Reflexology is one of the most ancient healing techniques practiced. Although it originates in Egypt, at some point close to 2330 BC, similar techniques are known to have been practiced by the Chinese and North American native tribes as well. With its potential benefits being acknowledged all the more to this day, reflexology is now being practiced throughout the world, in terms of palliative or supportive care, both to enhance well-being and physical strength in healthy individuals, but, more importantly, to alleviate severe symptoms of multiple chronic or end-stage diseases.
Reflexology is one of the most safe and specific healing techniques. Therapists apply pressure to certain areas of the feet and hands; this exerts a beneficial effect on other parts of the body, including musculature, visceral organs and skin. The extremities are often clearly mapped by reflexologists: in this way, very specific areas of the hands or feet correspond to very specific distant locations of the whole body, which are positively affected by the way the extremities are handled during a session.
How does reflexology work? A clear pathophysiological mechanism is yet to be established. However, scientists propose various pathways via which a positive stimulus can reach a location distant to the hands. Reflexology may affect specific parts of the body by hemodynamically stimulating the part in question; namely, by increasing the blood flow to the organ, after applying pressure to the hand or foot . This theory is further corroborated by a scientific study by Jones et al., reporting that Doppler sonography used to depict the kidney during a reflexology session actually illustrated an increased blood flow to the organ, during pressure . Another potential mechanism that may underlie the beneficial effects of reflexology involves nerve impulses and the ability of the autonomic nervous system to connect two distinct parts of the body .
Setting the proposed mechanisms aside, the most important part of reflexology is what it can do for you. Apart from enhancing well-being and providing stress relief for people otherwise healthy, reflexology is one of the most powerful weapons in treatment of chronic conditions. Reflexology is known to offer pain relief and improve the quality of life in the case of many conditions, such as breast cancer, lung cancer, asthma, severe neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, peripheral neuropathy as a complication of diabetes and stroke patients .
Numerous patient studies report extremely positive results associated with reflexology, in terms of fighting dyspnea caused by breast or lung cancer, stress relief and improving skeletal pain . Its non-invasive nature renders reflexology a therapeutic means that is easy to tolerate, even in case of debilitation and progressed disease. Except for the effects that reflexology can have on the physical condition of people suffering from various conditions, it also helps to reduce psychological stress and elevate mood, something which further contributes to a better physical response. Another beneficial aspect of reflexology, is that it involves no drug therapy and no adverse effects have ever been reported, with the exception of some discomfort on the hands and feet, if the patient cannot tolerate the pressure. For other individuals, the hands and feet as well benefit from a reflexology session, as the therapeutic massage can help to promote a sense of relaxation in those areas as well.
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Jones J, Thomson P, Lauder W, Howie K, Leslie SJ. Reflexology has an acute (immediate) haemodynamic effect in healthy volunteers: a double-blind randomised controlled trial. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 2012;18:204–211
Universal College of Reflexology. 2012,http://www.universalreflex.com/article.php/20040309175204417
Embong NH, Soh YC, Ming LC, Wong Revisiting reflexology: Concept, evidence, current practice, and practitioner training. J Tradit Complement Med. 2015 Oct; 5(4): 197–206.
Gwen Wyatt RN, Sikorskii A, Rahbar MH, Victorson D, You M. Health-Related Quality-of-Life Outcomes: A Reflexology Trial With Patients With Advanced-Stage Breast Cancer. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2012 Nov; 39(6): 568–577.
Reflexology Map | food reflexology chart | hand pressure points. (2018). Gratis Download 5 Best Foot Reflexology Chart map! – (With Pictures). [online] Available at: http://reflexology-map.com/ [Accessed 20 Apr. 2018].