About the Research Databases
Our team of doctor consultants selected four of the most respected evidence-based medicine databases - that are also particularly useful for wellness-focused research: Natural Standard, The Cochrane Library, PubMed and the TRIP Database.
Please read "Important Things to Know," including info on each database.
We’ve made researching a particular therapy simple: the evidence for Qi Gong has been pre-searched for you at each database.
Evidence-based Medicine relies on a Research Hierarchy, because not all evidence is created equal. Learn more about how the medical experts classify this research.
Search the Databases
Please note the "Research" sections for Smoking Cessation, Weight Loss and Workplace Wellness will launch October 2014. We’d like to hear from you: please let us know of Wellness Evidence disciplines you would like to be able to search on these pages.
Focused exclusively on complementary/alternative therapies
Systematic reviews of the highest-quality evidence from global clinical trials
Service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine
Searches thousands of databases/medical publications worldwide
An international research collaboration that systematically reviews (and limits its focus to) scientific evidence on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Founded in 2000, Natural Standard assigns a grade to each CAM therapy, reflecting the level of available scientific data for or against the use of each therapy for a specific medical condition.
Natural Standard is subscription-based, and each of the database’s monographs aggregates data from other resources like AMED, CANCERLIT, CINAHL, CISCOM, the Cochrane Library, EMBASE, HerbMed, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, Medline and NAPRALERT – and 20 additional journals. Data analysis is performed by healthcare professionals conducting clinical work and/or research at academic centers, using standardized instruments pertaining to each monograph section
Qi gong is a type of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that is thought to be at least 4,000 years old. There are two main types of Qi gong practice: internal and external. Internal Qi gong is a self-directed technique that involves the use of sounds, movements, and meditation. Internal Qi gong actively engages people in their own health and well-being and can be performed with or without the presence of a Master instructor. It may be practiced daily to promote health maintenance and disease prevention. External Qi gong, also known as qi emission, is performed by a Master using his or her hands on a patient with the aim to project qi for the purpose of healing. There are many different styles of performing Qi gong and the Chinese government has reported over 5,000 types.
|The grades A-F ascribed to the specific health conditions below have a very specific meaning. i.e., a "C" can still mean evidence of benefit from a small randomized trial, etc. Read about what each grade actually means.||Grade|
|High blood pressure There is good evidence from several human studies that Qi gong, when used with conventional treatments, may be of benefit for high blood pressure. Initial research reports fewer deaths among people with high blood pressure who practice Qi gong. There is some evidence that internal Qi gong relaxation exercises may be safe for helping to control high blood pressure associated with pregnancy. Further research is warranted.||B|
|Angina There is some evidence suggesting that Qi gong may be used in the treatment of angina. However, further evidence is needed before a recommendation can be made.||C|
|Asthma Some research suggests that the regular practice of internal Qi gong over several months may improve breathing in asthma. Further research is needed to confirm these results.||C|
|Atherosclerosis There is some evidence supporting the use of external Qi gong as an adjunct therapy for arteriosclerotic obstruction. However, the available evidence is unclear. More studies would lead to a better understanding of this technique.||C|
|Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) There is promising early evidence to support the use of internal Qi gong in the treatment of ADHD in children. However, the evidence is somewhat unclear. Further research is needed before Qi gong can be recommended as a treatment for ADHD.||C|
|Childhood growth promotion Children are capable of receiving instruction in internal Qi gong as a health promotion activity and it may have some behavioral benefits. However, it is still unclear whether Qi gong can promote physical growth in children. More research is needed.||C|
|Chronic pain There is some evidence that internal Qi gong or externally applied Qi gong may be useful in the management of pain and anxiety caused by pain. More evidence is needed in this area before a scientifically based conclusion can be drawn.||C|
|Complex regional pain syndrome There is some evidence that patients with complex regional pain syndrome might benefit from Qi gong instruction. However, more research is needed before Qi gong is recommended as a therapy for complex regional pain syndrome.||C|
|Depression Qi gong has been studied in elderly patients to see if it helped depression in those with chronic physical illnesses. Results were inconclusive, and further research is needed before a recommendation can be made. Qi gong may be used as an adjunct to more proven therapies.||C|
|Detoxification (heroin) A recent study looked at the effectiveness of Qi gong therapy vs. medical and non-medical treatment in the detoxification of heroin addicts. Results showed that Qi gong may be beneficial in heroin detoxification without side effects, although the possibility of the placebo effect cannot be completely eliminated. Other treatments have been better studied for heroin detoxification and are recommended at this time. Qi gong may be used as an adjunct therapy.||C|
|Diabetes There is some evidence that patients with diabetes may benefit from Qi gong. However, more research is needed to suggest Qi gong in the treatment of diabetes.||C|
|Fibromyalgia There is mixed evidence regarding the usefulness of Qi gong in treating fibromyalgia. More research is needed before a conclusion can be made.||C|
|Gastritis There is some evidence supporting the use of internal Qi gong in the treatment of gastritis. Further research is needed.||C|
|Immune function There is some evidence suggesting that internal Qi gong may help in treating immune deficiencies. However, the evidence is still unclear, and further research is needed to understand how Qi gong may potentially benefit immune function.||C|
|Leukopenia (low white blood cell count) Some early evidence suggests that Chan-Chuang Qi gong therapy may decrease leukopenia in breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy. Further study is warranted in this area.||C|
|Muscular dystrophy There is some early evidence suggesting that internal Qi gong practice may help slow the decline of health in muscular dystrophy patients. More research is needed to understand the potential benefits of Qi gong in treating muscular dystrophy.||C|
|Parkinson's disease There is promising early evidence suggesting that internal Qi gong may help in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. However, the evidence is somewhat unclear, and further research is needed.||C|
|Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) Regular Qi gong therapy may help to reduce PMS symptoms. However, further evidence is needed before Qi gong is recommended in the treatment of PMS.||C|
|Quality of life Qi gong may be beneficial for improving the quality of life in cardiac and cancer patients; further study is necessary to make a firm conclusion.||C|
|Rehabilitation (cardiac) Some evidence suggests that Qi gong may aid in cardiac rehabilitation by improving physical activity, balance, and coordination. Further research is needed to confirm these findings.||C|
|Stress Preliminary study shows that Qi gong may be beneficial for relieving stress although more study is warranted in this area.||C|
Qi gong is believed to be beneficial for three principal purposes: spiritual enlightenment, medical care, and martial arts/self-defense. Medical Qi gong can involve internal or external techniques and often includes five steps: meditation, cleansing, recharging/strengthening, circulating, and dispersing qi. Each step includes specific exercises, meditations, and sounds. Qi gong is intended to be harmonious with the natural rhythms of the environment and has been described as 'a way of working with life energy.'
The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Addiction, anti-aging, anticoagulation, anxiety, back pain, cancer prevention, cancer treatment, cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, depression, endurance (pilot), gastrointestinal disease, headache, heart attack prevention, heart disease, improved sleep, improved workplace efficiency, improving breathing, kidney disease, liver disease, mania, mental illnesses, multiple sclerosis, neurological disorders, orofacial pain, peripheral vascular disease, psychosis, respiration, stroke (prevention), substance abuse, suicide prevention, well-being.
Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Qi gong is generally considered to be safe in most people when learned from a qualified instructor. In theory, underlying psychiatric disorders may worsen with unsupervised internal Qi gong practice. An allergic skin reaction was reported in one group of Qi gong students, but the cause was not clear. In cases of potentially serious conditions, Qi gong should not be used as the only treatment instead of more proven therapies, and it should not delay the time it takes to see an appropriate healthcare provider.
This patient information is based on a professional level monograph edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Ethan Basch, MD (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center); Stephen Bent, MD (University of California - San Francisco); Wendy Chao, PhD (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Dawn Costa, BA, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Wendy-Diem Che, PharmD (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy); David Lee, PharmD (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy); Richard Liebowitz, MD (Duke University); Huaihai Shan, Qigong Master, MD (Shanghai University, China); David Sollars, MAc, HMC (Merrimack College); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. Selected references are listed below.
- Creamer P, Singh BB, Hochberg MC, et al. Sustained improvement produced by nonpharmacologic intervention in fibromyalgia: results of a pilot study. Arthritis Care Res 2000;13(4):198-204.
- Eng ML, Lyons KE, Greene MS, et al. Open-label trial regarding the use of acupuncture and yin tui na in Parkinson's disease outpatients: a pilot study on efficacy, tolerability, and quality of life. J Altern Complement Med 2006 May;12(4):395-9.
- Hui PN, Wan M, Chan WK, et al. An evaluation of two behavioral rehabilitation programs, qigong versus progressive relaxation, in improving the quality of life in cardiac patients. J Altern Complement Med 2006 May;12(4):373-8.
- Iwao M, Kajiyama S, Mori H, et al. Effects of qigong walking on diabetic patients: a pilot study. J Altern Complement Med 1999;5(4):353-358.
- Jung MJ, Shin BC, Kim YS, et al. Is there any difference in the effects of Qi therapy (external Qigong) with and without touching? A pilot study. Int J Neurosci 2006 Sep;116(9):1055-64.
- Lee MS, Kim MK, Lee YH. Effects of Qi-therapy (external Qigong) on cardiac autonomic tone: a randomized placebo controlled study. Int J Neurosci 2005;115(9):1345-1350.
- Lee TI, Chen HH, Yeh ML. Effects of chan-chuang qigong on improving symptom and psychological distress in chemotherapy patients. Am J Chin Med 2006;34(1):37-46.
- Linder K, Svardsudd K. [Qigong has a relieving effect on stress] Lakartidningen 2006 Jun 14-27;103(24-25):1942-5.
- Loh SH. Qigong therapy in the treatment of metastatic colon cancer. Altern Ther Health Med 1999;5(4):111-112.
- Mayer M. Qigong and hypertension: a critique of research. J Altern Complement Med 1999;5(4):371-382.
- Mehling WE, Hamel KA, Acree M, et al. Randomized, controlled trial of breath therapy for patients with chronic low-back pain. Altern Ther Health Med 2005;11(4):44-52.
- Morone NE, Greco CM. Mind-body interventions for chronic pain in older adults: a structured review. Pain Med 2007 May-Jun;8(4):359-75.
- Ospina MB, Bond K, Karkhaneh M, et al. Meditation practices for health: state of the research. Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep) 2007 Jun;(155):1-263.
- Pippa L, Manzoli L, Corti I, et al. Functional capacity after traditional Chinese medicine (qi gong) training in patients with chronic atrial fibrillation: a randomized controlled trial. Prev Cardiol 2007 Winter;10(1):22-5.
- Yeh ML, Lee TI, Chen HH, et al. The influences of Chan-Chuang qi-gong therapy on complete blood cell counts in breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy. Cancer Nurs 2006 Mar-Apr;29(2):149-55.
British epidemiologist Archie Cochrane is regarded as the originator of the Evidence-Based Medicine concept (in the 1950s). And the Cochrane Library is a collection of very high-quality medical databases, which have, at their core, the Cochrane Reviews, systematic reviews and meta-analyses which summarize and interpret the results of well-conducted, randomized controlled trials… the ‘gold standard’ in Evidence-Based Medicine.
The Cochrane Library is a subscription-based database but offers free access to abstracts.
A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, PubMed was released in 1996 as a free digital archive of references and abstracts on life sciences and biomedical topics. PubMed comprises 20-million-plus citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals and online books from around the world. Some 11.5 million articles are listed with their abstract and 3.1 million articles are available in full-text for free.
The TRIP Database, launched in 1997, is a search engine designed to allow clinicians to quickly find answers to their medical questions using the best available evidence. Trip’s founders realized medical professionals were being forced to perform time-consuming searches at multiple websites to get at the most relevant information. So, they designed TRIP as a meta-search engine, allowing users to both simultaneously search thousands of databases, medical publications and resources, as well as easily filter the results: limiting searches to the most stringent, highest-quality medical evidence or expanding them to include results like patient information, news articles, etc.