Qigong: A Natural Alternative for Arthritis Pain
With so many pain relief drugs looking risky for arthritis sufferers, investigation into alternative arthritis therapies is examining the potentials of natural treatments of which we have little understanding in the West.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey conducted a study of qigong (pronounced “chee-gong”) therapy, a form of traditional Chinese medical practice, published in Clinical Rheumatology. What was studied was not the qigong you may have heard of which consists gentle exercises, but something more akin to “therapeutic touch” therapies that have been used by some nurses in the U.S. The therapy is externally applied by a qigong therapist or what you and I might call a “healer.”
Two Chinese trained healers from different traditions applied the therapy, which involves hand movements, acupressure and mind healing techniques which purport to direct “qi” or energy to the patient. The study involved 112 arthritis sufferers, half of which received sham treatments. All reported improvements, however participants who received actual qigong treatments from one of the healers reported more pain reduction and greater functionality than those receiving fake treatment. The second healer had results similar to the sham treatment. It was noted by the researchers that the abilities of the healers had significantly different outcomes — suggesting that there is some unknown quality in a healer that affects treatment outcomes. Positive outcomes were still evident at a three month follow-up.
Having received and participated in hands on healing techniques myself, (I’ve had Level I Reiki training), I found it fascinating and exciting that western medical institutions are taking an open mind to this type of healing modality.
Years ago, I stood in healing clinic, exhausted, depressed and still struggling with recovery from an emergency Cesarean section and the demands of nursing a premature baby every half hour for a month. As two practitioners ran their hands lightly from my feet to my head, (without actually touching me) I felt a sensation, as though water was flushing upward through my body, alongside their hands, ending with a flash of brilliant green light before my closed eyes. I left that clinic feeling as though my batteries had been recharged, my spirits lifted and my bleeding stopping the next day. And the effect was lasting.
Pain medications for arthritis have been associated with serious side effects. Nutritional supplements, exercise, heat and cold therapies, and other alternative healing modalities like qigong therapy may prove to be far safer and in the long run, more effective than drugs for many people.