I had thought that I know most alternative therapies. However, Shujing massage was new to me. It seems to be a massage technique from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) along the Yin/Yang concept; a bit like Shiatsu perhaps.
Does it work?
This study might easily be the first to address this question. It was aimed at comparing the efficacy on insomnia between shujing massage therapy and medication with estazolam.
Eighty patients with insomnia were randomized into a shujing massage therapy group and a medication group. The massage was applied along the gallbladder meridian on the temporal area. Pressing and kneading manipulations were performed at Yangbai (GB 14), Benshen (GB 13), Toulinqi (GB 15), Zhengying (GB 17), Chengling (GB 18), Shuaigu (GB 8), and Fengchi (GB 20), etc. one minute at each acupoint. In the medication group, 1 mg estazolam was administered orally half an hour before sleep. The treatments were given once every day in both groups. After one month, the sub-scores and the total score of the Pittsburgh sleep quality index scale (PSQI) and the clinical efficacy were compared between the two groups.
After the intervention, the each sub-score of PSQI was improved as compared with that before treatment in the patients of the two groups. The differences in sleep time and the time for falling into sleep were not significant between the two groups. In the shujing massage group, the scores of sleep quality, sleep efficiency, sleep disturbance and daytime dysfunction, as well as the total score were all lower than those in the medication group. The response rate was 92.1% (35/38) in the shujing massage group and 84. 2% (32/38) in the medication group.
The Chinese authors concluded that Shujing massage therapy achieves the superior efficacy on insomnia compared with the oral administration of estazolam.
Sadly, this study is less conclusive as TCM-enthusiasts may think:
- the study was not blind; therefore placebo-effects might have produced a false-positive result;
- any massage is relaxing; therefore the effect could be entirely unrelated to TCM-philosophy;
- it is likely that the regular ritual of a massage has a beneficial effect on sleep;
- before we agree with these findings, we should insist on an independent confirmation via a more rigorous study.
I think that, before we accept the ‘efficacy’ of this TCM-treatment, we should see much more convincing evidence.