There is research on shiatsu happening all around the world looking into its safety and efficacy. See below for studies into effects of shiatsu treatment on headaches, lower back pain, anxiety, stress, pain, sleep quality...
Manjung Kim and Jaehee Kim
Published by the Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, February 2021
"The 4-week acupressure intervention showed significant reduction in pain and improvement in neck disability and flexibility, suggesting that acupressure intervention is an effective treatment for chronic neck pain."
Tara Schintler, Georgia Taylor, Juliet Watson
Published by Western Region Centre Against Sexual Assault, 2020
"This evaluation of providing a trauma-informed body-based program alongside talk-based therapy within a sexual assault service offers evidence of how such a holistic approach can alleviate the impact of trauma, and suggests the benefits of such a union." p. 4
Carey Brown, Annette Rivard, Kathy Reid, Bruce Dick, Leisa Bellmore, Pei Qin, Vineet Prasad, Yuluan Wang
Published in by International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, Vol. 13 No. 4 (2020), pp 3-11
"Contrary to objective findings, self-report data support the technique of HSS [hand self-shiatsu] to improve sleep. Participants’ comments reflected an overall high level of acceptance and appreciation for the HSS technique. Results highlight the importance of expanding the theory and practice related to sleep measurement to better integrate the qualitative domain."[Conclusion]
Published by European Journal of Integrative Medicine, Vol. 32, December 2019
"Shiatsu was able to improve some domains of the HRQoL of the specific person with SPMS. It was a safe treatment with no adverse events. Mixed methods n-of-1 trial within a WSR case study was an appropriate design for the study."
Emma Strapps, Jennifer Hunter, Dorothy Douglas, Paul Spence
Published online in Advances in Integrative Medicine, August 2019
"Results from the first national workforce survey of shiatsu practitioners in Australia suggest shiatsu practitioners are engaging in the shared care of their clients' health and wellbeing, including referrals or recommendations to other healthcare practitioners. Practitioner characteristics generally align with those reported for the broader field of CM in Australia and shiatsu practitioners in Western Europe. Reported positive outcomes for chronic diseases and common yet difficult-to-treat symptoms signal areas for future clinical research."[Conclusions]
Daiki Kobaysahi, Takuro Shimbo, Hana Hayashi, Osamu Takahashi
Published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Volume 45, August 2019, pp 33-37
- "This is the first randomised controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy of Shiatsu for lower back pain.
- The efficacy was evaluated with well-validated scores for lower back pain and disability.
- Shiatsu therapy improves both symptoms and QOL [quality of life] shortly after Shiatsu therapy."
I-Hui Chen RN, PhD, Tzu-Pei RN, PhD, Yuen-Chen Yeh RN, PhD, Mei-Ju Chi PhD, Mei-Wen Chen RN, PhD, Yin-Yi Lien BS, Chih-Fen Yuan RN, PhD
Published in Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, In Press, Available online 20 February 2019
Prospective, randomised, double-blind, sham-controlled trial. Sixty-two nursing home residents with poor sleep quality and psychological distress participated.
"Acupressure at true acupoints improves sleep quality, reduces psychological distress, and provides more clinically beneficial effects compared with that at sham points." [Conclusion]
Pei Qin, Bruce Dick, Ada Leung, Cary Brown
Published in Journal of Integrative Medicine, Vol. 17 Issue 1, January 2019, pp 24-29
"These findings support the hypothesis that HSS [hand self-shiatsu] has the potential to improve sleep and reduce daytime fatigue in young post concussion athletes. This pilot study provides guidance to refine research protocols and lays a foundation for further, large-sample, controlled studies."
Relieving pressure - An evaluation of Shiatsu treatments for cancer & palliative care patients in an NHS setting
Neil Browne, Philippa Bush, Fernando Cabo
Published in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine, Vol. 21, August 2018, pp 27-33
"Anxiety, stress management and pain scores were the most improved. Wellbeing scores also improved, on average, by two points on the Likert scale. Patients stated that 'being listened to' and 'being heard' were important factors when describing how Shiatsu had helped."
Giuseppe Lanza, Stella Silvia Centonze, Gera Destro, Veronica Vella, Maria Bellomo, Manuela Pennisi, Rita Bella, Domenico Ciavardelli
Published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine Vol 38, June 2018, pp 74-78
"The combination of Shiatsu and physical activity improved depression in AD patients compared to physical activity alone. The pathemechanism might involve neuroendocrine-mediated effects of Shiatsu on neural circuits implicated in mood and affect regulation."
See also: Comment on "Shiatsu as an Adjuvant Therapy for Depression in Patients with Alzheimer's Disease: A Pilot Study
S Geremia, A Bin, T Bulfone, A Zanini, M Barbara
Published in Annals of Oncology, Vol 28, Supplement 6, October 2017, pp vi110-111
"Shiatsu is a complementary mind-body treatment; it can be considered like a psychophysical help during oncology disease. It could also be considered as a resource for well being, relaxation, and life quality improvement."
Veronica Villani, Luca Prosperino, Fulvio Palombini, Francesco Orzi, Giuliano Sette
Published in Neuralogical Sciences 2017, online 10 March 2017 Copyright Springer-Verlag Italia 2017
"This article presents the findings from a single-blind, randomised trial investigating the effect of combining shiatsu plus amitriptyline for patients with refractory headaches. Although the combination did not provide any additive/synergistic effect, the shiatsu was superior to amitriptyline in reducing the number of pain killers taken per month. There was no safety concern for shiatsu (alone or in combination)."
Hanan F Abbas Soliman, Eman A Soliman El-Hosary
Published in International Journal of Nursing Didactics, 7: 4 April 2017
Daniel Pach, Mike Piper, Fabian Lotz, Thomas Reinhold, Mirja Dombrowski, Yinghui Chang, Susanne Blödt, Gabriele Rotter, Katja Icke,1 and Claudia M. Witt
'Based on the findings of the present study, it was concluded that the shiatsu group had a significant reduction in the severity of primary dysmenorrhoea pain and symptoms after using the shiatsu therapy at "sea of energy" point.' [Conclusion]
Published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, October 2017
"An additional treatment with six tuina sessions over 3 weeks was effective, safe and relatively cost-effective for patients with chronic neck pain.
A future trial should compare tuina to other best care options."
Japan Shiatsu College
Neil Browne, Fernando Cabo, Donatella Gabrielli, Rumiko Ishii, Diego Robirosa, Rita Serra
Published in European Journal of Integrative Medicine, Volume 8, Issue 4, August 2016, pp 589-590
"Anxiety, stress management and pain scores were the most improved, on average, by two points on the Likert scale. Patients have stated that 'being listened to' and 'being heard were important factors when describing how Shiatsu had helped."
Teimoori Batool, Navvabi-Rigi Shahin-Dokht, Rajabi Shahnaz, and Arbabisarjou Azizollah
Published in Global Journal of Health Science 2015 May; 7(3): pp 177-183
Randomized control trials conducted on 288 women with post-term pregnancy
"Results of the study showed that shiatsu technique can be used as one of safe complementary methods for post-term induction."
Yuan SL, Matsutani LA, Marques AP
Published in Manual Therapy 2015 20(2)
"Shiatsu improves pain, pressure pain threshold, fatigue, sleep and quality of life..."
Fatemeh Mohaddes Ardabili, Soybeh Purhajari, Tahereh Najafi Ghezeljeh and Hamid Haghani
Published in World Journal of Plastic Surgery, 2015 January; 4(1) pp 36-39
"Based on our findings, 20 minutes of hand Shiatsu massage in conjunction with analgesic medications can be beneficial to control the anxiety of burn patients."
Published in International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, Volume 7, Issue 4, December 2014 pp 23-28
"Zen Shiatsu, a Japanese modality based on traditional Chinese medicine, provided meaningful and positive benefits for a child with autism. This case study offers preliminary evidence for the possibility of Zen Shiatsu providing a viable complementary therapy for alleviating stress in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, thereby potentially improving the overall health-related quality of life."
Fatemeh Mohaddes Ardabili, Soybeh Purhajari, Tahereh Najafi Ghezeljeh and Hamid Haghani
Published in World Journal of Plastic Surgery, 2014 July; 3(2) pp 115-118
"According to our data, shiatsu method over both hands and legs were effective in pain reduction and can be recommended together with analgesics to decrease the dose."
Cary A Brown, Geoff Bostick, Leisa Bellmore, Dilesha Kumanayaka
Published in Journal of Integrative Medicine
, Volume 12, Issue 2, March 2014, pp 94-101
"These preliminary findings are promising and future studies exploring the mechanism of action and with stronger control of treatment fidelity are indicated."
Susan LK Yuan MSc, Ana A Berssaneti PhD, Amelia P Marques PhD
Published in Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Vol. 36, Issue 7, September 2013 pp 436-443
Zoe M Pirie, Nick J Fox, Nigel J Mathers
"This pilot study showed the potential of shiatsu in the improvement of pain intensity, pressure pain threshold, sleep quality, and symptoms impact on health of patients with fibromyalgia. The proposed Shiatsu treatment protocol was feasible and well accepted by the patients."
Published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, Volume 18, Issue 1, February 2012 pp 37-42
Project for the Systematic Review of the Efficacy, Safety and Efficiency of Traditional East Asian Medicine
"Findings of this single case study suggest that shiatsu is highly valued by patients and GPs, recommending further research into its cost and clinical effectiveness." p. 41
R Fuji, A Ogata, H Tsukayama, T Tokutake (University of Tsukuba), K Tsutan (University of Tokyo)
Lichtenberg P, Vass A, Playa H, Edelman S, Heresco-Levy U
Published in Alternative therapies in health and medicine 2009 Sept-Oct; 15(5) pp 44-6
"On all scales of psychopathology and side effects, the subjects showed a statistically and clinically significant improvement by the end of treatment. This improvement was maintained at the 12-week follow-up. These findings, while encouraging, must be considered preliminary and require confirmation and cross-validation in larger-scale controlled studies." [Results]
Andrew F Long, Lisa Edmond, Seamus Connolly
Published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Volume 17, Issue 3, June 2009, pp 168-175
"633 clients provided full follow-up data, a response rate of 67%. A prevalence rate of 12–22 per 100 of client-perceived ‘negative responses’ was found across the three countries. Transitional effects accounted for 82% of all the client-described ‘negative’ responses. Nine clients (1.4% of the total), relating to 10 sets of written comments, reported a negative response that was classified as ‘a potentially adverse event or effect’ that might represent a risk to client safety. None of these clients ceased shiatsu."
R Cohen, A Mendelson, A Gorelick
Published in Bone Marrow Transplantation, Vol. 43 Issue S1, March 2009
Andrew F Long
School of Healthcare, University of Leeds, December 2007
Japan Shiatsu College
"Following Shiatsu therapy, stress substantially decreased in 60% of individuals and moderately in 40% of all participants. In addition, improvement in general emotional and physical wellbeing was reported to be considerable in 90% and moderate in 10% of individuals... The use of ancient relaxation methods, such as Shiatsu, can significantly improve the sense of wellbeing and the ability to cope with stress in medical staff members working under constant pressure."[from Abstract]
Linda H Brady, Kathryn Henry, James F Luth, Kimberley K Casper-Bruett
First published 1 March 2001 Research Article
"... a study of 66 individuals complaining of lower pain. Each individual was measured on state/trait anxiety and pain level before and after four shiatsu treatments. Each subject was then called 2 days following each treatment and asked to quantify the level of pain. Both pain and anxiety decreased significantly over time... These subjects would recommend shiatsu massage for others suffering from lower back pain..."
Cheesman S, Christian R, Cresswell J
Published in International of Journal Palliative Nursing 2001 May,7(5):234-9
PE Harris, N Pooley
"The results of the analysis revealed significant improvements in energy levels, relaxation, confidence, symptom control, clarity of though and mobility."
Published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Vol. 6, Issue 1, March 1998, pp 30-35
"It was concluded that efficacy research in shiatsu should focus on musculoskeletal and psychological problems particularly neck/shoulder and lower back problems, arthritis, depression, stress and anxiety."
Ballegaard S, Norrelund S, Smith DF
Published in Acupuncture & Electro-therapeutics Research, 1996 Jul-Dec; 21(3-4) pp187-97
"The study suggests that the combined treatment with acupuncture, Shiatsu and lifestyle adjustment may be highly cost effective for patients with advanced angina pectoris." [Abstract]