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Scientific Research on Tai chi & qigong

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IN a previous article (see www.superqigong.com), I had written about the scientific evidence for qigong healing, and more recently, on the science of qi. In my last article I mentioned that California, US, is fast becoming the centre of qigong, not only for the Western world, but also for the rest of the world.  

Qigong is becoming very popular in the US, and there are many intellectuals and academics taking up the practice. I had related how I came to know two professors in San Francisco who are practising qigong.  

To further enhance the knowledge and research on qi and qigong, several universities in California have collaborated with universities in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan to form the International Alliance for Mind/Body Signalling and Energy Research. The founding director, Dr Shin Lin, apart from having impressive scientific credentials, is a respected practitioner and researcher of qigong.  

Through their joint efforts, research into qi and qigong is gathering momentum, and it will not be long before there will be enough scientific data to elevate qigong to become an “evidence-based” therapy, acknowledged by the scientific community. Here are some of their findings (references are available on request). 

Qigong and tai chi increases electrical conductance at acupoints 

It is known that a decrease in electrical conductance and capacitance is associated with physiological dysfunction and disease, which are expected to improve when these parameters increase. Studies in California showed that the electrical conductance and capacitance measured at acupoints increase substantially after 15-20 minutes of qigong or tai chi practice. 

Qigong and tai chi improves blood flow to the hands 

Studies in California and Illinois (US) showed that when qigong and tai chi movements are coordinated with deep breathing, the blood flow to the palms is greatly increased, consistent with the teaching that combining regulation of body movement and respiration during qigong/tai chi practice increases blood circulation. 

Qigong masters emit visible light from their hands 

Researchers in California detected the emission of visible light from the hands of qigong masters who focused their mind on their hands. Previously, infra red thermography (for quantifying temperature changes) and gas discharge visualisation (for bio-electric Kirlian photography) have detected the bio-energy fields surrounding energy practitioners (including qigong masters), but these are non-visible energy forms.  

Detailed studies on the effects of qigong using all three methods (visible light, temperature and bio-electricity) are now in progress.  

Qigong breathing can regulate the heart, and relaxes the body 

Studies in California and Shanghai on the regulation of respiration by a group of qigong experts showed that conscious control of breathing can lead to indirect control of heart function, which is normally regulated only by the autonomic nervous system. Qigong and some types of meditation were also able to produce the type of heart-variability pattern normally seen during deep, relaxed, sleep (which refreshes the mind and the body). 

Qigong improves oxygen supply to the brain  

The same researchers also demonstrated that qigong deep breathing and breath-holding exercises produced a large increase in oxygen-content in the blood of the capillaries of the forebrain. Having a focused, relaxed mind is a requirement in qigong. It is not surprising that the studies also found that mental and physical stress, which leads to vasoconstriction, reduced the benefit of the practice. 

Qigong health benefits are real 

I am very pleased to discover that many more scientific studies are on-going and that the latest scientific instruments are being used to prove that qi is real and the claimed health benefits of qigong are also real.  

For the thousands who have benefited from practising qigong, all the scientific studies are irrelevant. However, it is still important to provide the scientific evidence so that we can convince more people, especially doctors and other health practitioners, that qigong is indeed a useful method in the fight against all sorts of diseases, and that it is not just mumbo-jumbo or that the claimed benefits are merely due to the placebo effect. 

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I hope this report has convinced more readers to take up qigong as part of their overall health strategy.  

Source: http://thestar.com.my/services/printerfriendly.asp?file=/2006/6/18/health/14565682.asp&sec=health, (18 June 2006)