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Qigong for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is often overlooked, has unclear etiology and no effective cure except some symptomatic treatments. Additionally, most people with CFS do not seek medical attention. Qigong exercise has been long practiced in Chinese communities and may powerfully trigger the self-healing process.

Using full baseline data (1409 people), the average Hong Kong CFS respondent was found to be female, married, 42.5-year old, highly educated and employed full-time, experiencing sleep disturbance (~95%), anxiety (>80%), and depressive symptoms (68%). Here, researchers from The University of Hong Kong summarized their previous studies to evaluate the potential of Qigong as a complementary and alternative therapy for CFS.

Two randomized controlled trials were conducted. In both trials, extensive online questionnaires allowed individuals with CFS-like illness (i.e., symptoms match CFS, yet without clinical confirmation) to be identified. RCT1 included a 5-week intervention. The intervention in RCT2 was 8 weeks. In RCT1, Qigong group had reduced fatigue and depressive symptoms, and improved telomerase activity. An effective practice regimen was identified (3 days or more per week, at 30minutes or more per session). Methods were slightly adjusted for RCT2, which replicated RCT1 findings, and further documented improved subjective sleep quality and adiponectin levels.

A significant dose-response relationship was founded. Thus, Qigong exercise should be recognized as a possible standalone therapy and self-management skill in CFS. Strategies are needed to increase motivation for regular practice and to explore its possibility of self-management skill in brain health. Further clarity would come from studies comparing Qigong with other physical exercises. This study is published in the latest issue of International review of neurobiology.

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