Qigong for type 2 diabetes care: a systematic review

Complement Ther Med. 2009 Aug;17(4):236-42. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2009.05.001. Epub 2009 Jun 12.


Objectives: To summarize and critically evaluate the evidence available from clinical trials (CTs) of qigong for patients with type 2 diabetes.

Methods: We have searched the literature using 15 databases from their respective inceptions through March 2009 without language restrictions. Risk of bias was assessed using Cochrane criteria.

Results: Nine CTs, which included three randomized clinical trials (RCTs), one controlled clinical trial (CCT) and five uncontrolled observational studies (UOSs), met our inclusion criteria. Three RCTs compared qigong plus usual care (including drug therapy) with usual care alone. The quality of these RCTs was poor. Their results suggested favorable effects of qigong on glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), 2h plasma glucose (2hPG), insulin sensitivity, and blood viscosity. One CCT compared qigong with no treatment and failed to show favorable effects of qigong on fasting plasma glucose (FPG), 2hPG, HbA1c and insulin sensitivity. All UOSs reported beneficial effects of qigong on FPG or 2hPG.

Conclusion: Currently there are few rigorous trials testing the effectiveness of qigong for type 2 diabetes. The studies that are available are of low methodological quality. Collectively this evidence is insufficient to suggest that qigong is an effective treatment for type 2 diabetes. Rigorously designed trials are warranted to answer the many questions that remain open.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose
  • Blood Physiological Phenomena
  • Breathing Exercises*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Glycated Hemoglobin
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A