Tai chi therapy can boost the immune system of patients with shingles to levels comparable to those achieved using a vaccine against varicella zoster virus (VZV; the virus which causes chickenpox and shingles). A controlled trial randomised 112 healthy adults aged 59 to 86, who had a history of varicella infection, to Tai Chi Chih (TCC, a simplified, standardised form of tai chi) or health education (HE) for 25 weeks. After 16 weeks of intervention, subjects were vaccinated against VZV. The results of blood tests showed that TCC alone increased immunity against VZV by an amount comparable to that induced by varicella vaccine in the HE group. Furthermore, the effects of the two were additive; TCC, together with varicella vaccine, produced a substantially higher level of immunity against VZV than vaccine alone, raising it to levels usually observed in adults 30 years younger. The tai chi group also showed significant improvements in scores for physical functioning, bodily pain, vitality, and mental health.
(Augmenting immune responses to varicella Zoster virus in older adults: a randomized, controlled trial of tai chi. J Am Geriatr Sac. 2007 Apr;55(4):511-7)