Skip to content

Shiatsu Research

The following are some examples of the latest research being conducted in both Asia and the West into the efficacy of Shiatsu for treating a broad range of conditions.

Efficacy of Shiatsu

A recent literature review of 66 randomised clinical trials published before April 2005 concluded that acupressure and Shiatsu are an effective form of treatment for a variety of conditions including: labour pain, morning sickness, menstrual pain, sleep quality, low back pain, depression, enuresis, gastrointestinal motility, asthma, motion sickness, cardiovascular function, post-operative issues of pain, vomiting and intestinal function.  Although most of reviewed trials were small, many demonstrated statistically significant effects.

Cocchrane database System Review. 2006 Oct 18: (4): CD003521

Lower Back Pain

Acupressure was shown to be effective in reducing low back pain. A recent randomised, controlled, longitudinal trial was conducted at the Institute of Preventive Medicine, Taiwan and reported in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
The trial evaluated the effectiveness of acupressure in terms of disability, pain, and functional status. 129 participants with chronic low back pain attended the Orthopedic clinic in Kaohsiung, Taipei, where they received acupressure or physical therapy for one month. The main outcome measure was Roland and Morris disability questionnaire, administered at baseline, after treatment, and at six-month follow-up. The mean total score was significantly lower in the acupressure group than in the physical therapy after treatment. Acupressure conferred an 89% reduction in significant disability compared with physical therapy. The improvement in disability score in the acupressure group compared with the physical group remained at six-month follow-up. Statistically significant differences between two groups were found for all six domains of the core outcome, pain visual scale, and modified Oswestry Low Back Pain Disability questionnaire after treatment and at six-month follow-up. The researchers concluded that the acupressure was an effective treatment for low back pain with sustained effects over 6 months.

Hsieh LL., et al (2006).  Treatment of low back pain by acupressure and physical therapy: randomised controlled trial. British Medical Journal. 25;332(7543):696-700.

Primary Dysmenorrhoea

A recent trial at the College of Medical Technology, Tainan, Taiwan evaluated the efficacy of acupressure at the Sanyinjiao point for primary dysmenorrhea among adolescent girls.  Dysmenorrhea is the most common gynecological disorder among adolescents.  Sixty-nine female participants with no prior history of gynecological disease or secondary dysmenorrhea and with a pain score above 5 on a visual analogue scale (scale range 0-10) took part in the trial. Thirty-five participants received acupressure, while 34 participants rested for 20 minutes. Fifty participants (30 experimental, 20 control) completed the 4- and 6-week follow-up sessions. Five instruments were used pre- and post-treatment at each session: (1) Visual Analogue Scale for pain; (2) the Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire; (3) the Menstrual Distress Questionnaire; (4) the Visual Analogue Scale for anxiety; and (5), for the experimental group only, the Acupressure Self-Assessment Form.  After the initial session, the acupressure reduced the pain and anxiety typical of dysmenorrhea. After the self-treatment follow-up session, the acupressure significantly reduced menstrual pain but not anxiety. Thirty-one (87%) of the 35 experimental participants reported that acupressure was helpful, and 33 (94%) were satisfied with effects of acupressure in relieving the pain and providing psychological support for dysmenorrhea. The findings suggest that acupressure at Sanyinjiao point can be an effective, cost-free intervention for reducing pain and anxiety during dysmenorrhea, and could be recommended for self-care of primary dysmenorrhea.

Chen HM and Chen CM. (2004). Effects of acupressure at the Sanyinjiao point on primary dysmenorrhoea. Journal of Advanced N.48(4):380-7.