1. History Backs It Up
It has been suggested that Reflexology was first seen in Egyptian Hieroglyphics, with roots dating as far back as 3000BC. But, the hieroglyphics demonstrate a foot massage. Foot Massage is poles apart from reflexology. Reflexology is not massage. Instead, it’s the use of pressure of the therapist’s thumb or finger on points on the soles of the feet. The points that are pressed are said to relate to organs or organ systems in the body.
Reflexology began in earnest in the US in the early 1900s with Zone Therapy by Dr. William FitzGerald, Dr. Joe Shelby and Eunice D. Ingham, but there is no documented evidence. There is no documentation to show why pressure points studied in Vienna over the whole body were reduced to just the feet, or why points in the feet were attributed to various organs and areas of the body. Reflexology gained popularity from the 1930s, mainly due to the encouragement of Ingham.
Despite its beginnings, controlled studies since the 1990s appear to be demonstrating interesting and positive results.
2. Improved Circulation
When blood pressure is extremely low, circulation is poor. Circulation is caused by the action of the heart pumping blood around the body, low blood pressure causes a sluggish circulation of blood. Reflexology can balance blood pressure, thereby improving circulation.
Frankel (1997) conducted a pilot study to identify the effects of reflexology and foot massage on the physiology of the body, measuring baroreceptor reflex sensitivity (helps maintain blood pressure normality) and the link between pressure to the feet, as well as the baroreceptors of the heart (neurons). Results showed that pressure sensors in the feet are linked to the same part of the brain as the baroreceptor reflex. This small, single-blinded study included 24 subjects – 10 received reflexology, 10 received foot massage, and 4 were the control.
3. Boost Immune Function
A study demonstrated that the immune system is supported with reflexology treatments. This is due to the beneficial effect of reflexology on natural-killer cells and Ig-G.
Natural killer cells are lymphocytes that respond quickly to a variety of virally infected cells, as well as detecting and controlling early signs of cancer. NK (natural killer) cells play a role in pregnancy as they are found in the placenta. Ig-G short for Immunoglobin G is a type of antibody and is the most common type found in the circulation. Immunoglobins protect against bacterial and viral infections.
4. It Can Treat Fatigue
There are several studies to demonstrate the beneficial effects of reflexology on fatigue and all show that reflexology can improve sleep function and induce relaxation. Many people suffering with fatigue who have had reflexology treatments say that their energy levels improved.
Edzard Ernst is the foremost critic of alternative health care especially Reflexology. His views are unyielding on many alternative therapies including body massage until 2013 when trials demonstrated that massage reduced the pain and discomfort in cancer patients. While this is a study on massage and not reflexology, it shows that when more research is conducted, reflexology can be better understood.
5. Reduce the Effects of Some Cancer Treatments
Reflexology is a comfortable, non-invasive treatment that’s suitable for those who are undergoing cancer treatments, according to the National Centre for Complimentary and Integrative Health.
Reflexology is a practice in which different amounts of pressure are applied to specific points on the feet or hands. In a study funded by the National Cancer Institute, women with advanced breast cancer who received reflexology treatments showed improvement in a few symptoms, such as shortness of breath, but not others, such as nausea or pain. In this study, reflexology was safe even for the most fragile patients.
Edzard Ernst’s critical article about reflexology was written in 2013, and at the same time, a trial was underway to demonstrate the effects of a particular lymphatic drainage reflexology treatment (RLD) to reduce fluid retention in the arms after a mastectomy. The trail demonstrated that the lymphatic fluid in the right arm was reduced and the reduction was sustained. The trial has been put forward for further investigation.
Findings of this exploratory study suggest that RLD (reflexology lymphatic drainage) may be helpful in the management of secondary lymphedema.
6. Ease Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
Multiple sclerosis is a condition that causes fatigue, nerve pain, muscle weakness, coordination, balance, muscle problems, and tingling. However, some research has shown that reflexology can reduce some of the symptoms of MS.
Reflexology (applying pressure to the soles of the feet) may reduce a burning or prickling sensation associated with MS; however, larger studies are needed to provide a reliable conclusion.
One of the main symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis is fatigue, which impacts a normal life, including employment, social activities, and coping with the disease. A study in 2015 came to the conclusion:
It seems that both interventions were effective in reducing fatigue, but the effects of reflexology on reducing fatigue were more than those of relaxation. Hence, as these two methods are effective and affordable techniques, they can be recommended.
7. Managing Anxiety and Depression
Reflexology may even reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety while restoring relaxation and better sleep habits. But what does the research suggest?
A study initiated by Mozhgan Soheili, Fatemeh Nazari, Vahid Shaygannejad, and Mahboobeh Valiani on a comparison the effects of reflexology and relaxation on the psychological symptoms in women with multiple sclerosis showed that reflexology did reduce anxieties, depression and aid relaxation for those suffering with MS.
However, Lee YM publication: ‘The Effect of Self-Foot Reflexology Massage on Depression, Stress Responses and Immune Functions of Middle Aged Women’ by Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi demonstrates:
There was a statistically significant difference in depression, perceived stress, systolic blood pressure, natural-killer cells and Ig G … These results suggest that a self-foot reflexology massage could be utilized as an effective nursing intervention to reduce depression and stress responses, and to strengthen immune systems in middle-aged women. Also, McVicara et al. concluded that reflexology may positively affect the treatment of State anxiety. They found that the effects of reflexology may have beneficial outcomes for patients.
8. Reduce PMS and Menopausal Symptoms
Most well-trained and registered reflexologists would suggest the use of reflexology to help with pre-menstrual syndrome and menopausal symptoms. As long ago as 1993, a controlled study was conducted on the effects of reflexology using the ear, hand, and foot for reflexology to help reduce premenstrual symptoms. The results found that there was a significant decrease in symptoms with women who received the true reflexology treatment against the placebo group.
9. Reduce High Blood Pressure
A study was able to demonstrate that the systolic blood pressure number is reduced after a reflexology treatment (systolic is the first number in the blood pressure readings:120 systolic/80 diastolic). The diastolic pressure and heart rate did not change, but as Blood Pressure UK points out, it is the systolic number they have realized is essential to reduce and prevent heart attacks and strokes.
10. It's Affordable
This depends on your view. Reflexologists often make offers on their treatments, offering six treatments for the price of fiv. To gain results from reflexology, it is suggested to have at least six weekly sessions. Costs can vary depending on the treatment offered and where you live, from £30 to £60 in the UK and $150 to $200 in New York.
There is no specific research to show that reflexology aids the body in detoxification despite the in-depth treatment programs by such reflexologist sites, such as the Atlantic School of Reflexology, who work on all the organs that naturally detox the body, from the skin, the lungs, digestive tract, the liver and the kidneys, and work hard on the points of the foot that aid in the lungs’ function.
However, research indicates that blood pressure, circulation, and relaxation are all improved by reflexology, so it is probable that reflexology can help the body to detoxify, too.
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