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The Addictions Academy features Guest Blog from Marco Sterling: Qigong – Cultivate Your Qi for Alternative Pain Relief


Qigong – Cultivate Your Qi for Alternative Pain Relief


Conceived from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and wellness practices, Qigong and Tai Chi are referred to as meditative movement. Qigong is the earlier of the two, with early forms dating back 5,000 years. Incorporating mindfulness and purposeful regulation of the breath, both Tai Chi and Qigong are expressed in slow and flowing dance-like movements.

Improving the body’s natural energy flow, or “Qi,” is the focus of both Qigong and Tai Chi. Qi is the vital force behind physical and psychological functions. Cultivating or enhancing the body’s internal Qi aids in activating the processes of self-healing. While modern Western medical practices have not yet adopted TCM therapies on a wide scale, scientifically controlled studies conducted on Qigong therapy for pain relief confirm that it is successful.

Creative Expression Promotes Healing

Searching for top therapies for the natural relief of pain and emotional distress, Drs. Heather Stuckey and Jeremy Nobel studied the effectiveness of creative expression for promoting psychological and physical healing. Published in the Journal of Public Health, they report that medical studies confirm creative activities are effective for reducing pain, stress, and depression.

Stuckey and Nobel explain that creative expression therapies are successfully used “to heal emotional injuries, increase understanding of oneself and others, develop a capacity for self-reflection, reduce symptoms, and alter behaviors and thinking patterns.”

Among the top therapies for relief of pain and emotional distress recommended by Stuckey and Nobel are movement-based expression therapies, notably Tai Chi and Qigong.

Qigong Research Confirms Successful Pain Relief

Reviewing numerous medical tests involving Qigong and Tai Chi exercise therapies, Stuckey and Nobel report strong health benefits. Diminished pain, depression, anxiety, and fear of falling are among the many positive effects noted, as well as increased stress tolerance, self-confidence, and the ability to handle new experiences.

In a 2012 randomized clinical trial, scientific research was conducted on 100 patients receiving Qigong exercise therapy. This trial reported significant pain relief and improved sleep patterns in patients even after six months from the trial’s conclusion. Improved mental functions and ability to perform daily actions were also among the benefits noted.

Another medical study was conducted at the Robert Wood Johnson (RWJ) Medical School. After just 5-7 Qigong sessions with a Qigong master, female patients with severe fibromyalgia found excellent results, including a 73 percent reduction in pain.

Dr. Afton Hassett, a co-author of the RWJ study, reported, “I’ve never seen pain scores change so dramatically.” In addition to the pain relief attained during the study, patients reported extended pain relief for up to three months beyond the study.

Ready to Cultivate Your Qi?

If you’re ready to cultivate your Qi for pain relief, the National Qigong Association may be helpful for finding a teacher in your area. Qigong Research Society’s Master FaXiang Hou notes that a skilled practitioner can guide you to pain relief in three to nine treatments.

Dr. Kevin Chen, lead author of the RWJ study, recommends starting off with a class or using a video at home, “either first thing in the morning or right before bed.” He adds encouragingly, “Once you’ve got the hang of it, 20 to 30 minutes a day can keep pain at bay.”

Learn more with this great YouTube video on Understanding Qigong and Qi:



As Chief Editor for a leading addiction recovery blog, Palo Recovery, I aim to deliver value in the topics that I write about. My experience with addiction is similar to others and in going through it I realized how precious life really is. My aim is to help as many people as possible who are going through the same struggle. Staying true to A.A’s values about anonymity, the author uses the pseudonym Marco.


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