Tai Chi Health Benifits for Mind and Body Acknowledged by Western Medicine (…….at long last).


Harvard Medical School is enthusiastic about Tai Chi (Tai Ji Quan).

Here is a quote from the recently published The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi

“Conventional medical science on the Chinese art of Tai Chi now shows what Tai Chi masters have known for centuries: regular practice leads to more vigor and flexibility, better balance and mobility, and a sense of well-being. Cutting-edge research from Harvard Medical School also supports the long-standing claims that Tai Chi also has a beneficial impact on the health of the heart, bones, nerves and muscles, immune system, and the mind”

Tai Chi is one branch of many practices working with the energetics of being,  however there are many practices which are simpler and more directly focused on benefits to mind /body health.

Qi Gong (Chi Kung) is a practice based on the same principles as TaiJi Quan which can help us to stay in  balance  and to counter the multitude of pressures and the over-stimulation we are subject to in the ADHD culture of 21st century North America.

Top Eye Care Tips

Top Eye Care Tips

Ten tips for better eye health.

I would add one more: Chinese medicine links the eyes to the Liver meridian.  Many people have reported better vision after receiving Shiatsu, which makes sense when you understand that Shiatsu is restoring internal balance and function. The Liver isn’t called “Liver” for nothing!

Top Eye Care Tips

How integrative therapies can help

At Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine,
Dr. Liz Fraser performs healing hands therapy
on patient Nancy McLaughlin. — Sean M. Haffey / UT photos

How integrative therapies can help

Evidence-based research shows these integrative treatments may help reduce or prevent certain health problems.

Acupuncture (and therefore Shiatsu/Acupressure): Chemotherapy nausea, heart failure, back and joint pain, fertility problems, migraine headaches

Biofeedback: Incontinence, headaches, chronic pain

Chiropractic manipulation: Back and neck pain, headaches

Guided imagery: Depression, high blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety

Herbal therapy: Arthritis, asthma, headaches

Meditation: Stress, anxiety, high blood pressure, depression

Nutritional counseling: Diabetes, heart disease

Therapeutic massage: Back and muscle pain, high blood pressure, headaches

Stanley Westreich wasn’t always a believer in integrative medicine. In fact, he admits he thought it was “a little hocus-pocus.” But that was before integrative medicine helped turn his health and life around.

Integrative medicine combines conventional Western medical treatments with alternative or complementary therapies such as acupuncture, massage, biofeedback and stress reduction techniques. The emphasis is on prevention and the goal is to treat the whole person — body, mind and spirit.

Following the noninvasive Healing Hearts program at Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, Westreich lost 35 pounds, gained energy and feels “better than I have in 20 years,” said the 75-year-old Rancho Santa Fe resident, who had suffered from atrial fibrillation problems that landed him in the hospital on more than one occasion.

“The integrative medicine model puts me at the center of my health care and makes me responsible for it,” said Westreich, whose integrative program included exercise, nutrition counseling and stress management.

“Most doctors are good at treating disease, but it’s very expensive,” he said. “Integrative medicine will prevent the disease from happening. I believe it’s the wave of the future.”

Hospitals seem to agree, judging by the number of medical centers now offering integrative services.

According to a recent survey by the American Hospital Association and the Samueli Institute, a nonprofit research group focusing on complementary medicine, 42 percent of the 714 hospitals that responded offered at least one such therapy in 2010, a significant jump from just five years earlier, when 27 percent of hospitals offered such treatments.

All hospitals in San Diego County offer some type of integrative therapy. Health systems such as the University of California San Diego Medical Center and Palomar Pomerado Health only recently coordinated their integrative medical specialists into a more focused system treating patients on a referral and appointment basis.

At Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, founded in 1997 and the oldest integrative medicine center in California, an entire department and separate facility is devoted to complementary therapies.

According to the survey, the top treatments offered at outpatient centers were massage therapy, acupuncture and guided imagery. The last uses mental techniques, including visualization, to achieve such goals as reducing stress.

Why are so many conventional medical centers hopping on the integrative bandwagon? Medical experts offer several reasons.

As the American health care system grows progressively stressed and truly patient-centered care becomes increasingly difficult to find, more people are looking for alternatives to the traditional health care model. There’s a growing recognition, along with more evidence-based research, that some integrative therapies are very effective in many instances. Acupuncture has been shown to ease the nausea associated with chemotherapy. Stress management techniques, including meditation, successfully lower blood pressure. And, therapeutic massage can ease back pain and stress.

Initially, some physicians were skeptical about working integrative medicine into the mainstream. However, those therapies with evidence-based research behind them have gained acceptance and are the ones most often incorporated into hospitals.

“For heart attacks, Western medicine excels. But, Western medicine has nothing to offer in the way of prevention, except, ‘here’s a pill,’ ” said Dr. Mimi Guarneri, medical director and founder of Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine. “In integrative medicine, we get to the underlying cause of the heart attack. So, we say let’s deal with the stress, let’s start exercising and get some weight off. We don’t just throw a pill at it.”

Doctors are hearing more patients say they want to be an active participant in their health care, not always an option in conventional medicine.

“Patients don’t want to be sitting in the backseat of their medical delivery system. They want to be in the driver’s seat and physicians want that, too,” said Dr. Alan Larson, medical director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Palomar Pomerado Health. “In integrative medicine, the patient is in control most of the time.”

Integrative medicine is also seen by many experts as a key to successful health care reform. The complementary therapies that keep people healthy may be the new strategy as providers increasingly become part of accountable care organizations, in which they’re paid to take responsibility for a patient’s overall health rather than provide services a la carte.

“Integrative medicine is the only plan in town for the prevention of disease. Prevention is the key to better health care so integrative medicine is the key,” Guarneri said. “We’re not just treating diseases when they occur, but we’re looking at how we can change a patient’s risk or reverse the disease.”

There’s also the money factor. Since most integrative therapies are not covered by insurance, some people might speculate that hospitals offering these services have the opportunity to attract patients and make more money. According to the most recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics, Americans spent $33.9 billion on integrative therapies in 2007 — money that came out of their own pockets.

However, integrative specialists say integrative medicine is more about saving money than making money.

“The cash aspect is just a drop in the bucket. But, when complementary treatments hasten the recovery of patients and they’re able to leave the hospital sooner and not return with recurrences, now that’s big ticket savings for us,” Larson said.

Guarneri calls our current health care system “the perfect storm.”

“Chronic disease management is costing the country $2.5 trillion a year for diseases that are preventable,” she said. “We spend more money on drugs than ever before. Of all the pills produced in the world, 47 percent of them are consumed in America. We can’t keep this up. We need to turn the ship around and focus on prevention first.”

What does the future hold for integrative medicine?

Besides the likelihood of it being offered in more hospitals and medical centers, some integrative experts foresee increasing insurance coverage for complementary therapies. For the first time, Medicare is now paying for the noninvasive Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease, the first scientifically proven program combining aerobic exercise, stress management techniques and a nutrition plan to prevent and reverse heart disease.

Most integrative treatments are offered on an outpatient basis, however integrative physicians are hopeful that the therapies soon will be available to inpatients and in the emergency room.

“We want to get integrative medicine into more (hospital) departments and show them the difference it can make in patients’ lives,” Larson said. “Although it takes a while to adopt new philosophies, in 10 or 20 years, I think what we (currently) know as integrative medicine will be conventional medicine.”

Photo of

Written by
R.J. Ignelzi
noon, Dec. 6, 2011

Twelve Benefits of Qigong

In North America we tend to focus on “the body” when we exercise and  have a tendency to believe there is no gain that comes without pain.

Our “external” approach to exercise ignores the “internal” deeper currents of our “being” based on a paradigm that does not fully acknowledge the interconnectedness of things including the mind and body.

Far too often  our lives are spent in busy-ness. Interestingly, in Chinese language the character for busy combines the characters for the heart …..and death!  While this may not be an exact translation it does serve as an indication that too much….of anything, is lacking in balance.

Qigong is a Chinese system of exercise which draws us beneath the surface of our overstimulated lives.  It is a beautiful blend of exercise and meditation that makes the mind and spirit tranquil, improves performance in sports, and cultivates health, well-being, and long life.

 Twelve Benefits of Qigong 

1. Well-being and improved health. Qigong emphasizes the whole body, whole system health. While it is true that

qigong will often cure specific ills, this is not the primary reason for practice. It is not only a matter of adding years to your life, but life to your years.

2. Clear and tranquil mind. When the mind is at peace, the whole universe seems at peace. World peace begins with you; it is your responsibility to find a peaceful heart and mind. Then you can heal and transform others just through your presence. If you have a tranquil mind, you will make better decisions and have the skill to know when act and when to be still.

3. Deeper, more restorative sleep. Qigong will help you find the deep relaxation and mental quiet necessary for sleep.

4. Increased energy, including sexual vitality and fertility. Qigong people have more energy; it can reverse energy and restore youthfulness.

5. Comfortable warmth. Qigong is great for cold hands and feet. Circulation improves, and the body generates more internal warmth when it is cold.

6. Clear skin. The skin, like the intestines, is an organ of elimination. According to Chinese medicine, as your qigong improves, your body eliminates toxins, and the skin becomes clear.

7. Happy attitude. There is an old Tibetan saying, “You can tell a Yogi by his or her laugh.” Correct and moderate qigong practice usually creates an optimistic and joyous disposition.

8. More efficient metabolism. Digestion improves, and hair and nails grow more quickly.

9. Greater physiological control. This means that aspects of the body that were imbalanced or out of control begin to normalize, for example, breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure, hormone levels, and states of chronic inflammation or depletion.

10. Bright eyes. The qigong master’s eyes are said to glow in the dark, like a cat’s. The eyes also appear bright because the spirit and soul are luminous and the heart is open.

11. Intuition and creativity. Intuition and creativity generate each other and come from the same source, an awakened brain and being, an ability to think with the gut, to feel with the mind.

12. Spiritual effects. Advancement in qigong is often accompanied by a variety of spiritual experiences. For example, synchronicity, meaningful coincidences, become more common. When the qi is abundant, clear, and flowing, the senses perceive and are permeated by a sweetness.

Adapted from The Essential Qigong Training Course, by Ken Cohen (Sounds True, 2005). Copyright (c) 2005 by Ken Cohen. Reprinted by permission of Sounds True.

Qigong: A Natural Way to Heal


A Natural Way to Heal by Allison Brooks

Qigong is a natural wellness remedy that traces its roots back to ancient Chinese healing practices. The word Qigong is derived from “qi”, which means the body’s energy flow, and “gong”, which is the term used to describe four different actions that people undertake. These include diet, movement, breathing and meditation. The goal of Qigong is to have all four systems operating in harmony for the purpose of delivering a healthy blood flow to the organs of the body and providing it with natural immunity from illness.

How is Qigong Practiced?

The ultimate goal of Qigong is to increase the flow of energy throughout the entire body. This is accomplished both internally and externally. Internal Qigong is practiced by focusing on meditation, breathing exercises, and physical movement. External Qigong is something that is only practiced by people who are sufficiently skilled enough to heal others through the use of their own “qi”. It is not necessary for the Qigong master to physically touch the person whom he or she is healing; it can be accomplished through the use instructing the student to master their thoughts and movements.

The first time a Qigong student comes to a session, he or she will most likely be asked to remain silent and focus on the “qi” that is flowing through the body. While the mind is intently focused on that, the student will also be instructed to pay special attention to breathing and movement.

What Ways Does Qigong Help People?

The only country that currently uses Qigong as a medical practice is China. In every other nation, those who practice it are considered to be promoting alternative methods of healing. Some benefits that have been reported by Qigong students include increased mental awareness and ability to sharply focus one’s attention, an improved state of physical coördination, reduced pain, a decrease in anxiety and depression, and the ability to bring one’s blood pressure levels to more stable levels.

Due to this increase in the emotional and physical character of a person, many doctors suggest Qigong be used as a complementary or integrative medicine with certain treatments. Since many chronic illnesses and aggressive cancers, like non-hodgkin’s lymphoma or pleural mesothelioma, require harsh conventional treatments, the morale and physical awareness of a patient can be low.

Though Qigong has not been proven to cure cancer, it is helpful for patients to use in an effort to combat the physical pain and fatigue that usually accompanies the disease. Many doctors working with patients of a low-survivability rate cancer recommend the adoption of a therapy like Qigong to serve as an outlet from the everyday rigors of cancer treatment.