Alternative Medicine: How Qigong Can Help with Cancer Recovery
is a Chinese form of movement, often called a moving
meditation. According to Chinese medicine, there’s a constant flow of energy
moving through your body through channels called meridians. This energy is
called “qi” (also sometimes spelled “chi” and pronounced “chee”). Qi is
considered to be the life force. When it doesn’t flow through your body well, it
becomes stagnant and stuck, which can lead to illness.
The qigong movements stimulate your body’s qi to flow more
easily. You remove so-called “blockages of qi,” which helps your body function
better--the immune system, circulation, breathing, etc.
Qigong movements are very gentle, not difficult to get into
or difficult to hold. Often, you repeat the movements over and over, as many
times as you like. This repetition helps to get you into a meditative state, in
which you begin to feel relaxed and stress free. Many qigong movements are done
in a standing position, but others are done sitting down and sometimes lying
The principles of qigong are similar to those of
acupuncture. Acupuncturists place fine needles in meridians on the body. These
practitioners believe that the placement of needles helps open up the body’s
energy, or qi, pathways, allowing the qi to flow more efficiently throughout the
One difference between qigong and acupuncture is that
qigong is something you can learn to do on your own. For that reason, many
people refer to qigong as a self-healing exercise. Qigong is similar to t’ai
chi, but many people believe it’s easier to learn.
There have been many small qigong studies that have shown
that qigong helps your body reach a relaxation state, that it helps lower blood
pressure, control pain, and reduce anxiety. For someone who has had a diagnosis
of cancer, the calming effect of qigong can be invaluable. Additionally, small
studies conducted in China have shown that cancer patients who were treated with
a combination of drugs and qigong exercises showed greater improvement in
strength and appetite than patients who received drug therapy alone.
If you’re interested in trying qigong, there are several
ways to find a class in your area. You could try asking a member of your
healthcare team. Qigong is becoming more and more popular in the U.S., and some
healthcare providers can help patients find referrals. You could also try
looking up qigong in the Yellow Pages. If there are no listings, local yoga and
t’ai chi centers sometimes also teach qigong classes, so you could give them a
call. If there’s a health food store near you, there might a bulletin board
listing different types of classes, and qigong could be one of them.
K Cohen, The Way
of Qigong, The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing, Ballantine Books,
New York, 1997; K. Pelletier, The Best Alternative Medicine, Simon &
Schuster, New York, New York, 2000.; The National Institute for Complementary
and Alternative Medicine.