An ITN film crew came to our Summer Course in Cornwall this year to film us warming up on the beach at Sennen Cove. Our group was featured as part of a documentary about the over use of prescribed opioid painkillers and the horrifying side effects from addiction. Last year the NHS spent £350 million on prescribing opioids. The tide is turning and there are alternative methods to drugs for pain relief, Tai Chi is one of those methods. Some of our students at the course have been offered drugs by their doctors and they were interviewed by ITN and talked about how Tai Chi has helped them find a better way to manage their illness. T’ai Chi is based on the principles of Chinese Medicine, the emphasis here is on Qi or life force, and on prevention and looking at the causes of disease rather than blocking out the symptoms. Drugs can be very effective in the short term but over time the body builds up a tolerance and then people may increase the dosage to counter the effect and this causes side effects and builds up a dependency. According to Chinese Medicine long term pain can be caused by obstructions in the flow of energy around the body, it is this energy that regenerates damaged tissues, pain results because the body is warning us that something is wrong. The body is constantly regenerating itself, your blood, skin, tissues, and muscles, even the bones and nerve and brain cells are replaced over time. The relaxed gentle movements of T’ai Chi and the mental focus help to guide the energy to the parts of the body where it is needed most and this reduces the recovery time as well as easing the pain. T’ai Chi cannot completely block out all pain, not for a beginner at least, then again powerful drugs although they are immediately effective can have serious drawbacks. Doctors are trained to prescribe drugs and perform operations so it may be difficult for them to step outside of this model and understand a type of medicine from another culture on the other side of the world that uses a completely different model and different methods. It’s not possible to see the effect the exercises are having by just watching, after all you cannot see what is going on inside the body, or experience what another person is feeling, but people who have actually tried this form of exercise can testify from their own experience that it works, and works effectively.
The documentary was broadcast on Thursday night September 20th and you can watch it online at the ITV hub. The Tai Chi section is in the last five minutes from 21:49 onwards.
If you are interested in looking at alternatives to medication then please contact us.