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Health Benefits of Tai Chi & Qi Gong and their Relationship to TCM Therapies

Shin Lin, PhD, is Professor of Cell Biology and Biomedical Engineering, and a member of the faculty at the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine at UC Irvine. Dr. Lin is an international authority on in the application of modern biomedical technologies to study the physiological and bioenergetic changes accompanying mind/body practices and Traditional Chinese Medicine therapies (eg: acupuncture, manipulative treatments, topical herbal remedies). This speaker lectured for the UCLA summer course MED 180, "Introduction to Integrative East-West Medicine for Health and Wellness," which took place from June 23-August 1, 2014.

In this workshop, Dr. Shin Lin, researcher at the UCI Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine, describes the principles behind Qigong, an ancient Chinese mind-body practice, and provides research indicating its positive impact on overall health, including for stress release, improved immunity, ease of chronic pain and fatigue, and increased efficiency of exercise workouts, such as lifting weights. Qigong literally translates into “energy + exercise.” With its exercise component, Qigong (or Tai Chi) works out all muscle groups in one session alone, and also includes a meditation aspect, which Lin defines as the focus on one thought. The forebrain and midbrain receive the most focus for this meditation, in which a high production of both beta and theta waves is seen. Thus, during the practice of Qigong one is considered to be in a state of relaxed concentration. The idea is that the focus on one thought uses up less energy than trying to attend to multiple thoughts and therefore gives way to greater concentration

In Lin’s research, methods such as photon migration spectroscopy suggest that new neurons are produced during regular practice of Qigong, which in turn suppress stress and further contribute to memory. While the traditional Chinese medical concept of “Qi” is not a measurable, definite entity but rather a state of feeling, Lin states that the energy of the body may be measured as heat through electromagnetism. Such measurements indicate that there is more energy and conductance deep in the tissue between different acupoints. Research thus far suggests that slow Tai Chi is more effective in both cases compared to fast Tai Chi. In addition, there appears to be a close relationship between blood and electrical flow, except that electrical flow continues to increase after Tai Chi is stopped, unlike blood flow. Dr. Lin ended his talk by demonstrating a Tai Chi exercise – “Silk Reeling” – which integrated all aspects reviewed: exercise, concentration and relaxation (meditation), and slow vs. fast movements.


Click here to read more about the MED 180 course.


Lecture summary generated by Harini Kompella, Volunteer Writer, UCLA

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