Acupuncture has been empirically proven effective in the treatment of specific ailments for more than 4,000 years, Acupuncture is a Chinese medical technique. Over the past few decades, Acupuncture has been scrutinised by the medical establishment and has been shown to work in a number of medical trials. It is used primarily for the relief of pain but also for curing disease and improving general health. Recent research – which included testing the thickness of the epidermis over the acupuncture points – has confirmed the location of these points.
Acupuncture consists of stimulating the Qi (intrinsic energy) by inserting hair-thin needles through the acupuncture points. These points generally lie on pathways called meridians although there are many non-meridian acupuncture points. The needles are typically inserted 1/10 to 4/10 inch (0.3 centimetre to 1 centimetre) deep, but some procedures require the needles to be inserted as deep as 10 inches (25 centimetres). The acupuncture points are then stimulated using various techniques. Traditional techniques such as by gentle twirling, or by applying heat. Or using more recently developed techniques such as stimulation with a weak electrical current. Acupuncture points also can be stimulated by pressure (acupressure, Tuina, or Shiatsu), and ultrasound. Recent developments have led to stimulation by the use of certain wavelengths of light.

According to the World Health Organization, diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture has been proved, through controlled trials, to be an effective treatment:

  • Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
  • Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
  • Biliary colic
  • Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
  • Dysentery, acute bacillary
  • Dysmenorrhoea, primary
  • Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
  • Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
  • Headache
  • Hypertension, essential
  • Hypotension, primary
  • Induction of labour
  • Leukopenia
  • Low back pain
  • Malposition of fetus, correction of
  • Morning sickness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Neck pain
  • Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
  • Periarthritis of shoulder
  • Postoperative pain
  • Renal colic
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sciatica
  • Sprain
  • Stroke
  • Tennis elbow

The depth of insertion of the needles is dependent upon the nature of the problem, the underlying anatomy of the points selected, the patient’s size, age, and constitution. Needles should always be of the sterilised, disposable variety thus absolutely assuring that there is no transmission of communicable disease from patient to patient due to contaminated needles.

Although acupuncture is the insertion of needles, there are other techniques and methods used by acupuncture therapists. The most commonly of these are moxibustion, which is the burning of the herb mugwort over the affected area to heat it, cupping, and electronic stimulation. Shiatsu, Acupressure, and Tuina Chinese remedial massage are also used.

Normally associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture utilised the ancient Chinese theory of the Five Elements and the flow of Qi, (pronounced Chi, and meaning intrinsic energy) through discrete channels or meridians. The Qi in each meridian has a particular quality: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, Wood. Illness is said to be the result of an imbalance or blockage in the flow of Qi through the meridians and Acupuncture is used to regulate the flow of Qi, increasing it in areas of deficiency and decreasing it in areas of excess –bringing balance to the whole body and inducing a harmonious flow of Qi.



In Western medicine you can use the analogy of the doctor as a repairman…. The repairman fixes things, waiting until he finds something wrong before acting. Here, in the West, our medical system developed in such a way that we, the patients, wait until something is wrong before asking the doctor to repair it. In the East, the analogy could be that of a gardener who constantly digs over the ground, removing weeds, adding nutrients and generally tending to his garden. It is through this constant care that he ensures healthy growth. Shiatsu covers both of these aspects – healing and promoting health.

Shiatsu (pronounced shee-at-soo) is a Japanese word meaning “finger pressure” and is the name coined early in the 20th century to describe this form of healing therapy. It has been recognised as a healing system by the Japanese Government since the 1950’s and now, in the 21st century, it has been recognised by the European Parliament and included as only one of six named Complementary Therapies in the European Register of Non-Conventional Medical Disciplines.

Shiatsu, sometimes referred to as Acupressure, developed from a blend of Chinese acupuncture and the Japanese system of Anma (massage). The Shiatsu therapist uses fingers, thumbs, elbows and knees to apply pressure to the acupoints, also incorporating gentle stretches and manipulations. This has the effect of stimulating the circulation and the flow of lymphatic fluid, helping to release toxins and deep seated tension in the muscles. Shiatsu works on both divisions of the autonomic nervous system and can stimulate the hormonal system. For the recipient, treatment can create a feeling of well-being and calmness.

Shiatsu can be used to treat a wide range of ailments including the following: –

• Sports injuries
• Frozen shoulder
• Tennis elbow & Golfer’s elbow
• Whiplash
• Neck/shoulder pain
• Sciatica
• Lumbar pain
• Leg cramps.
• Headaches
• Migraine
• Tinnitus
• Dizziness
• Insomnia
• Anxiety
• Tension
• Stress.
• Palpitations and panic attacks.
• Facial pain
• Sinusitis pain
• Catarrh
• Trigeminal neuralgia
• Bell’s palsy.
• Arthritic/rheumatic pain.
• Lethargy
• Depression
• Breathlessness
• Asthma
• Bronchitis.
• Constipation
• Diarrhoea
• Bloating
• Indigestion
• Nausea.
• Oedema/water retention.
• Menstrual problems.

1. It is best not to drink alcohol on the day of the treatment; have a light meal at least one hour before your treatment.
2. Do not take a long hot bath on the day of the treatment.
3. For treatment wear loose clothing (tracksuit, etc). You will usually remain fully clothed during Shiatsu treatment, which usually takes place on a futon, at floor level.

Response to treatment

After Shiatsu most recipients feel invigorated yet relaxed. The duration and the frequency of treatment will vary from person to person, as will the total number of treatments.

While patients generally experience increased well-being, there may be temporary “healing reactions” as the lymphatic system starts to clear out any waste (toxins) and, occasionally, negative emotions are released. Shiatsu affects all levels of our being, the physical, emotional and spiritual; treatment is attuned and tailored to the individual’s needs. The practitioner may also give advice on diet, exercise and lifestyle, encouraging self-understanding and greater independence on health matters.

When looking for a Shiatsu Therapist, as with any other therapists, it is important that you check that they are qualified. The letters MRSS (Member of the Register of the Shiatsu Society) show that the therapist has passed the appropriate examinations and criteria. The therapist should also display a certificate of Registration with the Shiatsu Society as well as displaying a current certificate of insurance.

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