Background
Tai chi and Qigong are the main forms of therapeutic exercise used in Chinese Medicine. Qigong is a collective term covering over 4,000 different traditions of health exercise, meditation and martial arts power training which have evolved throughout China over the last 5,000 years. Qigong occupies a similar place in Chinese culture as Yoga does in Indian culture and is used as a hospital-based therapy in China. Tai chi is a martial art based on Qigong principles. The elementary stages of this martial art have become popular throughout the world as a gentle exercise for older people. Today over 100 million people practise Tai chi.

Principles
The slow gentle movements of Qigong and Tai chi enhance balance, co-ordination, strength and flexibility, without strain. Great attention is paid to principles of correct body alignment, which improves posture and can benefit many musculo-skeletal problems. The deep diaphragmatic breathing massages the internal organs and improves respiration and digestion. Tai chi is also very calming and can help with many stress related problems.

Effectiveness
Tai chi and Qigong have been extensively studied in both China and the West. Some of the benefits include:

■Reduced frailty and increased mobility of older people
■Increased bone density for osteoporosis sufferers
■Improved respiratory function for asthma sufferers
■Improved immune function in cancer victims
■Reduced stress-related behaviour problems
Chinese Medicine offers a refreshingly clear and effective approach to most digestive problems. Ever since the 12th Century AD skilled Chinese doctors have acknowledged the central importance of the digestive process that the quality of food we eat, the state of our emotions and the balance of our lifestyle are the key factors in digestive health. Chinese Medicine therefore does not focus simply on relieving symptoms but on achieving balance and harmony in our lives as a whole. The main therapies used are:

Dietary Therapy – Chinese Medicine has a special understanding of the way in which the quality, taste, combination and preparations of foods affects our body. The Chinese “qing dan” diet, high in complex carbohydrate and fresh vegetables is a model of healthy eating and can make a remarkable difference to most digestive problems.

Chinese Herbs – are used to strengthen digestive energy and clear congestion and inflammation from the digestive system.

Acupuncture – offers effective support to dietary therapy and herbs particularly for relieving painful and uncomfortable symptoms.

Massage - Chinese Medicine and Tai chi/Qigong exercise can release tension, improve appetite and increase metabolism, helping to maintain digestive health.