Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Why does Qigong work?

[There is a video - unrelated to the interview - at the end of the post, a 4.5 minute "Sitting Qigong" with Dr Roger Jahnke found on YouTube]

A Conspiracy of Miracles: Qi, Spirit-Mind-Body and the Transformation of Healthcare

Interview with Roger Jahnke, OMD

[Dr Roger Jahnke's website: Feel the Qi]

Interviewer/Editor: Bonnie Horrigan, Explore Journal

Roger Jahnke, OMD, is a contemporary multi-disciplinarian – a doctor of Chinese medicine (30 years), CEO of a innovative “new era” health care company; author, lecturer and researcher; health care historian and futurist; consultant and strategist to hospitals, agencies and corporations for the development of breakthrough programs in integrative medicine; master teacher of Qigong and Tai Chi; co-creator of a health and wellness coaching system – the Circle of Life; and co-founder of the Healer Within Foundation which focuses on preserving and integrating global medical traditions and delivers wellness coaching and mind-body practice to communities in the US and globally.

Dr. Jahnke’s work is a part of a dynamic international effort to understand the "naturally occurring, internal, selfhealing resource" that the Chinese and Ayurvedic traditions have called Qi and Prana. The core principal of his work proposes that, “the most profound medicine is produced within” through a dynamic interaction of energy, consciousness and physiology. This breakthrough means that “true health care is free” when people are simply supported in understanding the magnitude of their own natural powers and capacities.

EXPLORE interviewed Dr. Jahnke in the summer of 2006. With the permission from Explore, here we share an abbreviated version of the interview with our readers:

[Printed here is only the question and answer to "Why does Qigong work?"]

EXPLORE: Why does Qigong work?

JAHNKE: There are three levels of answers. These same mechanisms operate in yoga, all forms of moving meditation and even holistic support groups and wellness coaching. The first level is physiological. We already know that benefits of mind-body practice, including Tai Chi and Qigong, cross numerous physiological systems. Take oxygen. We know that oxygen is a powerful healing factor, so we don’t have to prove that. We also know that diffusing oxygen into the system, so that it’s super available, is key. So the real question is: Does Qigong and Tai Chi maximize in some way the utilization of oxygen in all the ways that we know that it is utilized. And the answer is “Yes!”

Now, to dispel a myth — breathing deep doesn’t increase the amount of oxygen in your blood. There is actually 98% oxygen perfusion in the blood of almost everyone, even those with chronic obstructive lung disease. So the issue isn’t getting oxygen into the blood. The issue is getting oxygen out of the blood and into the tissues. When you go into a deep state of relaxation, the gentle movement associated with all forms moving meditation like Qigong, yoga, and Tai Chi cause the natural body intelligence to pull oxygen out of the blood toward the tissues.

Interestingly, when you practice sitting meditate, you lose this benefit. With moving meditation, you gain this. In vigorous exercise what happens is that oxygen is being diffused out of the blood and into the tissue, but it is spent as fuel for the muscles. You do get the great muscle build-up, desired by most people. For healing, do I want oxygen to burn as fuel for muscles or do I want oxygen to be more available in the system as a healing resource? In a state of deep relaxation the blood vessels, particularly the capillaries, get larger and you have a larger volume of oxygen rich blood available. This oxygen is available everywhere — in your liver, in your thymus gland, in your adrenal gland, in your hypothalamus. So, gentle movement plus the deep relaxation equals more oxygen diffused more deeply into the system.

In the same vein, the science on psychoneuroimmunology is established. So we only have to ask one question – do you relax in Qigong and Tai Chi? “Yes!” So everything we’ve found in the domain of psychoneuroimmunology is applicable to Qigong and Tai Chi.

The next physiological reason Qigong works has to do with the lymph. The simplest story on metabolism is get the good stuff in, get the bad stuff out. And we have a massive amount of intelligence about the blood and the heart, which is the delivery system for oxygen and nutrition. But we don’t know a lot about the mechanisms for getting the bad stuff out. In fact, many physicians are resistant to concepts like toxins and detoxification. Toxins are actually metabolic byproducts and detoxification is activating the natural capacity of the elimination system. The system for removing metabolic by-products and any other kind of pollution that has been delivered into the body, such as cigarette smoke, street drugs or medical drugs, is the lymphatic system.

When a tumor in a person’s body is deconstructed, by chemotherapy or visualization, how does it get out? Through the lymphatic system. Yet we give only a small percentage of the attention to the lymph that we pay to the cardiac and the blood system. This is just an insight into how our thinking has been biased and imbalanced.

If you look at Qigong with the lymph in mind, you could easily say that Qigong is primarily a lymph-based methodology. There are five components to the “lymph heart.” The first is compression, contracting and releasing of the muscles puts pressure on the lymph system causing flow and any massage contributes to this as well. Second, when you metabolize oxygen, one of the by-products is water. Any volume of water coming into the tissue spaces pushes the water ahead of it forward. Third, is the “intrinsic propulsion mechanism.” The lymph vessels open up, reach out, grab water and pull it in. It actually looks like they are doing Tai Chi, by the way. And they do this most efficiently when the body is in a state of rest. It’s very interesting – within you thousands of lymphatic end points are doing Tai Chi movements when you authentically relax.

The fourth mechanism is inversion against gravity. Any time you raise your arms up in the air, the lymph falls and pushes the lymph ahead of it. But if your arm is down by your side, the lymph has to climb against gravity. Any inversion or even leveling of limbs in Qigong (yoga), accelerates lymph propulsion. Fifth, the most impressive lymph propulsion mechanism of the “lymph heart” is the breath. When you take a small breath you do not pump lymph. But when the diaphragm is fully engaged, it compresses the cisterna chili (a balloon-like sac right below your diaphragm) that fills with lymph from throughout the body. When it’s compressed, it propels the lymph forward. The nature of the lymphatic system is that lymph cannot go backwards. There are gates. When you move lymph, the gates open, if lymph flows back, the gates close. So the balloon gets compressed and this fountain of lymph goes shooting up through the thoracic duct and into the subclavian vein, and then from there it goes into the blood and becomes a part of the serum that is delivered to the liver and the kidneys for the final detoxifying portion of the elimination process. In other words, Qigong, Tai Chi and yoga are programmed to maximize lymph propulsion and thus significantly enhance wellbeing.

[This excerpt was taken from the July/August 2007 issue of "Qi Dao" newsletter of WISH, World Institute for Self Healing. Visit http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/Qi_Dao/ to subscribe on-line to the free newsletter.]

The following video with Dr Roger Jahnke is from YouTube

1 comment:

Benedicte said...

Thanks for sharing this. I have been doing Qigong for nealy 7 years now. I've been now certified (level 1) since 2011. Roger Jahnke was my instructor. He is an amazing person, and his commitment to spread Qigong and to make it available to as many people as possible is very inspiring.

PS:I am trying to leave this comment but the process is a bit confusing, you might want to make it a little easier :-)