The effect of regular Qigong practice on cancer
Qigong, pronounced as Chee Kung, is a Chinese meditative practice that combines controlled breathing, meditation, and movement. The practice is based on the belief that if the life force is balanced, then it can enable the healing process. Thus, in qigong, the aim is to balance the life force or force of energy (qi) within the body.
It is generally established that qigong, like many other forms of health practices, is a great way to stay fit. However, scientists have claimed in recent years that Qigong doesn’t just improve the overall health, but perhaps, it can even aid in the prevention or treatment of certain diseases. Qigong is a complementary or alternative therapy that has a lot to offer cancer patients, including helping them to cope with the side effects of treatment such as chemo brain and Fatigue. Early evidence reveals that unlike many integrative treatment protocols, Qigong can affect the progress of cancer and enhance the effectiveness of the treatment when coupled with conventional therapy by speeding apoptosis and reducing inflammation in cancer cells.
Qigong has two forms- internal and external.
- Internal qigong: This technique involves the practice of meditating, breathing, and the use of slow, gentle movements to maintain the balance of energy within the body.
- External qigong: In external qigong, the practitioner uses his or her energy to balance qi in the body.
- Another form of Qigong is tai chi, which employs light martial arts to balance the life force.
The effect of regular Qigong practice on cancer
To understand the effects of Qigong on cancer patients better, researchers focused on three areas- a clinical study on humans, in-vitro study, and in-vivo study of cancer cells. Following the study, the researchers concluded that Qigong has an inhibitory effect on the growth and spread of cancer cells.
Most Qigong styles have a host of health benefits and might bring relief, but medical Qigong is a specifically designed practice that is meant for both the treatment and cure of cancer.
In medical qigong, practitioners make use of external Qigong therapy, where they direct their qi at patients to help break qi blockages. This technique forces the sick qi out of the body of the patient, thereby alleviating the pain, lowering the severity of the disease, and balancing the flow of qi.
Some cases of cancer recovery with the aid of Qigong have been reported, and China has publicly challenged cancer with two forms of qigong- Chinese Taiji Five-Element Qigong and Guo-Lin New Qigong. In a meeting held by the Chinese government in 1996, the Chinese medical experts and scholars assessed the link between cancer patients and Taiji Five-Element Qigong. By studying the various scientific reports and findings of the effects of Taiji Five-Element Qigong on cancer, the team came to the conclusion2 that this particular Qigong has a positive anti-cancer element that can halt cancer, and thus, named it as an effective therapy.
Apart from this particular research, most studies have failed to prove the impact of Qigong on cancer and explain how it alters the disease and subdues side-effects of treatment. Early studies that focused on cell cultures and lab animals could derive the following possible benefits of Qigong on cancer cells.
The possible benefits of Qigong on cancer cells
- An increase in programmed cell death or apoptosis: Studies conducted on cells of breast cancer, lung cancer, and Prostate Cancer revealed that external Qigong could alter genes to bring about apoptosis, causing cancer cells to die, and inhibit their growth and spread. A 2018 research results published in Cellular Physiology and Biochemistry indicated that external qi of Yan Xin Qigong increased apoptosis significantly and inhibited pathways that are necessary for metastasis to take place in non-small Lung Cancer cells.
- Reduced inflammation: In one study, the researchers analyzed blood samples of patients to check for inflammation (by examining the inflammation marker such as CRP, i.e., C-reactive protein) and found that patients, who practiced qigong, had a low level of CRP.
- Boosts immunity: Another study found that those cancer patients who underwent Qigong regularly, combined with conventional therapy, could boost their immunity and improve their quality of life.
- Affects survival: A 2017 review stated that Qigong might positively influence cancer survival.
How Qigong can help reduce side effects of treatment and promote wellness
Additionally, Qigong has some other benefits to offer cancer patients, and they include:
- Improves mood: Several studies and research reports point out that Qigong could improve the mood of cancer patients by relieving Stress and Anxiety levels. One particular study found that Qigong eased psychological symptoms associated with Chemotherapy.
- Lowers fatigue: For many patients undergoing treatment, Qigong has helped lower cancer Fatigue.
- Reduces pain: External Qigong has proved beneficial for patients who experience chronic Pain.
- Enhances cognitive function: Cognitive dysfunction or chemobrain can cause memory loss or make it difficult for the mind to focus or concentrate. A sluggish mind is one of the primary side effects of Chemotherapy. After participating in Qigong classes, however, many patients reported that the practice improved their cognitive functioning significantly.
Things to remember
Some of the side effects which patients might experience include muscle strain or disorientation that can result from the intense focus and relaxing nature of the health practice. The adverse side effects reported by patients for whom Qigong didn’t work out include vertigo or dizziness, headache, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, heart palpitations, tinnitus, distension of head, muscle soreness, and Pain.
As is the case with other complementary therapies, Qigong might not benefit every cancer patient equally. No two cancer patients are similar, and what works for one patient might not work for another.
The best course of action is to discuss with your oncologist regarding how safe it would be to practice Qigong in your condition. Often, getting in touch with cancer support groups or communities can turn out to be helpful. You can gain insights into various complementary therapies and choose one that’d assist you in overcoming the side effects of your Cancer Treatment and in coping with the disease in the aftermath.