Using Qigong to Reduce Cortisol, The “Stress Hormone”

Healers have known for years that practicing qigong reduces stress and energizes the body and mind. Now multiple studies from researchers have documented the exact degree to which qigong aids in balancing cortisol, otherwise known as the “stress hormone.” Besides improving your mood, reducing cortisol levels allow your body to heal and repair itself.

High levels of cortisol can cause, or contribute to, a variety of illnesses, such as:

  • Impaired cognitive performance
  • Blood sugar imbalances
  • Decreased bone density
  • Suppressed thyroid function
  • Degradation of muscle tissue
  • Contributes to high blood pressure
  • Lowering immune system’s defenses
  • Increased inflammation in the body
  • Increased abdominal fat, associated with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and metabolic syndrome

The National Institutes of Health have studied and recommended both qigong and tai chi in various articles. From their website,, we read:“The instructions for attaining the state of enhanced Qi capacity and function point to the purposeful coordination of body, breath and mind (paraphrased here): ‘Mind the body and the breath, and then clear the mind to distill the Heavenly elixir within.’ This combination of self-awareness with self-correction of the posture and movement of the body, the flow of breath, and stilling of the mind, are thought to comprise a state which activates the natural self-regulatory (self-healing) capacity, stimulating the balanced release of endogenous neuro-hormones and a wide array of natural health recovery mechanisms which are evoked by the intentful integration of body and mind.”

TCM offers other remedies for stress, such as acupuncture and acupressure. The following tips are from

PC6- Starting from the wrist, measure down with three fingers as shown in the picture to the right. Where your third finger touches the middle of your wrist is the acupoint. Take your thumb and apply firm pressure to this point until you feel some mild discomfort. Only apply enough pressure to interrupt the normal blood flow but not too much that it causes pain. Hold this pressure point and gently knead your thumb in a tight circular motion for about 2 minutes. Do this to both wrists and you will feel your anxiety descend immediately. This point is also good for nausea!

HT7- Apply pressure with your thumb at the point where your wrist forms a crease with your hand. Hold the acupressure point for about 2 minutes, applying a generous amount of pressure. This point is good for relieving tension.

K1- This is my favorite point especially at night when I want a good night’s sleep. In a sitting position, cross one legover your opposite leg and rest your foot on your knee. Start with your thumb between your 2nd and 3rd toes and draw a straight line down until you are about a 1/3 of the way down the foot. Push firmly on the center of your foot (see picture). Hold this pressure point and knead for at least 2 minutes and repeat on the other foot. This is a great point for anxiety and relaxation.

Ears- Gently massage your ears with your thumb and forefinger. There is no exact pressure point so simply give yourself a relaxing ear massage.Pull down gently on the lobes and rub the inner surface of the ear for about 2-3 minutes. When you relax and massage your ear, you will feel soothed and calm all over.

Click here for our podcast interview with Qigong Master Mingtong Gu