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Qigong alleviates chronic fatigue symptoms.


NEW ORLEANS--The traditional Chinese medical therapy known as qigong exercise resulted in significant reduction in fatigue scores in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome in a randomized controlled trial.

Qigong also led to significant improvement in validated measures of mental and physical health and spiritual well-being, Jessie S.M. Chan, a doctoral candidate at the University of Hong Kong, reported. A dose-response effect was evident. Practicing qigong for at least 30 minutes at least 3 days a week produced better outcomes.

Qigong, translated as 'life energy cultivation," is an ancient Taoist art of self-healing. It's an increasingly popular form of complementary and alternative medicine in the United States. It combines regulation of the body, mind, and breath through gentle exercises and meditation.

From a traditional Chinese medicine perspective, Ms. Chan explained, chronic fatigue syndrome is caused by blood stasis from a deficiency of Qi, or vital energy. The key treatment strategy entails restoring the balance between yin and yang and stimulation of the blood to get the Qi circulating. From the Western medicine perspective, chronic fatigue syndrome is an often frustrating condition for which only two interventions have been shown beneficial: cognitive-behavioral therapy and graded exercise training.

The randomized trial included 154 patients aged 18-55 years with unexplained chronic fatigue of at least 6 months duration plus multiple other findings consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definition of chronic fatigue syndrome. Though the patients met criteria for the syndrome, most did not have a formal physician diagnosis, so would most accurately be said to have chronic fatigue syndrome--like illness, she noted.

The patients were randomized to two group qigong sessions a week for 5 weeks, with each session lasting 2 hours, along with a recommended 15-30 minutes a day of practice at home, or to a waitlist control group. This was wu zing ping heng gong-style qigong. The movements, consisting of 10 forms, were typically performed in the morning, whereas the meditation was done at night.

The primary study end point was change in the 14-item Chalder Fatigue Scale from baseline through 5 weeks of qigong. Patients in the qigong arm showed a 38.5% reduction in their total score, whereas scores in the control arm didn't change significantly. The qigong group also showed significant improvements in the Short Form-12 physical and mental component scores and the Body-Mind-Spirit Integrative Well-Being score. (See graph.) Patients who practiced gigging at least three times a week and spent an average of 30 minutes or more per session showed nearly twice as much improvement in Chalder scores than those who did less.

The trial was sponsored by the University of Hong Kong Center on Behavioral Health. Ms. Chan reported having no financial conflicts.
Change in Key Outcomes

 Qigong Control

Chalder Fatigue Scale total score -38.5% -14.3%

SF-12 mental component score 31.5% 1.5%

SF-12 physical component score 13.5% 7.0%

Body-Mind-Spirit Integrative Well-Being score 23.0% 1.1%

Note: Based on a randomized trial of 154 patients aged 18-55 years.

Source: Ms. Chan

Note: Table made from bar graph.
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Author:Jancin, Bruce
Publication:Clinical Psychiatry News
Date:Jul 1, 2012
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