Studies have suggested a possible role for shiatsu—a bodywork technique from Japan whose name translates to “finger pressure” —in addressing a variety of mental and physical ailments. Researchers in Israel set out to see if shiatsu can provide clinical benefit to individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Twelve people at an inpatient psychiatric ward at Herzog Memorial Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel, received shiatsu treatments provided in a course of eight 40-minute biweekly sessions over four weeks.

On all scales of psychopathology and side effects, including depression and anxiety, the subjects showed a statistically and clinically significant improvement by the end of treatment, according to an abstract published on 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,” the researchers noted.

The study is published in an October issue of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine.