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FAQ (Health)

Which problems can Shiatsu help?

Shiatsu can be used to treat a variety of minor problems such as insomnia, headaches, anxiety, back pain, constipation, skin irritations, etc. Shiatsu improves health generally by relieving stress, calming the nervous system and stimulating the circulatory and immune systems. It is particularly effective for stress-related tension and illnesses, insomnia, back pain, headaches and digestive upsets. However, through its stimulation of the hormone system shiatsu can also affect the digestive and reproductive systems. Apart from bringing relief to symptoms, shiatsu gradually corrects long term postural and behavioral imbalances leading to improved body/ mind awareness and a general sense of well-being and peace of mind.

It is possible that one session of shiatsu will be sufficient to remedy the problem by stimulating the flow of energy along the channels. This may be followed by recommendations for regular exercises and a possible change in diet and/or lifestyle.

Shiatsu invokes a general feeling of good health in the whole person, not just in the physical sense. There are many benefits for both the giver and the receiver of shiatsu, both on a physical and spiritual level. 

Related Topic: Stress Management

Is Shiatsu safe?

Shiatsu given by a qualified therapist is safe for everyone and particularly beneficial for pregnant women. Some therapists also treat small children and the elderly.

The basic guidelines as to when and where not to give or receive Shiatsu are similar to those of any treatment which affects the flow of energy, blood and body fluids through the system. These would include times of high fever, especially when accompanied by local infection or inflammation or by infectious disease of any sort; cancer; heart disease; and areas where there may be cuts, bruises, scar tissue, injury or swelling.

However, since Shiatsu techniques vary from the very dynamic to the soft and gentle, it could still be possible to use the supportive quality of some of the holding techniques in most of these situations. In fact, Shiatsu has been used effectively to complement other approaches in the treatment of various forms of cancer, heart disease, HIV + and AIDS.

Use caution and common sense in determining the suitability of a particular shiatsu treatment. For example, don't try any of the more dynamic movements on old, frail or weak-boned people.

Effectiveness of Shiatsu

The use of shiatsu and acupressure has been found in various medical studies to be beneficial in relieving pain and sickness.

In 1986, car factory workers were screened in a study to exclude any with organic disease or infection, and 142 workers with chronic lumbar pain were treated with acupressure daily for 21 days on points along the spine, back and front of legs. A marked improvement was found in 29 percent of patients, 68 percent were cured, while 3.5 percent had no noticeable change. Thos who received acupressure treatments reported improved sleep as well.

Acupressure was used to treat morning sickness on 350 women attending the Royal Maternity Hospital in Belfast in 1988. They were randomly allocated to three groups, and the severity of morning sickness was recorded daily for four days. The treatment group pressed a wrist acupuncture point, whereas the second group used a pretend acupressure point, and the control group had no treatment. There was much less sickness in the genuine and dummy pressure groups compared with the control group. No adverse side effects were reported in the patients' pregnancies.

A 24 month study reported in Current Psychiatric Therapy in 1977 documented the successful treatment of headache pain with "auto-acupuncture." The acupressure or shiatsu techniques were evaluated as symptomatic treatment for the pain of migraine, allergy, and tension headaches. The study was conducted with more than 500 neuropsychiatric outpatients. These patients were seen for more than 5000 visits. More than 200, had significant headaches, occurring more than once per week. "Autoacupressure" replaced outpatient prescriptions for analgesics and stronger medications, and the physicians involved felt that the value of the alternative health method was greatly enhanced by its easy availability and lack of toxic effects.

In 1982, the American Journal of Chinese Medicine reported that various methods, including acupressure, were beneficial in improving the general health of the elderly and in promoting longevity. IN 1980, American Journal of Acupuncture reported that shiatsu and acupressure had been used effectively in a community health education center over a period of six years with amazing results. The participants benefited greatly in self management of pain and stiffness due to physical and/or physiological, and stress related conditions.

Shiatsu is an approved therapy in Japan and is gaining in popularity as a complementary therapy in the western world.

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