A Small Move by Congress, a Big Leap for Tai Chi and Qigong
January 16, 2015 -
On December 17, 2014,
the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a
federal agency under the National Institutes of Health, adopted a new name - the
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). The primary
responsibility of this Center has been and still is for research on
unconventional approaches for health such as
Tai Chi and
The name change of a relatively small federal agency may not be news worthy for
general public and the mass media, for people who practice Tai Chi and Qigong,
however, this change has significant meanings. Why?
This revision was mandated by the Congress as part of the omnibus budget measure
signed by President Obama in December. The Congress changed the Center's name to more accurately reflect the Center's research commitment to
studying promising health approaches that are already in use by the American
public, including Tai Chi and Qigong.
Since the Center's inception in 1998, "complementary approaches have
grown in use to the point that Americans no longer consider them an alternative
to medical care", says the Center in their announcement about the new name.
The name change is in keeping with the Center's existing Congressional mandate
and is aligned with the strategic plan currently guiding the Center's research
priorities and public education activities.
Large population-based surveys have found that the use of alternative medicine - unproven practices used in place of conventional medicine - is
rare. Integrative health care, defined as a comprehensive, often
interdisciplinary approach to treatment, prevention and health promotion that
brings together complementary and conventional therapies, is more common. "The use of an integrative approach to
health and wellness has grown within care settings across the United States,
including hospitals, hospices, and military health facilities", the Center's
"We are very encouraged by this change", says Gary Jiang, the President of
American Tai Chi & Qigong Association
(ATCQA) who holds a Master Degree in Public Policy and Management. "I think this is a formal recognition by
the Congress and American people that the effectiveness and the safety of the
unconventional approaches like Tai Chi and Qigong have been proven by reliable
ATCQA is now working to
develop new strategy to promote Tai Chi and Qigong with the emphasis on the
integrative health as opposed to the alternative medicine. The new strategy will
be reflected in the marketing materials that ATCQA provides to its professional
members and certified instructors.