Menopause and Qigong
The term Qigong refers to various systems of breathing exercises and physical postures that are thought to improve general health by following the principles of [Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The practice of Qigong integrates movement, breathing, and meditation and typically includes rhythmic movements of the arms and rocking of the body in concert with the breath.
Qigong is said to increase one's overall vitality and health by facilitating the free flow of Qi in the body. The term "Qi" refers to a supposed underlying "energy" in the body, as conceptualized in the ancient medical systems of East Asia.
Effect of Qigong on Menopause
Qigong has been shown in preliminary studies to improve sleep quality and severity of hot flashes and night sweats. It also has the combined benefits of being both a mindfulness technique and an exercise technique. Mindfulness has been shown to improve coping ability in times of change such as menopause, while exercise is key in keeping body weight healthy, which in itself can decrease severity of menopause symptoms.
Research Evidence on Qigong
In a preliminary observational study, 35 women were given Qigong lessons for 30 minutes every day for 12 weeks, and compared with a control group, who practiced no exercise or mindfulness. The outcomes measured were sleep quality and severity and frequency of hot flashes and night sweats. The outcomes of this study were:
- Hot flashes and night sweats improved significantly in the Qigong group.
- Members of the treatment group experienced improvements regardless of age.
- Results at 12 weeks were more pronounced than at the 6 week measurements, indicating that the longer that Qigong was practiced, the more significant the improvements were.
- Potential for improving sex drive was also examined. In this study, practicing Qigong had no impact on sex drive. 1
Side Effects and Warnings
Qigong, when practiced in moderation, is most likely generally safe. However, people with severe heart or lung conditions may put themselves through excessive stress by attempting vigorous breathing exercises.
There are numerous anecdotes in which practitioners of Qigong have developed serious mental problems ("Qigong Psychosis") as a result of practicing the method to an extreme, and/or with insufficient or inept guidance. However, it has been reasonably suggested that some people with latent mental illnesses have been drawn to extreme forms of Qigong, rather than that the Qigong practice itself caused the mental illness. ^
1Yeh, Shu-Chan Jennefer et al. “The Effect of Qigong on Menopausal Symptoms and Quality of Sleep for Perimenopausal Women: A Preliminary Observational Study,” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 18, no. 6 (2012) 1-9. DOI: 10.1089/acm.2011.0133