Tai chi is found to augment the immune response to the varicella zoster virus.
Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles studied the effects of tai chi on resting and vaccine-stimulated levels of cell-mediated immunity to the varicella zoster virus and on health functioning in older adults. 112 healthy adults over aged 59 to 86 were randomly assigned to receive 25 weeks of tai chi or health education. After 16 weeks both groups were vaccinated with the VARIVAX vaccine, which is licensed to prevent varicella, the virus that causes shingles. The tai chi group was found to have significantly higher levels of varicella cell-mediated immunity than the health education group. Tai chi alone induced an increase in varicella cell-mediated immunity that was comparable in magnitude with that induced by the varicella vaccine alone. The combination of tai chi and vaccine resulted in a substantially higher cell-mediated immunity than the vaccine alone. The tai chi group also had significant improvements in several secondary measures; physical functioning, bodily pain, vitality and mental health.