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FROM:  Bill Douglas’ World Tai Chi & Qigong Day Website --  March 14, 2020

What is the role of helper T cells in the immune system?

Helper T cells are arguably the most important cells in adaptive immunity, as they are required for almost all adaptive immune responses. They not only help activate B cells to secrete antibodies and macrophages to destroy ingested microbes, but they also help activate cytotoxic T cells to kill infected target cells.

STUDY:                Regular Tai Chi Chuan exercise improves T cell helper function of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus with an increase in T-bet transcription factor and IL-12 production.

OBJECTIVE:          This study investigated the effect of a 12-week course of Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) exercise on T cell helper (Th) reaction in patients with type 2 DM.

CONCLUSIONS:    A 12-week TCC exercise program decreases HbA1c levels along with an increase in the Th1 reaction. A combination of TCC with medication may provide an even better improvement in both metabolism and immunity of patients with type 2 DM.


Practicing Tai Chi boosts immunity to shingles virus.
Researchers found that prior to the vaccine only the Tai Chi group showed an increased shingles immunity. After the vaccine, both groups showed a boost in immunity levels but the Tai Chi group's increase was almost double that of the control group -- in fact,  the Tai Chi group's shingles immunity was as good as those of adults 30 years younger.


Tai chi boosts your immune system  (T-Cell count DOUBLED).   
The ancient martial art of tai chi could substantially boost the body's immune system. Medisch Dossier (volume 6, number 7), a Dutch medical newsletter, reports on a study where a group of older men and women (average age of 70) practiced tai chi three days a week for 45 minutes. After fifteen weeks they not only felt healthier, but had twice the number of immune cells or so-called T-cells “with memories”, which are specially equipped to knock out the virus that causes shingles—an affliction in many older people.      
-- Ode Magazine

Tai Chi had a significant effect on functional mobility and beliefs about the health benefits of exercise.
Total white blood cell and red blood cell count did not change, but a significant decrease in monocyte count occurred.  A significant increase in the ratio of T helper to suppressor cells (CD4:CD8) was found, along with a significant increase in CD4CD25 regulatory T cells.

--  British Journal of Sports Medicine , 40, 239-43

Tai Chi may increase T-Cells. 

A study conducted in China indicates that T'ai Chi may increase the number of T lymphocytes in the body. Also known as T-Cells, these lymphocytes help the immune system destroy bacteria and possibly even tumor cells. 

-- Prevention Magazine V. 42, May 90, p.14-15

Practicing Tai Chi Boosts Immune System in Older Adults, UCLA Study Shows.
The 25-week study, which involved a group of 112 adults ranging in age from 59 to 86, showed that practicing tai chi chih alone boosted immunity to a level comparable to having received the standard vaccine against the shingles-causing varicella zoster virus.  The findings demonstrate that tai chi chih can produce a clinically relevant boost in shingles immunity and add to the benefit of the shingles vaccine in older adults.


These are exciting findings, because the positive results of this study also have implications for other infectious diseases, like influenza and pneumonia," said Irwin, who is also director of the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology.


The study divided individuals into two groups. Half took tai chi chih classes three times a week for 16 weeks, while the other half attended health education classes [classes lasted 40 minutes, a set of 20 tai chi exercises] — including advice on stress management, diet and sleep habits — for the same amount of time and did not practice tai chi chih. After 16 weeks, both groups received a dose of the shingles vaccine Varivax. At the end of the 25-week period, the tai chi chih group achieved a level of immunity two times greater than the health education group. The tai chi chih group also showed significant improvements in physical functioning, vitality, mental health and reduction of bodily pain.

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