Qi gong, an activity practiced by millions of people, very popular in China and more and more popular on the west, often understood as a magic tool that will heal all illness and prolong life. To promote Qi Gong, “teachers’ and “masters’ often use medical studies to support their claims and attract more customers. But what is the real truth behind these studies, what these researches really show?
Let’s fist see how Qi gong is defined in western medicine:” Qi gong is an umbrella term that subsumes a variety of energy-based healing practices based on Taoist philosophy and principles of Chinese medical theory.”
While Taoist philosophy may be valid for Taoist practitioners (believers) it has no scientific value, same goes with Chinese traditional medicine, it is a practice based on outdated, nonscientific theories rooted in Chinese folk religion and Taoism. In its essence Qi gong is an esoteric practice which ultimate goal is achieving immortality.
In this article several links to several published studies can be found. While the method of the study is valid, some basic facts about nature, practice, history and origin of Qi Gong are wrong. Also, studies were focused only of physical aspect of the practice not including a psychological aspect which is extremely important in Qi Gong.
In order to “work” Qi Gong practitioner must be convinced that the method will work. Most if not all Qi Gong exercises include some kind of visualization, concentration and imagination. All the physical manifestation of Qi Gong that include various sensory sensation in different parts of the body can be produced without any exercise or special breathing technique by simple concentration and deliberate inducing of these effect by conscious mind.
Results of medical studies of health benefits of Qi Gong:
While medical studies shows there are some health benefits from Qi Gong practice it needs to be explained what those benefits actually are.
First and most important fact is that Qi Gong is not main healing method for any medical problem. It is strictly an additional activity with sole purpose to support main medical treatment. In other words, Qi Gong cannot cure anything and in all published studies there is a warning that Qi Gong practice should not delay real medical diagnostic and treatment methods. Qi Gong is not alternative for the medical treatment nor can replace it in any way.
For a great number of diseases Qi Gong does not show any improvements.
Most studies concentrate on Qi Gong influence on hypertension, chronical pain and improving of quality of life in general in certain population ( elder, cancer patients ). While studies show that there are improvement and positive influence of Qi Gong practice these benefits are no different from common physical exercises usually prescribed for these kind of problems ( aerobic, slow walk, running , swimming , specific exercises for pain ect). Studies do not show any significant difference between Qi Gong and other types of physical exercise. Benefit of Qi Gong does not go beyond its physical aspect. For example, people who suffer from hypertension will have same results whether they practice Qi Gong or simply have 30 minutes slow walk.
Qi Gong does not significantly influence life expectancy. China is the country with the greatest number of Qi Gong practitioners but life expectance in China is not what would anyone think it would be.
We can clearly see that China is on the middle of the list, and if we examine the life expectancy in China through history we can see that China was, until recently, near the bottom of the list. Clear markers for life expectancy are in any given country is the quality of health care and general socio-economical level of development , in other word a quality of life. Richest countries with the best healthcare systems have the longest living citizens.
Population of Qi Gong practitioners does not show any difference in life span or rate of disease from general population in any given country. Even “masters” have same rate of disease and same mortality rate as general population and their life span is no different form general population as well.
Benefits of physical exercises of human health are known for centuries, Qi Gong as any other system of exercise will have positive influence on practitioner’s health and quality of life. On the other hand this influence will not be different from any other systems of exercise. Qi Gong is not magical tool for all health problems, just one of many similar choices available today