Rami's Blog

Like the Yin-Yang, Eastern Martial Arts and Western medicine are two halves of a whole. My mission is to preserve the ancient mind-body tools, and pass them on to you.


BMJ: Britain Medical Journal Publication & Time Article Featuring Ramel Rones!

Welcome back mind-body students!

I am proud and humbled to share with you another publication of my research & collaboration with Tufts Medical Center in the world-renowned BMJ: British Medical Journal! The study/research, published just a couple weeks ago, March 21 - 2018, is called "Effect of tai chi versus aerobic exercise for fibromyalgia: comparative effectiveness randomized controlled trial."

Thank you to Dr. Chenchen Wang and the entire research team at Tufts Medical Center!

You can read up on the BMJ study at the link above, or check out the following articles and videos as well:

As some of you may know, I have been involved in research over the last 15 years with Tufts Medical Center. We studied/researched autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and chronic pain conditions such as osteoarthritis of the knee, and fibromyalgia/chronic pain.

If you want to learn more about those conditions and the work me and my team did (as well as watch the video Tufts communication did), check out my last blog, or read up at the links below:

As I mentioned in my last blog, 15 years ago when I first met with my PI (principle investigator) Dr. Chenchen Wang at Tufts medical center, I was challenged with designing a mind-body Tai Chi intervention for all three of the conditions above. Not all at once, of course! But over those years I would develop an intervention for each one separately.

I was also given the task, in the first six years, for the R21grant, to teach and implement the Tai Chi or mind-body intervention that I designed for each one of the three conditions.

Using my knowledge and understanding of Tai Chi, Chi Kung, and Yoga (and what I have learned from years of experience working with individuals with the three conditions) I created a simple mind-body/Tai Chi intervention. It included gentle modified stretching, modified strengthening exercises, a strong emphasis on deep breathing in different postures, and a focus on engaging in different forms of meditation and visualizations with some Tai Chi movements from the Yang style Tai Chi.

You can see all of these components in my books and DVDS, such as Sunrise Tai Chi, Sunset Tai Chi, and Tai Chi Energy Patterns. 

For the rheumatoid arthritis, the mind-body intervention was 70% deep breathing and meditation, and 30% stretching and some strengthening elements. You can read the article/publication about the rheumatoid arthritis study/research in the Oxford Academic Rheumatology 5 -2005; with the title: “Effect of Tai Chi in adults with rheumatoid arthritis.

For our study of osteoarthritis of the knee, the Tai Chi intervention was 70% physical: lots of flexibility and strengthening exercise. The other 30% was mental: deep breathing, meditation, visualizations, and evoking the spirit. You can read the osteoarthritis study/research publication in the NCBI November - 2009 with the title: “Tai Chi is Effective in Treating Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

The Fibromyalgia study, like the one for rheumatoid arthritis, used a Tai Chi intervention that was more mental (~60%) such as deep breathing, visualizations, and evoking the spirit. The physical elements made up about 40% of the intervention. Read the fibromyalgia study in the New England Journal of Medicine, August 19 – 2010 with the title: “A Randomized Trial of Tai Chi for Fibromyalgia.

Of course, as all the groups advanced, across all the conditions being studied, even the physical exercises became more and more internal -- integrating the physical movements and exercises with deep breathing, engaging in meditation and Tai Chi typical visualizations, and eventually evoking the spirit.

Many times I would start the students on a chair for certain exercises, and over time and practice most students were able to move out of the chair into standing positions.

In both the osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia studies, I witnessed tremendous positive changes on both the physical and mental levels. In the study on rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease and therefore a much harder challenge, the differences, from before and after, were not as notable. It is also possible that pursuing notable changes for only the time allotted to us by one R21 grant was not enough; maybe more time and a longer period of research are needed to show differences from before and after, especially with the side effects and symptoms of this difficult condition.

After doing the 5 years of R21 research (which are smaller studies/research that involved only 60 patients) and producing good enough results, Dr. Chenchen Wang was able to get more grant funding from the NIH to do larger-scale research which is referred to as an R01 grant. 

Using the R01 grant, we dealt with hundreds of patients verses just 60. That created a greater challenge. But with an outstanding PI (principle investigator) Dr. Chenchen Wang, and a great, smart, experienced, and knowledgeable research team of individuals, we were able to make it the research a success. Thank you again to each member of the research team!

In order to eliminate my personality element for the R01, the larger studies, we brought two other Tai Chi instructors in to teach in addition to myself. We also divided the participants into groups of roughly ten students. The groups were divided between the three Tai Chi instructors for teaching. This way we took out the factor of my “great personality” which, theoretically, could have a strong effect on the outcome.

This whole 15 years of research with Tufts and a few years of research with Dana-Farber was, for me, an unbelievable learning process and also a wonderful and humbling experience.

We compared the Tai Chi intervention to the regular care which is and was physiotherapy interventions, with hundreds of patients over a period of 5 years. Patients were randomly placed either in the Tai Chi groups or into the physiotherapy group. We also followed up with the participants one year after the studies, because we wanted to see and learn as well as collect data to how is there health a year after the research? Are they still practicing? 

Once the different researches were finished and many of the participants did not have the option to keep practicing my teaching/intervention at the research, some of the students followed me to other classes that I teach around the Boston area, and some became my private students! You can hear some of their testimonies in this video.

Over time teaching and implementing my mind body/Tai Chi intervention, the scientific community found that it produced great enough results to publish in some prestigious medical journals. 

If you are interested, take the time tp read through the different publications and articles. Learn, enjoy, and grow.

Thank you Ramel Rones (Rami).

As always, Happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!

If you are interested, in privates lessons, for improving quality of life or investing in prevention. If you are suffering from years of chronic pain which western system could not help you without pain killers; email me at rami@ramelrones.com.

If you are going through cancer treatment or its side effects and you are interested in complementing the treatments and the side effects with a mind body intervention, please email me at rami@ramelrones.com and we can talk and, if possible, I will design a tailored mind-body intervention specifically for you.

 If you want to hear what that is like, you can hear about it from my student Larry Lucchino in is testimonial about my mind body intervention: testimonial from former President  & CEO of the Boston Red Sox, and current owner of the Pawtucket Red Sox, Larry Lucchino.

Thank you, Ramel Rones (Rami)

A Look into My Work on Integrative Therapies at Tufts Medical Center

Tufts media covering the research that Ramel Rones has been collaborating on with Tufts Medical Center for the last 15 years.

Hi mind-body students! This week, we have a special edition blog for you. You may have already seen that the Tufts Medical Center media team is covering the integrative therapies research that I have been collaborating with the center on for the last 15 years. Today I wanted to give my readers a look into the all the work that we have been doing.

Over these 15 years, me and my colleagues at the medical center engaged in many research topics including Rheumatoid Arthritis (an autoimmune condition) osteoarthritis of the knee, and Fibromyalgia (chronic pain).

I was first was challenged to designed and then second asked to teach and implement the Tai Chi intervention for each one of the conditions above. Over time, with hard work, and thanks to Dr. Chenchen Wang our center was able to get R-21 grant money and R-01 grants money from the NIH; allowing us to do much larger research. Between the smaller studies which took 3 years and the large ones that took another 6 years, I worked with hundreds of individuals that were diagnosed with any of these conditions. The tremendous changes that I witnessed over the years, from before and after the studies, were amazing. Regaining physical independence, reducing chronic pain, getting off pain medication, and the change in mood and quality of life are what led to our studies gaining notoriety.

In both the smaller and the larger studies that we conducted at Tufts, the participants who used my Tai Chi intervention showed excellent results, and our evidence appeared in several of the top medical journals and publications in the world, including:

See in my next blog the latest publication in the BMJ: Britain Medical Journal, as well as the a special video!

The video below shows some of my students’ testimonials as well as some of the Tai Chi moves I taught and used in the studies at Tufts. It also includes a short interview with my principle investigator, and the director of Tufts integrative medicine, Dr. Chenchen Wang.

You’ll also hear me explain several of the Tai Chi principles and philosophies, such as the five building blocks of our being: Body, Breath, Mind, Energy and Spirit, which were used to achieve the great health results in our research. 

You can listen to me speaking at greater length about the five building blocks here, or you can read up on them in this article I wrote for YMAA.

In the Tufts video, I also speak about the monkey mind and the horse mind, which you can read more about in this article I collaborated on for the Waking Times.

If you haven’t seen it already, please enjoy the video! And remember: Happy stretching, deep breathing, empty your mind, strengthen your energetic system, and evoke your spirit!

New Study on Tai Chi and Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Knee osteoarthritis is a painful, chronic disability. Currently, there are very few effective methods for treating the symptoms, and virtually no remedies available for treating the root causes of the condition or improving longterm pain levels and knee function. Previous studies that I have helped develop, and other studies from around the world, suggest that Tai Chi could be an effective way of improving the lives and reducing the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis patients.

Until recently, no trials have directly compared Tai Chi to other therapies for knee osteoarthritis. But, I am excited to announce that I helped develop a study that does exactly that, and it was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine Journal!

The study, titled Comparative Effectiveness of Tai Chi Versus Physical Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Trial, examines the effectiveness of Tai Chi versus standard physical therapy as a treatment for knee osteoarthritis in a 52 week, single-blind, randomized trial.

To read the scientific abstract in full, click here.

204 participants (who averaged 60 years old) took part in the study. 70% were women and 30% were men, and all of them suffered from osteoarthritis of the knee. Each participant was put into one of two groups: one group did Tai Chi regularly for the duration of the study, and the other group did physical therapy.

At the end of the trial, both groups showed significant improvement in their symptoms. That’s good news, because it means that both Tai Chi and physical therapy work! However, the participants that did Tai Chi also reported a significant decrease in their feelings of depression, and felt that the physical part of their quality of life had improved dramatically.

Overall, this study did not prove that Tai Chi is better for your knee osteoarthritis than regular physical therapy, but it does provide evidence for the body AND mind benefits of a Tai Chi practice.

After all, why just have less pain when you can also feel happier and have a higher quality of life with the same amount of effort?

Again, if you would like to read the full study abstract, you can find it here.

I also want to give a big thank you (and congratulations) to all of my co-authors who worked hard to make this study happen. One more important study bringing the mind-body world and the world of science together.

Happy Stretching!

Integrative Pain Management, Part 1: The Problem of Pain

Chronic pain is a common symptom of countless conditions and injuries. Whether it's from fibromyalgia, knee osteoarthritis, cancer, or any other ailment, chronic pain can take you from 60 to 0 in no time flat. When doctors can't treat the underlying causes of chronic pain, "Take two aspirin and call me in the morning" just doesn't cut it.

Over the years, numerous solutions to the problem of chronic pain have developed, such as surgery, Cortisone shots, and Physiotherapy, to name a few. Each of these strategies has their ups and downs with regards to cost, invasiveness, permanence, chance of success, and so on. Many people find that one or more of these treatments is the solution they were looking for. Others, however, try all of them without any luck.

A recent development in the world of pain treatment is the widespread use of prescription painkillers, opioids in particular, which are a type of drug that works on the nervous system directly to inhibit pain. Common prescription opioids for pain relief include oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and fentanyl, an accidental overdose of which is believed to have caused the death of the late great musical artist Prince

The consequences of prescribing addictive substances to patients, even in highly controlled dosages, are only coming to light now. The numbers, however, are already staggering. In 2012, 259 million opioid prescriptions were written in the US, which is enough to give one bottle of pills to every adult in America. In 2014, nearly 2 million Americans were addicted to prescription pain killers, and in the same year, almost 19,000 Americans died from overdosing on them. The rate of such deaths has quadrupled since 1999. (For these stats and more, check out the ASAM's opioid addiction report, as well as the CDC's section on opioid overdose.)

And perhaps the worst part of this national situation is that these people still have chronic pain. The painkillers only work for as long as they are taken, and eventually the body will develop a tolerance for the medications that will make them less effective. The solution that I and many others have collaborated on is Integrative Pain Management. This mind-body approach not only avoids the dangers of prescription medication or surgery, but also seeks to incorporate the entire being (body, breath, mind, energy, and spirit) into the healing process, and fix the underlying causes of the chronic pain so that, through practice and discipline, it can be cured and not just numbed.

Over the next several weeks I will be posting integrative pain management content selected from my chapter in the book Integrative Pain Management: Massage, Movement, and Mindfulness Based Approaches. Share the blogs with your friends, post them on Facebook, and retweet me on Twitter so that we can get this pain-fighting knowledge to the people who need it.

Happy Stretching!

Na - Sensitivity Training - Listening with the Skin

When doing Na, or sensitivity training, you want to go slow and try not to compete but to be a good partner. Close your eyes and learn to sense with the skin on your hands. Go slow and start with one hand at a time and over time move to two hands simultaneously. Once you are comfortable with the physical movements then try visualizing your lower energy center while practicing Na. After that, work on the visualization of the 4 gates breathing while practicing Na; you can start with two gates, the upper ones, and over time add the lower ones as well. When you advance even further, you can do Na training on two wooden blocks (still visualizing the lower energy center, of course!).