Qigong and Tai Chi
- Review is based upon books and articles published as of 12/31/2004
- A review of the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of Qigong and Tai Chi is provided in the Detailed Scientific Review
Qigong (pronounced Chee Gung or Chee Koong) and Taijiquan or Tai Chi Ch’uan (pronounced Ty Chee Kwan) are ancient practices of breathing, stretching and slow moving meditative postures that flow from one form to another. Both have been known by many different names throughout Chinese history with the current definitions being quite recent. Qigong is generally considered the more ancient system and many of its teachings are incorporated within Tai Chi. The postures of both practices appear simple, but are quite precise. Many of the movements have been paralleled after the movements of animals.
Positive effects upon immune functions, fatigue, self-esteem, health and quality of life have been reported in a few randomized controlled trials. Some of these trials were blinded to the participants, but none were blinded to the evaluators.
Sessions can last from 15 minutes to a few hours and daily practice is strongly recommended.
How it is taken
Morning sessions are recommended in loose comfortable clothing with bare feet, socks, or soft shoes. Styles of Qigong and Tai Chi differ from one school or instructor to another.
Side effects and possible risks
Although one can learn much about Qigong and Tai Chi from books and videos, some aspects of both can be harmful if practiced incorrectly. Accordingly, it is wise to seek at least occasional help from a Qigong or Tai Chi master who can guide one safely through the routines.
People with balance issues should be cautious if they choose to practice these techniques. It is recommended that they begin under the supervision of a physical therapist or other knowledgeable health professional or by using a chair or wall until their balance improves.
A few reports of psychoses induced by extreme practices have not been confirmed.
In general, these are mild exercises that are safe for most people.
Availability at MD Anderson Cancer Center
Tai Chi and Qigong sessions are taught by an instructor (certified by the Houston-based Zenobics Society) at the MD Anderson Place...of wellness.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has a Fact Sheet on Tai Chi.
To avoid potential interactions, be sure to let your health care provider know if you use this or any other type of complementary therapy.