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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."
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