According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in August, Fibromyalgia patients have a new hope: Tai Chi.

In the clinical study performed at Tufts University in Boston, MA, researchers randomly divided a group of 66 patients into two even groups of 33. The control group received 60 minutes of stretching and wellness information, while the other was taught Tai Chi. Researchers gave both groups a questionnaire that gathered information on physical pain, mental strain and overall quality of life. Additionally, patients were assessed by physicians. After 12 weeks, the same questionnaire was given, and they found the Tai Chi group experienced significantly better results over the control group. At 24 weeks, they again gave the questionnaire and found that the positive results of the Tai Chi group had been maintained. Furthermore, one third of that group stopped using their medications compared with one-sixth in the control group.

Fibromyalgia is a complex disorder marked by pain throughout the body, fatigue, insomnia and depression. Though it is not well understood, it is very real. It affects about 10 million people in the United States alone— most of them women. Tai Chi is a multifaceted practice, incorporating physical movement with mindfulness in a social environment. It is generally practiced as a form of Chi Gong—more for its healing and strengthening properties than its fighting application.

As such, it makes up one of Chinese medicine’s five branches. When combined with the other four: acupuncture, Chinese herbs, massage and nutrition, it can be very effective in healing many chronic conditions.