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In , the Chinese Health Qigong Association officially recognized five additional health qigong forms: Whether viewed from the perspective of exercise, health, philosophy, or martial arts training, several main principles emerge concerning the practice of qigong: Over time, five distinct traditions or schools of qigong developed in China, each with its own theories and characteristics: Health is believed to be returned by rebuilding qi, eliminating qi blockages, and correcting qi imbalances.
These TCM concepts do not translate readily to modern science and medicine. In Daoism various practices now known as Daoist Qigong are claimed to provide a way to achieve longevity and spiritual enlightenment ,  as well as a closer connection with the natural world.
In Buddhism meditative practices now known as Buddhist Qigong are part of a spiritual path that leads to spiritual enlightenment or Buddhahood. In contemporary China, the emphasis of qigong practice has shifted away from traditional philosophy, spiritual attainment, and folklore, and increasingly to health benefits, traditional medicine and martial arts applications, and a scientific perspective. Qigong has been recognized as a "standard medical technique" in China since , and is sometimes included in the medical curriculum of major universities in China.
Conventional or mainstream medicine includes specific practices and techniques based on the best available evidence demonstrating effectiveness and safety. Integrative medicine IM refers to "the blending of conventional and complementary medicines and therapies with the aim of using the most appropriate of either or both modalities to care for the patient as a whole", : Scientists interested in qigong have sought to describe or verify the effects of qigong, to explore mechanisms of effects, to form scientific theory with respect to Qigong, and to identify appropriate research methodology for further study.
People practice qigong for many different reasons, including for recreation , exercise and relaxation , preventive medicine and self-healing , meditation and self-cultivation , and training for martial arts. In recent years a large number of books and videos have been published that focus primarily on qigong as exercise and associated health benefits.
Practitioners range from athletes to the physically challenged. Because it is low impact and can be done lying, sitting, or standing, qigong is accessible for disabled persons, seniors, and people recovering from injuries. Qigong is generally viewed as safe. Cost for self-care is minimal, and cost efficiencies are high for group delivered care.
Although clinical research examining health effects of qigong is increasing, there is little financial or medical incentive to support research, and still only a limited number of studies meet accepted medical and scientific standards of randomized controlled trials RCTs.
A systematic review of the effect of qigong exercises on cardiovascular diseases and hypertension found no conclusive evidence for effect,  and generally poor quality of research on the potential effects of affecting blood pressure. A systematic review of the effect of qigong exercises on biomarkers of diabetes mellitus concluded that there was insufficient evidence for effect due to methodological problems with the underlying clinical trials.
A systematic review on the effect of qigong exercises on reducing pain concluded that "the existing trial evidence is not convincing enough to suggest that internal qigong is an effective modality for pain management. A systematic review of the effect of qigong exercises on cancer treatment concluded "the effectiveness of qigong in cancer care is not yet supported by the evidence from rigorous clinical trials.
Therefore, the authors concluded, "Due to limited number of RCTs in the field and methodological problems and high risk of bias in the included studies, it is still too early to reach a conclusion about the efficacy and the effectiveness of qigong exercise as a form of health practice adopted by the cancer patients during their curative, palliative, and rehabilitative phases of the cancer journey.
A systematic review of the effect of qigong exercises on movement disorders found that the evidence was insufficient to recommend its use for this purpose. Many claims have been made that qigong can benefit or ameliorate mental health conditions,  including improved mood, decreased stress reaction, and decreased anxiety and depression.
Most medical studies have only examined psychological factors as secondary goals, although various studies have shown significant benefits such as decrease in cortisol levels, a chemical hormone produced by the body in response to stress. Basic and clinical research in China during the s was mostly descriptive, and few results were reported in peer-reviewed English-language journals.
The White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine CAM Policy recognized challenges and complexities to rigorous research concerning effectiveness and safety of CAM therapies such as qigong; emphasized that research must adhere to the same standards as conventional research, including statistically significant sample sizes, adequate controls, definition of response specificity, and reproducibility of results; and recommended substantial increases in funding for rigorous research.
Of particular concern is the impracticality of double blinding using appropriate sham treatments, and the difficulty of placebo control, such that benefits often cannot be distinguished from the placebo effect. Qigong is practiced for meditation and self-cultivation as part of various philosophical and spiritual traditions.
As meditation, qigong is a means to still the mind and enter a state of consciousness that brings serenity, clarity, and bliss. Qigong for self-cultivation can be classified in terms of traditional Chinese philosophy: Daoist, Buddhist, and Confucian. The practice of qigong is an important component in both internal and external style Chinese martial arts.
T'ai Chi Ch'uan , Xing Yi , and Baguazhang are representative of the types of Chinese martial arts that rely on the concept of qi as the foundation. T'ai Chi Ch'uan Taijiquan is a widely practiced Chinese internal martial style based on the theory of taiji "grand ultimate" , closely associated with qigong, and typically involving more complex choreographed movement coordinated with breath, done slowly for health and training, or quickly for self-defense.
Many scholars consider t'ai chi ch'uan to be a type of qigong, traced back to an origin in the seventeenth century. In modern practice, qigong typically focuses more on health and meditation rather than martial applications, and plays an important role in training for t'ai chi ch'uan, in particular used to build strength, develop breath control, and increase vitality "life energy".
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the artist, see Qigong artist. Qi and Chinese martial arts. Retrieved 10 February The Way of Qigong: Random House of Canada. Way of the Dragon Pub. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 6: Yang's Martial Arts Association. Li, Qi, and Shu: An Introduction to Science and Civilization in China.
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