Prof. Ernst and a colleague critically evaluated the systematic reviews of tai chi for any improvement of medical conditions or clinical symptoms.

First, the details.

  • 35 reviews were…reviewed.
  • The following conditions reviewed included cancer, older people, Parkinson’s disease, musculoskeletal pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, muscle strength and flexibility, improving aerobic capacity, cardiovascular disease and risk factors, lowering resting blood pressure, osteoporosis or bone mineral density, type 2 diabetes, psychological health, fall prevention and improving balance, and any chronic conditions.

And, the results.

  • In several instances, the conclusions of these articles were contradictory.
  • Relatively clear evidence emerged to suggest that tai chi is effective for
    • Fall prevention
    • Improving psychological health
    • General health benefits for older people.
  • However, tai chi seems to be ineffective for the symptomatic treatment of cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “ Many systematic reviews of tai chi have recently been published; however, the evidence is convincingly positive only for fall prevention and for improvement of psychological health.”

Lots of summaries of past tai chi studies are here.

5/19/11 21:13 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.