Qigong Exercises for the Management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Amy L. Putiri, Jacqueline R. Close, Harold Ryan Lilly, Nathalie Guillaume, and Guan-Cheng Sun, Wen Liu, Academic Editor

Medicines (Basel). 2017 Sep; 4(3): 59.  Published online 2017 Aug 9. doi:  10.3390/medicines4030059      PMCID: PMC5622394


Background: The purpose of this article is to clarify and define medical qigong and to identify an appropriate study design and methodology for a large-scale study looking at the effects of qigong in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), specifically subject enrollment criteria, selection of the control group and study duration.

Methods: A comprehensive literature review of English databases was used to locate articles from 1980–May 2017 involving qigong and T2DM. Control groups, subject criteria and the results of major diabetic markers were reviewed and compared within each study. Definitions of qigong and its differentiation from physical exercise were also considered.

Results: After a thorough review, it was found that qigong shows positive effects on T2DM; however, there were inconsistencies in control groups, research subjects and diabetic markers analyzed. It was also discovered that there is a large variation in styles and definitions of qigong.

Conclusions: Qigong exercise has shown promising results in clinical experience and in randomized, controlled pilot studies for affecting aspects of T2DM including blood glucose, triglycerides, total cholesterol, weight, BMI and insulin resistance. Due to the inconsistencies in study design and methods and the lack of large-scale studies, further well-designed randomized control trials (RCT) are needed to evaluate the ‘vital energy’ or qi aspect of internal medical qigong in people who have been diagnosed with T2DM.

Know the Evidence: QIGONG and DIABETES
Similar to research investigating the role of Qigong in management of fibromyalgia, study
results investigating Qigong and diabetes are also conflicted. However, a recent, well
conducted study found positive results. Chan et al in an RCT of 150 women with chronic fatigue
syndrome found that the number of Baduanjin Qigong lessons attended and the amount of Qigong
self-practice were significantly associated with sleep, fatigue, anxiety, and depressive symptom
improvement. Again similar to the Lynch et al study, a significant finding in this study
confirms a dose response.

Chan JSM, Ho RTH, Chung F-f, Wang C-w, Yao T-w, Ng S-n, Chan CLW. Qigong Exercise Alleviates
Fatigue, Anxiety, and Depressive Symptoms, Improves Sleep Quality, and Shortens Sleep Latency
in Persons with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome-Like Illness. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.
Volume 2014;Article ID 106048,http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/106048 (viewed 7 July 2017)

Source: KNOW THE EVIDENCE 2017: A report of the NQA Research and Education Committee Jun 30, 2017
 Major contributors: PJ Klein, PT, EdD (contact: kleinqpj@roadrunner.com), J Baumgarden, DPT
Kathy Levac RN MS is the chair of the NQA Research and Education Committee