Monday, July 26, 2010

Slow moves to battle body pain Modern medicine enlists gentle exercise of Qigong

 Pain from any source is a pain... something that affects one's quality of living.  In the past one had either to suffer or take pharmaceuticals, now people are discovering another way to deal with pain.
In an article in the Toronto Star today, Francine Kopun wrote about several kinds of pain and examples of people who are dealing with it by taking Qigong classes. 
"Qigong movements are similar to the movements used in tai chi and incorporate some simplified tai chi moves, at a slower, gentler pace. The emphasis in qigong is on releasing tension and preserving mobility.
Fervent disciples of the art claim qigong can result in miraculous cures. Modern science has more temperate views.
A 2007 Swedish study of the effects of qigong on 57 women with fibromyalgia found that regular practice over seven weeks had a positive and reliable effect. The researchers concluded that qigong could be a useful compliment to medical treatment for people with fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by widespread body pain and stiffness.

Scroll for full article below;

Friday, July 16, 2010

Study investigates benefits of Tai Chi for breast cancer survivors

New Study for Breast Cancer survivors: participants needed
By Amanda Butterfield
SALT LAKE CITY -- Three times a week a group of elderly cancer survivors meet and meditate under the close watch of Huntsman Cancer Institute researchers.
For the first time, researchers are figuring out if Tai Chi can help breast cancer survivors live a better, happier, healthier life.
HEALS project
  • Seeks female participants who have experienced breast cancer
  • Age 60 years or older
  • For more information, contact Kathleen O'Connor, research coordinator, at 801-587-4556.
The women learn slow breathing and movements during their Tai Chi class.
And after a double mastectomy and six surgeries, breast cancer survivor Kay Powell says this class is what she desperately needs to help her slow down.
"You get really busy in your day and you think of everyone else. This is something you can do for yourself," she said.
As Anita Kinney, Ph.D., with the Huntsman Cancer Institute explains, "Tai Chi is a mind-body intervention that includes meditation as well as physical activity."
Preliminary evidence suggests is offers numerous benefits:
  • Stress reduction
  • Reducing anxiety and depression
  • Improving balance, flexibility and muscle strength
  • Reducing falls in older adults
  • Improving sleep quality
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Improving cardiovascular fitness in older adult
  • Relieving chronic pain
  • Increasing energy, endurance and agility
  • Improving overall feelings of well-being
Source: Mayo Clinic
Kinney particularly wants to see if it improves the quality of life for elderly breast cancer survivors. There is data showing Tai Chi is beneficial for the elderly and young cancer survivors; but Kinney says of the 12 million cancer survivors in the United States, 23 percent had breast cancer -- and it's that group she wants to help.
"This can help in getting insurance reimbursement for cancer survivors for such activities," Kinney said.
But most importantly, it may help women like Elsie Halliday feel better.
"The mornings I wake up after class I have hours more worth of energy than I did the day before," she said.
Another perk of the classes that Halliday didn't expect: She's meeting other survivors who inspire her.
"We come in different shapes and sizes and we have all been through the battlefield," she said.
Though results from the study won't be published for at least another year and a half, Kinney said, "We've seen improvements so far."
Researchers want more volunteers to participate. CLICK HERE for more information about volunteering.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Slow Shifts of Tai Chi Can Help Build a Better Body: the You Docs, Dr.Mike Roizen and Dr.Mehmet Oz From Toronto Star, July 5 2010

Are you leaving the house later because it takes you forever to find your cellphone, car keys and that wayward umbrella?  About dinner-time, and again on awakening, start breathing like a yogi.  It turns out that one of their simplest techniques – left-nostril breathing – improves spatial memory.  That’s the kind that helps you remember where you put something.  Try it: hold your right nostril shut and breathe deeply and slowly through your left.
In one study, practicing this for a month slowed sympathetic nervous system activity and increased heart rate variability, both indicating less stress.  The connection: hormones chured out when you’re tense mess with your ability to recall where you left your shopping list or if you unplugged the coffeemaker.
In another study, undergraduates who did left-nostril breathing before a memory test scored 16 percent higher than those who didn’t.  And left-nostril breathing improved spatial memory scores in kids by 43%.  But (and here’s the fascinating part) right-nostril breathing had no effect.
The explanation?  Breathing through your left nostril may give your left hippocampus, the area that controls memory, more blood flow and thus makes it better able to gain and retain memories.
Could right-nostril breathing give your right brain a jolt and make you better at creative tasks?  Proving that might be on some right-brain researcher’s to-do list.

Slow but Soothing….
•    You’ve probably seen people doing Tai Chi.  TC crews love filming people gathering at dawn to wrestle demons in the air – all right, that’ not what they’re really doing.  Tai Chi is rightly called moving meditation; its gentle positions relax your body and centre your mind.  In just the past few months, dozens of U.S. studies have found that Tai Chi helps with:
•    Heart attacks: tai chi speeds recovery
•    Breast cancer: it helps you get your strength back
•    Sore backs: tai chi is as good as acupuncture and yoga at easing them
•    Weak, painful legs messed up by rheumatoid arthritis or nerve damage (often from diabetes): tai chi makes them stronger.
•    Maddening menopause symptoms: tai chi helps shut them down
•    Arthritic knees: tai chi relieves these, too.
In case you’re wondering if there’s anything tai chi alone can’t make better, there is: depression.  High energy, aerobic exercise is better at that.
Also, the research is still iffy on whether it helps prevent falls that fracture hips.
On the other hand, as we’ve said before, tai chi is a perfect candidate for natural Ambien: People who do and hour of it three times a week fall asleep and sleep almost an hour longer.