Researchers from Australia have reported that Medical Qigong (MQ) can improve quality of life (QoL) of cancer patients compared with standard care. The details of this study were published in the March 2010 issue of Annals of Oncology.
Medical Qigong is an ancient Chinese medical practice that uses physical activity and meditation “to harmonize the body, mind and spirit.” Qi in Chinese means breath, and gong means work. Qigong is described as “working with ones life force.” Qigong is generally practiced in groups guided by a leader.
The current study included 162 patients with a variety of cancers who were randomly allocated to usual care or to participate in MQ.
Patients in the MQ group received a two 90-minute supervised MQ sessions per week for 10 weeks. MQ sessions were “modified from traditional Quigong practice by the instructor to specifically target the needs of cancer patients to control emotions and stress as well as to improve physical function.” Session are described as follows: “Each session consisted of 15-min discussion of health issues, 30-min gentle stretching and body movement in standing postures to stimulate the body along energy channels, 15-min movements in seated posture, and 30-min meditation including breathing exercises…”
Twenty-five patients in the MQ group and 29 in the control group dropped out of the study. Fifty-four remained in each group for analysis. These authors reported that patients in the MQ group had significant improvement in overall QoL measurements, fatigue, mood disturbance, and inflammation compared with usual care. They concluded: “This study indicates that MQ can improve cancer patients’ overall QOL and mood status and reduce specific side-effects of treatment. It may also produce physical benefits in the long term through reduced inflammation.”
This study is provocative and indicates that MQ could be of benefit to cancer patients.
This program was led by an expert in Chinese medicine; such leadership may be necessary for good results.
However, there are several Web sites devoted to Qigong that can be accessed through a Google search for “medical Qigong.”
 Oh B, Butow P, Mullan B, et al. Impact of medical Quigong on quality of life, fatigue, mood and inflammation in cancer patients: a randomized controlled trial. Annals of Oncology. 2010;21:608-614.