Tai Chi for Diabetes?

Slowly but surely, the benefits to health of tai chi have been stated in a number of writings over the last few years. The Arthritis Foundation of Australia supports the Tai Chi for Arthritis Program. In the Winter 2000 edition of "Arthritis Today", the Foundation has clearly presented the benefits of Tai Chi for people with arthritis.

This raises the question, are there benefits to chronic conditions other than arthritis? From my personal experience, the answer is in the affirmative. Twelve years ago I was diagnosed with Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus. A condition which requires daily monitoring. In accordance with current medical advice, the three-factor control procedure was followed. This three- fold factor is usually represented by a triangle:


Exercise           Diet

Using this model, the desired blood-sugar level target was maintained by using 36 units of insulin per day.

Five years ago, Master Zhang Hao introduced me to the noble and ancient art of Tai-Chi. There was an expected improvement in my general well being but there was an unexpected improvement in my diabetes control.

The same desired target in blood sugar level was being maintained, but, with a significant reduction in the amount of insulin required. In fact my current dosage is 20 units per day, a reduction of 16 units per day while daily carbohydrate intake remained constant. No additional exercise programs, other than Tai Chi, were undertaken. This lower dosage has been maintained for the last 3 years. For the medically minded, my HbAt c is taken every six months and has been 5.3 for the last 5 years.

Perhaps the control model should be in the form of a square:

Medication                     Exercise

     Diet                           Inner Peace

The question of the importance of inner peace may be well asked. Part of our human condition is the old and familiar, Fight or Flight Syndrome. To enable us to fight or run Nature causes our Liver to pump glycogen into our systems. Consequently, our blood sugar levels become elevated. For those people who have diabetes, this is not a good outcome since they do not have the insulin producing mechanisms to reduce this additional increase in blood sugar level.

An increase in inner peace has been an important benefit to me because of the resultant decrease in medication that is required to effectively control my diabetes.

Many people with diabetes are unaware of the benefits of Tai Chi. From my experience, chief among those benefits is an increase in inner peace and the possibility of a reduction of daily doses of insulin. A lesser amount of insulin reduces the chances of hypoglycaemic episodes (a matter of constant concern to people with diabetes and to the medical profession).

It would be interesting if other people with diabetes can relate positively to my comments on the benefits of Tai Chi.

Bill Standen.


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