Trying to qualify the effects and benefits of Chinese medical practices (herbalism, acupuncture, chi-gung or tai chi) within the context of Western medicine is as difficult as trying to do the reverse. Both medical traditions are based on a different set of principles, perspectives and approaches.
Chinese medicine reflects a more holistic approach, and tries to deal with the body, mind and spirit of a patient rather than individual symptoms. However there are a number of Western medical studies of tai chi available, which indicate that when learned correctly and performed regularly, tai chi can be a positive part of an overall approach to improving your health. The benefits of tai chi include:
- Decreased stress and anxiety
- Increased aerobic capacity
- Increased energy and stamina
- Increased flexibility, balance and agility
- Increased muscle strength and definition
There is also some evidence that indicates that tai chi also may help enhance the quality of sleep, enhance the immune system, lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, improve joint pain, improve symptoms of congestive heart failure, improve overall well-being in older adults and reduce risk of falls in older adults.
Harvard Medical School published studies on tai chi in 2006 and 2009, since then there have been a number of supporting Western medical organisations that have published research on tai chi; including the University of Maryland Medical Center, the NHS in the UK and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the US.
In 2012 David Bendall at the www.taichiresearch.com organisation published a summary of the results of a number of studies into tai chi and provided further advice and guidance.