Tai Chi and Qi Gong improve chronic fatigue syndrome

Background: Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a global public health concern. We performed this systematic review of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) to evaluate the effects and safety of tai chi and qi gong exercises for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Methods: We comprehensively searched MEDLINE, Embase, Web of Science, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library, CNKI, VIP databases, and Wanfang Data from inception to October 2022 for eligible RCTs of tai chi and qi gong exercises for chronic fatigue syndrome management. We used Cochran’s Q statistic and I2 to assess heterogeneity and conducted subgroup analyses based on different types of tai chi and qi gong exercises, background therapy, and types of fatigue. We also assessed the quality of evidence using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluations (GRADE) approach.

Results: We included 13 studies (n = 1187) with a maximal follow-up of 12 weeks. At the end of the treatment, compared with passive control, TCME probably reduces the severity of fatigue (standardised mean differences (SMD) = 0.85; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.64, 1.07, moderate certainty), depression (SMD = 0.53; 95% CI = 0.34, 0.72, moderate certainty), anxiety (SMD = 0.29; 95% CI = 0.11, 0.48, moderate certainty), sleep quality (SMD = 0.34; 95% CI = 0.10, 0.57, low certainty) and mental functioning (SMD = 0.90; 95% CI = 0.50, 1.29, low certainty).

Compared with other active control therapies, TCME results in little to no difference in the severity of fatigue (SMD = 0.08; 95% CI = -0.18, 0.34, low certainty). For long-term outcomes, tai chi and qi gong exercises may improve anxiety (SMD = 1.74; 95% CI = 0.44, 3.03, low certainty) compared to passive control. We did not identify tai chi and qi gong exercises-related serious adverse events.

Conclusions: In patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, tai chi and qi gong exercises probably reduces post-intervention fatigue, depression, and anxiety and may improve sleep quality and mental function compared with passive control, but has limited long-term effects. These findings will help health professionals and patients with better clinical decision-making.

Reference: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37994837/

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About Attilio

Doctor of Chinese medicine, acupuncture expert and author of My Fertility Guide and My Pregnancy Guide.

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