A Spoonful of Mind–Body Medicine: If a Little Is Good, Is More Better? Greater mindfulness practice time was significantly associated with reduced inflammation. The results suggest that the level of engagement in mindfulness training may predict changes in inflammatory pathophysiology. Further research found Tai Chi to be as effective as regular physical therapy for patients with osteoarthritis, and it includes suggested "dosages" of Tai Chi.
Effects of Interoceptive Training on Decision Making, Anxiety, and Somatic Symptoms. Interoception is the perception of afferent (signals from body to brain) information that arises from any point within the body. Individual differences in interoception have been associated with affective processing and decision-making processing. This Japanese study found that Interoceptive training resulted in significant enhancement of interoceptive accuracy scores and significant reductions in somatic symptom and state anxiety scores. It also improved decision making. Qigong is an interoceptive training practice.
Deep Breathing Increases Heart Rate Variability in Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systematic Lupus Erythematosus. Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have been associated with an impaired function of the autonomic nervous system and reduced vagus nerve (VN) tone measured through lower heart rate variability (HRV). This study found that HRV can be modulated via deep breathing in patients with RA and SLE. This is more evidence for how Qigong helps with autoimmune disorders via toning of the vagus nerve (as measured by HRV) through deep breathing.
The Impact of Auricular Vagus Nerve Stimulation on Pain and Life Quality in Patients with Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS). Recent preclinical research has shown that stimulating the auricular branch of the vagus nerve effectively modulates pain and helps in the treatment of major depression disorder. This study points out that there is no standard location or parameters for auricular vagus nerve stimulation to treat diseases that manifest through Autonomic Nervous System dysfunctions, such as FMS. Despite the lack of standards, vagus nerve stimulation improved the efficiency of the FMS treatment in this study. Note that Qigong auricular self-massage and healing sounds affect the auricular branch of the vagus nerve.
Older and More Mindful? Age Differences in Mindfulness Components and Well-Being. "The findings suggest that the tendency to focus on the present-moment and adopt a nonjudgmental orientation may become especially important for well-being with advancing age, and the ability to appreciate the transitory nature of personal experiences may be particularly important for flexible employment of both goal disengagement and reengagement strategies across the second half of life."
Exercise for Parkinson's Disease (PD). Sustained Tai Chi for 6 months alleviates the PD motor symptoms, suggesting it can slow down PD progression. In addition, balance training improves both balance and function and reduces fall rate, and these effects carry over to at least 12 months after training ended.
Effectiveness of Tai Chi for Health Promotion for Adults With Health Conditions: A Scoping Review of Meta-analyses. "Tai Chi is a form of safe, enjoyable, light-to-moderate aerobic physical activity for adults that is inexpensive to implement in diverse community settings. Adults with health conditions require physical activity for prevention of secondary impairments and over-all health promotion.This scoping review of meta-analyses elucidates "high" and "moderate" quality evidence of the effectiveness of Tai Chi in improving important outcomes for people with numerous health conditions.This information can be useful for healthcare providers who wish to recommend effective community-based physical activity to clients they are serving."
Ageing of the Diaphragm Muscle. The article reviews the adaptations of the diaphragm muscle with respect to ageing, and it brings to light the importance of respiratory function to healthy ageing. Altered contractile function of the diaphragm can lead to accidental trauma, such as falls, and contributes to many diseases and conditions such as depression, fear of falling, anxiety, emotional alterations, memory issues, motor incoordination, and cognitive disorders. Ageing also affects posture, which in turn affects the diaphragm. This research makes clear how the practice of Qigong with it's emphasis on proper posture and exercising the diaphragm through purposeful, controlled diaphragmatic breathing contributes to health and active aging.
Meditation is proven to reduce stress. “This work shows that meditation influences the regulation of the HPA axis, which may reduce stress levels. “Although the scope of research is currently limited, it seems that meditation may also influence the RAA system, corresponding with improved well-being and changes in hormonal stress.” “The RAA (Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone (RAA) system.”) system regulates blood pressure, electrolytes and fluid balance. Meditation is becoming increasingly popular, with over a quarter of British adults practising meditation as a therapy. “Another key finding was linked with the HPT axis, which determines and regulates thyroid hormone production and is particularly associated with depression and anxiety.
Nonpharmaceutical Interventions Aid Low Back Pain. Tai Chi reduced acute lower back pain in men in their 20s. Compared with stretching, tai chi also was more effective for lower back pain in young men. Tai chi showed greater reductions in pain intensity, bothersomeness of pain symptoms, and pain-related disability than the control intervention in the general population. Tai chi and qigong for lower back pain are still underinvestigated compared with yoga interventions.
Effects of Tai Chi Chuan on Inhibitory Control in Elderly Women: An fNIRS Study. Declines in inhibitory control during aging significantly impair the quality of life of elderly people. Investigating methods to delay the decline of inhibitory control has become a focal point in current research. Tai Chi significantly improved inhibitory control in older adults and is an effective, suitable exercise for improving executive function and neurological health in elderly people.
Body-Centered Interventions for Psychopathological Conditions: A Review. This article reviews the psychological effects of body-centered interventions on emotional well-being, including both self and other-administered (receptive) therapies. Theory behind body-centered interventions rely upon the bidirectional communication pathway between the brain and body. Tai Chi, movement therapy, functional relaxation alleviate stress, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and facilitate pain reduction.
Let It Be: Mindful-acceptance Down-Regulates Pain and Negative Emotion. The researchers found that "momentary mindful-acceptance regulates emotional intensity by changing initial appraisals of the affective significance of stimuli, which has consequences for clinical treatment of pain and emotion." This result is another confirmation of how Qigong (through mindfulness) can affect emotions and thus have an effect upon the treatment of pain and emotion-related illness. Another way of saying this is that Qigong is an interoceptive practice. Qigong trains interoception, and mindfulness is part of that training. Interoception is involved in emotional regulation. More information on interoception and the role of Qigong in emotional regulation can be found on the Qigong Institute website at https://qigonginstitute.org/category/29/what-is-tai-chi#InteroceptionProprioception
Can slow deep breathing reduce pain? An experimental study exploring mechanisms. The researchers confirmed that slow deep breathing, especially the exhale, can help manage pain. They also found that the cardiovascular system did not mediate these changes. Apparently they missed the memo on the autonomic nervous system and vagus nerve which are affected by the slow deep breathing in Qigong practice.
Concerning Auricular Vagal Nerve Stimulation: Occult Neural Networks. What is one of the main reasons why auricular (ear) self-massage in Qigong can be so effective for many conditions? The authors explain that "auricular vagal nerve stimulation (AVNS) is an evolving neuromodulation technology that has a wide range of therapeutic applications across multiple disciplines of medical science." They also argue that vagus nerve stimulation alone does not tell the entire story. There are other structures and mechanisms of action that are involved, namely, occult neural networks. "Occult" is a medical term meaning not readily discernible. So their paper is an argument for their fellow researchers to structure their research such that the vagus nerve per se is not all that they investigate. But bottom line, this research is another validation of auricular self-massage/acupressure.
A Pilot Study of an In-Home Multicomponent Exergame Training for Older Adults: Feasibility, Usability and Pre-Post Evaluation. The multicomponent exergame included Tai Chi-inspired exercises, dance movements and step-based cognitive games to train strength, balance and cognition. In the Active@Home exergame, four to five Tai Chi levels were implemented in each city with increasing difficulty. In each Tai Chi level, the participant performed three series of about 10 exercise repetitions, with a rest of 20 s between series. This resulted in a duration of 2–3 min for each Tai Chi level. Progression was reached through more complex movements in the Tai Chi-inspired exercises (e.g., additional arm movements, upper body rotations, increased range of motion, longer time in unstable position) and through additional weights (e.g., filled water bottles). The exergame is generally feasible and usable for healthy older adults applied in an in-home setting and provides an overall positive emotional game experience.
Exploring the effects of expert-led qigong and self-practice qigong on blood pressure. This paper based on a small sample size reports that qigong exercise program is a safe and effective intervention in patients with prehypertension and stage I hypertension. This is yet another confirmation of Qigong Institute founder Dr. Ken Sancier's conclusion that Qigong helps people with managing blood pressure as he reported in 'Anti-Aging Benefits of Qigong' in 1996.
Dao Yin (a.k.a. Qigong): Origin, Development, Potential Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications. Dao Yin is a form of exercise combining physical movements, mental focus, and breathing originated in ancient China. In this review, we introduce the history in the development and the scope of Dao Yin, the relationship between Dao Yin with Taoist culture and Qigong, and the potential mechanisms of how Dao Yin promotes health and alleviate illnesses. Empirical research studies using Dao Yin for treatment of lumbar spondylosis, peripheral musculoskeletal diseases, cervical spondylosis, heart diseases, central nervous system disorders, immunological dysfunction, and psychological disorders are detailed.
Effect of Meditative Movement on Affect and Flow in Qigong Practitioners. Qigong puts practitioners into the flow state. "traditional emotion theories may need to be extended to incorporate new types of affect, or to describe the interplay of controlled body movement, somatic sensations and conscious attention in the generation of feelings and regulation of emotional state. Concerning this last point, “embodied mind” exercises also speak to a wider shift in cognitive science from paradigms that analyze cognitive processes and their sensory “inputs” and motor “outputs” separately, toward models of active perception and embodied cognition."
Qigong exercise for chronic fatigue syndrome. Qigong exercise should be recognized as a standalone therapy and self-management skill in CFS. Qigong reduced fatigue and depressive symptoms and improved telomerase activity and sleep quality in a dose-response relationship.
Mindfulness, Interoception, and the Body: A Contemporary Perspective. The purposes of this article are to (1) highlight that it may be more accurate to link many of the identified benefits in the mindfulness literature to interoception and its neurological correlates and (2) propose attentional style as a means to clarify some of the confusion surrounding mindfulness, interoception, and meditation.
Healthy Lifestyle and Cardiac Vagal Modulation Over 10 Years: Whitehall II Cohort Study. Vagus nerve stimulation through practices such as Qigong can have a profound positive effect upon health and can reduce chronic inflammation which is associated with a host of diseases. This research reports that maintaining healthy lifestyles is positively associated with cardiac vagal functioning, and these beneficial adaptations may be lost if not sustained. Another very good reason to "cultivate" Qigong (i.e. incorporate Qigong into one's lifestyle).
Effects of individualized Tai-Chi on balance and lower-limb strength in older adults. Personalized Tai-Chi training designed based on an objective measurement and conducted according to graded intensity and complexity benefitted practitioners after a short period. Personalized Tai-Chi training designed based on an objective measurement and conducted according to graded intensity and complexity benefitted practitioners after a short period.
Factors Associated with the Use of Meditation, U.S. Adults 2017. Meditation is one of the most common forms of complementary and alternative medicine in the United States today. While its health benefits are still emerging, public health practitioners and clinicians should be aware of the increasing use of these therapies to treat common health problems, their relatively low prevalence among some groups that might benefit from them (such as older people, those with less healthy lifestyles, and men), and their higher use among those who face barriers to obtaining conventional care.
Motivational Non-directive Resonance Breathing as a Treatment for Chronic Widespread Pain. This paper provides excellent background on the physiology and neurobiology of the combined effect of meditation, interoception, and intentful diaphragmatic breathing (in other words, Qigong) upon chronic pain. Based upon preliminary findings within the fields of motivational psychology, integrative neuroscience, diaphragmatic breathing, and vagal nerve stimulation, the authors propose a new treatment intervention for chronic widespread pain which includes key fundamentals of Qigong practice.
A Bridge of Light: Toward Chinese and Western Medicine Perspectives Through Ultraweak Photon Emissions. The paper discusses (1) the ultraweak photon emission in relation to Qi energy, meridians and acupuncture points in Chinese Medicine, (2) the biochemical explanation of photon emission of living systems in Western biomedicine, and (3) the progress in research on the large-scale organization and dynamics of the metabolic network including photon metabolism. Findings include: Human photon emission increases with age as well as with disease. It depends on gender and it is reduced by acupuncture; many regulatory key transcription factors undergo continual, repetitive pulses of activation even when cells are maintained in constant conditions; metabolism of cells is regulated by the pulsations of metabolic networks including photon metabolism.
Dual-Task Walking Capacity Mediates Tai Ji Impact on Physical and Cognitive Function. This is the latest Tai Chi research from Fuzhong Li and colleagues at the Oregon Research Institute with their Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance which has been used in a number of clinical trials. Enhanced dual-task walking capacity as a result of Tai Ji Quan training mediated improvements in physical and cognitive outcomes in older adults at high risk of falling.
Are Mindful Exercises Safe and Beneficial for Treating Chronic Lower Back Pain? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Mindful exercises (Tai Chi and Qigong) help with chronic low back pain symptom management. In particular, Tai Chi appears to have a superior effect in reducing pain intensity irrespective of non-control comparison or active control comparison (conventional exercises, core training, and physical therapy programs). Importantly, training in these mindful exercises should be implemented with certified instructors to ensure quality of movement and injury prevention.
Impact of diaphragm function parameters on balance maintenance. Deterioration of diaphragm function was closely related with deterioration of balance maintenance. Impairment of diaphragm function manifested by decrease of muscle thickness and movement restriction is strongly associated with balance disorders in a clinical sample and among healthy subjects. Diaphragmatic breathing is one way that Qigong and Tai Chi aid balance and mobility.
Health Neuroscience: Defining a New Field. Health neuroscience is a new field that is at the interface of health psychology and neuroscience. It is concerned with the interplay between the brain and physical health over the lifespan. This review provides a conceptual introduction to health neuroscience. Qigong and Tai Chi incorporated into one's lifestyle are examples of health neuroscience practices. What this article lacks is an articulation of the fact that interoception, a key component of Qigong, is integral to health neuroscience. More information on interoception can be found on the Qigong Institute What is Tai Chi page.
Taking aim at interoception’s role in mental health. By emphasizing the importance of an integrated mapping of interoceptive inputs, and further, by anatomically localizing this mapping to discrete sectors within the central nervous system, a theoretical underpinning for how the brain senses and responds to threats to bodily homeostasis began to emerge around the turn of the millenium, catalyzing a burgeoning movement of research focused around the theme of interoception. The authors ask the question: But can we harness the excitement of recent progress in interoceptive science and translate it into meaningful mental health interventions? The answer is that it's already happening, and the profound health intervention is called Qigong (and Tai Chi). Both Qigong and Tai Chi exercise and inform interoceptive awareness.
Trait Mindfulness and Functional Connectivity in Cognitive and Attentional Resting State Networks. Mindfulness showed increased functional connectivity with neural regions related to attentional control, interoception, and executive function; and showed decreased functional connectivity with neural regions related to self-referential processing and mind wandering. These patterns of functional connectivity are consistent with some of the benefits of mindfulness-enhanced attention, self-regulation, and focus on present experience. This study provides support for the notion that non-judgmental attention to the present moment facilitates the integration of regions in neural networks that are related to cognition, attention, and sensation.
Treating Depression With Tai Chi: State of the Art and Future Perspectives. “Accumulating evidence suggests that Tai Chi, a popular mind–body intervention that originated as a martial art, can significantly regulate emotion and relieve the symptoms of mood disorders. In addition, the availability of instructional videos and the development of more simplified and less structured Tai Chi has made it a promising low-intensity mind-body exercise.” The authors also propose “developing a simplified and tailored Tai Chi protocol for patients with depression, comparatively investigating Tai Chi with other mind–body interventions such as yoga and Baduanjin [a classic form of Qigong], and developing new mind–body interventions that merge the advantages of multiple mind–body exercises.”
A Positive Emotional-Based Meditation but Not Mindfulness-Based Meditation Improves Emotion Regulation. This research confirms a fundamental feature of Qigong practice. Qigong meditation begins with mindfulness to focus on present awareness, but what happens next is more important. Unlike mindfulness alone, Qigong practice trains interoception which is intricately related to emotional processing. More information on interoception and emotional processing can be found on the What is Tai Chi page on the Qigong Institute website. Of particular interest is the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness Version (MAIA). Qigong and Tai Chi practice increase interoceptive awareness which in turn contributes to enhanced health and wellness.
Is There a Preferred Mode of Exercise for Cognition Enhancement in Older Age?-A Narrative Review. Selected studies examining the effect of various modes of exercise on cognition contend that both training categories (i.e. physical training-aerobic and strength, and motor training-balance, coordination, and flexibility) affect neuroplasticity, and consequently cognitive functioning. However, there are two main differences between them: (1) Physical training affects cognition via improvement in cardiovascular fitness, whereas motor training (e.g. via Tai Chi) affects cognition directly; (2) Physical training affects neuroplasticity and cognition in a global manner, while motor training is task-specific in increasing brain neuroplasticity and in affecting cognition. Examining the underpinnings of these pathways reveals that there is a difference in the underlying forces behind the two training categories. In the physical training category, it is the intensity of training that enhances neuroplasticity and consequently improves cognition, while in the motor activities it is the task complexity that increases neuroplasticity, which improves cognition. Dual-task training, which includes cognitive demands in addition to physical or motor activity, has proven more effective in improving cognitive functioning than a single task. The implications are that if all training components traditionally recommended by official bodies-physical as well as motor training-are efficient in enhancing cognition, then we merely have to emphasize the inclusion of all exercise modes in our routine exercise regimen for physical as well as cognitive health in advanced age.
Muscular tension significantly affects stability in standing posture. Research confirms the beneficial effects of purposeful relaxation (sung, "soong", or intentful relaxation is fundamental to the practice of Qigong and Tai Chi). The authors also conclude that "breathing has direct effect over the management of pain and stress, and the results reported here point out the need to explicitly explore the troubling fact that a large portion of population might not be able to properly breath."
The Effect of Mind-Body Therapies on Insomnia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. We analyzed the effects of tai chi and qigong separately as two different MBTs for the first time and found that qigong had a slight advantage over tai chi in the improvement of sleep quality. Subgroup analyses revealed that the effect of MBTs on sleep quality in healthy individuals was larger than clinical populations. The effect of MBTs might be influenced by the intervention duration but not the frequency.
Energy Medicine: Current Status and Future Perspectives. Current practices in allopathic medicine measure different types of energy in the human body by using quantum field dynamics involved in nuclear medicine, radiology, and imaging diagnostics. Once diagnosed, current treatments revert to biochemistry instead of using biophysics therapies to treat the disturbances in subtle energies detected and used for diagnostics. Quantum physics teaches us there is no difference between energy and matter. All systems in the human being, from the atomic to the molecular level, are constantly in motion-creating resonance. This resonance is important to understanding how subtle energy directs and maintains health and wellness in the human being. Energy medicine (EM), whether human touch or device-based, is the use of known subtle energy fields to therapeutically assess and treat energetic imbalances, bringing the body’s systems back to homeostasis (balance). The future of EM depends on the ability of allopathic medicine to merge physics with biochemistry. Biophoton emissions as well as signal transduction and cell signaling communication systems are widely accepted in today’s medicine. This technology needs to be expanded to include the existence of the human biofield (or human energy field) to better understand that disturbances in the coherence of energy patterns are indications of disease and aging. Future perspectives include understanding cellular voltage potentials and how they relate to health and wellness, understanding the overlap between the endocrine and chakra systems, and understanding how EM therapeutically enhances psychoneuroimmunology (mind–body) medicine.
NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research Workshop: The Science of Interoception and Its Roles in Nervous System Disorders. One of the reasons why Qigong can have such a profound positive effect upon health is due to the fact that the practice of it trains interoception. Interoception has been referred to as our "sixth sense", or in more colloquial terms, what our body is trying to tell us. The processes of interoception include awareness of body sensations, emotional reaction and attentional response to sensations, capacity to regulate attention, trusting body sensations and beliefs about importance of sensations, and mind-body integration. The NCCIH workshop will focus on how interoception is related to nervous system health. More information on interoception can be found on the What is Tai Chi page on the Qigong Institute website.
Disseminating Tai Chi in the Community: Promoting Home Practice and Improving Balance. Falls among older adults is a pressing public health challenge. Considerable research documents that longer tai chi courses can reduce falls and improve balance. However, longer courses can be challenging to implement. This 6-week modified Tai Chi short course resulted in substantial Tai Chi practice by older adults outside of class as well as better physical and executive function.
Could Activity Modifications Indicate Physical Decline Among Adults With Symptomatic Knee Osteoarthritis? One result of this research directly concerns the safety of teaching and practicing Tai Chi because it involves the knees. The hypothesis of this research is that "mobility activity modifications indicate early functional losses that act as precursors to future declines among community-dwelling older adults." The conclusion is that "activity modifications may signal early impairments in physical health" and that "patient-reported activity modifications may enhance symptom evaluation". Teachers can ask students if they have made mobility activity modifications as just one more way to determine whether fthe student has special conditions and to ensure their safe practice.
Self-Regulation of Breathing as an Adjunctive Treatment of Insomnia. "In this article we present a viewpoint on the treatment of insomnia that techniques of slow, deep breathing [i.e. Qigong breathing] in adjunct to sleep hygiene and relaxation therapies may be highly effective in initiating sleep as well as facilitating falling back asleep."
Capturing the complexity of mental disorders in the medically ill: the network approach on behavioral medicine. Since Descartes introduced dualism, body and mind have been seen as separate entities. The latent disease model, the view that symptoms are caused by an underlying disease, was possible within the dualistic paradigm. This paradigm, although successful in some aspects of medicine, is also assumed to underlie psychiatric disorders. As an alternative to the latent disease model, the network approach conceptualizes disorders as complex networks of causally connected symptoms. It offers a new way of understanding psychiatric disorders by directing attention away from the underlying cause and towards the symptoms and their functional interconnectedness, making the distinction between mental and physical symptoms obsolete.
Toward a brain theory of meditation. Interesting overview of issues involved in understanding the neurobiology of meditation including how meditation relates to brain networks and states. "The rapidly progressing science of meditation has led to insights about the neural correlates of focused attention meditation (FAM), open monitoring meditation (OMM), compassion meditation (CM) and loving kindness meditation (LKM), in terms of states and traits. However, a unified theoretical understanding of the brain mechanisms involved in meditation-related functions, including mindfulness, is lacking."
Exploring Emptiness and its Effects on Non-Attachment, Mystical Experiences, and Psycho-spiritual Wellbeing: A Quantitative and Qualitative Study of Advanced Meditators. Compared to the mindfulness control condition, emptiness meditation resulted in significantly greater improvements in non-attachment to self and environment, mystical experiences, compassion, positive affect, and negative affect. No significant relationship was observed between duration of emptiness meditation and any of the aforementioned outcome measures. Qualitative outcomes demonstrated that participants (i) combined concentrative and investigative meditation techniques to induce emptiness, (ii) elicited spiritually meaningful insights both during and following the meditation on emptiness, and (iii) retained volitional control over the content and duration of the emptiness meditation. Cultivating emptiness appears to be a means of reconnecting advanced Buddhist meditators to what they deem to be the innermost nature of their minds and phenomena.
Vagal Interoceptive Modulation of Motivated Behavior. In addition to regulating the ingestion and digestion of food, sensory feedback from gut to brain modifies emotional state and motivated behavior by subconsciously shaping cognitive and affective responses to events that bias behavioral choice. This focused review highlights evidence that gut-derived signals impact motivated behavior by engaging vagal afferents and central neural circuits that generally serve to limit or terminate goal-directed approach behaviors, and to initiate or maintain behavioral avoidance.
Exercise, Telomeres, and Cancer: “The Exercise-Telomere Hypothesis”. "In this review we discuss the possible role of exercise in the relationship between shorter telomeres, telomerase activity, and cancer. In summary, there is evidence that exercise leads to less telomere attrition and exercise also may diminish the risk of cancer, these two outcomes are possible intermediated by a reduction in oxidative stress, and chronic inflammation."
How Mindfulness Can Help Engineers Solve Problems. While many studies focus on the attention aspect of mindfulness, our work suggests that the more essential component is the attitude with which you pay attention – or whether you have an open, curious, and kind attitude. Having an open and curious attitude is referred to as “beginner’s mind” — the capacity to bring fresh eyes to a problem and engage in new perspectives for how to solve it. By remaining open to experiences, we are more likely to make connections between seemingly unrelated concepts, which is crucial to generating original ideas.
Relevance of Whole-Body Vibration Exercises on Muscle Strength/Power and Bone of Elderly Individuals. Beneficial effects are associated with whole-body vibration exercises (WBVEs). Increases in muscular strength/power, flexibility, and gait speed; improvements in bone mineral density, balance, and the quality of life; and decreased pain and risk of falls are reported. It is concluded that WBVE is effective for counteracting the loss of muscle strength associated with sarcopenia in elderly individuals. Balance and leg and plantar flexor strength improvements due to WBV indicate benefit to reduce risk and incidence of falls, frailty, and fracture risks. WBV is a form of spontaneous Qigong.
NCCIH discovers that contact with nature is good for you. No surprise here. Many Qigong forms were created by observing nature and animals. Qigong practice and cultivation are enhanced through connection with nature. Daoism is a philosphy and practice built upon a foundation of observing and interacting with nature.
The Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA). Qigong and Tai Chi practice increase interoceptive awareness which in turn contributes to enhanced health and wellness. This paper gives an excellent background on the processes of interoception which include awareness of body sensations, emotional reaction and attentional response to sensations, capacity to regulate attention, trusting body sensations and beliefs about importance of sensations, and mind-body integration
The Vagus Nerve Can Predict and Possibly Modulate Non-Communicable Chronic Diseases: Introducing a Neuroimmunological Paradigm to Public Health. "This article wishes to introduce to medicine and public health a new paradigm to predict, understand, prevent and possibly treat such diseases based on the science of neuro-immunology and specifically by focusing on vagal neuro-modulation. Vagal nerve activity is related to frontal brain activity which regulates unhealthy lifestyle behaviors. Epidemiologically, high vagal activity, indexed by greater heart rate variability (HRV), independently predicts reduced risk of GBD and better prognosis in GBD. Biologically, the vagus nerve inhibits oxidative stress, inflammation and sympathetic activity (and associated hypoxia). Finally, current non-invasive methods exist [notably, the practice of Qigong] to activate this nerve for neuro-modulation, and have promising clinical effects."
Processing of Emotion in Functional Neurological Disorder. The authors report that functional neurological disorder can be caused by at least autonomic dysregulation and abnormal bodily awareness. Practicing Qigong modulates the autonomic nervous system through the vagus nerve and promotes bodily awareness over time through interoception.
Epigenetic ageing is distinct from senescence-mediated ageing and is not prevented by telomerase expression. This research indicates that there is part of the cell that is subject to epigenetic ageing or subject to the wisdom (or lack there of) of the organism's life choices/chances and what environments and experiences are chosen to exist and live in, which trigger certain gene expression or not. This implies that long life requires cultivation of wisdom as well as vitality, both of which can result through the practice of Qigong.
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."