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Hormones (endocrine system)
The endocrine system regulates the production of hormones (chemicals that control cellular functions) from glands situated all around the body.
Hormones have a complete metaphysical effect on the body when released, but when secreted into the blood stream they have a specific job or target, and will only affect or work with the receptors that they are genetically paired with. Endocrine system Youtube
Hormones control energy metabolism, reproductive processes, tissue growth, hydration levels, synthesis and degradation of muscle protein, and moods.
Hormones also help build new muscle, and new muscle growth encourages the body to metabolically burn fat.
There are three separate identifications of hormones:
1. Steroids - hormones that interact with receptors in the nucleus of a cell
2. Peptides - hormones comprised of amino acids which work with specific receptors sites on the cell membrane
3. Amines - contain nitrogen and influence the sympathetic nervous system.
Autonomic nervous system:
The autonomic nervous system is where the stress response is activate, cascading hormones throughout the body systems. The Adrenal Medullas (on top of the kidneys) are seen as an extension to the autonomic nervous system that release important hormones.
The Autonomic part of the nervous system falls into two parts:
Sympathetic: stimulates nervous system activity Energetically Yang
Parasympathetic: slows down nervous system activity Energetically Yin
Hormones most Related to Sympathetic/Parasympathetic
Adrenaline (flight) - secreted by the adrenal medulla(s) (on top of the kidneys). Large amounts of adrenaline secretions are usually released in a threat situation or when the Emotional decision (of the limbic system) has been taken to run (take flight).
Adrenaline can quicken the heart rate whilst increasing blood sugar (fueling exercise), encouraging glycogen breakdown for energy expenditure to support fat metabolism.
Adrenaline reduces learning, alertness, concentration, decision making and overall mental abilities.
Over secretion of adrenaline can lead to adrenal burnout.
Noradrenaline (fight) - secreted by the adrenal medulla(s) (on top of the kidneys) and the locus ceruleus (situated in the brainstem).
Notable noradrenaline secretions are usually released when in a threat situation or an Emotional decision (of the limbic system) has been taken to fight.
Noradrenaline: increases learning, blood pressure, alertness, concentration, decision making and overall mental abilities.
Noradrenaline can quicken the heart rate whilst increasing blood sugar (fueling exercise), encouraging glycogen breakdown for energy expenditure to support fat metabolism.
Excessive noradrenaline may lead to heart attacks (because noradenaline causes blood vessel constriction, which increases blood pressure), because constant noradenaline makes the heart work so much harder especially if the arteries are narrowed by plaque (arterial furring).
Over noradrenaline secretion can lead to adrenal burnout.
Note: Noradrenaline and Adrenaline are related hormones called Catecoalameans and are also known as Epinephrine and Norepinephrine.
Cotisol - secreted by the adrenal medulla(s) (on top of the kidneys), and the release of cortisol is mainly controlled by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands (situated in the brain).
Cortisol is a catabolic steroid hormone and secretions are released throughout the day and night, and as a response to a stress-threat situation, or when an Emotional decision has been made by the limbic system.
Cortisol is known as the energy hormone of resistance that has the ability to deal with long-term energy demands on the system. Cortisol suppresses allergic reactions and helps reduce inflammation (such as arthritis), encouraging wound healing of any injuries (including sport or exercise recovery).
Cortisol and the Circadian Rhythm
Cortisol is important to many normal/basal bodily functions, this fundamental hormone is not only released in times of stress, indeed cortisol is slowly produced and released throughout everyday to complete day to day living cycles simply because of a steady stream of cortisol is a body need which is produced by the adrenals and naturally flows into the blood stream, and is an anatomical daily requirement that fulfils a function which has real purpose.
Cortisol secretions are predictable and have a universal rhythm which is in all of us, being an important part of the bodies circadian rhythm (internal body clock).
Following the natural internal body clock (circadian rhythm) cortisol is released on wakening, peaking in the early morning followed with a slow decline throughout the day until its time to go to sleep, then cortisol slowly builds again during a good sleep (during the night) to peak again at waking up.
Note: cortisol release is very similar to some of the actions of wei qi
Excessive cortisol secretions will cause suppression of the immune system by decreasing the production of blood cells that fight infection (lymphocytes and eosinophils), causing the thymus and lymph nodes to shrivel whilst the body becomes more susceptible to colds, flu, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, cancers, asthma and affected testosterone (sex hormone) levels, possibly causing sexual dysfunctions. Over cortisol secretion can lead to adrenal burnout.
Signs and Indications of Adrenal Burnout
Not enough energy to get up in the mornings: erratic cortisol levels with affect sleep patterns (read cortisol -above).
Extreme tiredness/fatigue throughout the day: poor adrenal functioning will cause sleeplessness which can turn into sleep deprivation a serious disorder that can lead to severe mental illnesses.
Unable to deal with any stress: adrenal released, stress coping hormones, this means that if the adrenals have a dysfunctions then stress consistently becomes more and more difficult to deal with because of the lack of natural stress handling hormones during metaphysically difficult times.
Salty food cravings: the adrenal cortex produces aldosterone, a secreted hormone that regulates fluids and minerals.
Fatigued adrenals will produce less aldosterone which encourages mineral loss during urination, this process means the blood will be taking up less sodium, potassium and magnesium, this mineral blood deficit need will eventually lead to the body to have a mineral, sodium (salt) craving.
Higher energy more in the evenings than during the day: balanced cortisol that gradually builds during the night and slowly decreases during the day is a natural preparation for day and night, a process that sees the body get the correct amount of hormones through the day for wakefulness, and at night to encourage sleep, however when this energy exchange between day and night is turned upside down, as seen with a time zone change synchronization then energy levels could become high during the night and low during the day until the body readjusts.
If the energy level are not as they should be and in the wrong place then this could suggest an adrenal dysfunction is in place or developing.
In need of lots of caffeine to get through the day: high doses of stimulating caffeine will in the end develop an intolerance with the body systems needing more and more creating a over stimulated nervous system, endocrine secretions.
Weakened immune system: one of the jobs that cortisol does is to help regulate the immune system working as an anti-inflammatory, the immune system naturally needs balanced cortisol to work to its full potential.
Pituitary secretions - (master endocrine gland) deep in the base of the brain and commands hormonal release from several endocrine glands throughout the system. The pituitary does not necessarily work by itself and can receive hormone messages from the hypothalamus to fire-up adrenal medulla(s) adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol hormonal secretions (stress hormones). Stress hormones are supposed to be a way the body deals with an immediate threat (fight, flight and freeze), and is destructive holistically if turned on all the time.
Insulin, a peptide hormone which is produced by cells in the the pancreas, insulin's job is to regulate the way carbohydrates and fats are metabolized, by controlling the way and intensity the food products and drinks release energy into the bloodstream.
Insulin energy balancer
Insulin is a balancing hormone that is released when blood sugar levels become too high encouraging the extra energy to be taken up by muscle and fat cells.
At the beginning of an exercise session food should be avoided (including energy drinks, gels and bars), because during exercise the body suppresses insulin release, therefore if insulin levels are high before exercise this will encourage glycogen storage in the cells (fat, muscle etc) instead of using glycogen as a calorie burning energy source to aid weight loss and increase fitness levels through cells energy burning.
Glucagon is produced by the pancreas and released as a metabolic reaction to lowered blood sugar levels, the presence of glucagon in the blood promotes the release of free fatty acids (FF As) from adipose (fat, lipid) tissue to elevate blood glucose levels, and when glycogen levels become more exhausted through the action of exercise, stored glucagon reserves are released from the Liver.
Testosterone is a steroid type hormone produced by the Leydig cells located within the testes of males and the ovaries in females, in both genders small amounts of testosterone are also produced by the adrenal glands. Testosterone produces muscle protein re synthesis to help repair any muscle damaged from exercising, and promote muscle growth.
Poor testosterone levels can contribute to the formation of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, blood clots and metabolic syndrome.
Human Growth Hormone
Human growth hormone (HGH) is an anabolic peptide hormone secreted by the anterior pituitary gland which, when released can stimulate cellular growth.
HGH works uses specific receptors which can produce a number of responses:
- Increasing muscle protein synthesis responsible for muscle growth
- Increasing bone mineralization
- Supports the immune system whilst fostering lipolysis (fat metabolism)
HGH is produced during the REM sleep cycles but is also stimulated by intense exercise, such as heavy strength training, explosive power training and cardiorespiratory exercises.
Insulin-like Growth Factor
Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) is a peptide hormone produced in the liver with a similar molecular structure to insulin and is encouraged by the same mechanisms that produce HGH.
One of IGF functions is to repair protein cells damaged from exercising, and is an important hormone to foster muscle growth.
Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a neurotransmitter that helps promote new cell production in the brain. The creation of BDNF is closely related to the way HGH and IGF are produced, through intense exercise that will through effort elevate levels of HGH and IGF, which, in turn also increases hormonal levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor.
High-intensity exercise can also prompt anabolic hormones for muscle growth whilst advancing levels of BDNF production, which can have the affect to encourage improved cognitive function.
Irisin (the exercise hormone)
Irisin is suppose to have the ability to reprogram fat cells to encourage fat to burning instead of fat being stored into adipose tissue. Irisin may help fostering an improved metabolic function that is brought about by a good, continuous exercise routine.
Irisin levels - Health
High irisin levels in the bloodstream show that the cap ends (telomeres) of chromosomes tend to be longer, which suggests better overall immune system health because research shows that people with diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's and heart diseases tend to have short chromosomal cap ends.
Serotonin(the happy hormone)
Serotonin is a hormone and neurotransmitter, serotonin is synthesized in the brain and body from tryptophan which is a amino acid. Serotonin is found in many tissues, including blood platelets, intestinal mucosa, pineal body, the central nervous system, the brain, kidneys and liver. Serotonin can inhibit gastric secretions, stimulate smooth muscles, and produce the action of vasoconstriction.
Tryptophan chemically changes into 5- hydroxytryptophan when introduced into the system, then 5- hydroxytryptophan chemically converts into serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) in a well balanced body. Low amounts of tryptophan in the system is believed to be the major cause of depression. High levels of tryptophan in a normal functioning brain can directly increased serotonin production encouraging new brain cell production.
Serotonin and the Brain
Naturally produced serotonin helps with the regulation of several important brain processes including, anxiety, moods, emotions, depression, aggression, sleep, appetite, memory and perceptions.
Foods high in Serotonin that may help with depressive disorders when eaten regularly:
Complex carbohydrates, chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, kidney beans, rolled oats, lentils, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, baked potato with skin, tahini (sesame butter), walnuts, avocado, almond butter, fresh fruits and vegetables (preferably organic).
More about serotonin
Dopamine (a happier neurotransmitter)
Although dopamine is not a hormone but a neurotransmitter it is worth a mention because it affects hormonal secretions throughout the body.
Dopamine has its own delivery system that is constantly releasing safe amounts of the natural chemical into the brain, the amount of dopamine released keeps the brain stable, balanced and generally happy unless an event happens; a positive event can switch the amount of more dopamine release into the brain, and the memory becomes involved so that the enjoyable dopamine experience is a memorable, future recognizable event. Indeed if a negative event occurs then dopamine production is slowed and we feel bad, the brain remembers this, stores the memory away to call upon (and avoided) should such an event happen again in the future.
Dopamine plays a major role in controlling the brain's reward and pleasure centers, whilst part of the chemicals job is to help in regulating emotions and physical movements.
Dopamine enables a mental, chemical reward, and deficiency of dopamine can be seen in Parkinson's Disease, craving and feeding a dopamine high encourages addictive behaviour with the addict constantly in search of a "chemical high" which can be seen in people known as "risk takers" such as gamblers, dangerous sports and drug taking etc. Dopamine supplements used to treat Parkinson's Disease can see sufferers of this illness go through a profound personality change, from a normal everyday person to becoming risk takers turning them into gamblers or sex addicts etc, and completely change the way they think and behave (whilst they are taking dopamine supplement), into someone completely unrecognizable to their previous normal, balanced behaviour's. When people with Parkinson's Disease stop taking dopamine their personality reverts back to their normal behaviour, unfortunately non Parkinson's Disease drug dependents do not always revert back to their previous way of being because of the damage caused in their brain's through previous constant drug abuse.
Note: Amphetamines, Cocaine/Crack Cocaine (and other drugs) change the way dopamine works, held and is released within the brain. Although a drug induced dopamine high can be pleasurable for a short period of time, the brain will adapt, with the need (craving) for more and more of a dopamine, or feel good hormone promoting drugs required to get the same drug induced high, which, overtime can cause the drug taker to develop a form of mental illness known as drug induced bi-polar (bi-polar being a serious mental illness), long term drug taking can seriously hurt the brain and the way the delicate balance of the brain works so much that the chance of eventually developing memory problems and brain damage etc become extremely high.
More about dopamine
Estrogens are a group of important hormones required for sexual and reproductive development, mainly in women. Estrogens are commonly known as the female sex hormones. The word "estrogen" refers to a collective of chemically similar hormones in the estrogen group.
Estrogen group chemicals:
Estrone, estradiol (primary in women of reproductive age) and estriol.
Estrogen and how it works with the brain:
estrogen helps the body keep a constant brain temperature, and could assist in the postponement of memory loss, supervises and helps control parts of the brain that prepares the body for reproductive and sexual development, increases serotonin and serotonin brain receptors, controls the effect and production of endorphins and promotes nerve growth whilst protecting the nerves from damage.
Excessive Adrenal and Cortisol secretions will damage the mind/body over time
Each hormone carries a specific message that influences the mind or body in some way (also see fight, flight or freeze ). The brain sends out instructions to the body mostly via the sympathetic nervous system. The adrenal medulla's release hormones on hormonal (CNS) instruction, cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline when the brain/body has the need to react from a sustained stress response.
Alarm Response System
Increases muscular efficiency
Readies the body for action
Conservation of Energy
Protects the body
(immune system response)
|Mental Activity (brain)||Increased Mental Activity||Decreased Mental Activity|
|Eyes - Pupils||Pupils become larger
(increase in size)
|Pupils become smaller
(decrease in size)
|Lungs||Increased oxygen uptake||Decreased oxygen uptake|
|Heart||Increased in Heart Rate||Decreased in Heart Rate|
|Spleen||Almost No Change||Evacuation of Red Blood Cells|
|Liver (and fat tissue)||Almost No Change||Fats and Sugars are used|
|Gut Muscles||Increased Movement||Decreased Movement|
|Blood||Improved Clotting Ability||Almost No Change|
|Blood Vessels||Dilate (widen)||Constrict
(except to the Heart and arms)
|Sweat Glands||Increased Sweat Production||Almost No Change|
|Salivary Glands||Increased Saliva Production||Decreased Saliva Production|
What does all this intelligence mean for Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Gong:
Correct practice and instruction of taiji and chi gong will put the mind/body in a controlled right brain-parasympathetic state with an increase of heart rate, lung-oxygen uptake, peristaltic movement, sweat, mental activity and saliva production (these tend to be left brain and sympathetic nervous system alarm responses), which in this case can be considered a positive energy crossover sympathetic/parasympathetic stress activity, and if taught correctly is holistically healthy, health promoting metaphysically for the practitioner, and for a group situation, which may also allow a collective brain synchronization of everyone attending the group, brain waves synchronize as the taiji and chi gong class progresses brain's, subconsciously start be move at the same electrical frequency (Brain Wave Synchronization - NIH, Brainwave entrainment and Jung's collective unconscious - Wikipedia).
The guychitaichi trained meditation in movement method should also encourage limbic system stimulation of memories and emotions associated with the memory process, understanding and letting go of negative triggers as stress levels lower and more control is exercised on emotional rollercoster highs and lows by learning to release the ego in the moment (don't worry you'll get it back), students that cannot let go of the ego in the moment tend to leave taiji and chi gong classes, as this is how they deal with stress (Adrenaline - flight), in this case new people, and with some students stress tends not to be handled very well during the learning process, or stress happens from something unknown, a skill that is easy to look at but hard to metaphysically learn straight away.
Intelligent Qigong and Taiji
To fully achieve all the above, taiji and chi gong must have good solid training procedures and drills which need to be followed by the students and metaphysically corrected by the instructor using mindful instruction and hands on physical movement of students arms, legs and sometimes corrections of strange shapes and positioning, and should such training etiquette and practices be firmly established, and readily accepted by students in every class, then students can quickly gain internal and external progress, otherwise doing (as opposed to being) tai chi chuan and chi gong would have a similar therapeutic effect to taking the dog for a long walk or learning a dance routine, and taiji and chi gong (TCM) offer far more than that, (no offence meant to dog walkers or dancers).
Note: due to controlled cortisol hormone release through taiji and chi gong movement, arthritic and painful joints are sympathetically encouraged to let go of or manage pain, thus promoting the release of painful stiff joints, to get part benefit to the joints practice two to three times a week, but to gain full benefit to the joints taiji and chi gong must be practice every day, if not two to three times a day (health permitting).
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- ADHD, tai chi/chi gong
- research facts
TAI CHI FOR ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Benefits from Tai Chi
Maria Hernandez-Reif, Tiffany M. Field and Eric Thimas
Touch Research Institute University of Miami School of Medicine
The authors thank the children and teachers who participated in this study. This research was supported by an NIMH Research Scientist Award (#MHO0331) and an NIMH Research Grant (#MH46586) to Tiffany Field, and a grant from Johnson and Johnson to the Touch Research Institute. Correspondence and requests for reprints should be sent to Dr. Tiffany Field, Touch Research Institute, University of Miami School of Medicine, P.O. Box 016820, Miami, FL 33101
Thirteen adolescents with ADHD participated in Tai Chi classes twice a week for 5 weeks. Teachers rated the adolescents' behaviors on the Conners Scale during the baseline period, after the 5 week Tai Chi period and two weeks later. After the 10 Tai Chi sessions the adolescents displayed less anxiety, daydreaming behaviors, inappropriate emotions and hyperactivity and improved conduct. These changes persisted over the two-week follow up (no Tai Chi) period.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity D'isorder Benefits from Tai Chi
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is characterized by cognitive and behavioral deficits including inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity levels inappropriate for age and gender (DSM-III-R, American Psychiatric Association, 1987). Although short-term improvements have been reported in academic and social functioning ~lit.h drug therapy such as methylphenidate or Ritalin (Schachar & Tannock, 1993; Swanson et aI, 1995), side-effects such as motor tics, insomnia, headaches, and social withdrawal make this treatment controversial (Handen, Feldrnanm Gosling, Breaux et al., 1991; Parraga & Cochran, 1992).
Non-pharmacological treatments include counseling, parent/family training in behavior modification techniques, relaxation and massage therapy. Counseling treatments have received little empirical attention and reports are mostly anecdotal (Schwiebert, Sealander & Tollerud, 1995). Behavior modification techniques have attempted to facilitate the child's performance and attention by including scheduling changes, rearranging home and classroom settings, and training teachers, parents and siblings in differential reinforcement techniques (Blakemore, Shindler & Conte, 1993). Although some studies have shown that behavioral modification is effective (Damico & Armstrong, 1996), one study showed that ADHD adolescents had a weak behavioral inhibition system (Iaboni, Douglas & Blaine, 1997), which made them poor candidates for behavioral programs. Although relaxation therapy has alleviated depression in adolescents (Platania-Solazzo, et al, 1992), it has had limited effects in treating ADHD (Field, Quintino & Hernandez-Reif, 1997) perhaps because of the demands relaxation therapy places on concentration. Massage therapy, in contrast, has been effective in increasing time spent on task, reducing fidgeting, improving mood and lowering hyperactivity scores in adolescents with ADHD (Field, Quintino & Hernandez-Reif, 1997).
Tai Chi has been effective with adults by reducing stress and stress hormones (Jin, 1992), anger and confusion, and improving, mood (Brown, Wang, Ward, Ebbeling, Fortlage, Puleo, Benson & Rippe,
1995; Wolf, Barhhart, Kutner, McNeely, Coogler & Xue, 1996). In addition, Tai Chi results in lower blood pressure (Channer, Barrow, Barrow, Osborne & Ives, 1996) and improved balance (Wolfson, Whipple, Derby, Judge, King, Amerman, Schmidt & Smyers, 1996). The present study examined the effects of Tai Chi on anxiety, mood, hyperactivity and conduct in adolescents with ADHD.
Thirteen adolescents (11 males), with a mean age of 14.5 years, (R = 13-16) and a DSM-IIIR diagnosis of ADHD were recruited from a remedial school for adolescents with developmental problems. The adolescents carne from middle class f~ilies (~= 2.2 on Hollingshead Two Index Factor) and were ethnically distributed 70% Caucasian, 15% Hispanic and 15% African American.
Tai Chi. The adolescents engaged in Tai Chi postures for 30- minute sessions twice a week for 5 weeks. Each mid-afternoon session began with slow raising and lowering of the arms in synchrony with breathing exercises for 5 minutes. The adolescents were then taught to perform slow turning and twisting movements of the arms and legs, shifting body weight from one leg to the other, rotating from side to side and changing directions in a sequence of Tai Chi forms.
An A1B1A2 design was used consisting of a baseline phase (without Tai Chi) (A1) , as-week Tai Chi phase (B1), and a two week follow up phase without Tai Chi (A2). At the end of each phase, the teachers, who were not aware of which adolescents were receiving Tai Chi at what time completed the Conners Teacher Rating Scale.
Conners Teacher Rating Scale - Revised (CTRS-R; Goyette, Conners & Ulrich, 1978). This 28 item teacher rating scale yields a total hyperactivity score in addition to the subcategories of anxiety, asocial behavior, conduct, daydreaming, emotion and hyperactivity. Test-retest reliability coefficients of .97 have been reported over a one-week period for this scale (Goyette, Conners & Ulrich, 1978).
Results Repeated measures analyses of variance were performed on the subcategories and total hyperactivity score of the Conners. As can be seen in Table 1, repeated measures effects were obtained for all but the asocial scale.
Insert Table 1 about here
Bonferroni t-tests suggested the following baseline to Tai Chi therapy changes: 1) less anxiety, 2) improved conduct, 3} less daydreaming, 4} less inappropriate emotions, and 5} less hyperactivity during Tai Chi versus before Tai Chi (see Table I). Bonferroni t-tests also revealed that these improved scores persisted over the two-week follow-up (no Tai Chi) period.
The results of this study and our earlier massage therapy study (Field, Quintino & Hernandez-Reif, 1997) suggest that at least two non-drug therapies are effective for adolescents with ADHD. The positive effects of Tai Chi on the adolescents with ADHD parallel the positive effects for adults including reduced mental and emotional stress (Jin, 1992) and improved mood (Jin, 1989).
Although stress hormone levels were not assayed in this study, the adolescents were perceived by their teachers as being less anxious, emotional and hyperactive following Tai Chi. The adult literature has reported reduced stress hormones (cortisol) with Tai Chi (Jin, 1992) .
Tai Chi research on adults has identified changes in cardiovascular, respiratory, electroencephalographic, and biochemical levels (e.g., lower cortisol stress hormone levels) (Brown, Mucci, Hetzler, & Knowlton, 1989; Jin, 1989). Reduced sympathetic activity, or enhanced parasympathetic activity, has been considered a potential underlying mechanism (Hsu, Wang & Kappagoda, 1985). This mechanism might also account for the marked behavioral changes observed in the adolescents in this study and our earlier ADHD massage study (Field, Quintino & Hernandez-Reif, 1997). The lower stress hormones (cortisol) observed following at least the massage therapy in our other studies (Field, et al, in press, Field; Seligman, Scafidi & Schanberg, 1996; Ironson, et al, 1996) is consistent with a mechanism of enhanced parasympathetic activity.
Future studies might compare Tai Chi and massage therapy effects on the reduction of stress hormones (e.g., salivary cortisol or urinary catecholamines) in ADHD adolescents. The comorbidity of ADHD with other psychiatric disorders, such as depression and anxiety, and the potential side effects of a multidrug therapy makes Tai Chi and massage therapy attractive alternative treatments. In addition to little or no side effects, especially appealing are the documented effects of Tai Chi and massage therapy on reducing anxiety and hyperactivity, the major and most difficult symptoms in ADHD children.
- balance & strength in the aged tai chi & chi gong
- study of falls in the elderly
Several studies have shown that regular tai chi practice has benefits:
It can reduce falls in the elderly or those with balance disorders — sometimes dramatically. In one 1996 Atlanta study, elderly people who practiced tai chi for 15 weeks reduced their risk of multiple falls by 47.5 percent. Falls are a particular danger for elders and others with brittle bones, or osteoporosis. For such people, falls frequently result in broken bones
Tai Chi for Older People Reduces Falls, May Help Maintain Strength
Thursday, May 2, 1996
Public Information Office
Tai Chi, a martial arts form that enhances balance and body awareness through slow, graceful, and precise body movements, can significantly cut the risk of falls among older people and may be beneficial in maintaining gains made by people age 70 and older who undergo other types of balance and strength training. The news comes in two reports appearing in the May 1996 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
The two studies are the first involving Tai Chi to be reported by scientists in a special frailty reduction program sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
In the first study, Steven L. Wolf, Ph.D., and colleagues at the Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Ga., found that older people taking part in a 15-week Tai Chi program reduced their risk of falling by 47.5 percent. A second study, by Leslie Wolfson, M.D., and colleagues at the University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, found that several interventions to improve balance and strength among older people were effective. These improvements, particularly in strength, were preserved over a 6-month period while participants did Tai Chi exercises.
The projects are among several in the NIA's Frailty and Injuries: Cooperative Studies of Intervention Techniques, or FICSIT, initiative, launched in 1990 to improve physical function in old age.
Research from these and other FICSIT trials has demonstrated the benefits of strength training for older people and the value and cost-effectiveness of targeted, fall prevention programs for the elderly. It is estimated that each year falls are responsible for costs of over $12 billion in the U.S., and the costs due to physical frailty are much higher.
The news on Tai Chi is a reminder that relatively "low tech" approaches should not be overlooked in the search for ways to prevent disability and maintain physical performance in late life. "The FICSIT studies have shown that a range of techniques, from the most sophisticated medical interventions to more 'low tech' methods, can help older people avoid frailty and falling," says Chhanda Dutta, Ph.D., Director of Musculoskeletal Research in the NIA's Geriatrics Program. "We must make sure that we look at every approach, especially relatively inexpensive ones like Tai Chi," says Dutta. "People can do this at home and with friends once they have had the proper training."
The Wolf study included 200 participants age 70 and older. The participants were divided into groups for Tai Chi, computerized balance training, and education. In addition to 15 weekly sessions in which they progressed to more complex forms of Tai Chi, the participants were asked to practice at home at least 15 minutes, twice daily. Another group received balance training using a computer-operated balance platform in which participants tried to improve control of their body sway under increasingly difficult conditions. The education group was asked to not change any of its current exercise regimens, and took part in weekly meetings on a variety of topics with a nurse gerontologist.
Wolf's group compared several factors before and after the interventions, and found improvements in certain key areas. The most notable change involved the reduction in the rate of falling for the Tai Chi group. The groups receiving computerized balance platform training did not have significantly lower rates of falling. The Tai Chi participants also took more deliberate steps and decreased their walking speed slightly compared to the other groups. Fear of falling also was reduced for the Tai Chi group. After the intervention, only 8 percent of the Tai Chi group said they feared falling, compared with 23 percent before they had the training.
"The Tai Chi group seemed to have more confidence," says Wolf, noting that "they had an increased sense of being able to do all that they would like to do." Wolf notes that almost half of the Tai Chi participants chose to continue meeting informally after the study was finished.
The Connecticut FICSIT site used sophisticated techniques for balance and strength training. Some 110 participants, averaging age 80, received training for 3 months. They were divided into four groups: one group received balance training in 45-minute sessions three times per week, including a computerized balance platform (of a different type than the one used in the Wolf study) as well as low-tech balance exercises; another took part in resistance training and weight lifting three times a week to improve strength; a third group did both balance and strength training, and a fourth "education" group participated in sessions on fall prevention and stress management. Everyone in the study took part in weekly Tai Chi classes for 6 months following the intensive training period.
The people in the study were evaluated before undergoing any training, immediately after the training, and after a 6-month follow-up Tai Chi program. The interventions of major focus in the study -- intensive balance and strength training -- produced marked effects. Participants had a 25 to 50 percent improvement in three different measures of balance after completing balance training, while strength training resulted in a 17 percent improvement in strength. Some of the gains immediately following the balance and strength training were lost after 6 months of the Tai Chi follow-up program. However, the participants tested significantly higher than they had before the interventions began.
Without a comparable group who did not receive Tai Chi training after exercise training, it is difficult to know for certain whether the Tai Chi contributed to maintaining gains in strength and balance. Wolfson noted that study participants might have done even better at the end of the maintenance phase had they continued the more intensive balance and strength training, but he also suggested that Tai Chi might be further studied as a less intensive way to hold onto the benefits of prior strength and balance training.
The NIA, part of the National Institutes of Health, leads the Federal effort conducting and supporting research on the aging process and the diseases and disabilities that accompany advancing age. The Institute's program focuses on biomedical, clinical, and social and behavioral research, and supports the Claude D. Pepper Older American Independence Centers at medical centers across the U.S., whose research is aimed at maintaining healthy function well into old age.
- studies in China
Research into the effects of chi gong and tai chi are constant in Chinese hospitals
Shanghai hospital #2
Study for respiratory function in pulmonary Tuberculosis:
This was a two group study (double blind) in patients with similar illness where the chi gong group had a remarkable improvement in respiratory lung function.
22 cases received training in chi gong. Over a 10 day training period the patients diaphragmatic movement increase by and average of 1 - 2.5 centimeters with respiratory rhythm and frequency becoming deeper and slower. Some patients reported and were found to no longer exhibit asthmatic symptoms anymore and were able to return to work. 10 of the workers suffered fewer fits with symptons and signs significantly less.
Pregnancy study in China
Study using 196 pregnant women before and after chi gong exercise found that the heart rate of the foetus either slowed or increased with any congestion in the mothers breathing alleviated and the blood vessels in the mother's limbs becoming dilated. Chi gong may contribute to natural labour as observations show that women who practice chi gong before they give birth do not tend to suffer from difficult or premature labour. This is because abdominal respiration diaphragmatic function is improved this has a massage effect on the organs in the viscera which could increase blood circulation around the body and to the foetus, the muscles of the diaphragm also become stronger and are more within the control of the mother during labour improving the chance of being able to give a good strong push at the right time
- immunity, shingles & tai chi/chi gong
Tai Chi Boosts Immunity to Shingles Virus in Older Adults, NIH-Sponsored Study Reports
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 6, 2007
Tai Chi, a traditional Chinese form of exercise, may help older adults avoid getting shingles by increasing immunity to varicella-zoster virus (VZV) and boosting the immune response to varicella vaccine in older adults, according to a new study published in print this week in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. This National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded study is the first rigorous clinical trial to suggest that a behavioral intervention, alone or in combination with a vaccine, can help protect older adults from VZV, which causes both chickenpox and shingles.
The research was supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), both components of NIH. The study’s print publication follows its online release in March. The research was conducted by Michael R. Irwin, M.D., and Richard Olmstead, Ph.D., of the University of California at Los Angeles, and Michael N. Oxman, M.D., of the University of California at San Diego and San Diego Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.
“One in five people who have had chickenpox will get shingles later in life, usually after age 50, and the risk increases as people get older,” says NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. “More research is needed, but this study suggests that the Tai Chi intervention tested, in combination with immunization, may enhance protection of older adults from this painful condition.”
“Dr. Irwin’s research team has demonstrated that a centuries-old behavioral intervention, Tai Chi, resulted in a level of immune response similar to that of a modern biological intervention, the varicella vaccine, and that Tai Chi boosted the positive effects of the vaccine,” says Andrew Monjan, Ph.D., chief of the NIA’s Neurobiology of Aging Branch.
The randomized, controlled clinical trial included 112 healthy adults ages 59 to 86 (average age of 70). Each person took part in a 16-week program of either Tai Chi or a health education program that provided 120 minutes of instruction weekly. Tai Chi combines aerobic activity, relaxation and meditation, which the researchers note have been reported to boost immune responses. The health education intervention involved classes about a variety of health-related topics.
After the 16-week Tai Chi and health education programs, with periodic blood tests to determine levels of VZV immunity, people in both groups received a single injection of VARIVAX, the chickenpox vaccine that was approved for use in the United States in 1995. Nine weeks later, the investigators did blood tests to assess each participant’s level of VZV immunity, comparing it to immunity at the start of the study. All of the participants had had chickenpox earlier in life and so were already immune to that disease.
Tai Chi alone was found to increase participants’ immunity to varicella as much as the vaccine typically produces in 30- to 40-year-old adults, and Tai Chi combined with the vaccine produced a significantly higher level of immunity, about a 40 percent increase, over that produced by the vaccine alone. The study further showed that the Tai Chi group’s rate of increase in immunity over the course of the 25-week study was double that of the health education (control) group. The Tai Chi and health education groups’ VZV immunity had been similar when the study began.
In addition, the Tai Chi group reported significant improvements in physical functioning, bodily pain, vitality and mental health. Both groups showed significant declines in the severity of depressive symptoms.
“This study builds upon preliminary research funded by NCCAM and we are delighted to see this rigorous trial of Tai Chi for varicella zoster immunity come to fruition,” said Ruth L. Kirschstein, M.D., NCCAM Acting Director.
Shingles, or herpes zoster, affects the nerves, resulting in pain and blisters in adults. Following a case of chickenpox, a person’s nerve cells can harbor the varicella-zoster virus. Years later, the virus can reactivate and lead to shingles.