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.
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.