Functional Maximization – Foster the Righteous

The profound holistic power of Asian medicine is that it is inherently rooted in two wellness principles that conventional Western medicine has neglected until very recently. The first is the “holistic ideal”, Body-Mind-Spirit. These Three Treasures are always linked in Chinese medicine. However, they are only recently becoming linked in the emerging new conventions of Western health care.

The second is the “two medicines in one” principle of Chinese medicine. Shared with Western medicine is the “Attack the Disease” model. This is to kill or modify the pathogen or pathogenic factors. Both Western and Chinese medicine have excellent tools for “Attacking the Disease” strategies. Until very recently the wellness basis, which complements “Attack the Disease” has been unique to Chinese medicine and other holistic forms of medicine (Ayurvedic, Native, Shamanic). It is known by numerous titles. In the literature of Chinese medicine, “Foster the Righteous” model. More contemporary is “Maximize Function’.

This is the very essence of wellness-based medicine. Rather than attacking what is wrong, the “Foster the Righteous” model maximizes what is right through the functional maximization tools of Chinese medicine – acupuncture, herbs, massage, and personal wellbeing cultivation – Qigong. “Foster the Righteous” is to refine awaken and activate the “healer within” – “the inner elixir”.  This is the most profound medicine which is naturally produced in the body. 

While clinically based prevention (vaccination, colonoscopy) has been present in Western health care, only recently has behaviorally based prevention been of any relevance. As Western medicine transforms itself to the wellness and prevention framework, what are the primary innovations? Physical activity, anti-inflammatory nutrition, and meditation. What is the key to behavioral prevention? These have been the central points of Chinese wellness – Yang Sheng – for millennia.

Conventional medical facilities are currently taking on numerous best practices of wellness and functional enhancement from the Asian health care model.

Flow: Mind-Body Energetics, Wuwei and Mindfulness

Among the most eloquent forms of behaviorally based wellness practice are the Chinese Mind-Body Energetics practices. Qigong and Tai Chi are the cousins of Yoga from India. They are all mindfulness methods. While the powerful wellness-based practices of acupuncture, body therapy and herbs have a significant cost, Qigong and Tai Chi are pretty much free once one has learned them.

While the questions about Qi (energy, function) and the nature of mind (Xin-HeartMind) are the most interesting aspects of Qi cultivation, it is actually the economics of personal wellness that is extremely compelling in our society right now. Qigong and Tai Chi (and other Mind-Body practices) are the underlying solution to many of the medical cost and quality challenges of contemporary time. They are easy to learn (simple forms), easy to get people enthusiastic about, easy to disseminate and inexpensive due to the group-based learning context.

It is really very simple, people who prevent disease and who activate the inner medicine through self-initiated health enhancement practice need less clinical medicine whether it is conventional allopathic or holistic.

The science of estimating the magnitude of the savings is progressing. For now, we can say that if people prevent disease, then the society (families, companies, school systems, the military) can save 70-90% of the $3 trillion annual cost of the medical system. That’s $2-2.5 trillion.

Prove it

Chinese wellness practices are most widely referenced as Mind-Body practices – also moving meditation and Chinese self-care. Qigong and Tai Chi in a multitude of forms are now being implemented in schools, universities, faith institutions, social service agencies, hospitals, clinics, spas, retreat centers, community centers, even the military. Over 70 randomized clinical trials (RCT) have recently been reviewed (4) finding that the Mind-Body wellness practices of Chinese medicine are safe and effective in treating and preventing disease and reducing risk for numerous diseases. Inspired by this, the National Institutes of Health recently instituted an annual event called NIH Mind-Body Week with several keynotes on Qigong and Tai Chi (5).

In Collaboration with the U of IL the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi (IIQTC) convened the National Consensus Meeting on Qigong and Tai Chi.(6) One of many new breakthroughs is the research on gene expression and the reduction of cell death (longevity enhancement) done with Qigong, Tai Chi and other forms of Mind-Body practice.(7) Tai Chi Easy a program developed especially for bringing Tai Chi and Qigong wellness programs to schools, social service agencies, the military and veterans, etc. has trained 300 “Practice Leaders” in trainings in collaboration with the National Wellness Institute at the U of WI, the Veterans Administration, several faith institutions, Asian Pacific Health in CA, Western Nebraska Regional Health Authority and the Southern Arkansas Council on Aging.

As a result, Tai Chi and Qigong are rapidly being embraced by policy makers, program coordinators, researchers and funders.

Who Will Benefit from this Paradigm Shift Opportunity?

Now here is the most provocative aspect of wellness medicine, especially for the Chinese Medicine community. In America, sadly, the major medical, social and economic opportunities associated with Chinese wellness have been neglected by the Chinese medicine profession itself! In personal consulting experiences, including lectures to the AMA and American Hospital Association (AHA) and the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), it appears that there is a far more robust interest in the implications of wellness in conventional medical institutions than in the institutions associated with Chinese medicine.

At the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi (IIQTC), we have trained many more MDs, nurses and physical therapists than we have practitioners of Chinese medicine. The leveraging of the natural wellness currency of Chinese medicine is more in the hands of the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine (CAHCIM) than it is in the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM). For the public this is excellent. No one cares where Tai Chi and Qigong are coming from, they just want to be sure to have access.

In the past, it has probably been important that the institutions that protect and refine the Chinese medicine profession to focus less on the wellness basis of Asian medicine, to focus more on the conventional methods of providing medical services and procedures in the American medical paradigm. However, it is also true that the Chinese medicine professional community is in the process of missing one of the most profound opportunities in the history of health care (both for service and for PR).

While Chinese doctors are busy acting more like Western clinical practitioners, multitudes of MDs are acting more like Chinese doctors and vigorously recommending wellness – Qigong, Tai Chi, meditation, natural foods, etc. These doctors have to unlearn and then learn much to do this. Practitioners of Chinese medicine are already deeply trained in the principles of wellbeing and balance.

The above is an original article by Dr Roger Jahnke, OMD

 References from Part 1.

  1. Ni, MS. Huang Ti Nei Jing: The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, Shambala, Boston, 1995.
  2. McGinnis JM, Foege WH. Actual causes of death in the United States. JAMA.1993 Nov 10;270(18):2207-12. 
  3. Fries JF, Koop CE, Sokolov J, Beadle CE, Wright D. Beyond health promotion: reducing need and demand for medical care. Health Affairs. 1998 Mar-Apr;17(2):70-84. 
  4. Obama B. 8 Principles of Health Care.

References from Part 2.

  1. Jahnke R, Larkey L. A Comprehensive Review of the Health Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi. Accepted for publication by the American Journal of Health Promotion with final revisions. Preliminary review at
  2. September 8 – 10, 2009,, Plenary with Dr Roger Jahnke
  3. Chodzko-Zajko W, Jahnke R, Consensus Report of The National Expert Meeting on Qigong and Tai Chi,
  4. 21st Century Breakthrough -- Researching the Benefits of Mind-Body Practice by Investigating Genetic Expression