Objectives: To assess systematically the clinical evidence of qigong for hypertension.
Methods: Databases were searched up to August 2006. All randomized clinical trials (RCTs) testing qigong in patients with hypertension of any origin and assessing clinically relevant outcomes were considered. Trials using any type of control intervention were included. The selection of studies, data extraction and quality assessment were performed independently by at least two reviewers. Methodological quality was evaluated using the Jadad score.
Results: A total of 121 potentially relevant articles were identified and 12 RCTs were included. Seven RCTs tested qigong in combination with antihypertensive drugs compared with antihypertensive drugs alone. The meta-analysis of two trials reporting adequate data suggested beneficial effects in favour of qigong [weighted mean difference, systolic blood pressure (SBP) -12.1 mmHg, 95% confidence interval (CI) -17.1 to -7.0; diastolic blood pressure -8.5 mmHg, 95% CI -12.6 to -4.4]. Qigong was compared with waiting list control in two RCTs and was found to reduce SBP significantly (weighted mean difference -18.5 mmHg, 95% CI -23.1 to -13.9). In three further RCTs the comparisons made were: qigong combined with conventional therapy versus muscle relaxation combined with conventional therapy; qigong as a sole treatment versus exercise. All reported positive results in at least some of the relevant outcome measures. The methodological quality of the studies was low.
Conclusion: There is some encouraging evidence of qigong for lowering SBP, but the conclusiveness of these findings is limited. Rigorously designed trials are warranted to confirm these results.