How to Manage Chronic Disease with Mind-Body Techniques - dummies

How to Manage Chronic Disease with Mind-Body Techniques

By Therese Iknoian

Mind-body techniques can do wonders for many chronic disease states. Chronic disease can mean any number of medical conditions, such as asthma, hypertension (high blood pressure), arthritis, fibromyalgia (a muscle disease that causes ongoing pain), or even cancer.

Deal with high cholesterol or high blood pressure

One of many studies using simple, very low-intensity Qigong — in this case, Qigong walking — compared results from three groups: one that did meditative Qigong walking, one that did regular walking, and one that did nothing.

The group that did Qigong walking, which is so slow that it doesn’t really raise your heart rate to the level of any kind of aerobic workout, still ended up with lower heart rates. A lower resting heart rate can mean a stronger heart. A stronger heart can mean fewer problems with cholesterol and blood pressure

Other proof shows that methods such as Yoga and Tai Chi can lower high blood pressure.

Cope with cancer

It is not suggested to practice a mind-body technique instead of seeing a regular physician, especially when it comes to treating a life-altering disease such as cancer.

That being said, there are people who give mind-body methods at least some credit for helping them manage chronic conditions. Some folks go even farther: One Tai Chi teacher said he started practicing two to three decades earlier when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The brain tumor went away, and no operations were scheduled.

He attributes the tumor’s disappearance to his Tai Chi and Qigong practice. Proof? He has none. Except the fact that he’s still alive and healthy.

Combat the effects of asthma

Enter the positive effects of breathing. Practicing full and deep breathing stimulates the lungs and can cause positive increases in the amount of air you can get into and out of your lungs. If you can get more air in and more air out, you may be able to diminish the effects of asthma or other breathing ailments.

Relieve arthritis and other chronic pain

People with arthritis or other kinds of joint pain know that every move can hurt, so they tend to move less. And that reduced movement causes the muscles and tendons that support their joints to get very weak.

Over the years, studies have shown that simple, gentle movements help relieve the pain and allow people with arthritis to function better day-to-day. Tai Chi, Qigong, and some Yoga exercises have been used as the gentle movement needed to stimulate the joints and free up movement to relieve pain.

Mind-body exercises can also help alleviate pain; chronic pain— the kind of pain that doctors often can’t figure out but that causes diffuse problems. Sometimes this pain is due to chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, lupus, or other related ailments.

One of many hundreds of studies done in China required two groups of pain patients to take Qigong classes. One class studied with a “real” master who is known to be able to “move energy” and heal with his energy. The other class was led by someone who could do the movements but wasn’t known to be a healer, otherwise called a sham master.

Pain decreased in both groups — researchers think because participants just believed — but pain symptoms in the group with the real master went down twice as much!