Qigong Bigu (Energetic Fasting): Your Best Investment in Health and Longevity

If the pandemic of COVID-19 taught us something important, that would be, the strength of your immune system will always be the key in defending yourself in such a public-health crisis. As the outbreak is still alive around the world, your best defense against the pandemic and other public-health crisis may still be the self-healing potential and your general health strength. When you get some time to think about future, or invest in your health and long-term well-being, it is high time to invest in your self-healing potential and in your capability to deal with the unknown future. For the fifth year we continue offering the teaching of an ancient Daoist practice — Bigu (避谷 energetic fasting) — online by Zoom platform, in response to the overwhelming demand for better health and deep mind-body connection. This is probably the best time for you to invest in your own health and well-being through Qigong Bigu (energetic fasting) and mindset training.

What is Bigu?

Energetic fasting, or Bigu (避谷), is an ancient health and longevity tradition used in both Daoist and Buddhist practice. As a matter of fact, all religions have some kind of fasting tradition. Bigu, which literally means “to avoid grain,” is unique to Daoist practice. The idea is not to eat grain and meat, but you may eat selectively during Bigu. Starving yourself is not necessary! Understanding this can dispel the fear many people have about Bigu, and eliminate the psychological burden of fasting.

Bigu is not simply not eating; and it is definitely not starving yourself. Bigu refers to an alternative way of living. By avoiding grain and cooked foods, and obtaining energy by alternative methods and technologies, one can achieve detoxification and immune system rebooting, cultivate qi and concentration, and prolong life. 

The key difference between Bigu and fasting is that, during Bigu, we will use alternative ways to gather energy so as to fill up the bodily needs . Through the Bigu techniques being taught and practiced in our workshop, you will have less or none hungry feeling, and you can stay away from eating for a longer period time without suffering, and with more health benefits.

There are three main methods to avoid grain or practice Bigu that have been recorded in ancient Chinese literature: information Bigu, gulping qi Bigu and taking-pills Bigu.  In addition, there are methods and practices of semi-fasting and fruit-juice fasting, which will not be discussed here. Information bigu requires a successful qigong master to transmit Bigu information and help students enter into the Bigu state without feeling hungry. Taking pill Bigu refers to the use of special Bigu energy pills, so as to nullify the sensation of hunger. It is said that the secret recipe for truly effective Bigu pills has been lost. Contemporary Bigu pills are developed in accordance with what records remain of ancient recipes. Sun Simiao’s “A thousand gold formula” contains parts of 54 Bigu pill recipes. In addition, “Pu ji fang,” “Compendium of Materia Medica,” and other traditional Chinese medicine classics list the content of Bigu pills. 

Gulping Qi with Qigong skill is the most popular and the best way for a layman to do Bigu in reality. Qigong Bigu refers to absorbing the energy of nature, collecting the energy of light waves in the universe, and swallowing the qi or essence from nature through information, qi extraction and mind relaxation. Gulping Qi Bigu for health was recorded in the literature unearthed from the Han Dynasty (2000 years ago) tomb in Changsha. In the Bigu workshop, Qigong Bigu will be the main method, though the other two methods of Bigu will be explored as well.

The Main Benefits of Bigu

According to modern scientific studies, reduced calorie-intake and fasting can significantly slow down the aging process, detoxify the body, rebood immune system, cleanse the digestive system, and increase bio-energy balance.  Scientific research supports these outcomes.

The 2016 Nobel Prize for medicine, awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi for research regarding cellular autophagy, supports the health benefits of fasting.  Autophagy is the process of utilizing and recycling unnecessary or dysfunctional cellular components—the so-called cellular rubbish which accumulates in cells.  Autophagy becomes especially active when an organism is under stress (for example: fasting). When an organism is stressed, cells upcycle cellular rubbish to produce energy– that cellular rubbish includes disease-causing bacteria.  Ohsumi’s discovery indicates that abstaining from food and fasting promotes wellness—the body truly cleanses itself during fasting.

Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi

A systematic review of fasting in scientific literature (Longo & Mattson 2013, Cell Metabolism) came to the conclusion that “fasting has the potential to delay aging and help prevent and treat diseases while minimizing the side effects caused by chronic dietary interventions.” A relationship was discovered between long-living calorie-restricted mice and the types of microbes living in their guts. The finding, published in 2013 Nature Communications, suggests that one can live longer by establishing the right kind of microbes in the gut through a low-calorie diet.

In June 2000, a conference was held at Penn State University that explored the health benefits and scientific research of Qigong Bigu with 500+ attendants. http://www.scribd.com/doc/40294944/Bigu-Conference-Report-PennState-June-2000

Images from the National Conference on Yanxin Qigong and Bigu Manifestation, held at Pennsylvania State University (June 2000).

Since 2000 more and more scientific studies have been carried out to explore the healht benefits of fasting, and its underline mechanism. A recent review has revealed such a dramatically increased trend:

In 2020 even the top medical journal NEJM published a review on the effects of fasting on health, aging and diseases. The conclusions are overall very positive: Studies and clinical trials have shown
that intermittent fasting has broad-spectrum benefits for many health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, cancers, and neurologic disorders. (de Cabo R, Mattson MP. Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease. N Engl J Med. 2019;381(26):2541-2551. )

Some recent studies (Cheng et al. 2014; Brandhorst et al. 2015) reported that fasting can regenerate the entire immune system. Brandhorst et al (2015) claim that “a periodic diet that mimics fasting promotes multi-system regeneration, enhanced cognitive performance, and lifespan. In other words, fasting is probably the most powerful way to activate the body’s self-healing potential.”  http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/abstract/S1550-4131(15)00224-7

In summary, the research-supported health benefits of Bigu may include:

  • Detoxification – especially of the digestive system, and the entire endocrine system;
  • Boosts immune system (the immune system reboots after 72 hours of fasting)
  • Weight-watch through a metabolic system reboot (not the main goal, but it’s a safe and effective way to lose weight)
  • Spleen and stomach tonification – 80% of those with stomach disease get cured after one Bigu practice
  • Facial beautification and wrinkle reduction through self-melting, and increased micro-circulation
  • Purification of the blood and softening of the blood vessels (due to increased metabolism and autophagy)
  • Anti-cancer (more oxygen, less glucose, less stress and increased body-heat during fasting)
  • Repairs the body to get rid of chronic diseases (self-healing & self-regenerating)
  • Slows down the aging process and returns youth (prolongs cell life)
  • Cultivates wisdom – one thinks more clearly and more sensitively after fasting
  • Increased survival ability
  • Builds willpower and positive energy
  • Great way to start mind-body cultivation and spiritual practice (Bigu boosts your sense of happiness)

Dr. Michael Mosley made a documentary called “Eat, Fast, and Live Longer” for BBC. Here is a link to view the entire documentary: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xvdbtt_eat-fast-live-longer-hd_shortfilms Given its long known benefits, it is not surprising that scientists are interested in the relationship between fasting and longevity.

Highlights of Our Online Bigu Workshop

With years of personal experience and study of Bigu, Dr. Kevin Chen at University of Maryland School of Medicine has started teaching this ancient form of healing and wellness practice since 2014. This March he will offer his unique teaching of Qigong Bigu (fasting) and alternative ways to gain energy online, through Zoom platform.  The workshop will teach and offer practice in the following aspects:

  • The Bigu fasting mindset — how to synchronize with the higher power, the immortals, and Gods
  • Physical and mental preparation skills for fasting
  • Information and energy field leading to Bigu status (信息辟谷)
  • Specific Qigong techniques on how to fast, which include turtle breathing, skin-breathing meditation, gulping Qi fasting (服气辟谷), Sixteen gold nacks Qigong, energy exchange with trees, and many other Qigong exercises
  • How to make and take fasting pills
  • Acupressure for fasting and pain-relief
  • How to assess if you are doing it right and what to do if you feel very hungry
  • How to break the fast (resume normal eating)
  • How to keep the positive outcomes after Bigu workshop;
  • Daily Q&A session

Dr. Chen will share techniques on how to cleanse and purify your body, including your heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, and spleen, and lead a daily qigong practice during the training; as well as explain where life-energy comes from when you are not eating food.  Cleansing your body and blood of toxins with Bigu helps balance your energy! The class will not only make your fasting easier, but it will also inject some ancient wisdom on diet and detoxification into your daily life. With appropriate guidance and careful monitoring, Qigong Bigu or fasting can be a safe and effective way to encourage health and healing and increase the benefits of Qigong practice.

The Bigu workshop promotes a tradition of health and wellness, mind cultivation, stress management, and peace and happiness on life’s journey.

When: Next Workshop on March 13-17, 2024  (Wednesday to Sunday)

  • March 13 (Wednesday): 7:00 to 8:30pm EST — Online preparation, introduction, Q&A
  • March 14 (Thursday): 7:00 to 9:30pm (EST) — Open ceremony for the workshop
  • March 15 (Friday): 9:30am to 11:30am (EST, qigong practice) and 7:00–9:30pm (EST, Lecture + Q&A) note: we start later so that people from West coast can attend easily)
  • March 16 (Saturday): 9:30am to 11:30am (EST, qigong practice) and 7:00–9:30pm (EST, Lecture + Q&A )
  • March 17 (Sunday): 10:45am –1:00pm (EST) — how to break the Bigu, and how to maintain the positive outcomes with lifestyle modification.

Note: if you have to miss 1 or 2 classes due to work or other commitments, we will have video-recordings of the classes available.

Where:  Online Workshop with Zoom Platform

You need a computer (desk-top or laptop)  with multi-media capabilities (camera, speaker and microphone) or an iPad (or other tablet) to attend the Zoom sessions and to see the PowerPoint presentations.  If you don’t have computer, a smart phone can also be used (just not easy to see clearly, especially when you learn the qigong exercises.)

Download the Zoom app here:  https://zoom.us/ 

Cost & Registration:

  • Early-registration before Feb 29, 2024: $260 ($140 for repeated students)
  • Regular registration after Feb 29: $300 ($180 for repeated students)
  • $50 minimum deposit required (non-refundable) to register; registration fee can be used for part of the tuition in this workshop or in future workshops.
  • 10% discount offered to UMB/UMROI employees, students & seniors 65+
  • Pre-registration is required, class is limited to 36 new participants to ensure quality of teaching and better interaction
  • Group discount available when registering together: 2 people registering together get 10% off; 3 people together get 15% off; 4 or more registered together, get 20% off. (Please register by making the deposit first, then figure out what the final amount due will be).
  • Registration closes on March 12, or when the class limit is reached. Drop-in students are not allowed.

You can register online with a credit card by clicking on the following link:

Click HERE to download the Bigu_Registration_Form; return the signed registration form with payment to register (Note: limited up to 36 new participants, so please register early).

About the Instructor: Dr. Kevin W Chen:

Dr. Chen is an adjunct faculty at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He is the deputy secretary-general of the World Academic Society of Medical Qigong. Professor Chen is actively engaged in the research and application of medical qigong in the United States, with a focus on the role of TCM wellness and qigong cultivation in stress management, drug addiction, and cancer rehabilitation. He is the associate editor of the college textbook “Chinese Medical Qigong” (London: Singing Dragon, 2010)

Professor Chen has studied with several Daoist masters and practiced Qigong Bigu for many years. Since 1999, he has practiced full Bigu for 2-3 times a year; each time lasting 7-14 days, and the longest time lasting 21 days (whilst going to work and attending classes as usual). He is passionate about sharing the Daoist secrets and spirit through teaching the Bigu technique and method.

Note: Bigu Qigong fasting is not recommended for people who currently:

  • Have psychotic disorders, or a history of psychotic illness
  • Have extreme physical weakness, or serious illness.
  • Patients with the following severe symptoms: internal bleeding or vomiting blood, ulcer perforation, recent heart attack, severe heart disease and angina pectoris, severe kidney disease, and the stage 2-3 pulmonary tuberculosis.
  • Patients who have long-term use of insulin or epinephrine, or liver, kidney and other organ transplant recipients.
  • Children under 16 and adults that weigh less than 85 lb.

Please email Dr. Kevin Chen at Qigong4us@hotmail.com or Jeri Hemerlein  at jerihemerleinqigong@gmail.com for more information or if you have any questions. Thanks!

You may join the FREE Facebook group for discussion and updates:


This workshop will become part of our annual Qigong programming in Maryland, when travel restrictions are eased. At the moment, Dr. Chen is based in China.  You may also be interested in Dr. Chen’s Online Weekly Qigong for Health class (go to http://yang-sheng.com/?p=12020 ).

The other planned Bigu workshops in 2024 include:

  • Summer Bigu Workshop: July 11-14, 2024 (Thursday to Sunday)
  • Autumn Bigu Workshop: November 7~10, 2024 (Thursday to Sunday)

With 20+ years of personal experience and study of Qigong Bigu, Dr. Kevin Chen will offer his qigong training and teaching in the Baltimore area when conditions permit, including the yearly fasting workshop.

Selected Testimony from previous participants:

“Since the fast, I have only taken 3 half doses of my blood pressure medication.  My pressure now runs  between 115-135/51-75  without medication…..  I lost my taste for high carb/high sugar foods that I know are not good for me.  — M.C.

“I liked the fasting workshop online. It felt like a refresher course for me and an inspiration to practice consistently.”

“I really enjoyed the Bigu class. It was a great success! Thank you so much Kevin!” “I lost 10 lb. from 131 to 121 although it was not my goal.      My blood pressure is lower than before. From 134-130/86-85 to 125-118/84-76. Every day is different. I feel good and lighter. I did it for 7 days instead of 4 days. It’s good. It’s not as difficult as I thought would be. I will do it again in the future for self-detoxification. It’s a great way.” —– P. Y.

“I felt incredibly at peace, happy, energized, healthy and upbeat. No chatter in my brain.  I felt energized and comfortable in my skin and felt like I could finally get enough air.  My stomach stopped hurting…. The shoulder, neuropathy pain, and tingling in the feet and hands went away.  Afterwards, I was shocked that I was able to increase my range of stretch on my radiated side much more.  The skin on my face looked bright and felt extra soft.  I also noticed that some stubborn keloids that I had on my lower left abdomen healed in the center so that I had an inch of healthy healing in the middle of a very long keloid scar….  I felt wonderful during the fasting.”  — F.H.

“This has changed my mind about water fasting.  I have fasted with fresh vegetable juice many times before; now I can clearly see definite benefits of water fasting.  The teachers were very informative, they helped me to release fears!” — C.W.

“Very interesting challenges. It lets you get in touch with yourself, appreciation for water, breathing and qigong exercises, and their role in healing…. (my) allergies were less, feet were better, and feel clear headed.” — M.F.

“Digestion better; mindfulness improved; meditation more focused…. If you take the principles offered in the class, a person’s health will vastly improve.” — R.D.

“Very nice experience… My joint pain in hips & shoulders has been much less.” — P.T.

“I felt this fast was extremely successful!  It was my first time and I actually fasted for a week, because I felt so good during the fasting.  I had a wonderful time and it was mind-opening.  It broke a lot of my assumptions about food and the body and was a lot of fun in the group setting.” — F.H.

Register Online….

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