the starting spark
Beginnings may be small, may be coincidental. And then they may grow, winding their way through several stages of transformation. The Shiatsu Research Network emerged from the European Shiatsu Congress (ESC) 2017 in Vienna. Leisa Bellmore held a lecture about the basics of scientific research and its role in advancing the shiatsu profession. She invited shiatsu practitioners to consider taking steps in this field. Kristina Pfeifer, one of the participants, proposed collecting email addresses to establish a connection of practitioners interested in research. Kristina had recently taken part in a small evaluation about hypertension and shiatsu introduced by Silvia Eberl-Kadlec, which showed astonishing results. With the network, she hoped to motivate more research in the community. Initially, there were only about 30 people in a small google mailing group but this group soon grew.
Mike Mandl, the organizer of the ESC 2017, offered co-hosting with the ESC homepage for the emerging network. Kristina agreed, registered a domain and built a sub-homepage on the ESC platform that offered access to the mailing group and provided a small list of shiatsu studies. With the help of the ESC platform and an announcement via the Hara Journal, the network grew up to more than 100 members coming from several continents of the world. In this stage of immediate growth, introductions by members allowed for the sharing of ideas, hopes, questions, critiques and know-how that may guide the network and shift shiatsu research to the next stage. During autumn 2018, the Shiatsu Research Network (SRN) homepage migrated from the ESC homepage due to increasing traffic. Stergios Tsiormpatzis has joined the admin team, suggested a new host and developed a new homepage to meet the growing demands of the SRN. Together, with Irene Reichl, a three-person admin team was developed. The growing network with significant email traffic had become a platform of international discussion.
debate and discussion
Past issues were addressed and the network entered a stage of debate which led to lively discussion. Solutions were suggested, meetings arranged and support was provided. One result of a global debate about the basic necessities of research in shiatsu was a panel discussion in Vienna in June 2019 with practitioners, including Fernando Cabo and Patrizia Stefanini who had advocated for scientific research long before the network came into being. The three-hour discussion was broadcast on the radio and the recording is available [audio recording]. The panel discussion, organized by Eduard Tripp, identified a common focus and provided confidence to practitioners that scientific research can support the profession. In this discussion, Karin Koers and Achim Schrievers presented their research project about shiatsu and mindfulness practice which is based on a preliminary study by Jana Kraft [final report] . The SRN had already facilitated a strong relationship between the German research team and their shiatsu association and the associations in Austria and Switzerland. Kristina Pfeifer, Sandy Gsell, Karin Koers, Achim Schrievers, Catherine Ott and many others had met in May 2019 at the German Shiatsu Congress to share ideas and support for future tasks. At this time time the SRN provided a three hour workshop about research literacy organized by Karin Koers, Sandy Gsell and Kristina Pfeifer.
productivity and advancement
The network transitioned to its next stage of productivity. Stergios Tsiormpatzis worked diligently to provide first-hand advice and information when responding to questions and inaccuracies that arose. He helped to increase the level of discourse in the active group, which enhanced the approach and planning of studies. This process will continue in upcoming projects. As Irene Reichl, who developed a logo for the network and helped design the organizational structure had increased demands, Sandy Gsell from Switzerland joined the administration team in the summer of 2019. Sandy’s focus started with the open world café workshops, which promote a research literacy approach, and she expanded her input to guide the development of a concept for the growing SRN and identifying next steps .
The SRN mailing lists consist of a moderate and an intensive discussion group, both of which are open to all practitioners. Within the intensive discussion group future projects are discussed and connections are made, while other projects are developed from in-person meetings. For the immediate future, the SRN plans to establish a database for research studies about or related to shiatsu, develop resources for increasing research literacy in the shiatsu community and for enhancing the quality of research projects, create connections that help foster research with academic institutions and acquiring funding, and consider a possible transformation of the SRN into an international association.
Currently, members of the active team participate in research projects all over the world through providing expertise, establishing academic connections, creating a lobby for funding contacts, etc. Finally, shiatsu researchers no longer need to struggle and work in isolation. And practitioners who are interested in stepping into this world will find support through the SRN to make their plans and hopes become attainable.
... the workshop
So, what’s in here for you? At the ESC Amsterdam we will offer an exploratory workshop that will help you dive into the adventurous questions of scientific research. While we will give you an overview of various study designs, we will focus on how practitioners can do research within their own practice which may, with a diligent approach, lead to publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Because, after all, we know what we can accomplish with our hands, but it also needs to get out into the public to be seen.
Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash
This article was originally published by the Swiss Association of Shiatsu under the following links:
German Version: https://shiatsuverband.ch/wissenschaftlich-aufbereitete-studie-bestaetigt-shiatsu-hilft-bei-stress/
French Version: https://shiatsuverband.ch/une-etude-scientifiquement-fondee-le-confirme-le-shiatsu-aide-en-cas-de-stress/?lang=fr
Stress endangers health and has an impact on social life. The WHO calls for tackling the causes of stress. This requires interdisciplinary health concepts that incorporate a holistic approach, as practiced at Shiatsu. In a scientifically prepared pilot study, an experienced Shiatsu therapist has demonstrated the positive effects of Shiatsu on stress.
Claudia Leyh-Dexheimer has been a shiatsu therapist in Germany for over 15 years. In her daily practice, she repeatedly encounters people with complaints and symptoms that arise due to excessive demands in various areas of life and are perceived as stress. Over and over again, she was able to observe how clients' stress symptoms regarding physical, mental and emotional aspects were reduced thanks to shiatsu.Although complementary therapies are now widely accepted and recognized, and there are many interesting studies and papers on the efficacy of Shiatsu, these are of non-formal scientific criteria. In order to gain more recognition of the complementary therapy method, Leyh-Dexheimer therefore decided to develop the bachelor thesis for her recently completed studies at the Institute for Complementary Methods (Steinbeis University in Berlin) on a pilot study that is useful and citable for those interested in science.
Although complementary therapies are now widely accepted and recognized, and there are many interesting studies and papers on the efficacy of Shiatsu, these are of non-formal scientific criteria. In order to gain more recognition of the complementary therapy method, Leyh-Dexheimer therefore decided to develop the bachelor thesis for her recently completed studies at the Institute for Complementary Methods (Steinbeis University in Berlin) on a pilot study that is useful and citable for those interested in science.
Oxytocin as a Measurement Parameter
In the now published study, she examined whether Shiatsu, with its special form of touch, influences stress management. The study was based on a paper in which Kerstin Uvnäs-Moberg describes the effect of "gentle skin contact" on the release of the hormone oxytocin, the so-called cuddle hormone. Based on the hypothesis described by Uvnäs-Moberg, the oxytocin hormone was used as the measurement parameter, providing the study with a clinical laboratory parameter for evaluation.
The study involved 24 participants aged 26 to 62, 21 women and 3 men, all pursuing a regular job. There were five shiatsu treatments each. Their effect was tested by measuring the oxytocin in saliva and using the questionnaire Burnout-Screening Scale II (BOSS II). The results are very positive or, scientifically speaking, in the range of significantly to very significantly. On average, oxytocin levels increased by 11% at the first treatment and the evaluation of BOSS II revealed a significant positive change in the participants' sense of stress. This occurred already after one treatment. After five treatments, a significant improvement in the sense of stress was detectable.
In Summary, It Can Be Stated:
Shiatsu has a positive impact on stress management. At significant and long-lasting fatigue, several treatments or treatment cycles make sense. The interval between treatments can be extended after two to three treatments without losing the positive effect. Shiatsu can also be used as an "ad hoc" measure in particularly difficult and stressful life situations that are temporary, as treatment already has a short-term positive effect.
The study was published to be available as a book by GRIN-Verlag (ISBN number 9783668784895) and archived in the German National Library. A short version is provided in German and English and the complete study in German as following:
Pilot study: Does Shiatsu have a positive impact on stress management?
Wilkinson, Richard (2004): Soziale Determinanten von Gesundheit. Die Fakten. 2nd edition, Kopenhagen: WHO, Regionalbüro für Europa (Gesunde Städte im 21. Jh).
Uvnäs-Moberg, Kerstin; Petersson, Maria (2011): Role of oxytocin and oxytocinrelated effects in manual therapies. In: Hollis H. King, Michael M. Patterson and Wilfrid Jänig (editor): The science and clinical application of manual therapy. Edinburgh, New York: Elsevier, pp. 147–161.
First published in the journal Hara no1 (2018)
A lot is going on in this world. The internet has brought humanity into a level of worldwide communication like it has never existed before. With the expansion of social media everybody can quite directly be in touch with what is going on out there. And it is much. Too much. Emotions going high. That is the wild side that may be a bit too destructive as well. While experiencing this, we accidentally learn something new. The ability to be more cautious in expression and to use this intensive energy of communication in a constructive way. In the course of this slow metamorphosis, the intense growth of the European Shiatsu Congress has taken place.
We met each other, just as different as we are, and we found so many commons. We have found common visions. The Shiatsu Research Network is one of these. Likewise, as we have learnt new ways of communication, science itself has learnt how to embrace a broader variety of visions. With evidence-based research a new era of chances for complex therapy models arose. Furthermore, science started to invite everybody in as it had became obvious that restricted sources only lead to restricted results. Therefore, cautiously without hurting its own rules, science tries to open up.
That is where we hop in: Everybody can be part of the Shiatsu Research Network. As different as you are, as strong we will be. Because science always needs a multifaceted approach for establishing the proper question for a proper answer. The other thing about science is, that you do not need to be afraid when the proper answer is not nice. In real science, „failure“ is dearly welcomed. Because with failure you start to understand your boundaries. And such boundaries let us discover our strength within. They will help Shiatsu to grow. Just as metal helps wood to find its direction. Some have their doubts whether modern science and old Eastern philosophy can have a way in common.
Well, there is a story to tell
When I was younger, I met some nomads in the Turkish mountains. They lived in a traditional hair tent of 3500 years heritage. They told me that it is the coolest place during heat, the driest during rain and the strongest against sandstorms. Well, I had difficulties to believe them, because the thin tent‘s textile was black and perforated with big pores. Curious about their statements, I dragged
some textile samples to university. Only days later I got a working place at the laboratory for building materials there. As they did not have a proper artificial sun and no proper artificial sandstorm generator for testing, we decided to take focus on the rain. So I built a rain machine according to detailed international specifications after “Bundesmann”. Soon it was raining according to standards in the laboratory all day long. And it turned out that the textile showed zero resistance to rain. It leaked horribly. It had big pores, you know.
This was my diploma thesis and on that point I wondered how to explain that a building tradition of 3500 years hat had helped nomads to survive in most difficult environments, shows to be a sham in laboratory conditions.
So what should a student do when lacking progression? Why yes, of course, party! Thus, I went to an outdoor event with bonfire to meet some Austrians who lived in Tipis according to a Native American tradition. On that evening I had a drink and a talk with the senior sewer of Tipis, because, in Austria the Tipi canvas is often made of cotton. And this cotton canvas had similar features like the black hair tent textile of the old nomads in the Middle East. The senior sewer revealed to me how to never break a certain rule with the tent while it is raining. This rule was everything I needed to know. On the next day I ran into the laboratory, turned one tiny accessory part of the rain machine off and ran the test sequences again. The textile of 3500 years heritage showed 99% resistance to rain constantly. The old textile resisted to rain by absorbing it and guiding it down within its plane. Here, the Eastern strategy of absorption got into contact with Western ideas of resistance. Fellow scientists welcomed this gain of knowledge dearly.
Now that, what to do with shiatsu on that issue?
Well, it is not so much different. Shiatsu is strongly based on the gains of knowledge in Traditional Chinese Medicine. An empiric medicine system of more than 3000 years of age. Dependant on the stages of systematic dispute among Chinese and later on also among Japanese doctors, in strict sense, 2000 to 2300 years are enough already to understand that the roots of Shiatsu had actually to do their purpose in a challenging environment for a while. It is a question of health and illness and of life and death. While Shiatsu has come into its definition in Japan at the beginning of the 20th century, we do of course have a short history on some new insights that had added up. But yet,
Shiatsu largely derives from old Anma tradition and included some new Western and Eastern insights and techniques that had proved to be effective. Now, the development of Shiatsu is getting faster and we are hoping for acknowledgement from the outside world. Modern research is not so much different to what the old Chinese and Japanese doctors did, though, of course, it is much larger than empiric approach only. And why not? Each system has to develop and the times they are ‘a-changin‘. Each tradition of Shiatsu will find its benefits depicted in modern research, I am sure. Along with modern research we will keep on learning how and when to use which technique in its most effective way. And that will be translated between the Western and Eastern language of knowledge.
Ah, back to the tent. It was not only about the rain. Later, I survived a sandstorm in such a tent while the modern fellow tents got crushed. And I drank cool beer beneath there while it was 45°C outside. Thus, the nomads had always been right about that. Growing older I reckoned that I was not able to sit in a chair for hours anymore and after finishing my doctoral thesis on some similar issue in anthropological architecture, I switched over to Shiatsu completely for getting old healthily. There, I have met Mag. Silvia Eberl-Kadlec who initiated and led the Shiatsu pilot study about high blood pressure. I was part of her team and thus learnt how Shiatsu showed big potential in a measurable setting. At the congress inspired by the lecture of Leisa Bellmore I had the idea to start this project, based on a dream that we all will have a common platform for scientific dispute and development.
And what about you?
Don’t you want to join and tell us your story, your background? Your experiences will contribute well on our common path. We need you, you can play a big deal in this and Shiatsu will need the research network. We are starting.
It is your good change!
The Shiatsu Research Network will help individuals, teams, schools, etc. … to get their project into acknowledged tracks. We help announcing your calls and provide information about easy introduction into science, proper study alignment in many variations, funding possibilities, international registration procedures, publishing know-how and networking with professionals in similar fields. Real life meetings will strengthen members, and effective concepts in accordance to family life and profession will widen our possibilities. Supported by the European Shiatsu Congress, a vast platform of contacts, know-how and large-scale publishing will already be available to us right
Join the Research Network!