ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Health Tip: Anticipating Acupuncture
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Acupuncture May Trigger Natural Painkiller
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
A Little Drink May Be Good for Your Bones
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
CANCER
Exercise Cuts Lung Cancer Risk in Ex-Smokers by 45%
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
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Coordination Has Led to Quicker Heart Treatment
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
Omega-3 Fatty Acid May Help 'Preemie' Girls' Brains
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
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Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
DIABETES
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
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Leafy Greens Top Risky Food List
Healthy Eating While On Vacation
Pesticides and How to Affordably Eat Organic or Reduce Pesticide Consumption
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Rainy Areas in U.S. Show Higher Autism Rates
Disinfectants Can Boost Bacteria's Resistance to Treatment
Agent Orange Exposure Tied to Prostate Cancer Return
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids' Eye Injuries From Golf Clubs Rare But Severe
Diabetic Eye Disease Rates Soaring
It's a Whole New Outlook for Cataract Patients
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Vigorous Exercise Can Cut Breast Cancer Risk
Living With Less TV, More Sweat Boosts Weight Loss
As Temperature Plummets, It's Still Safe to Exercise
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Toxins May Form When Skin, Indoor Ozone Meet
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
Adults Need To Get Thier Food Facts Straight
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
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Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
Time to Remind Teens About Sun Protection
Teen Stress May Have Roots in First Three Years of Life
MEN'S HEALTH
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Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Breast-Fed Baby May Mean Better Behaved Child
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
SENIORS
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Boost In Elderly Population Will Be Felt Worldwide
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Therapies for Menopause
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
Add your Article

Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia sufferers may find relief from the chronic pain condition by doing tai chi, new research finds.

Researchers divided 66 people with fibromyalgia into two groups: one group did hour-long sessions of tai chi twice a week for 12 weeks; the other had a twice-weekly wellness education class followed by gentle stretching.

At the end of 12 weeks, the tai chi group reported improvements in their scores on questionnaires regarding both physical and mental fibromyalgia symptoms. That included decreased pain and increased ability to do daily tasks without pain; less fatigue, depression and anxiety; and an overall better quality of life. Patients also reported better sleep quality and improved physical conditioning.

The improvements were still evident at 24 weeks, according to the research reported in the Aug. 19 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"It was incredible," said lead study author Dr. Chenchen Wang, an associate professor of medicine in the rheumatology department at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. "You could see them change every week. They became very happy. I felt very, very excited to be with them."

Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread pain, fatigue, insomnia and multiple tender points. The syndrome can also cause psychological issues, including anxiety, depression, and memory and concentration problems, sometimes called the "fibromyalgia fog."

About 10 million Americans have fibromyalgia, and about 75 percent to 90 percent of them are women, according to estimates from the National Fibromyalgia Association.

Doctors will often suggest exercise, sleep hygiene techniques and medications to treat the condition, but often with limited success, said Dr. Gloria Yeh, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who wrote an accompanying editorial in the journal.

Most patients, according to background information in the article, remain in pain years after the diagnosis, are aerobically unfit, have poor muscle strength and flexibility, and need medications to control symptoms.

While larger studies are needed to confirm the findings, tai chi looks promising as an alternative treatment, Yeh said.

"This could represent an ideal exercise for fibromyalgia sufferers. Since it is a low-impact, gentle, non-threatening, accessible activity, it may be a perfect exercise for debilitated patients with fibromyalgia who otherwise cannot or choose not to do other forms of exercise," Yeh said. "Also, since tai chi has a meditative component, it may also help to address the stress and anxiety that may be associated with the condition."

So what is it about tai chi that works?

There's no definitive answer to that just yet, Wang said. Tai chi is a mind-body exercise that originated as a martial art in China, utilizing slow, gentle movements to build strength and flexibility, as well as deep breathing and relaxation, to move qi, or vital energy, throughout the body.

Prior research has shown exercise can improve mood, Wang added. The controlled breathing and movements may promote "mental tranquility," according to the study, which could help with pain.

"The physical component of tai chi can improve aerobic capacity, strength and muscle function," Wang said. "But in my opinion, the most important part is mental. You see lots of patients improve their depression and become good friends with each other."

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the U.S. National Institutes of Health provided funding for the research.

More information

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has more on tai chi.

SOURCES: Chenchen Wang, M.D., associate professor of medicine, department of rheumatology, Tufts Medical Center, Boston; Gloria Yeh, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Aug. 19, 2010, New England Journal of Medicine

Last Updated: Aug. 18, 2010