The Healing Effects of Jin Shin Jyutsu
THC Editorial Team August 8, 2021
- What Is Jin Shin Jyutsu?
- The History of Jin Shin Jyutsu
- How Does Jin Shin Jyutsu Work?
- What Conditions Are Commonly Treated by Jin Shin Jyutsu?
- Potential Benefits of Jin Shin Jyutsu
- The Effectiveness of Jin Shin Jyutsu
- Adopting Jin Shin Jyutsu as a Wellness Practice
What Is Jin Shin Jyutsu?
Interest in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatment has been growing for years as people actively seek treatments that draw on the body’s natural healing resources.1 They may also want a treatment that can complement other procedures, making them easier to tolerate. One example is Jin Shin Jyutsu, which uses acupressure techniques to promote calmness and healing and reduce mental tension.
Jin Shin Jyutsu is a Japanese technique for harmonizing a person’s bodily energy system. Like other energy techniques, such as acupressure and acupuncture, Jin Shin Jyutsu is based on the premise that vital life force energy travels through the body in predictable pathways. In Chinese culture, this energy, known as qi, affects people’s physical, mental, and emotional experiences.
Other energy healing modalities include Reiki, therapeutic touch, healing touch, Thought Field Therapy (TFT), emotional freedom techniques (EFT), and more.
Proponents of Jin Shin Jyutsu believe that when energy pathways in the body become misaligned or blocked, the interrupted flow of energy manifests as adverse physical and emotional symptoms that are often diagnosed as general fatigue, depression, and anxiety. However, unlike massage or acupressure, Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioners do not manipulate or adjust a client’s physical body. Instead, this technique calls for practitioners to place their hands on specific bodily points, such as the hands, wrists, and other joints, to facilitate energy flow. In this tradition, 26 safety energy locks are essential for maintaining energy flow. These locks act as a circuit breaker; when there is an energy blockage, one of the locks creates a symptom as an alert.2
The History of Jin Shin Jyutsu
Jin Shin Jyutsu, which translates in English as “The Art of the Creator through the Person of Knowledge and Compassion,” is a relative newcomer to the holistic medicine world. The practice of Belief in a universal energy system has existed throughout the millennia. One early document that alludes to Jin Shin Jyutsu is the Kojiki, or the Japanese Record of Ancient Things, which dates to 712 C.E. and is said to carry symbols of healing.2
A Japanese man named Jiro Murai was the first to practice Jin Shin Jyutsu under its formal title and reintroduced the practice in Japan.2 According to tradition,3 Murai was diagnosed with a terminal illness in 1912. Although he came from a family of doctors, they could find no cure. He went into isolation to prepare for his death, sitting in meditation for six days. After the seventh day, the illness passed. He returned home to dedicate his life to the healing arts and began to develop the techniques that would become Jin Shin Jyutsu.
In 1946, Mary Burmeister, a first-generation Japanese American working in Japan as an English tutor, met Murai and began studying the practice. When she moved back to the United States in 1953, she introduced the technique to her friends and family. A few years later, she began training new practitioners who continued to expand the practice. She opened her own Jin Shin Jyutsu center in Arizona, which her son now leads. Practitioners still use her books and textbooks to teach their students.4 Burmeister is credited with bringing the practice to the United States and with its worldwide spread.5
How Does Jin Shin Jyutsu Work?
Whereas many modern medicinal practices aim to alleviate the symptoms of an illness—for example, treating a stuffy nose instead of treating or preventing the cold—Jin Shin Jyutsu seeks to address the underlying cause for the condition.6 Practitioners of Jin Shin Jyutsu believe that the body has an innate healing ability. Whenever a person forgets something or feels discomfort, it is simply an imbalance or blockage that the Jin Shin Jyutsu practice can fix.2 These energy imbalances or blockages can be caused by stress, injury, and poor diet, and if not tended to, can cause disease.6
One of the advantages of Jin Shin Jyutsu is that clients can self-administer parts of the treatment with minimal training. A formal treatment requires a trained practitioner, but clients can use simple Jin Shin Jyutsu exercises for self-care.
A simple self-care hand exercise illustrates the tradition. In Jin Shin Jyutsu, several energy channels run down the arm and fingers. Each finger corresponds to an emotional trait. The thumb releases worry, and the pinky channels nervousness and self-esteem. Encouraging energy flow through the practice releases these negative emotions.
A client might take a few deep breaths to relax and come to stillness to start the process. Then, they would wrap the fingers of one hand around the thumb of the other hand. There should be firm contact, but they should not squeeze the thumb. As they pay attention to the sensations between the two hands, they would begin to feel a gentle pulsing. At this point, they would release the thumb and move onto the next finger. This procedure can help decrease stress and frustration.7
This practice is unique in part because of what it is not. Jin Shin Jyutsu uses acupressure and acupuncture energy theories, but it does not require specialized equipment. Instead, practitioners use hand positions and light pressure to administer the treatment. Although it involves physical contact like therapeutic massage, clients remain fully clothed during Jin Shin Jyutsu sessions. Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioners only use light touch to contact safety energy locks.
What Conditions Are Commonly Treated by Jin Shin Jyutsu?
Jin Shin Jyutsu focuses on enhancing people’s ability to relax. As such, it offers help with conditions triggered or exacerbated by stress, worry, and anxiety. Clients use the technique to relieve chronic pain, digestive issues, fatigue, and general stress-related disorders.2
Dealing with the challenging side effects of cancer treatments and other drugs is a common application for the practice. Some cancer clinics offer Jin Shin Jyutsu as a complementary treatment to ease the discomfort of their clients.8
Potential Benefits of Jin Shin Jyutsu
Proponents of Jin Shin Jyutsu offer it as a noninvasive treatment that improves overall well-being. People who participate in the practice believe that it brings a greater sense of balance and harmony to their lives.
Jin Shin Jyutsu as a Tool for Dealing With Stress
One of the primary benefits of Jin Shin Jyutsu is its ability to reduce stress and its consequences.2 Frequently triggering the stress response can contribute to cardiac issues and diabetes.9 Self-administration of Jin Shin Jyutsu gives people a way to activate the relaxation response, calm their bodies, and deal with adverse emotions.
Jin Shin Jyutsu and Cardiac Care
During stressful situations, the human body releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline to stimulate several physiological processes to respond to perceived threats and stressors.10 A faster heart rate is one of the first signs of the body’s stress response, and a consistently elevated heart rate can lead to cardiovascular disease.11 One study showed that Jin Shin Jyutsu treatments reduced the heart rate faster than a placebo treatment among stroke patients.12
Jin Shin Jyutsu as a Complementary Treatment
As a tool to promote relaxation and balance, Jin Shin Jyutsu can complement many other healing techniques and may even be used alongside some biomedical therapies. For example, when clients are relaxed, they can better deal with the side effects of challenging treatments such as chemotherapy. A study published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing in 2011 found that when 29 breast cancer patients received Jin Shin Jyutsu treatments, their ability to participate in everyday activities improved, and they reported that they felt physically better.13 Clients work with Jin Shin Jyutsu as a means to relieve nausea and discomfort. A hospitalized patient received daily Jin Shin Jyutsu treatments following a bone marrow transplant (BMT) and experienced minimal nausea, much less than the average BMT patient.14 It is unclear whether the treatment relieves the condition directly or helps clients shift their attention away from the discomfort.
The Effectiveness of Jin Shin Jyutsu
Like many acupressure treatments, there is limited evidence that Jin Shin Jyutsu can cure a medical condition. Instead, research shows that the practice seems to help people deal with chronic conditions by reducing the stress, anxiety, and sometimes pain associated with them.15 Stress can lower the immune system’s ability to perform its important functions.16 Practices that encourage calm and deep relaxation may help the body take care of itself.
The mechanics of acupressure techniques are not well understood. The ideas of energy meridians and blocked energetic pathways do not have excessive scientific proof or support. However, some studies point to differing outcomes between properly administered acupressure treatments and placebo treatments. In one 2002 study, Scandinavian researchers divided gynecological surgery patients into three groups; one received acupressure, another received placebo stimulation, and the third, nothing. Although both the acupressure and the placebo groups experienced decreased nausea the day after surgery, only the acupressure group benefitted from reduced vomiting and required fewer anti-nausea medications.17
Jin Shin Jyutsu has been found to improve the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS, as it relieves stress to support immune function.18 In a recent study, nurses who administered Jin Shin Jyutsu self-care experienced increased motivation and calmness and decreased feelings of frustration and stress.7
Adopting Jin Shin Jyutsu as a Wellness Practice
The effects of stress can increase certain health risks and decrease quality of life. However, healing techniques that help people build mental resilience and generate tranquility offer important ways to potentially disrupt anxiety and other stress-related conditions. The healing art of Jin Shin Jyutsu, with its applications to balance, harmony, and self-care, is a valuable resource for general health and well-being.