scientific understanding of neuroanatomical, cellular, and molecular mechanisms that affect immune functions through the autonomic nervous system. A major catalyst for growth in this field was the discovery that vagal nerve causes a prominent attenuation of the systemic inflammatory response. Qigong practice beneficially affects the immune system through stimulating the vagus nerve which in turn causes the cholinergic modulation of the autonomic nervous system. This paper presents details on the cholinergic anti-inflammatory response.
A review of vagus nerve stimulation as a therapeutic intervention. Qigong practice stimulates the vagus nerve through diaphragmatic breathing, healing sounds, and self-applied massage. As this review explains, vagus nerve stimulation lowers inflammation and helps treat chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis as well as fibromyalgia and migraines. Stimulation of the vagus nerve is a major reason why Qigong is being revealed to be so beneficial for so many chronic conditions.
Mindfulness Trends in The Workplace. The article discusses the adoption of mindfulness practices by business and the fact that there are more than 1000 mindfulness apps and 30,000 books on mindfulness at Amazon. It also says: 'While there is nothing wrong with using brain "hacks" to enhance human potential, the absence of training in insight and skillful actions in commercial mindfulness compromises the efficacy and integrity of the programs. This trend will continue to grow till it is replaced by the next lucrative management fad.' Clearly, the next "fad" is already here, and it's called Qigong -- the ultimate App-less Mindfulness App.
Bibliometric Analysis of Traditional Chinese Medicine Scientific Production between 1982 and 2016 Indexed in PubMed. The increasing demand for TCM seems to be due to factors such as lower side effects and greater efficacy in some patients not responding well to conventional therapy. As a result, a considerable amount of TCM science-based literature has been produced, supporting the rational integration of these practices in Western healthcare systems and research. Our results show that the quality of TCM research and inherent publications have been increasing over the last decades, with a higher incidence of studies published in well-ranked journals.
The Yogi masters were right -- meditation and breathing exercises can sharpen your mind. New research explains link between breath-focused meditation and attention and brain health. "...this means that our attention is influenced by our breath and that it rises and falls with the cycle of respiration. It is possible that by focusing on and regulating your breathing you can optimise your attention level and likewise, by focusing on your attention level, your breathing becomes more synchronised."
Neuroembryology of the Acupuncture Principal Meridians: Part 3. The Head and Neck. Accumulating evidence from anatomical, physiologic, and neuroimaging research shows that Classical acupuncture points stimulate nerve trunks or their branches in the head, trunk, and extremities. The first part of this series revealed that phenomenon in the extremities. Principal meridian distributions mirror those of major peripheral nerves there and Classical acupuncture points are proximate to peripheral nerves there. Overall, the acupuncture Principal meridians can be conceptualized to have a neuroanatomical substrate that is corroborated by developmental neuroembryology. Note that one of the authors is from the Mayo Clinic.
Review of the Neural Oscillations Underlying Meditation. The most commonly studied specific meditation practices are focused attention (FA), open-monitoring (OM), as well as transcendental meditation (TM), and loving-kindness (LK) meditation. Meditation is one type of mental training that has been shown to produce many cognitive benefits. Meditation practice is associated with improvement in concentration and reduction of stress, depression, and anxiety symptoms. Furthermore, different forms of meditation training are now being used as interventions for a variety of psychological and somatic illnesses. The current literature suggests distinct differences in neural oscillatory activity among FA, OM, TM, and LK meditation practices.
'Mindfulness' meditation technique finding new fans in Triangle and beyond. "The formal practice of mindfulness meditation is like going to the gym," she said. "You are training your brain toward focus, toward being able to marshal your own attention." Researchers from Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh showed why this works by looking at MRI images of study subjects who had been practicing mindfulness meditation for eight weeks. The images showed a decrease in the size of the amygdala, which is the "fight or flight" center of the brain.
The neurobiology of focus and distraction: The case for incorporating mindfulness into leadership. Two main neural circuits are contrasted: the mind-wandering default mode circuit and the attentional central executive system. These two systems act in an antagonistic pairing, where the degree of toggling between systems is associated with the degree a person can sustain focus and filter out unwarranted distractions. Excessive multitasking appears to compromise the neural switch of these two systems, thereby diminishing our focus and concentration. In contrast, mindfulness practice is shown to have the opposite effect by enhancing the neural switch, thereby enhancing leadership focus that can lead to greater flexibility, foresight, regulation, and creativity. To conclude, leaders who are excessively distracted, such as with multitasking, may be compromising cognitive brain functioning, while engaging in mindfulness may replenish the brain and thereby enhance leaders' ability to sustain focus and tap into higher cognitive functioning.
Bioelectric signaling in regeneration: Mechanisms of ionic controls of growth and form (morphology). Levin at the Department of Biology, Tufts University is at the forefront of researching the relationship between physiology and bioenergy. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine the Eight Extraordinary vessels or meridians are the energy template of the body. This energy template or field is affected by the environment and is the fundamental pattern that provides the basis for human growth and morphology. Levin's work expands our basic understanding of morphogenetic processes responsible for the generation and repair of complex anatomy through researching and understanding our endogenous voltage gradients, ion flows, and electric fields.
Integrative Health & Wellness Caucus Focuses on Putting Health Back in Healthcare. “This caucus is the start of an important conversation to shift our healthcare paradigm from a reactive model to whole-person preventive outcomes,” said Len Wisneski, M.D., Chair Integrative Health Policy Consortium. “American’s have spent billions of dollars out-of-pocket on complementary and integrative care. It is time that Congress and healthcare payers and systems respond by including all credentialed and licensed providers and evidence-based care approaches into the choices available to all Americans.”
Vagus Nerve as Modulator of the Brain-Gut Axis in Psychiatric and Inflammatory Disorders. Qigong practice stimulates the vagus nerve, mainly through diaphragmatic breathing. This review article reports that vagus nerve stimulation is a promising add-on treatment for treatment-refractory depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and inflammatory bowel disease. Treatments that target the vagus nerve increase the vagal tone and inhibit cytokine production. Both are important mechanism of resiliency.
The Bioelectric Code: Reprogramming Cancer and Aging From the Interface of Mechanical and Chemical Microenvironments. Cellular membrane voltage (Vm), has been documented to exert control over cellular behavior both in culture and in vivo. Manipulating this fundamental cellular property influences a remarkable array of organism-wide patterning events, producing striking outcomes in both tumorigenesis as well as regeneration. These studies suggest that Vm is not only a key intrinsic cellular property, but also an integral part of the microenvironment that acts in both space and time to guide cellular behavior. As a result, there is considerable interest in manipulating Vm both to treat cancer as well as to regenerate organs damaged or deteriorated during aging.
Inflammatory biomarkers responses after acute whole body vibration in fibromyalgia. A single acute session of mild and short whole body vibration (one form of Spontanous Qigong) can improve the inflammatory status in patients with fibromyalgia, reaching values close to those of matched healthy adults at their basal status. The neuroendocrine mechanism seems to be an exercise-induced modulation towards greater adaptation to stress response in these patients.
Acupuncture 'dose' (number of treatments) and insurance benefits in the USA. An adequate treatment dose, including a sufficient number of acupuncture treatments, is important for the clinical effectiveness of acupuncture treatment for common conditions. Nationally, most people who use acupuncture do not receive a full treatment course. Considering evidence of effectiveness, low risk and relatively low cost of delivery, acupuncture could play a larger role in non-pharmaceutical treatment of common conditions such as pain. Policymakers should consider that, without insurance benefits for acupuncture, people are less likely to complete a full treatment course, which may contribute to disparities in use and health outcomes.
VA Promotes Tai Chi as a part of its new Whole Health initiative. The VA describes Whole Health as providing a personalized health plan for veterans, encouraging them to practice "self-care," and providing a comprehensive care that "considers the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and environmental elements that work together to provide the best quality of life."
Yoga in Print Media: Missing the Heart of the Practice. Representation of yoga in articles contained in the most popular yoga magazine is heavily biased in favor of physical practices. Recommendations are offered about how to shift media representation of yoga to make the heart of the practice more accessible to individuals who could experience health benefits but currently feel excluded from the practice.
An Introduction to Tai Chi. A new special health report from Harvard Medical School. Mind-body exercises, such as tai chi and yoga, have been gaining popularity over the past few decades. This is not surprising, given the increasing number of studies on the positive effects of these gentler forms of exercise—everything from lowering blood pressure and managing depression to building strength and improving balance. There is even evidence that tai chi may help you live a longer, more vital life.
Qigong alleviates musculoskeletal pain and improves overall sleep quality in people with chronic illness. Unfortunately, in the abstract and title they call Baduanjin "mindfulness", and do not mention that Baduanjin (8 pieces of Brocade) is Qigong. Fortunately, Qigong is mentioned multiple times in the article text. "Contemporary concept Qigong practices like Baduanjin enhance physiological proprioception by combining a special state of awareness with posture, movement, and breathe control, and thereby improve and strengthen the overall state of vegetative regulation (homeostasis) . Compared to first line treatments (drugs, cognitive behavioral therapy) and other effective treatment alternatives (e.g., aerobic exercise for insomnia), there are a lot of advantage to use Baduanjin exercise as an adjunctive treatment for patients suffering from pain and from insomnia. It is accessible to people of all ages and physical strength, easy to learn, and has few known side effects."
Registration is now open for the next National Qigong Association Conference. Friday–Sunday, April 27–29, 2018 DoubleTree by Hilton, Asheville-Biltmore, NC. Three days of workshops, lectures, seminars, and demonstrations presented by over 20 leaders in the fields of Qigong, Taijiquan, and the Energetic Arts, plus networking with friends in the Qigong community, distinctive vendors & products, and a silent auction.
The acute Effect of “White Ball” Qigong in Perceptual auditory Attention. The correlation between body-mind techniques, practice, and better cognitive performances is a current topic of public interest. Benefits in attention, multi-task management, stress- coping, well-being and general health improvements are documented. Qigong is a therapeutic technique from TCM with great clinical success on cognitive and emotional management. One of the problems with Qigong research is the lack of adequate controls. We recently developed a placebo Qigong and adopted this methodology to the current research study. We were interested whether a single five minutes practice of the White Ball Qi Gong exercise improved the Perceptual Auditory Attention or if a minimum of training is necessary to obtain potential effects.
Defeating Diseases with Energy. Healing with qi. A change in body energy can have a profound effect upon function. “My belief is that mitochondrial dysfunction underlies the etiology of most common complex diseases, as well as aging,” the author says. He explains that a person suffering from chronic headaches might see a neurologist, but there’s also the possibility that “there’s a systemic energy defect causing the headache. There’s nothing wrong anatomically with the brain.” Wallace believes the same can be said for problems with the heart, muscles, renal and endocrine systems. "We've completely ignored energy in Western medical philosophy," the author says.
Study finds tai chi significantly reduces depression symptoms in Chinese-Americans. A 12-week program of instruction and practice of the Chinese martial art tai chi led to significantly reduced symptoms of depression in Chinese Americans not receiving any other treatments. The pilot study conducted by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry enrolled members of Boston's Chinese community who had mild to moderate depression.
Exercise Alters Our Microbiome. Is That One Reason It’s So Good for Us? Researchers found increases in certain microbes due to exercise that help to produce substances called short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are believed to aid in reducing inflammation in the gut and the rest of the body. They also work to fight insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes, and otherwise bolster our metabolisms. Almost all of the changes in people’s guts dissipated after six weeks of not exercising. By and large, their microbiomes reverted to what they had been at the study’s start. These results indicate that exercise must be part of one's lifestyle in order for the benefits to last as they do in the life-long practice of Qigong.
The Effects of Stress and Meditation on the Immune System, Human Microbiota, and Epigenetics. Psychological stress typically triggers a fight-or-flight response, prompting corticotropin-releasing hormone and catecholamine production in various parts of the body, which ultimately disturbs the microbiota. In the absence of stress, a healthy microbiota produces short-chain fatty acids that exert anti-inflammatory and antitumor effects. During stress, an altered gut microbial population affects the regulation of neurotransmitters mediated by the microbiome and gut barrier function. Meditation helps regulate the stress response, thereby suppressing chronic inflammation states and maintaining a healthy gut-barrier function. The current research team recommends the integration of meditation into conventional health care and wellness models. More information on Qigong and the Microbiome: Food Is Medicine.
Daisy Lee - FREE National Qigong Association Qi Talk. "To start the year off right, we [the NQA] would like to share with you a free link to our recent one-hour Qi Talks interview with Daisy Lee with Vicki Dello Joio. The Qi Talks archive is an exclusive member benefit, but we are sharing this audio recording for all to enjoy."