Research

Over the past few decades the practice of Tai Chi and Qigong has become increasingly popular. This trend has attracted the attention of medical researchers interested in assessing the health benefits of these meditative mind-body practices. Hundreds of research trials and studies have been conducted at universities and in healthcare settings across the country, and the research is ongoing.

Studies have investigated Tai Chi and Qigong as therapeutic interventions for a wide variety of health concerns including balance and fall prevention among the elderly, osteoarthritis and bone density, musculoskeletal pain, cancer, asthma, depression/anxiety and psychosocial wellbeing, immune system regulation, blood pressure and cardiac rehabilitation, pulmonary disease, and diabetes.

Though the studies vary considerably in design and statistical significance and further investigation is warranted, the overarching conclusion among scientists is that Tai Chi and Qigong practice are safe and effective for many different medical conditions.

The inquiry into the health benefits of Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong certainly reflects the wider exploration of mind-body medicine and the quest for empirical evidence to validate practices of self-cultivation. And with mounting evidence of the accumulated health benefits and progress in research methodology, it is likely that Tai Chi and Qigong will play a strong role in the emerging integrative medicine system as well as in prevention-based interventions in the evolving health care delivery systems.

Here is a listing of recent studies, systematic reviews, and resources for both Tai Chi and Qigong.

TAI CHI

Cognitive behavioral therapy vs. Tai Chi for late life insomnia and inflammatory risk: A randomized controlled comparative efficacy trial. Irwin MR, Olmstead R, Carrillo C, et al. Sleep. 2014 Sep 1;37(9):1543-52.

Blood pressure, salivary cortisol, and inflammatory cytokine outcomes in senior female cancer survivors enrolled in a Tai Chi Chih randomized controlled trial. Campo RA, Light KC, O'Connor K, et al. Journal of Cancer Survivorship. 2014 Aug 28.

Mindfulness-based interventions in multiple sclerosis: beneficial effects of Tai Chi on balance, coordination, fatigue and depression. Burschka JM, Keune PM, Oy UH, et al. BMC Neurology. 2014 Aug 23;14(1):165.

Effects of Tai Chi on health related quality of life in patients with chronic conditions: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Li G, Yuan H, Zhang W. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2014 Aug;22(4):743-755.

Effects of Tai Chi for patients with knee osteoarthritis : a systematic review. Ye J, Cai S, Zhong W, et al. Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 2014 Jul;26(7):1133-7.

Tai Chi exercise can improve the obstacle negotiating ability of people with Parkinson's Disease: a preliminary study. Kim HD, Jae HD, Jeong JH. Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 2014 Jul;26(7):1025-30.

Effect of Tai Chi on physical function, fall rates and quality of life among older stroke survivors. Taylor-Piliae RE, Hoke TM, Hepworth JT, et al. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2014 May;95(5):816-24.

Effects of Tai Chi on balance and fall prevention in Parkinson's Disease: a randomized controlled trial. Gao Q, Leung A, Yang Y. Clinical Rehabilitation. 2014 Feb 11;28(8):748-753.

Effects of Tai Chi exercise on blood pressure and plasma levels of nitric oxide , carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide in real-world patients with essential hypertension . Pan X, Zhang Y, Tao S. Clinical and Experimental Hypertension. 2014 Feb 3.

Effect of Tai Chi on cognitive performance in older adults: systematic review and meta-analysis. Wayne PM1, Walsh JN, Taylor-Piliae RE, et al. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2014 Jan;62(1):25-39.

Tai chi training reduces self-report of inattention in healthy young adults. Converse AK, Ahlers EO, Travers BG, et al. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 2014 Jan 27;8:13.

For centuries, Tai Chi has been purported not only to improve your health, but to help you live longer. While growing scientific evidence now supports that Tai Chi positively impacts many dimensions of health, including cardiovascular risk factors, fall-related serious injuries, and overall quality of life, until recently there was little scientific evidence of Tai Chi's impact on lifespan. The following landmark study conducted in Shanghai, China shows a strong association between practicing Tai Chi and an approximately 20% reduction in the risk of dying over a five-year period. The study is one finding within a rigorous epidemiological study of Chinese men -- The Shanghai Men's Health Study -- conducted between 2002 and 2009. Of note, the benefit of doing Tai Chi for preventing all-purpose mortality, as well as cardiovascular- and cancer-related mortality, was equivalent to the benefit of more aerobic jogging.

Associations of Tai Chi, walking, and jogging with mortality in Chinese men.
Wang N, Zhang X, Xiang YB, et al. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2013 Sep 1;178(5):791-6.

Complexity-based measures inform Tai Chi's impact on standing postural control in older adults with peripheral neuropathy. Manor B1, Lipsitz LA, Wayne PM, Peng CK, Li L. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013 Apr 16;13:87.

Regular tai chi exercise decreases the percentage of type 2 cytokine-producing cells in postsurgical non-small cell lung cancer survivors. Wang R, Liu J, Chen P, Yu D. Cancer Nursing. 2013 Jul-Aug;36(4):E27-34.

Tai chi and postural stability in patients with Parkinson's disease. Li F, Harmer P, Fitzgerald K, et al. New England Journal of Medicine. February 9, 2012. Volume 366(6), pages 511-9.

Lavretsky H, Alstein LL, Olmstead RE, et al. Complementary Use of Tai Chi Chih Augments Escitalopram Treatment of Geriatric Depression: A Randomized Controlled Trial. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 2011 Mar 6.

Wang C, Schmid CH, Rones R, et al. A randomized trial of tai chi for fibromyalgia. New England Journal of Medicine. 2010;363(8):743–754.

Wang C, Schmid CH, Hibberd PL, et al. Tai chi is effective in treating knee osteoarthritis: a randomized controlled trial. Arthritis & Rheumatism. 2009;61(11):1545–1553.

"Easing Ills through Tai Chi," Harvard Magazine, January-February 2010
http://harvardmagazine.com/2010/01/researchers-study-tai-chi-benefits

Jahnke R, Larkey L, Rogers C, et al. A Comprehensive Review of Health Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi.American Journal of Health Promotion. July-Aug 2010;24[6]:e1–e25.

Liu H, Frank A. Tai chi as a balance improvement exercise for older adults: a systematic review. Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy. 2010 Jul-Sep;33(3):103-9.

Wang WC, Zhang AL, Rasmussen B, et al. The effect of Tai Chi on psychosocial well-being: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies. 2009 Sep;2(3):171-81.

Yeh GY, Wang C, Wayne PM, Phillips R. Tai Chi Exercise for Patients With Cardiovascular Conditions and Risk Factors: A Systematic Review. Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention 2009;29:152–160.

"The health benefits of tai chi," Harvard Women's Health Watch, May 2009
http://www.treeoflifetaichi.com/Harvard_Womens_Health_Watch.pdf

Yeh GY, Wang C, Wayne PM, et al. The effect of tai chi exercise on blood pressure: a systematic review. Preventive Cardiology. 2008;11(2):82-89.

Wayne PM, Kiel DP, Krebs DE, et al. The effects of Tai Chi on bone mineral density in postmenopausal women: a systematic review. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2007;88:673-80.

Wang C, Collet JP, Lau J. The effect of tai chi on health outcomes in patients with chronic conditions: a systematic review. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2004;164(5):493–501.

TAI CHI/QIGONG

Health benefits of qigong or tai chi for cancer patients: a systematic review and meta-analyses. Zeng Y, Luo T, Xie H, et al. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2014 Feb;22(1):173-86.

Traditional Chinese exercises for pulmonary rehabilitation: evidence from a systematic review. Ng BH, Tsang HW, Ng BF, et al. Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention. 2014 Jun 10.

Randomized controlled trial of Qigong/Tai Chi easy on cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer survivors. Larkey LK, Roe DJ, Weihs KL, et al. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 2014 Aug 15.

Effectiveness of T'ai Chi and Qigong on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ding M, Zhang W, Li K, Chen X. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2014 Feb;20(2):79-86.

The sustaining effects of Tai chi Qigong on physiological health for COPD patients: a randomized controlled trial. Chan AW, Lee A, Lee DT, et al. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2013 Dec;21(6):585-94.

QIGONG

Levels of fatigue and distress in senior prostate cancer survivors enrolled in a 12-week randomized controlled trial of Qigong. Campo RA, Agarwal N, LaStayo PC, et al. Journal of Cancer Survivorship. 2014 Mar;8(1):60-9.

Effects of Qigong exercise on upper limb lymphedema and blood flow in survivors of breast cancer: a pilot study. Fong SS1, Ng SS, Luk WS, et al. Integrative Cancer Therapies. 2014 Jan;13(1):54-61.

Qigong improves quality of life in women undergoing radiotherapy for breast cancer: results of a randomized controlled trial. Chen Z, Meng Z, Milbury K, et al. Cancer. 2013 May 1;119(9):1690-8.

A pilot study of Qigong for reducing cocaine craving early in recovery. Smelson D, Chen KW, Ziedonis D, et al. Journal of Alternative and Complement Medicine. 2013 Feb;19(2):97-101.

The effects of Qigong on anxiety, depression, and psychological well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Wang F, Man JK, Lee EK, et al. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013.

A systematic review of the effectiveness of Qigong exercise in cardiac rehabilitation. Chan CL, Wang CW, Ho RT, et al. American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 2012;40(2):255-67.

A critical review of the effects of medical Qigong on quality of life, immune function, and survival in cancer patients. Oh B, Butow P, Mullan B, et al. Integrative Cancer Therapies. 2012 Jun;11(2):101-10.

Levels of fatigue and distress in senior prostate cancer survivors enrolled in a 12-week randomized controlled trial of Qigong. Campo RA, Agarwal N, LaStayo PC, et al. Journal of Cancer Survivorship. 2014 Mar;8(1):60-9.

The benefits of medical Qigong in patients with cancer: a descriptive pilot study.
Overcash J, Will KM, Lipetz DW. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing. 2013 Dec;17(6):654-8.

RESOURCES

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine shares links to ongoing medical studies and scientific literature. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/taichi/

Within the realm of Tai Chi research many questions arise: how do we "measure" the benefits of Tai Chi? What methodology is most appropriate? This site is dedicated to the discussion of theory, methods, and challenges of researching wholistic medicine and wholistic practices such as Tai Chi Chuan. http://wholesystemsresearch.org/

The basis of this article, "Biomedical Research Needs a Paradigm Shift" from The Institute of Noetic Sciences can be applied to Tai Chi research as well.
http://noetic.org/noetic/issue-nine-april/biomedical-research/

Challenges Inherent to Tai Chi Research: Part I
http://www.treeoflifetaichi.com/TC_Theory1.pdf

Challenges Inherent to Tai Chi Research: Part II
http://www.treeoflifetaichi.com/TC_Theory2.pdf