BreathingDiabetes MellitusExerciseMeditationQigong

The value of qigong in the management of diabetes

Qigong (pronounced chee-gung) is a Chinese system of postures, exercises, breathing techniques, and meditations used to improve one’s chi/qi (energy field). It’s also called chi kung, chi gong, chi gung, daoyin.

Researchers from The University of Queensland in Australia reviewed the literature on qigong and diabetes.

Here’s what they found.

  • 11 of 69 studies met their criteria for inclusion in the analysis.
  • There were consistent and statistically significant positive associations between participation in qigong and fasting and 2-hour oral glucose tolerance test results, blood glucose, and triglycerides and total cholesterol.
  • Inconsistent effects on insulin and A1c (aka: hemoglobin A1c)
  • No evidence of any effect on weight.
  • Most of the studies were of short duration, involved small numbers of patients, and did not include a comparative group that did not participate in qigong.

The bottom line?
It’s difficult today to arrive at a favorable conclusion for any treatment of diabetes in the absence of a positive effect on A1c values.

It takes about 3 months for diabetes treatment to improve A1c, unlike fasting and 2-hour oral glucose tolerance test results. This is because A1c reflects average blood sugar levels over the long-term.

The information available to me in the article abstract does not state the exact duration of the studies, and only discloses that the literature search went back to 1980. Studies published before 1994 would probably not have included A1c.

Regardless, improved diabetes control (as reported in these studies) should have resulted in improved A1c if it was measured.

It’s disappointing when study results have to be discounted because of basic methodological flaws (ie, insufficient duration of study and change in A1c) in their design.

5/31/07 19:57 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.