Introduction to Medical Qigong

Overview

Qigong (or Chi-Kung) refers an ancient health care art coordinating physical postures (stationary or moving), breathing techniques, and mental focus.

It is generally thought that Qigong has been practiced in China at least for over 3,500~5,000 years and has become a branch of Traditional Chinese medical care system.

While Qi, as we know, is usually translated to mean the universal and essential life force or vital energy flow, “Gong” can be interpreted as “exercise”,  “work”, and “art or skill gained through steady practice”. To be brief, Qigong is “vital energy cultivating” to enhance the life-force preserve and circulation in an aware, harmonious and manageable manner and thus, to heal or prevent diseases, promote health and achieve longevity.

Qigong practices can be classified as medical, spiritual and martial. All styles share three essential elements, i.e., posture, breathing manipulation, and mental focus.  While medical Qigong is to improve health and promote longevity and the spiritual Qigong, to enrich the communications among the body-mind-spirit dimensions, the martial Qigong usually results in a dramatically enhanced stability and balancing of physical movements as well as an intensive muscular force.

There are two modules in Medical Qigong practice: (1) self-practice to improve health and, (2) emitting Qi to treat patients. The self-practice is suitable to almost any person of any age. Commonly, in order to be able to release Qi to treat others, one may need years of self-practice to build the adequate Qi preserve and the ability of Qi control.

Qigong Mechanism

Qigong shares the same philosophical foundation as Traditional Chinese Medicine, including the theories of Yin-Yang, Five-Elements, Qi-Blood, Zang-Fu Organs, Meridians, and the pathogenesis. Among these, Qi is technically focused the most in Qigong practice.

Qi is the primary force that drives, regulates, guards and maintains the structural and functional integrity of living things and the organic universe. In healthy individuals, Qi profoundly resides in the body and circulates along the meridians that irrigate the Zhang-Fu organs and tissues. It is said in Chinese classical of medicine that “Qi leads the Blood; the Blood moves only if the Qi moves”. Therefore, Qi should keep flowing in a dynamically balanced manor in order to a maintain healthy life. A diseased condition may develop when Qi becomes deficient, stagnant or disturbed in certain parts of meridian, organ or tissues. This is because the weakened Qi is unable to guard pathogenic factors, and the blocked and disturbed Qi, unable to conduct different functional levels and coordinate a harmonious body-mind-spiritual activities.

To ensure an efficient and smooth Qi circulations, one should have a proficient Qi preserve or storage, and an intact fluent meridian network. Qigong practice is known addresses these issues.

Qi preserve

When doing Qi-gong exercise, the particular breathing techniques are applied so that the essence of Qi from the universe is taken up and transformed into our internal life-force Qi; the latter is stored into lower Dan Tian. The lower Dan Tian is an area located below the navel and is considered as the anatomic center of balance as well as the home where the primary life-Qi dwells and potentially crystallizes into a new life. Dan in Chinese means “elixir” and,  Tian, the field. Therefore, Dan Tian serves as a “depot” that supplies the Qi-elixir to promote longevity or to heal its own body whenever and wherever there is a need.

Like a gardener is taking care of the plants in the garden, practicing Qigong is a course of action to cultivate the Qi in the Dan Tian (elixir field) so that the Qi may be growing to a higher storage and functional level. The change occurs gradually and continuously, and so does the benefits, from the time when a daily-based practicing starts and through the time, the more the practice the more beneficial feedback will be experienced. The manifestations of the benefits may include the following: you may feel more relaxed, more energetic, more confident and happier; you may also start to enjoy a better quality sleep and your body weight is changing to the optimal direction as you hope; you may find that some previously existing illness diminished or disappeared and your general wellbeing is improving, and so on.

Qi circulation

During Qigong practice, some particular postures are used to warrant the optimal conductivity of meridians. When Qi is growing in Dan Tian to some points, the the threshold of “gate” to an advanced scale of meridian conductivity opens to allow the Qi to “overflow” from Dan Tian to irrigate the entire body. The condition as such with a advanced Qi preserve and enhanced meridian conductivity is known as so called “Qigong state”, in which the body functions in an optimally harmonious module with highly efficient energy usage and minimum metabolic toxin production.

Just like a deep river flows steadily, smoothly, and holds a huge potential of power, the Qi that fulfils the meridians is necessary to maintain a smooth, turbulence-free and powerful Qi circulation flow; this is not only necessary for a proficient irrigation of  the organ and tissues, but also crucial avoid the Qi and Blood stagnant and overcome the meridian obstacles and other pathogenic forces.

On the other hand, Qi-gong state significantly enhances your awareness of the Qi existing and movement, facilitates the insights and control of Qi the entire body including  the body-mind coordination. This is particularly important for gaining a maximal ability of self-healing, and an ability to emit and manipulate the Qi to treat other person.

Scientific studies

For near three decades, intensive scientific studies on the clinical and bio-physiological effects of Qigong have been carried world widely.  More than 3,500 citations have been collected in Qigong and Energy Medicine Database Online collected by Dr. Sancier and the Qigong Institute over the past 20 years.

A “Qi-gong status” induced by Qi-gong practice is thought  to provide a favorable condition for the optimal body-mind communication and  systemic physiological functions including the self healing abilities. Researches have showed that Qigong practice produces the effects on  nervous systems, neurotransmitters and hormones, which may responsible for a decrease of blood pressure and oxygen consumption, increase of respiratory efficiency and cardiovascular functioning, alteration and integration of brain wave patterns, decrease of stress hormone levels, and improvement of immune functioning.

Qi detection and measurement has been one of the main research topics. Seto et al. measured an extraordinarily large magnetic field (10-3 gauss) emanating from the palms of three individuals emitting Qi. This is 1000 times stronger than the naturally occurring human bio-magnetic field (10-6 gauss). It was found that human infrasonic frequencies leaped from 60 MHz to 400,000 MHz during Qi emission. The Emitted Qi was observed to significantly change in infrasound, electromagnetic, static electricity, infrared radiation, gamma rays, particle and wave flows , organic ion flows, and light.

Qi manipulated by Qigong practice was also found to influence DNA synthesis and structure, protein synthesis, artificial cell membranes, chemical reactions, and polarized light beams, which could be one of  the scientific clues of how Qigong promotes self-balancing and self-healing, prevents diseases and enhances health and longevity.

As the growing awareness of the convinced effectiveness and safety profiles (both evidence and science based) of  “alternative and complementary” medical care approaches such as acupuncture, Chinese medicine, Qigong, and Yoga, the rapidly extensive researches, especially on Qi and Qi-meridians, are expected. This may not only potentially defies our current understanding of physical laws, but also places a significant challenge to the conventional medical  foundation and thinking, which could result in the formation of new revolutionary medical care concepts and modalities that integrates ancient wisdom and modern science to better serve human beings.

QIGONG BENEFITS AND APPLICATIONS

Qigong exercises are practiced by an estimated over 100 million people in China and in growing numbers throughout the world. People can enrich their lives by adding Qigong to their daily routine, regardless of ability, age, belief system or life circumstances.

As we know, self-practice and Qi emission Qigong are the two broad divisions. Self-practiced Qigong is practiced by individuals to grow and regulate their own Qi to promote health and longevity; external Qigong is performed by a trained Qigong practitioner to assess and correct the impaired Qi circulation or treat diseases in another person.

Most older children and adults can learn to practice Qigong and receive a number of benefits, such as to increase their sense of well being, decrease stress, improve health, prevent illness, and especially to treat chronic and difficult conditions.  According to the previous data, the typical profile of a client seeking Qi healing is: woman, professional, higher education, between age of 30 and 50.

Some common reasons for seeking Qigong instruction or therapy include:

  • Chronic illness, including cancers  management
  • Longevity & wellness promotion / Disease preventative
  • Stress management / Energy and life quality enhancement
  • Patient requests for natural treatment options
  • Symptoms/conditions that do not conform to any known Western pattern of disease or do not respond to standard medical treatment
  • Unacceptable risk or side-effects of proposed medical interventions
  • Terminal illness: palliative or therapeutic stages

In addition, Qigong works very well with Western medicine and does not interfere with medications and can be a valuable adjunct to Western medication to enhance the latter therapeutic efficacy. Numerous studies in China show patients on chemotherapy and radiation recover faster and survive longer when Qigong is practiced.

Qigong is considered a natural treatment of choice for the following clinical conditions: hypertension, asthma, allergy, stress and stress-related symptoms, sexual dysfunction, cancer, immune diseases (autoimmune or immune deficiency), diabetes, overweight, GI disorders, chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia, musculoskeletal pains and sports injuries, etc. Generally speaking, Qigong therapy alone is not appropriate for most acute or emergency situations.

What to expect with Qigong practice/therapy?

Percentage of patients who respond to Qigong vary according to the level of experience and skill of the practitioner.  The rate of beneficial response ranges from 85 to 90 %. Efficacy enhances if people commit more to practice on a daily basis for an extended period of time.

Most clients experience significant changes and report a pleasant sense of relaxation, warmth, and lightness after a session. Some patients may experience certain degrees of shift in their symptoms, or the improvement in their life quality with greater insight and self-discovery within 10~12 visits. Others may take months or years to heal, especially those with chronic and severe conditions. Home self practice and lifestyle modification are also important to support their Qi cultivation process. The interval between therapeutic visits is usually lengthened as Qi preserve and circulation has been restored and the system remains balanced, which finally leads to long-term healing and wellbeing.

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By Henry D Wu, MD, MS, Dipl.Ac, Dipl.CH

The information provided in this article should not be a substitute for

the medical advice from your physician. © All Rights Reserved)

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