The Effect of Tai Chi in Reducing Anxiety in an Ambulatory Population

Kimberly A Hoffmann-Smith 1 , Albert Ma 2 , Cheng-Tsung Yeh 3 , Nancy L DeGuire 4  and Jacqueline P Smith 5
  • 1 University of the Pacific
  • 2 University of California, San Diego
  • 3 Catholic Healthcare West
  • 4 University of the Pacific
  • 5 Garces Memorial

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese art that has been practiced for centuries. This mind-body exercise is a standard of medical care in many Asian countries. The Western world lags behind in the study of alternative medical treatments. This pilot study utilized Tai Chi to relieve anxiety in a population diagnosed with moderate-severe anxiety. This diagnosis was made by clinicians utilizing the well-respected Hamilton-Anxiety psychiatric rating scale. This non-pharmacologic method for reduction of anxiety was chosen because medications presently utilized for anxiety often cause untoward side effects. Subjects were recruited throughout the community. Patients completed a health questionnaire and were screened by a psychiatrist before and after participating in a 10-week program of Tai Chi classes lasting one hour twice weekly. The results of this study showed marked improvement in anxiety. The median beginning score for all participants on the Ham-A scale was 23 points. The median ending score after Tai Chi instruction was 12 points. The median overall difference in scores was 11 points. This pilot study demonstrated phenomenal reductions in the symptoms of anxiety. Patients also reported feeling more relaxed and peaceful. It is apparent that Tai Chi may be a clinically effective tool for reducing anxiety.

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The Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine focuses on evidence concerning the efficacy and safety of complementary and alternative medical (CAM) whole systems, practices, interventions and natural health products, including herbal medicines.

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