For a long time, the focus of medicine in the West was about solving problems as they arise. The typical procedure was that only if an individual becomes sick then they are treated with some sort of medication or invasive surgery. Each of these solutions is effective in their own right. However, there are other forms of health practices available that aim at prevention of disease rather than their treatment. In some medicinal frameworks, prevention is given so much importance that it is actually common to stop paying your doctor if you become sick. This is done in countries such as Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong and China. When it comes to traditional Chinese medicine, it has been said to have five tenets:
- Herbal medicine.
- Massage and bone setting.
- Martial and meditative arts.
- Dietary therapy.
As a matter of fact, these tenets can exist in conjunction with Western medicine and complement it. Two prominent methods of preventative health practices are the 5000-year old yoga, which originated in India, and Chi Gong (Qigong), also known as “Chinese yoga”. The guiding principles behind these two practices are that if exercise is done regularly, diseases will not develop. This is at odds with the Western principle of generally going to a physician in the event of an actual health problem.
Western science has recently become acquainted with scores of health benefits associated with yoga. In one study researchers discovered that the response in gene expression was three times greater in yoga as compared to walking.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) found that yoga improved on a number of symptoms including stress and heart rate. A number of studies have also found that patients with lower back pain who undertook yoga classes for 6 months had a notable improvement.
In fact, yoga has so many health benefits that it would be impossible to list them all in this short entry. And although most of these benefits are not scientifically proven yet, mainstream medicine has already started to recognize yoga as a practice that goes a long way towards health.
Chi Gong is based on esoteric principles. The name itself means manipulation of Chi life energy (the equivalent of prana in yoga). Despite its esoteric origins, it has real life benefits and is becoming more and more popular in the West. A study carried out by the National Center for Biotechnology Information suggested that: “Chi Gong has demonstrated consistent, significant results for a number of health benefits in RCTs”. The study consisted of over 6000 individuals, and the most positive outcomes were reported in the areas such as balance, cardiovascular health, bone density and self-efficacy.