Dan Tian Meditation

History of Qigong

Qigong for Back Pain

Qigong for Health

What is Qi Gong

"Qi Gong is such a powerful resource for patients to do for themselves. My clients are thrilled with the results."

- Karen Jew, Acupuncturist
Untitled Document

Health Benefits of Medical Qigong


Multifaceted Health Benefits of Medical Qigong
Kenneth M. Sancier, Ph.D.
Devatara Holman MS, MA, LAc


It is a challenge for the Western mind to understand the function of Qi in the context of bodily

functions as defined by science. According to Chinese medicine and Qigong theory, Qi has an infinite

number of functions in the body.

The foundation of Qigong and TCM theory dictates that intention (Yi) directs the movement of Qi,

which in turn directs the flow of blood in the body. Increased or decreased electrical activity in specific

areas of the body determines blood flow and fluid balance, accumulation and dispersal of substances.

The practice of Qigong is the act of bringing awareness and skill to direct the function and movement of

Qi. The correct movement of Qi is a force that engages the body’s natural tendency toward homeostasis.

Continued practice provides reinforcement of the body’s inclination toward homeostasis and therefore

toward optimal use of all its functions and potential. What are called ‘special abilities’ or ‘psychic powers’

that sometimes develop in Qigong practice are simply the product of our natural capacity in the refined

human state.

For health maintenance, the Qigong practitioners do not have to be an expert. Almost anyone can

learn to practice Qigong to maintain and improve his or her own health. The objective of the exercises is

to strengthen the Qi in the body and remove obstructions to Qi flow that may have developed due to

injury, emotional states, diet, disease or other factors. Conversely, obstruction of Qi flow can also

produce disease,2


Of all the energy medical practices, Qigong has the most developed theoretical basis and has been

subjected to the most extensive research. In China, the collected knowledge about the therapeutic

benefits of Qigong was developed over thousands of years. Medical Qigong is now practiced in clinics

and some hospitals that integrate traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and conventional Western

medicine. In Western hospitals Qigong is among several complementary practices used including

Therapeutic Touch, Mindful Meditation and Reiki.


Clinical Research Demonstrates the Multifaceted Effects Qigong


In the early 1980’s Chinese scientists initiated research on the health and healing claims of Qigong.

Of the hundreds of research studies that were performed, few were published because suitable journals

were unavailable. However, about 1400 reports were published as abstracts in the proceedings of

conferences. English abstracts of these reports as well as those from scientific journals are collected in

the Qigong Database™ that presently contains more than 2000 records of Qigong studies and is

available from the Qigong Institute.(Sancier KM 2000) One of the authors has discussed the medical

benefits of Qigong.(Sancier KM 1994; Sancier KM 1996a; Sancier KM 1996b; Sancier KM 1999; Sancier

KM Weintraub 2000)


Wang and Xu, two western-trained doctors in China explored some of the multiple health benefits of

self-practice Qigong as summarized in the table.(Wang CX 1991; Wang CX 1993; Wang CX 1995)3

Activities of two messenger cyclic nucleotides


Antithrombin III


Blood flow to the brain for subjects with cerebral arteriosclerosis

Blood pressure

Blood viscosity

Bone density

Cerebral functions impaired by senility

Endocrine gland functions

Erythrocyte deformation index

Factor VIII-related antigen


Immune system

Longevity, 50% greater; after Qigong 30 min/twice daily, 20 years

Plasminogen activator inhibitor

Serum estradiol levels in hypertensive men and women

Serum lipid levels

Sexual function

Strokes, 50% fewer after Qigong 30 min/twice daily, 20 years


One of the prime benefits of Qigong is stress reduction, and a main ingredient of practice is intention

(i.e., Yi) that uses the mind to guide the Qi. While Qi itself has not been measured, multiple types of

measurements demonstrate the effects of Qi on the body. For example, simultaneous measurements of

the interaction between a Qigong master and receiver included respiration, EEG, vibrations, blood4

pressure, skin conductivity, and heart rate variability.(Yamamoto M 1997) Different physiological

measurements have sought information about the effects of Qigong on the brain and emotions. These

include measurements by high-resolution electroencephalography (EEG), functional MRI (fMRI),

neurometer measurements, and applied kinesiology. Neuroimaging methods were used to study regional

brain functions, emotions and disorders of emotions. Differences were found on the effects on the brain

during meditation by Qigong and by Zen meditation.(Kawano K 1996) The effects of emitted Qi (waiqi)

has also been extended to cell cultures, growth of plants, seed germination, and reduction of tumor size

in animals.(Sancier KM 1991) Spiritual healing, which involves the mind, has been the subject of two

volumes by Benor.(Benor DJ 2001; Benor DJ 2002) His discussions also include scientific studies

describing the beneficial effects of prayer on subjects’ health.


The work of Richard Davidson and Paul Ekman, researchers of the Mind and Life Institute, may go a

long way to illustrate the role of intention alone on the brain and body.(Davidson JD 1999) In current

studies underway at University of California at San Francisco Medical School and University of

Wisconsin, they are observing the electrical mechanisms in the brains of highly trained Buddhist lamas

during various states of focused intention. Using functional, fMRI, high-resolution EEG and state-of-theart reflex monitoring, their early results illustrate that electrical activity and blood flow in the brain can be

directed by conscious intention. Through systematic and repeated practice of intention, well-practiced

lamas have succeeded in training the brain to direct electrical activity away from areas associated with

the biochemistry of stress, tension and disturbing emotional or physical states (i.e., the amygdala and

right prefrontal cortex) and increase activity in the area associated with the biochemistry of healthful

emotional and physical states (i.e., the left prefrontal cortex). Moreover, they have observed that the state

of conscious intention on compassion engages a state of relaxation and well being which surpasses even

that achieved during a state of rest. The early results of this research suggests that parts of the brain

thought previously to be fixed in function, such as the stress reflexes of the reptilian brain, may in fact be5

plastic in nature, able to be changed, shaped and developed through ongoing practice of conscious

intention.(Lama Dalai 2003)


Cost containment of healthcare is a subject of vital contemporary interest. For example, in the

treatment of asthma self-applied Qigong led to significant cost decreases, such as reduction in days unfit

for work, hospitalization days, emergency consultation, respiratory tract infections, and number of drugs

and drug costs.(Reuther I 1998)




The vast research of medical benefits of Qigong offers a rich source of information for benefiting

mankind. Medical cost containment is an attractive benefit of Qigong practice and should be further

explored to provide healing potential without side effects.

The science and art of Qigong may open a window into new thinking about health, medicine,

psychology and spirituality. It is a physical, mental and spiritual practice that continuously supports our

natural tendency toward homeostasis. If that tendency is supported with regularity, allowing one to

hover more closely to that point of balance, then the entire being can experience a tremendous

evolutionary advantage. Innate abilities have an opportunity to develop; the senses more keen, organ

function more consistent and strong, the sympathetic nervous system relaxed, parasympathetic

nervous system efficient, the mind relaxed, alert, clear, freely channeling messages in a multitude of

new and diverse directions.


From a scientific point of view, the promise of Qigong practices provides new avenues for

understanding some of the subtle aspects of human life and its natural inclination to strive for balance.

For clinicians it shifts our focus from a battle with disease to a cultivation of health. For practitioners of6

Qigong, it gives us an experiential understanding of greater balance within ourselves and of the

cultivation our individual physical, mental and spiritual potential.


Reference List

Benor DJ. Spiritual healing-scientific validation of a healing revolution. Vol. 1. Visions Publications,

Southfield, MI 48034, 2001.

Benor DJ. Spiritual healing-scientific validation of a healing revolution, Prof. supplement. Vol. 2.

Vision Publications, Southfield, MI 48034, 2002.

Davidson JD, Abercrombie H, Nitschke JB, Putnam K. Regional brain function, emotion and

disorders of emotion. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 1999; 9:228-34.

Kawano Kimiko 1, Kushita Kouhei N 2. The Function of the Brain using EEGs during Induced

Meditation. J Intl Soc Life Info Science 1996; 14(1):91-3.

Lama Dalai, Goleman Daniel. Destructive Emotions, how can we overcome them? New York, NY:Bantam Books, 2003.

Reuther I, Aldridge D. Treatment of bronchial asthma with qigong Yangsheng–A pilot study. J

Altern Complement Med 1998; 4(2):173-83.

Sancier KM. The effect of qigong on therapeutic balancing measured by electroacupuncture

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Sancier KM. Anti-Aging Benefits of Qigong. J Intl Soc Life Info Science 1996a; 14(1):12-21.

Sancier KM . Medical applications of qigong. Altern Ther Health Med 1996b; 1(4).7

Sancier KM. Therapeutic Benefits of Qigong Exercises in Combination with Drugs. J Altern

Complement Med 1999; 5(4):383-9.

Sancier KM. Qigong and neurologic illness. Weintraub M. Complementary and alternative

medicine for neurologic illness. St. Louis, Missouri: Harcourt Health Sciences, 2000.

Sancier KM. Qigong database. Adv Mind Body Med 2000; 16(3):159.

Sancier KM, Hu B. Medical applications of qigong and emitted qi on humans, animals, cell cultures

& plants: review of selected scientific research. Am J. Acupuncture 1991; 19(4):367-77.

Wang CX, Xu DH. [The beneficial effect of qigong on the ventricular function and

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Wang CX, Xu DH. [Effect of qigong on plasma coagulation fibrinolysis indices of hypertensive

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Wang CX, Xu DH, Qian YC . Effect of qigong on heart-qi deficiency and blood stasis type of

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Yamamoto M 1, Hirasawa M 1, Kokubo H 1, Sakaida H 1, Kimiko Kawano K 2 1. Study on

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Measurements(VSM) -The Second Year Report of the 5-Year-Project Supported by

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