What is the Shakti Mat and does it work?

It has a cushion inside, but on the top, it has thousands of tiny plastic spikes.

Company owners say using the mat can help relieve pain and help boost your energy, among other benefits. But does it work?

Barbara Hartman does yoga to help her stay in shape and relieve stress. About 6 weeks ago she also started using the Shakti Mat.

"I thought it looked interesting," said Hartman.

Now Barbara says she's hooked. She uses it every day and says it helps her relax and it relieves her back pain.

"I had back surgery so anytime I can get any sort of relief, it's great", Hartman said.

We called the owners of Shakti USA and they came to Action News to give us a personal demonstration.

Jeff Schnoll of Shakti USA says users lay on the mat, either in a thin t-shirt or preferably without clothes. Then the 6,200 plastic points act similar to how acupressure works.

Schnoll says it will be uncomfortable the first 3 to 7 minutes.

But Schnoll adds, "After you get through that initial threshold and the blood rushing to that part of the body, it's almost euphoric."

And he says using the mat for 15 to 20 minutes a day can help relieve back pain, reduce stress, help you sleep better, give you more energy, plus other benefits.

"For some people, it relieves their congestion," Schnoll says.

He says you can use it in different positions to help different parts of the body.

Because the theory behind the Shakti Mat is based on acupressure, we went to Dr. Jing-duan Yang, a 4th generation acupuncturist at Jefferson University Hospital to see what he thinks

First, he explains while acupuncture, which uses tiny needles, has been shown to achieve health benefits, acupressure, which stimulates the pressure points with fingers or dull points, isn't as scientifically proven, but it is thought to produce similar effects.

As for the Shakti Mat:

"My initial impression is that this is an interesting experience for people to have," Dr. Yang said.

But while he says the 6,200 points will stimulate pressure points, it's not as specific as acupuncture or acupressure.

So if you have a specific health problem, Dr. Yang says, "Than acupuncture points have to be carefully selected and the technique has to be chosen based on what you want to accomplish; this is something the mat couldn't do."

But he says for general purposes, there's no harm in trying the mat.

Amy Leeber works with Dr. Yang as a physician assistant student. She tried the mat and says while it was painful at first, she got used to it and liked it its effect.

"Like I just had a massage or something, my muscles weren't tense and uptight," Leeber said.

The mat costs $39.99 plus shipping and handling. Right now, it is being sold online and at a few select stores.

As for scientific research, the company owners did give Action News one study proving the benefits of the mat, but it is not an independent study.

Still even without that, the Shakti Mat is getting a lot of attention. The owners think it will become a hot product this holiday season. Anyone with chronic medical issues or pregnant women should consult their doctor before trying the mat.

www.shaktimat.com

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