Qigong and Blood Pressure
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It is well known that moderate exercise and relaxation are helpful in the reduction of hypertension. Qigong (Chi Kung), with its gentle movements and coordinated breathing patterns, might seem to be an ideal exercise candidate for reducing blood pressure. Calming, centering and mildly aerobic in the sense of continuous conscious breathing, qigong has obvious benefits in promoting a relaxation response. But does it actually lower blood pressure?
There have been several interesting medical studies done on this question. BM Cheung, et al of the University of Hong Kong conducted a randomized controlled trial to study the effect of Guolin qigong on blood pressure. 88 patients with mild essential hypertension were recruited for a four month qigong and exercise program. they found at the conclusion of 16 weeks of training that their patients had lowered their blood pressure by an average of 11 points. they also found that “General health, bodily pain, social functioning and depression also improved…”*
MS Lee, et al did a study of 58 volunteers with essential hypertension split into a qigong group and a control group to investigate the efficacy of Qigong as a non-pharmacological treatment. After 10 weeks of qigong training both systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure significantly decreased. The researchers observed “a significant reduction of norepinephrine, epinephrine, cortisol, and stress levels” in the Qigong group. The authors conclude that “these results suggest that Qigong may reduce BP and catecholamines via stabilizing the sympathetic nervous system. Therefore, Qigong is an effective non-pharmacological modality to reduce BP in essential hypertensive patients.”**
Reporting in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, Lee’s group of researchers also noticed improved breathing among the qigong patients participating in this study. “The ventilatory functions, forced vital capacity and forced expiratory volume per sec., were increased in the Qigong group but not the control. These results suggest that Qigong may stabilize the sympathetic nervous system” and improve “ventilatory functions in mildly hypertensive middle-aged patients.”***
These studies show the efficacy of qigong practice in reducing blood pressure, pain and stress levels, increasing lung capacity and breathing, and improving social functioning, depression and general health within 10 – 16 weeks. (c) 2013 Keith E. Hall and www.inner-tranquility.com All rights reserved.
*Cheung BM, Lo JL, Fong DY, Chan MY, Wong SH, Wong VC, Lam KS, Lau CP, Karlberg JP. Randomised controlled trial of qigong in the treatment of mild essential hypertension. J Hum Hypertens. 2005 Sep;19(9):697-704.
**Lee MS, Lee MS, Kim HJ, Moon SR. Qigong reduced blood pressure and catecholamine levels of patients with essential hypertension. Int J Neurosci. 2003 Dec;113(12):1691-701.
***Lee MS, Lee MS, Choi ES, Chung HT. Effects of Qigong on blood pressure, blood pressure determinants and ventilatory function in middle-aged patients with essential hypertension. Am J Chin Med. 2003;31(3):489-97.