Shiatsu (Kanji: 指圧 Hiragana: しあつ) in Japanese means "finger pressure"; it is a type of alternative medicine consisting of finger and palm pressure, stretches, and other massage techniques. Shiatsu practitioners believe in a purported type of vital energy called qi that flows through the body, and that their manual manipulations can help to unblock it and so help the body heal itself.
Tokujiro Namikoshi (1905-2000) founded the first shiatsu college in 1940, and is credited with inventing modern shiatsu. The term shiatsu was already in use in 1919, when a book called "Shiatsu Ho" ("finger pressure method") was published, and in 1925 the Shiatsu Therapists Association began, with the purpose of distancing shiatsu from Anma massage.
A 2011 systematic review of shiatsu's effectiveness found that only a few studies had been carried out, and concluded that the available "evidence is improving in quantity, quality and reporting, but more research is needed." Commenting on this conclusion Edzard Ernst said: "what does that tell us about shiatsu? It clearly tells us that it is an unproven therapy". Ernst has previously been a co-author of the Oxford Handbook of Complementary Medicine which had concluded that there was no convincing data available to suggest that shiatsu was effective for any condition. He also co-wrote Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial which concluded that "As yin and yang, acupuncture points and meridians are not a reality, but merely the products of an ancient Chinese philosophy, shiatsu is an implausible medical intervention. However, like all massage techniques it may generate relaxation and a sense of wellbeing."
According to Cancer Research UK, "There is no scientific evidence to prove that shiatsu can cure or prevent any type of disease, including cancer. Also, a lack of high quality research so far means there is currently no scientific evidence to support the use of shiatsu for controlling cancer symptoms. This doesn't mean that shiatsu doesn't work in controlling symptoms or side effects, simply that it has not yet been tested properly."
- "Shiatsu". Cancer Research UK. Retrieved August 2013.
- Singh, Simon; Ernst, Edzard (6 October 2009). Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial. Transworld. p. 148. ISBN 978-1-4090-8180-7.
- Stillerman, Elaine (2009). Modalities for Massage and Bodywork. Mosby. p. 281-300. ISBN 032305255X.
- Robinson, Nicola; Lorenc, Ava; Liao, Xing (2011). "The evidence for Shiatsu: A systematic review of Shiatsu and acupressure". BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 11: 88. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-88. PMC 3200172. PMID 21982157. "Shiatsu incorporates acupressure, which is similar but applies pressure for longer on specific pressure points on meridians, following Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)"
- Ernst, Edzard (15 October 2013). "Shiatsu: holistic therapy, naive nonsense or malicious quackery?". Retrieved 27 October 2013.
- Ernst, Edzard; Pittler, Max H; Wider, Barbara; Boddy, Kate (2008). Oxford Handbook of Complementary Medicine. doi:10.1093/med/9780199206773.001.0001. ISBN 9780199206773.
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