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Author/s: Carol A. Turkington

Definition of Qigong

A Chinese system of physical training, philosophy, and preventive and therapeutic health care that combines aerobic conditioning, isometrics, isotonics, meditation, and relaxation. Medical qigong combines breathing exercises with meditation.

Purpose of Qigong

Medical qigong stimulates circulation of blood and the life force, improves the delivery of oxygen to the cells, reduces stress, and improves bowel function. Practitioners believe qigong will help the body functions of a person who is sick return to normal.

Chinese doctors use qigong to treat allergies, arthritis, asthma, bowel problems, diabetes, gastritis, gout, headaches, heart disease and hypertension, kidney disease, liver disease, low back pain, Meniere's disease, neurasthenia, obesity, paralysis, rheumatism, sciatic neuralgia, sleeplessness, substance abuse, ulcers, cancer, aphasia, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and chronic pain.


Precautions before Qigong

Patients should not perform qigong if they are:

  • Menstruating
  • Bleeding from injury or surgery
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Pregnant
  • Suffering from an acute infectious disease
  • Mentally ill
  • Anorexic.

Description Qigong

Pronounced "chee-goong," the term is a combination of the Chinese word "qi" (or chi) meaning air, breath of life, or vital essence, and "gong," which means work, self-discipline, achievement, or mastery. There are many varieties of spelling, including Chi Kung and Chi'h Kung. Qigong is the official spelling.

Those who practice qigong, combining exercises with meditation, believe it allows them to gain control over their life force. It is related to a set of disciplines that includes Tai Chi Quan and Kung Fu. There are more than 3,000 types of qigong and five major qigong traditions:

  • Buddhist
  • Confucian
  • Martial arts
  • Medical
  • Taoist.

Medical qigong is the cultivation and deliberate control of a higher form of vital energy, an ancient philosophical system that integrates the human body with the universe. The breathing exercises help induce a state of meditation, which also affects the breathing. While practicing qigong, the person is aware of surroundings; fully relaxed but not in a trance.

Suppressed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the practice became popular again in the 1980s. Today, it is practiced by 70 million Chinese and the method is studied by western psychologists and physicians.


Patients should not eat or drink (especially alcohol) within an hour and a half before a qigong session. When exercising, participants should face north or south in line with the earth's magnetic field, and should exercise at the same time of day and on the same days of the week.

Patients should practice qigong under the guidance of a licensed Chinese physician, who acts as an advisor or teacher.


This web site is intended for your own informational purposes only. No person or entity associated with this web site purports to be engaging in the practice of medicine through this medium. The information you receive is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other health care professional. If you have an illness or medical problem, contact your health care provider.


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