When I started doing research on the benefits of Tai Chi for diabetes, I was surprised that resources about them were difficult to come by. Because, it seems on the surface that Tai Chi can bring about a variety of benefits to people suffering from diabetes. Practitioners of the ancient Chinese art of Tai Chi believe it not only boosts microcirculation, it also is reputed to be an extremely effective technique for managing stress, and is a very good and gentle way to burn a significant amount of calories. Actually, Tai Chi can assist the body achieve homeostatic chemical levels. For instance, a research performed on sex hormones showed that Tai Chi can have a “balancing effect” on the hormonal chemistry of test subjects, reducing the unnaturally high levels of estrogen in older men, while elevating the unnaturally low levels of estrogen in older women.
These results gave us reason to conclude that there probably had been meaningful studies done on the benefits of qigong and Tai Chi’s in regard to diabetes, assuming that these outcomes and results in other studies initially indicate that at least Qigong and Tai Chi may offer a lot to patients with diabetes. But unfortunately, like I mentioned before, there doesn’t seem to be much out there (at least from Western research) that would validate qigong and tai chi as a bone fide complementary treatment for diabetes.
Nevertheless, two studies performed by Chinese medical institutions showed very promising outcomes. Research from the Chinese Medicine and Pharmacology of Beijing discovered that blood sugar can be successfully reduced by performing qigong exercises. In the study, 43 percent of patients required less medication while eating more staple foods. Another study conducted by the Nanjing University discovered that Tai Chi exercise can help regulate metabolic dysfunction of geriatric obese people with type II diabetes mellitus by normalizing the endocrine-nervous system in the body. Why then doesn’t Western medical research conduct more medical studies on this?
Unfortunately, NIH funding for all research pertaining to “complimentary” and alternative health treatments are less than ½ of one percent. This means that homeopathy, herbal medicine, meditation yoga, etc. etc. all share that very thin slice of the NIH budget pie. A lot of individuals suffering from various conditions who have benefited from Qigong and Tai Chi will not be experienced by the millions of others with the same conditions until the NIH meaningfully increases funding/attention for Qigong and Tai Chi research. Until sufficient studies are done, doctors won’t have the knowledge required to provide their patients with the right information about Qigong and Tai Chi as a potential healing alternative.
One viable option is to ask your doctor to conduct some studies on this for you. Be that as it may, let’s discuss the current treatments for diabetes, and then systematically compare the benefits of Tai Chi to see whether it can be also an effective healing alternative for diabetes; as always, we advice people not to self-treat. This article is intended to instigate a dialogue between your doctor and you, as well as medical research institutions and your doctor and to campaign on your behalf in order to acquire effective natural treatments such as Tai Chi, fully researched, so that you can avail yourself the best possible options for your plan of treatment.
A Post Graduate Medicine Online article mentioned that “The attainment of ideal body weight, exercise and diet, exercise are the core components of any treatment regimen (for type II diabetes).” According to the article, Tai Chi has been shown to be a very useful exercise not only because it provides cardiovascular benefits (approximately similar to moderate impact aerobics), but also because it burns a substantial amount of calories despite its low impact and gentle nature. Tai chi actually provides more health benefits to a person with type II diabetes than downhill skiing and surfing. Attaining such cardiovascular and caloric burning benefits and with such a gentle exercise as Tai Chi may be extremely helpful for people suffering from diabetes.
Information on diabetes provided by the Top5plus5.com website elucidated that the kind of exercise a patient performs is critical to his well being. According to the website, “Since exercises that involve heavy lifting or straining can provoke eye damage, patients suffering from active diabetic retinopathy should not participate in these activities. Also patients need to realize that high blood sugar levels can lead to nerve damage that in turn can lead to loss of feeling in the feet, with a consequent elevated chance of ulceration and blistering. People suffering from progressive heart damage related to high blood sugar need to be warned about the likelihood of sudden heart failure and death.” In regard to the health of the heart, Tai Chi can offer promise so vital to diabetic patients. On October 9, 2004, the BBC reported that “Heart failure can be treated with Tai Chi.” This study was “excellent news,” for the British Heart Foundation and, in the future, Tai Chi could be integrated into treatment programs in the UK.
We strongly advice that all potential treatments should be always approached in conjunction with your doctor and, once again, we urge you to never self-treat. The articles published at the World Qigong and Tai Chi Day are intended to bring up dialogue between your doctor and you, and hopefully between health institutions and your doctor. We earnestly hope that this will result in a more practical doling out of medical research funding towards Qigong and Tai Chi, and other natural health modalities. We hope that medical investigators will approach Qigong and Tai Chi with a desire to discover “why these therapies help a lot of people” instead of pursuing an agenda to disprove their efficacy. The manner the studies are performed is just as important as the actual performance of the studies.
As more and more medical universities offer tai chi to aspiring doctors and nurses, we hope that in the near future, doctors too, will start to discover for themselves what health technologies and Qigong and Tai Chi have to offer on a personal level. Western healthcare’s future should not be a conflict between conventional therapies and alternative therapies, but an enlargement of conventional therapies that would allow whatever works best for the patient. Such a vision is shared by many of us and others in the medical field, and World Qigong and Tai Chi Day celebrates their efforts.