Medical Qigong: An alternative therapy for pain

Today, many individuals are achieving stress relief, better health and physical fitness through various disciplines within the branches of Chinese medicine like yoga or Tai Chi and acupuncture.

Medical Qigong is another branch of traditional Chinese medicine emerging as a cornerstone of many Eastern-influenced alternative medicine practices. Pronounced “chee-kung,” the phrase, literally translated, means “energy of life.”

Qigong has been long been practiced in China as a means of regulating personal health by people of all ages and skill levels, much like yoga is practiced in America as a physical discipline or therapeutic activity.

However, Medical Qigong goes beyond self-cultivation, enlisting the assistance of a highly-trained and disciplined practitioner. Medical Qigong practitioners study and train for years, not only learning about the human anatomy and physiology, but cultivating their own energy through Qigong practice.  

For patients, Medical Qigong can be used to address many common ailments or health concerns, including mental, physical or emotional stressors, physical pain, high blood pressure, headaches, anxiety or depression. Relief may happen quickly for some or can occur slowly over time – every patient’s experience is unique.

Some patients, like Tarja Toikkanen, who came to my practice after years of traditional medical treatments failed to address her migraines, seek pain relief but end up finding emotional relief as well.

“I was taking prescription medicines, but a one month supply would only last me a couple weeks,” Toikkanen, a 48-year-old nurse in South Florida, said.  “A friend of mine suggested acupuncture and recommended Dr. Perdue. I was willing to try anything just to feel better.”

The acupuncture treatments proved effective for treating Toikkanen’s migraines, but during her sessions, it was obvious that there was more going on than just migraine pain.

“While treating me for migraines, Dr. Perdue observed the difficult time I was going through in my personal life and she recommended Medical Qigong,” Toikkanen said. “She was right, I had been seeing a therapist and was on depression medication.”

For Toikkanen, her initial pain was addressed within a few months, but the wounds of her emotional battle were more difficult to unlock. However, she was determined to feel better.

“I was skeptical, but nonetheless, I started Medical Qigong treatments and going to Qigong classes every week. I even practiced Qigong at home,” Toikkanen said.  “After a full year [of Medical Qigong treatments], not only could I see a difference in myself, but other around me could too. I was happier, I felt good - inside and out. I was off my depression meds. I knew how to handle stress, remain calm and avoid panicking in tough situations at work and at home. Today, my life is more peaceful.”

Medical Qigong can be beneficial for everyone – young or old, healthy or sick. Gain a better understanding of Medical Qigong with these answers to commonly asked questions about the discipline:

What is a Medical Qigong session like?
An initial consultation and first treatment can last between one and a half to two hours, depending on the patient’s medical history and comfort discussing their health concerns. Follow-up sessions are one hour in length and most general treatment plans begin with weekly visits. As the patient progresses in his or her treatment, the frequency of visits changes accordingly.

After discussing health concerns, the patient lies down on a massage table, fully clothed, and is instructed on how to “Qigong breathe.”  This is a deep belly breathing, through the nose, that is performed throughout the duration of their treatment.   

The practitioner will observe and scan the body - moving their hands across both the patient’s physical and energetic body, feeling for temperature differences and the quality of any sensations that may be present. Once this is complete, the practitioner begins energizing the meridian systems or energy pathways of the body by facilitating free energy flow.  This process moves along the same pathways, or meridians, as in acupuncture treatments, however involves no needles.

Why does Medical Qigong work?
Medical Qigong is a system of energetic medicine that, through natural processes, allows the body to balance itself for optimal health. The body rids itself of unwanted imbalances to efficiently function in harmony.

The results vary from person to person, as with any treatment, but the more you put into the discipline, the more you will get out of it. Daily practice of qigong between treatments and beyond treatment with a practitioner will help deliver long term, lasting results.

Where can you experience Medical Qigong?
Medical Qigong is a growing field for many alternative medicine practitioners and there are practitioners across the United States. Be certain to look for a practitioner that has pursued education and training in the Medical Qigong discipline and completed their required clinical hours as well. Most importantly, make sure you feel comfortable with the practitioner. Medical Qigong is a practice that delves not only into the physical, but the emotional as well. Your practitioner should be someone that resonates positively with you.

Lisa K. Perdue is a Japanese-American Acupuncture Physician, board certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She seeks to integrate the branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Medical Qigong and other healing modalities, alongside each patient's conventional western medical treatments, assisting them in reaching their highest potential for optimal health. She has her own private practice, Asian Integrative Medicine, Inc. in Boca Raton, Florida. For more than ten years, she has been in practice in South Florida, dividing her time among her private practice, as the on-staff Acupuncture Physician at Palm Beach Fertility and teaching qigong classes with the Boca Raton Parks Department.