Qigong for Diabetes

This Research was conducted at Bastyr University and supported by NCCAM, Seattle Foundation, and IQ&IM.

Research Spotlight: Qigong Shows Promise in Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes

Fight Type II Diabetes With Qigong Meditation



1.     Putiri A, Lovejoy JC, Gillham S, Sasagawa M, Bradley R, Sun GC.  Psychological effects of Yi Ren Medical Qigong and progressive resistance training in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized controlled pilot study.  Altern Ther Health Med. 2012 Jan-Feb;18(1):30-4.



Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) is a chronic, debilitating and costly disease associated with severe complications1. T2DM is generally viewed as a clinical syndrome with variable phenotypic expression rather than a single disease with a specific etiology.  Phenotypic elements include beta-cell insufficiency and insulin resistance. However, in most instances, the exact cause of T2DM seems to be polygenic in nature and is as yet unknown. Regardless of the primary causes of T2DM, a common clinical course is for patients to respond to therapy initially by normalizing their fasting glucose levels, but then to undergo gradual deterioration in glycemic control despite optimal medical management using a variety of drugs2. Unhealthy diets and physical inactivity are two of the main risk factors for both obesity and T2DM. Previous studies have concluded that it is possible to prevent or delay T2DM in adults who are at risk for this disease through lifestyle changes in diet, exercise and weight loss3, 4, 5.  In addition to pharmacotherapy, nutrition and exercise remain cornerstones of lifestyle treatment for patients with diabetes, as they improve glucose control and delay the onset of diabetic complications6, 7, 8. Low glycemic index dietary patterns reduce both fasting blood glucose and glycated proteins independent of carbohydrate consumption. Diets rich in whole-grain, cereal high fiber products, and non-oil-seed pulses are beneficial. Obesity is the most important factor accounting for more than half of new diabetes’ cases; even modest weight loss has a favorable effect in preventing the appearance of diabetes. Also, physical exercise with or without diet contributes to a healthier lifestyle, and is important for lowering risk. As far as secondary and tertiary prevention is concerned, for persons already diagnosed with diabetes, there is limited evidence of the effectiveness of diet or lifestyle modification on glycemic control, but further studies are necessary9.


1.     Matthaei S, Munro N, Zinman B; Global Partnership for Effective Diabetes Management. Raising diabetes awareness in the public domain. Int J Clin Pract Suppl. 2007. 157: 31-7.

2.     Robertson RP, Harmon J, Tran PO, Poitout V. Beta-cell glucose toxicity, lipotoxicity, and chronic oxidative stress in type 2 diabetes. Diabetes. 2004. 53 Suppl 1:S119-24.

3.     Anderson EJ, Lustig ME, Boyle KE, Woodlief TL, Kane DA, Lin CT, Price JW 3rd, Kang L, Rabinovitch PS, Szeto HH, Houmard JA, Cortright RN, Wasserman DH, Neufer PD. Mitochondrial H2O2 emission and cellular redox state link excess fat intake to insulin resistance in both rodents and humans. J Clin Invest. 2009. 119(3): 573–581.

4.     Steyn NP, Mann J, Bennett PH, Temple N, Zimmet P, Tuomilehto J, Lindstrom J, Louheranta A. Diet, nutrition and the prevention of Type 2 diabetes. Public Health Nutr. 2004. 7(1A):147-65.

5.     Hunking P. Lifestyle advice in preventing and treating Type 2 diabetes. J Fam Health Care. 2006;16(4):109-12.

6.     Diabetes Prevention Research Group: Reduction in the evidence of Type 2 diabetes with life-style intervention or metformin. N Engl J Med. 2002. 346: 393–403,

7.     American Diabetes Association, Physical activity/exercise and diabetes.  Diabetes Care 2004. 27, suppl 1: S58-S62.

8.     Thomas DE, Elliott EJ, Naughton GA. Exercise for Type 2 diabetes mellitus.  Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 19 (3):CD002968.

9.     Psaltopoulou T, Ilias I, Alevizaki M. The role of diet and lifestyle in primary, secondary, and tertiary diabetes prevention: a review of meta-analyses. Rev Diabet Stud. 2010 Spring;7(1):26-35. Epub 2010 May 10.