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What is whole-person health?

With the progress of technology and the implementation of advanced protocols, the healthcare sector has grown increasingly precise and focused. Utilizing refined reduction models, medical interventions such as procedures and medications have achieved remarkable precision, enabling medical professionals to perform incredible feats in the treatment of various illnesses. However, it is a well-known fact that many individuals start with one health problem and end up taking numerous pills, experiencing multiple side effects along the way. Fortunately, there has been a paradigm shift.

Recognizing the importance of treating individuals as whole organisms and promoting whole-person health, the National Center of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, a division of the National Institute of Health (NIH), has embraced a new approach. This shift in perspective has been elucidated by Prof. Gloria Yeh of Harvard Medical School in a recent interview, where she explains the concept of whole-person health and its connection to the healing arts of Tai Chi and Qigong.

Dr. Gloria Yeh, MD, MPH, is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and serves as the director of Mind-Body Research at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and the HMS Research Fellowship in Integrative Medicine. With a primary research focus on the efficacy and mechanisms of mind-body exercise in complex chronic illnesses, she is an internationally recognized leader in the field of mind-body research, including Tai Chi, yoga, and meditation. Additionally, Dr. Yeh works as a primary care physician at BIDMC Healthcare Associates.

Dr. Yeh's decision to pursue medicine as a career stems from her personal experience with her mother's chronic illness. Witnessing her mother's struggles, hospital visits, surgeries, and treatments during her formative years motivated her to study medicine and earn an MD from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, with the goal of helping people. Driven by the understanding that various physiological systems in the body are interconnected, such as the gut-brain connection, she emphasizes the importance of considering the body as a whole in the practice of whole-person health. Moreover, this approach recognizes the socioecological aspects of health, the influence of emotions on physical well-being, and the interplay of cognitive functions and neurophysiology within the body.

Dr. Yeh reveals that Western medicine alone could not provide complete relief for her mother's condition. It was through her mother's practice of Tai Chi that she found solace and witnessed its ability to help her cope with the side effects of Western medications and enhance her overall strength. This experience led Dr. Yeh to delve into the philosophy of Eastern medicine, which embraces a holistic approach to treating the body. She conducted research on integrative medicine and the mind-body relationship, proved that Tai Chi and Qigong, as mind-body movements, can integrate all systems within the body and have positive effects on whole-person health.

In recent decades, scientists worldwide have conducted numerous studies demonstrating the multiple health benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong. These practices have been found to lower blood pressure, alleviate pulmonary issues, improve physical balance, reduce stress, strengthen muscles, regulate blood sugar levels, reduce chronic pain, and aid in drug addiction recovery, among other effects. The holistic nature of these practices allows for manifold benefits from the same regimen. Dr. Yeh and her long-time research partner, Dr. Peter Wayne, believe that the scientific evidence supporting Tai Chi and Qigong has reached a critical mass. This belief prompted them to organize the first-ever "Science of Tai Chi & Qigong as a Whole-person Health Conference," at Harvard scheduled for September 18-19 in Boston, Massachusetts, in collaboration with the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine.

The conference aims to cater not only to scientists and researchers but also to Tai Chi practitioners, instructors, mind-body enthusiasts, healthcare professionals, policymakers, and anyone interested in learning more about whole-person health and mind-body practices. The event comprises four different segments, offering a comprehensive exploration of all aspects of the healing art. It includes plenary sessions focused on whole-person science across various systems, the current state of Tai Chi and Qigong research, the implementation of mind-body practices in contemporary healthcare, new frontiers in energy medicine and biofields, and the virtual delivery of Tai Chi. In addition to individual presentations, there will be panel discussions as well.

The conference organizers issued invitations and called for research abstract submissions earlier this year, and the response has been overwhelming. Selected submissions will be presented as symposia or poster presentations, with the inclusion of many international researchers.

You can participate in this important conference by registering now.


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