Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Can it be that simple? Just getting more oxygen helps the immune system.

From Turning Point, a blog by: Gregory E. LeBlanc, Berkeley, California, United States
Article By Channel NewsAsia's China Correspondent Glenda Chong | Posted: 12 October 2009

SHANGHAI: The stress of modern living had prompted many around the world to learn qigong. Recent joint studies from China and the United States also show that qigong can help cancer patients live longer.

One community club in Shanghai is practicing a form of qigong that has helped members recover from life-threatening illnesses over the past 20 years.

Cancer survivor Qiu Jia Ming, 65, who suffered from pancreatic cancer years ago, said: "I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when I was 50 years old and the doctor told me I only had three months to live. But I've survived 14 years now."

Another cancer survivor, Yin Xiao Ling, suffered from nasal malignant granulomatosis 22 years ago.

"I'm 57 and have been practising qigong for 22 years. I was diagnosed with nasal malignant granulomatosis, a very rare cancer, and doctors said I only had six months to a year to live at the most.

"So when I was discharged from hospital, I didn't go home. I went to join the Guolin Qigong Club. Doctors said it was a miracle that I survived beyond a year," said Yin.

Even the head of the cancer rehabilitation club is convinced of the benefits of qigong against cancer. Yuan Zheng Ping was diagnosed with malignant lymphoma 28 years ago and after studying Guolin qigong in Beijing, he started the Shanghai Cancer Rehabilitation Club in 1989 to teach others like him.

"It's not only a physical exercise, it is also a psychological practice of breathing using rhythmic exercises, thereby taking in a lot of oxygen. This is beneficial because it increases immunity and help fight the cancer.

"We did a survey in 1993 with 1,500 cancer patients and discovered that after five years of practising Goulin qigong, there was about 85 per cent recovery rate. In 2003, we did another comprehensive study and found that out of 7,000 cancer sufferers, more than 60 per cent of them survived for more than five years," said Yuan.

With such high success rate, there is now more attention paid to this form of exercise. Initial results from studies conducted by the University of Illinois and Shanghai University of Sports show that practising Cailin qigong can help cancer patients live longer and give them a better quality of life.

Wang Changwei is the researcher behind a new study program sponsored by the US-based National Cancer Institute. Her first phase of research centred on those who regularly practice qigong and it showed that this group of practitioners have a lower rate of cancer recurrence than others.

She said: "From our current study, regardless of quality of life, exercise ability or health conditions, those who practised Guolin qigong are far better off than those who don't exercise qigong.

"We did an 11-month observation and found that oxygen intake of those who practise Guolin qigong was higher and when they are at rest, the oxygen level is the same. This means that they inhale more oxygen during their practice. Their breathing method of inhaling twice and exhaling once helped to improve their oxygen intake."

Even doctors who specialise in Western medicine believe there are benefits to practising qigong. But they said there may be other causes that are helping cancer patients recover from their illnesses.

Gao Yong, a doctor at Shanghai East Hospital, said: "Qigong can help patients forget the pain of the disease. Also, the exercise is a team activity. Practitioners encourage and support each other. There is more confidence when they see others recover. I think this is the real benefit of qigong.

"The study has only just started about two or three years ago. A large scale study is needed and should take about three to five years, or even longer, for a more detailed observation of the benefits."

China sees about 2.2 million cancer cases yearly, with one in five dying from the disease.

Tai Chi and your Brain

Why is Tai Chi also a meditation? By focusing on each move, slowly and not thinking about anything else except that move, the mind begins to move to a different state or wavelength.

The restorative power of brain activity in the states altered by meditation has been widely studied.

Meditation is better for relaxing and has less harmful side effects than taking drugs for example and is thought to create a healing state.

Why moving meditation is better? You get triple the benefits: a physical workout, mental relaxation and improvement in the chi flow. The combination of the body and mind working in harmony is the essence of why Tai Chi works.

By Linda Tenenbaum

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What is Qi?

I found this article a while back and sorry that I can't find the author, but it is a very good concise explanation of Qi: what it is and how it works.

According to traditional Chinese thought the health of the body is dependent on the strength and the flow of Qi (Vital Energy).

Each human and animal is born with a fixed amount of Jing (Vital Essence) at birth. Jing is spent in the work of living. The Jing is supported and expressed by the movement of Qi throughout the body via a system of channels (also called meridians). Qi is replenished by food and air (oxygen). These channels flow on the surface of the body and also deep within the body connecting all organs and tissues in a vast network. Disease can arise when there is an imbalance or disruption in the flow of Qi through these channels.

Certain areas along the channels that travel the surface of the body provide access to the Qi and allow a trained acupuncturist and tui-na practitioner to affect the flow and quality of Qi in the body. These areas are the acupuncture points. Modern research has shown that these specific points have a higher density of nerve endings, immune-cells, small arterioles and lymphatic vessels than the surrounding tissue. By stimulating these points, sometimes located far from the site of symptoms, the acupuncturist and tui-na practitioner can assist the body's innate ability to heal itself by balancing it's Qi. This balancing is now known to be mediated primarily via beta-endorphins (the body's own pain-relief factor), serotonin (associated with mood), and similar neurotransmitters. Other mechanisms including hormonal factors that reduce inflammation are also involved. The acupuncture or tui-na massage stimulation adjusts blood circulation, relieves muscle spasm, alters hormone levels and the function of organs.