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Older adults who practice the series of gentle exercises known as tai chi can dramatically boost their immunity against shingles, the painful skin rash brought on by the chickenpox virus.
Practicing tai chi alone boosted immunity to a level comparable to having received the standard vaccine against shingles. And when the ancient practice was combined with the vaccine, immunity reached a level normally seen in middle age.
These results, published in this month's issue of the Journal of American Geriatrics Society by Dr. Michael Irwin of the University of California at Los Angeles, confirms smaller studies he conducted in 2003. In the latest study, 112 adults, ages 59 to 86, practiced tai chi for 25 weeks.
Older folks often show limited responses to vaccines, he said. Not only can tai chi boost the response to protect against shingles, it may also bolster immunity against contracting flu, pneumonia and other infectious diseases, Dr. Irwin said.
It's still not known, however, whether it's the exercise or the meditative aspects of tai chi that make the difference.
Tai Chi often goes under the name "Chi Gung" which seems to concentrate on the healing-arts component, but they are in the same family and often taught in the same place. I took some Chi Gung classes years ago and found them very relaxing but the teacher no longer is giving classes. The nice thing about it is that it's very gentle, so someone treating ,or not in very good shape could partake. I actually planned on doing Chi Gung on treatment but couldn't even get off my couch for that. Probably should have tried harder.
i started doing qigong in 2001 and during that time my alt and ast steadily dropped from the hundreds to high normal. about one year ago i stopped doing qigong and some time after that i experienced another alt flair up. i don't know if the they are related. i do know that if a do qigong before bed, i consistently fall asleep faster and have more restful sleep.
the meditation aspect may explain some of it. studies have shown the benefits of meditation and immunity. e. g. http://psyphz.psych.wisc.edu/web/pubs/2003/alterations_by_mindfulness.pdf
certain styles of qigong may have benefits for those with hepatitis. the particular style of qigong i practice, chaoyi fanhuan qigong, helps with peristalsis and improves my digestion. besides the hepatitis i have undergone abdominal surgeries that resulted in adhesions and slow peristalsis.
Thanks for sharing your experiences. I think maybe I'll get off my butt soon and investigate some Chi Gung classes in my area. Not so much concerned with my liver situation now but with post treatment issues that I hope something like Chi Gung might help.
I think tai chi is the best thing for anybody, sick, well, whatever...it works in so many ways to help you...good for anyone who takes this up, been doing it off and on for years, maybe this should steer me to an "on" stage...
Hey, just got my most recent labs and they are excellent overall, with just slightly elevated alt's at 38, and ast 29 my vl is still pending...I really think my healthy lifestyle has something to do with my condition after having this hitchhiker for around 35 years...best way to go in fighting I guess....
perhaps the national qigong association or the american qigong association websites may have some leads. the particular form i practice has only 7 principal movements and can be learned in a weekend. i believe that it does not have to be complicated to be useful. besides the form i practice, the spring forest qigong looks easy to learn. www.springforestqigong.com
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