Monday, December 7, 2009

Qigong and the Immune System

Here are a few research reports I compiled on qigong and the immune system for a presentation I'm doing as part of a Wellness Workshop lecture series on Tuesday, December 15 at the St. Charles Medical Center. If you are in Bend, please come! The lectures are free, and there will be other holistic health care practitioners speaking on immune system health as well.

Meanwhile, here's the research:

Qi-training (qigong) enhanced immune functions: what is the underlying mechanism?

Int J Neurosci. 2005 Aug;115(8):1099-104.

Lee MS, Kim MK, Ryu H.

Center for Integrative Medicine, Institute of Medical Science, Wonkwang University, Iksan, Republic of Korea.

The authors observed that Qi-training enhances immune function and modulates neurohormone concentrations. The exact signal and priming mechanism for enhanced neutrophil function by Qi-training has not yet been demonstrated. This study investigated the effect of Qi-training on intracellular signaling leading to the enhancement of immune function. The growth hormone (GH) concentrations and O2- production by neutrophils (PMNs) was significantly increased after 1 h of Qi-training compared with the basal state. To verify that endogenous GH mediates the priming of PMNs, serum obtained from elderly subjects in the basal state and after Qi-training was incubated with neutrophils isolated from young subjects for 60 min and triggered with N-formyl-1-methionyl-1-leucyl-1-phenylalanine (fMLP). Significant O2- production was observed in the PMNs incubated with serum collected after a Qi-training (p < .05). On the other hand, the priming effect on the PMNs was abolished in Qi-training sera depleted of endogenous GH with anti-human GH polyclonal antibody (p < .01) and the tyrosine kinase inhibitor, genistein (p < .01). The authors suggest that the endogenous GH released during and immediately after Qi-training mediates the priming events through tyrosine kinase activation in PMNs.

Effects of Qigong on immune cells.

Am J Chin Med. 2003;31(2):327-35.

Lee MS, Huh HJ, Jeong SM, Lee HS, Ryu H, Park JH, Chung HT, Woo WH.

Department of Qi-Medicine, Institute of Biotechnology, School of Medicine, Wonkwang University, Iksan, Republic of Korea.

The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of two acute Qigong interventions (Qi-training and Qi-therapy) on immune cells. The Qigong interventions were compared with placebo training and placebo therapy in which no attempt was made to gather or move Qi. Immune cell numbers were measured pre-intervention, immediately post-intervention and 1 or 2 hours post-intervention. White blood cells increased significantly 2 hours after actual Qi-training (p < 0.05) but not sham training compared with pre-intervention There were significant increases in lymphocytes 2 hours after actual but not sham Qi-training (p < 0.05) and monocyte numbers were significantly increased immediately after both actual Qi-training (p < 0.01) and sham training (p < 0.05). NK cell numbers decreased significantly both immediately after Qi-training and after sham movements done without concomitant Qi-training (p < 0.01). There were no significant effects on neutrophils. Actual Qi-therapy but not sham therapy increased monocyte numbers immediately after Qi-therapy, and lymphocytes increased more after real than after sham therapy. Neutrophils were again little changed

The data indicate that a single Qigong intervention can increase the monocyte and lymphocyte numbers.

Assessment of immunological parameters following a qigong training program.

Med Sci Monit. 2004 Jun;10(6):CR264-70. Epub 2004 Jun 1.

Manzaneque JM, Vera FM, Maldonado EF, Carranque G, Cubero VM, Morell M, Blanca MJ.

Department of Psychobiology and Methodology, Faculty of Psychology, University of Malaga, Campus de Teatinos, 29071 Malaga, Spain.

BACKGROUND: Qigong is a type of Chinese psychosomatic exercise that integrates meditation, slow physical movements, and breathing, and to which numerous physical as well as mental benefits have been classically ascribed. The aim of the present study was to analyze the effects of a qigong program on various immunological parameters. MATERIAL/METHODS: 29 naive subjects participated in the study, of whom 16 were allocated to the experimental group and the rest to the control group. The experimental subjects underwent a qigong training program, conducted by a qualified instructor, consisting of half an hour of daily practice for one month. The day before the experiment commenced and the day after it finished, blood samples were drawn from all subjects for the quantification of immunological parameters (leukocytes, immunoglobulins, and complement). As statistical analysis, analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was carried out. RESULTS: Statistically significant differences were found between the control and experimental groups, with the experimental group showing lower numbers of total leukocytes and eosinophils, number and percentage of monocytes, as well as complement C3 concentration. In addition, a similar result with a trend towards significance was observed in the number of eosinophils. CONCLUSIONS: These findings demonstrate that after one month of practicing qigong, significant immunological changes occurred between the experimental and control groups, with a consistently lower and broadly significant profile of these measures within the qigong practitioner group.

Biochemical changes after a qigong program: lipids, serum enzymes, urea, and creatinine in healthy subjects.

Med Sci Monit. 2007 Dec;13(12):CR560-6.

Vera FM, Manzaneque JM, Maldonado EF, Carranque GA, Cubero VM, Blanca MJ, Morell M.

Department of Psychobiology and Methodology, Faculty of Psychology, University of Malaga, Campus de Teatinos, Malaga, Spain.

BACKGROUND: The aim of the present study was to analyze the effects of a qigong training program on blood biochemical parameters. MATERIAL/METHODS: Twenty-nine healthy subjects participated in the study of whom 16 were randomly assigned to the experimental group and 13 to the control. The experimental subjects underwent daily qigong training for one month. Blood samples for the quantification of biochemical parameters (total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, phospholipids, GOT, GPT, GGT, urea, creatinine) were taken before and after the training program. As statistical analysis, ANCOVA was performed. RESULTS: Statistically significant differences were found showing that the experimental group had lower serum levels of GOT (glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase), GPT (glutamic-pyruvic transaminase), and urea and that there was a trend towards significance in GGT (gamma-glutamyltransferase). CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that after practicing qigong for the short period of one month, noteworthy changes in several blood biochemical parameters were induced. While it is tempting to speculate on the relevance and implications of these biochemical variations, further investigation is needed to elucidate the scope of these findings.