Shiatsu in Japanese means “finger pressure”; it is a type of alternative medicine consisting of finger and palm pressure, stretches, and other massage techniques. Shiatsu is an implausible therapy, and there is no evidence of its effectiveness. Shiatsu practitioners promote it as a way to help people relax and cope with issues such as stress, muscle pain, nausea, anxiety, and depression.


Tokujiro Namikoshi (1905-2000) invented shiatsu and founded the first shiatsu college in 1940.

According to Quackwatch, shiatsu draws on concepts from the field of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).


Shiatsu is usually performed on a futon mat, with clients fully clothed.


A 2011 systematic review of shiatsu’s effectiveness found that only a few studies had been carried out, and concluded that the available evidence “was of insufficient quantity and quality”. 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.

According to Cancer Research UK, “there is no scientific evidence to prove that shiatsu can cure or prevent any type of disease, including cancer.”