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New Study Shows Tai Chi for Health Offers Relief for Parkinson’s, Arthritis, Depression and More

by LaTonya in Heal the Body

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Do you know someone looking to heal the body of the effects of Parkinson’s Disease, arthritis or depression?  The results of a 6 month  study by Oregon Research Institute published in February 2012 confirmed that between the methods of tai chi, resistance (weight) training and stretching, tai chi for health had by far the most positive results for resolving the posture, gait, balance and functional issues associated with Parkinson’s Disease, arthritis and depression.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease (PD) belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders, which are the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. The four primary symptoms of PD are tremor, or trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face; rigidity, or stiffness of the limbs and trunk; bradykinesia, or slowness of movement; and postural instability, or impaired balance and coordination. As these symptoms become more pronounced, patients may have difficulty walking, talking, or completing other simple tasks. PD usually affects people over the age of 50.  Early symptoms of PD are subtle and occur gradually.  In some people the disease progresses more quickly than in others. [1]

As the disease progresses, the shaking, or tremor, which affects the majority of PD patients may begin to interfere with daily activities.  Other symptoms may include depression and other emotional changes; difficulty in swallowing, chewing, and speaking; urinary problems or constipation; skin problems; and sleep disruptions.  There are currently no blood or laboratory tests that have been proven to help in diagnosing sporadic PD.  Therefore the diagnosis is based on medical history and a neurological examination.  The disease can be difficult to diagnose accurately.   Doctors may sometimes request brain scans or laboratory tests   in order to rule out other diseases. [1]

Current Treatment for Parkinson’s Often Ineffective

At present, there is no cure for PD.  Modern treatments seek to manage the early motor symptoms of the disease, mainly through the use of levodopa and dopamine agonists.  However, as the disease progresses and dopaminergic neurons continue to be lost, a point eventually arrives at which these drugs become ineffective at treating the symptoms and at the same time produce a complication called dyskinesia, marked by involuntary writhing movements. [2]

New Study Shows Posture, Gait, Balance and Functional Abilities Improved with Tai Chai

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Tai Chi for Health Offers Relief for Parkinson’s, Arthritis and More

Thus far, mainstream medicine has offered no cure for Parkinson’s disease, despite the fact that this tragic neurological disorder afflicts a rising number of victims each year. An estimated 60,000 new cases of Parkinson’s disease (PD) are diagnosed annually, and neurological disorders in general are on a steep rise.Worse yet, the drugs that are currently available have major drawbacks. That’s why it’s so promising that new research by Fushong Li of the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene, Oregon, indicates a better way: tai chi (pronounced TIE-chee).

According to Li’s study, tai chi for health can positively those with PD, arthritis, fibromyalgia, depression, and more.

Tai chi is sometimes described as “meditation in motion.” The practice originates from a traditional Chinese method of self-defense, but has evolved over the centuries into a form of exercise that’s ideal for stress reduction and relief of many other health conditions.tai chi for health

For the Oregon Research Institute study, 195 individuals with mild to moderate PD were divided into three groups. Each group used a different exercise model—resistance (weight training), stretching, or tai chi—for 6 months. The study, funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and published in the New England Journal of Medicine in February 2012, found that tai chi for health had by far the most positive results.

Tai chi for health had a much more pronounced impact on many of the most common problems for PD patients, such as:

      • Posture problems
      • Problems with gait
      • Balance issues
    • General functional abilities

Prior studies on the positive effects of tai chi for health have found that it can decrease pain and insomnia for patients with fibromyalgia and arthritis. It can also alleviate chronic depression, especially in older adults.

Experts believe tai chi may work by restoring dopamine production to the brain. More studies on tai chi for health as a treatment for Parkinson’s and other neurological conditions are sure to be forthcoming.


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