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The Chinese movement exercise known as qigong may help control cocaine craving early in recovery, a new study suggests.

The study included 101 cocaine-dependent subjects in residential substance abuse treatment, who received either a real external qigong treatment (EQT), or a sham treatment. According to the researchers, “EQT is a form of energy medicine in which a trained EQT healer directs qi (bioenergy) and yi (healing intention) to a patient to help remove qi blockage and achieve inner balance.”

Qigong involves different movements, such as raising and lowering the arms, moving the head from side to side, and gently rubbing the feet, hands and ears. People may use qigong to improve posture, balance, coordination, flexibility and endurance.

The subjects were evaluated at the beginning of the study, and received four to six EQT or sham treatments in two weeks. Those who received qigong therapy reported significantly reduced cravings for cocaine when they viewed and handled items related to cocaine use, Medical reports. Patients receive qigong therapy also were significantly less likely to have symptoms of depression.

The results appear in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

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