top of page
  • Writer's pictureJess Danford

How Shiatsu Can Help Soothe Your Digestive System



How Shiatsu Can Help Soothe Your Digestive System


A warm welcome to this blog post from myself (Jess) at Flourish from Within.

I offer Shiatsu therapy in Bristol for women and non-binary people, and I am going to use this blog post to share, in five steps, how Shiatsu can help relieve your digestive issues.


These days, many of us experience digestive issues. It is something that I have suffered from a great deal myself. I have experienced food intolerances since I was a child and when I was in my 30's, my digestive symptoms became severe. It felt like there was nothing I could eat! I also decided that I was not just going to put up with it.


I reached out to a nutritionist, who I share details for below and who made a very important contribution to my healing process; however, the physical aspect of healing with diet and supplements wasn't enough and she encouraged me to get support for the emotional side of things.


I reached out for Shiatsu, which has been a huge support. Receiving treatments for this pattern specifically, I noticed how much my digestive issues were affected by my emotions and how after a Shiatsu treatment, my uncomfortable symptoms were greatly relieved.


So, I feel very motivated to share why this is and how Shiatsu can bring relief to what can feel like very limiting and uncomfortable symptoms.



1. How does Shiatsu work? Rather than using acupuncture needles, Shiatsu uses physical touch to move and nourish your physical, mental and emotional energy via the energy channels (called meridians) and acupressure points that run throughout your body. There are twelve primary meridian channels and they are divided up into pairs. Each pair fits into the Five Element system of Metal, Earth, Water, Wood and Fire. As a Shiatsu therapist, I am always looking for the element or meridian that is most depleted and the element or meridian that is most full. In listening and responding to your body, I use movement to release what is full and and holding to nourish what is depleted, bringing you back into balance.

2. What patterns can cause digestive issues?

Some very common patterns these days are for people to be living a stressful, busy lifestyle, for people to feel a lot of anger and frustration and not have a healthy outlet for it, for there to be a build up of toxins in the body through intoxication or pollutants, and/or for people to be living a sedentary lifestyle, sitting in front of our computers without a lot of movement.

These kinds of patterns affect our health and wellbeing, and because Shiatsu originated from China, (prior to acupuncture), in Shiatsu therapy, we use traditional Chinese medicine to understand and offer treatment for symptoms caused by these kinds of patterns.


3. Why do these patterns cause digestive issues?

The patterns that I previously described such as stress/busyness, intoxication, anger/frustration and a sedentary lifestyle/lack of movement, all create a lot of tension within the Wood element. This can be felt across the midsection of the body, across the lower ribcage and the solar plexus from the left to the right side. So, the Wood element and meridian pair would be very full.


Then in addition, what we see with many people experiencing digestive symptoms is that the Earth element is depleted. This can be due to things like rushing whilst eating, worry/over-thinking and/or excessive mental activity especially during or after eating. And it can include deeper patterns such as lack of nourishment in the form of parental love during childhood.


4. How does this give me digestive symptoms?

The energy channels within the Earth element are responsible for bringing the food down from the mouth to the stomach and through the gut, but they don't just bring the energy down. They extract the goodness from the food and they send it back up as energy for us to use. Now, if the Wood element is full of tension across the midline of the body and we are trying to bring food down and energy up channels that run through the midline of the body, guess what happens? Digestive symptoms! You may notice that when you are feeling stressed or emotional whilst eating, which unfortunately is a habit that many of us get used to, you can literally feel a band of tightness and tension across the solar plexus that feels very uncomfortable after eating. In traditional Chinese medicine, we call this pattern, "Wood invading Earth."


5. How can Shiatsu help with my digestive symptoms? As I shared earlier, in Shiatsu therapy, we are looking for the element/meridian that is most full and the element/meridian that is most depleted. So, in the case of Wood invading Earth, I would disperse the Wood element channels with movement of the body along those channels to release the tension, and I would nourish the Earth element meridians, which love to be held and receive a lot of nurturing, holding touch, bringing the bodies attention to the pattern so that naturally the energy flows and rebalances. There are also specific acupuncture points that can be used, for example a point called Spleen 13 (great name!) actually disperses the Wood and tonifies the Earth at the same time. Our bodies' wisdom and design is genius.


Shiatsu releases the emotional tension that can cause digestive issues, whilst at the same time, nourishes and strengthens the digestive system. Through receiving Shiatsu, I have learned to take much greater care of my digestion, treating it with the love and care that I would share with a small child. Through receiving Shiatsu therapy, it is possible to change patterns that are causing harm to our bodies and to form a loving, caring relationship with our bodies where we listen and respond with love. Thank you so much for reading this blog. I am very happy to offer Shiatsu therapy for women and non-binary people in Bristol, and if you would like to find out more about my Shiatsu therapy treatments, read my About Shiatsu page here or visit My Blog.

As promised, here is a link to the website for the wonderful nutritionist, Sue Bryant, who was a huge support in my healing process. Love and light to you all!

4 views0 comments
bottom of page