Nancy Hepp, MS, BCCT Project Manager
Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS, BCCT Senior Researcher
Last updated November 3, 2020.
Also known by these names
Qigong, pronounced “chee-gung”, is an ancient Chinese practice consisting of a combination of movement, self-massage, meditation and breathing. The word qigong is a combination of qi (life-force, energy, creativity, consciousness, breath, function) and gong (cultivation or practice over time).1
Clinical Practice Guidelines
Physician and author Cynthia Li, MD, demonstrates a simple qigong exercise that promotes healing.
How Does Qigong Differ from Tai Chi?
A discussion of the differences between qigong and tai chi is located on our Mind-Body Approaches page.
2009 evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for integrative oncology conclude that therapies based on a philosophy of bioenergy fields are safe and may provide some benefit for reducing stress and enhancing quality of life. Only limited evidence is available regarding their efficacy for symptom management, including reducing pain and fatigue. The Society for Integrative Oncology gives a strong recommendation for these therapies:4
- For reducing anxiety: grade 1B (strong recommendation, moderate-quality evidence)
- For pain, fatigue, and other symptom management: grade 1C (strong recommendation, low or very low quality evidence)
Managing Side Effects and Promoting Wellness
Managing or relieving side effects or symptoms, reducing treatment toxicity, supporting quality of life or promoting general well-being
As with other mind-body approaches, assessing the effectiveness of qigong in addressing cancer symptoms can be challenging due to the difficulty in creating controls and placebo conditions.6
- Significant improvement in fatigue
- Significant improvement in sleep difficulty
- Significant improvement in depression
- Significant improvement in overall quality of life
- A statistically non-significant trend was observed for improvement of pain
Qigong is generally considered safe.
Qigong is available as classes, on video or online. Many hospitals, wellness centers and other health-related facilities offer qigong classes.
Integrative Programs, Protocols and Medical Systems
|For more information about programs and protocols, see our Integrative Programs and Protocols page.|
Non-cancer Uses of Qigong
BCCT has not reviewed the effectiveness of this therapy for non-cancer uses.
Note: BCCT has not conducted an independent review of research of qigong. This summary draws from CAM-Cancer and other sources as noted.
Brian Bouch discusses integrative oncology, part 1
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: Tai Chi and Qi Gong: In Depth
- CAM-Cancer: Qigong
- Qigong Research and Practice Center: Qigong FAQs
- Chinese Medicine Living: Qi Gong
- Susan G. Komen: Qigong
- Kevin Mutschler, LAc, demonstrates several qigong techniques and exercises in videos
- Lutgendorf, SK, et al. Energy Medicine in Cancer in Abrams DI, Weil AT. Integrative Oncology. 2nd Edition. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 2014.
- Dr. Cynthia Li: Brave New Medicine
- Gurdev Parmar and Tina Kaczor: Textbook of Naturopathic Oncology
- Cynthia Li: Strengthening Personal Immunity and Resilience
- National Cancer Institute: Cancer Pain Control: Support for People with Cancer
- September 2018 Issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
- Wayne Jonas, MD: Your Healing Journey: A Patient’s Guide to Integrative Breast Cancer Care
- Donald I. Abrams, MD, and Andrew T. Weil, MD: Integrative Oncology, 2nd Edition
- Neil McKinney, BSc, ND: Naturopathic Oncology, 3rd Edition
- Keith I. Block, MD: Life over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment
- Lorenzo Cohen and Alison Jefferies: Anticancer Living: Transform Your Life and Health with the Mix of Six
- Michael Lerner: Choices In Healing: Integrating the Best of Conventional and Complementary Approaches to Cancer
- American Tai Chi and Qigong Association: Locate Tai Chi and/or Qigong Classes
- National Cancer Institute: Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine
- Erlene Chiang: Qigong and Traditional Chinese Medicine in Treating Cancer and Grief
- Yang Yang, PhD: Qigong for Cancer Survivors