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Study Promotes Qigong as Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes

Findings from the first three-armed randomized, controlled clinical trial research study examining the impact of qigong therapy on type 2 diabetes show that qigong may help lower some of the markers associated with Type 2 diabetes. Scientists from the Research Institute at Bastyr University compared the effects of qigong with those of progressive resistance (resistance exercise) training or usual care in people with type 2 diabetes. Participants assigned to the qigong group practiced for 30 minutes two times a week for 12 weeks. In addition, participants met with a certified instructor for one hour once a week to ensure the exercises were being done correctly. Those in the progressive resistance training group used resistance exercises for the same amount of time as those in the qigong group. The control group followed their usual care as recommended by their primary care physician. The researchers measured fasting blood glucose levels before, during and at the end of the study, while various hormone levels and perceived stress and depression were measured pre- and post-intervention. The results showed the qigong therapy group had significantly lower levels of fasting blood glucose and stress, as well as improved ability to use insulin. They also lost weight. Participants in the progressive resistance training group reduced body weight slightly, but were found to have higher blood glucose levels. These findings indicate that qigong therapy affects glucose levels and insulin resistance independent of changes in body weight, and works on different mechanisms than exercise. “It is thought that the meditation, slowed movement and breathing exercises associated with qigong promote relaxation and reduce stress, which may improve how the body functions,” said Guan-Cheng Sun, PhD, assistant research scientist at Bastyr University and the study’s principal investigator. “Qigong may also play a role in restoring the mind-body connection and the harmony between the pancreas and the liver. The conclusions of this study promote qigong therapy as a significant treatment method for type II diabetes.” The findings are published in the January 2010 issue of Diabetes Care, the official American Diabetes Association journal.

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