Tantric Qigong, Taiji, MS and the Immune System

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Tantric Qigong, Taiji, Multiple Sclerosis and the Immune System

Multiple Sclerosis is a condition where one’s immune system dysfunctionally attacks the fatty sheath that insulates nerves. Just like an electrical wire that has been stripped of its insulation, one’s nerves start to short out. The nerve impulses never reach their terminus, which causes those afflicted to begin to lose coordination.

There is still no conclusive etiology for Multiple Sclerosis, though statistically the group at greatest risk consists of Caucasian women born in the northern United States.  Once contracted, the disease manifests itself in numerous symptoms, which tend to be progressive. Often one notices initially some difficulty with balance and walking, followed by a kind of paraesthesia, or prickly sensations in various areas of the body. Untreated, persons with MS can develop pain in the eyes and blindness due to optic nerve inflammation. Multiple Sclerosis can result in tremors, slurring of speech, and a gradual deterioration of cognitive function, or even sudden paralysis.

Tantric Qigong, 8 Treasures, Eight section brocade, Ba duan jin, QigongTantric Qigong (Chi Kung) and T’ai Chi (which is a form of qigong) have been shown to be effective in ameliorating and reversing the onslaught of this condition. Qigong and T’ai Chi tend to have an overall balancing effect on the body and psyche. In the case of MS and other autoimmune disorders, these arts will start to bring the immune system back into balance. Where the immune system is too dysfunctionally aggressive, as in autoimmune conditions, the practice of Tantric Qigong will reduce its Yang qualities. Where the immune system is weak, qigong will strengthen its Yang. So balance can be achieved whether one’s immune system is hyperactive or hypo-active.

Though Western medicine remains clueless within its paradigm about the mechanism of qigong healing, MS sufferers can experience significant relief by integrating this healing discipline into their daily routine as the following examples illustrate.

Husted et al., in an article published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, noted that this sort of practice could result in multiple sclerosis patients being able to increase their walking speed (a 21% increase) and hamstring flexibility (a 28% increase). They also noted MS patients improved in vitality, social functioning, mental health, and ability to carry out physical and emotional roles.¹

In a paper on trans-disciplinary approaches for treatment and rehabilitation in neurotraumatology at a joint international congress in Brescia 2004, researchers discussed the application of Qigong for disabled persons whose Chi (Qi) is unbalanced and stagnant, noting one case of a woman legally blind due to multiple sclerosis who was able to regain her sight enough to be able to drive and read.²

There is mounting evidence that qigong can produce significant positive alterations in psychological, neuroendocrine, and immune systems.  Astin et al. reported that 8 weeks of qigong reduced the pain experienced by multiple sclerosis patients.³  Another study also reported qigong’s beneficial effects on general health in patients with muscular dystrophy. 4

In a study investigating the effectiveness of mindful movement in symptom management in people with multiple sclerosis, investigators noticed a broad improvement in symptomatology in practitioners of these arts while the control group showed a continued deterioration in symptoms. The study concluded that “training in mindfulness of movement appeared to result in improved symptom management for…people with multiple sclerosis.” 5

Joni Bell, who has practiced Qigong for 10 years, says “I’ve had multiple sclerosis for 32 years and I was compromised by the disease. My many falls traumatized my left foot, and osteoarthritis resulted. Since incorporating Qigong into my life, my strength and balance have improved remarkably and I seldom fall.” 6

Elaine Silverman, disaffected with her prognosis and treatment plan through conventional western medicine, turned to alternative healing, including qigong, about which she says ” Even genetic conditions can be overcome, as I later learned through the study of QiGong…(it) allows the body to internally slow down, relax, and begin to balance itself.”7

While more research may need to be done to appease the western medical literati, these contemporary results validate the thousands of years of anecdotal evidence accrued by Eastern practitioners of Tantric Qigong, T’ai Chi, and Taoist Tantra. © 2009 Keith E. Hall and www.inner-tranquility.com. All rights reserved.

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1. Husted, C., Pham, L., Hekking, A., & Niederman, R. (1999). Improving quality of life for people with chronic conditions: The example of t’ai chi and multiple sclerosis., Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 5(5), 70-74
2. GA Brunelli, Klaus RH von Wild  (2005) Re-Engineering of the Damaged Brain and Spinal Cord: Evidence-Based Neurorehabilitation (Acta Neurochirurgica Supplementum) (Pt. 2) p156
3. Astin JA, Berman BM, Bausell B, Lee WL, Hochberg M, Forys KL. The efficacy of mindfulness meditation plus Qigong movement therapy in the treatment of fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial. J Rheumatol ( 2003;) 30:: 2257–62.
4. Wenneberg S, Gunnarsson LG, Ahlstrom G. Using a novel exercise programme for patients with muscular dystrophy. Part II: a quantitative study. Disabil Rehabil ( 2004;) 26:: 595–602.
5. Mills N, Allen J. Mindfulness of movement as a coping strategy in multiple sclerosis. A pilot study. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2000 Nov-Dec;22(6):425-31.
6. Cinelli, P Qigong – A Gentle Way to Bring Movement into Your Life (2009) Capital Community News
7. Silverman, Elaine From Hell To Well: My Journey Back From Multiple Sclerosis (2008) pp 75, 106

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