Reflexology is a non-intrusive alternative therapy, often offered as a complementary pain relief technique. It’s based on the theory that different points on the feet, hands, face and ears correspond to various body areas. It can be received by any patient, regardless of age, and involves application of pressure to certain points in order to alleviate pain or stress.
Reflexologists use special foot charts to guide them through the process of application of pressure to certain areas. The therapy can be accomplished with a variety of items, such as rubber balls or bands, as well as wood sticks. It’s considered safe, even though a vigorous massage can cause a certain level of discomfort to some people.
The science behind reflexology states that our bodies are capable of healing themselves. However, all systems need to work together in order to maintain a healthy body balance and this balance could easily be disrupted by an illness, injury or mere stress. According to reflexologists, there are 5 body zones on each foot that run from each toe through the body up to the head. Reflexology has been known to humankind for thousands of years, with the first evidence of its use dating back to the ancient Egyptians.
Reflexology is not about curing a disease or illness but rather acting as a complimentary treatment. It’s a very individual approach, tailored to the specific needs and problems of the patient, and addresses both physical and non-physical factors that might affect their well-being. In fact, a 2013 study by Vardanjani and colleagues discovered that reflexology was successful in alleviating the anxiety symptoms in a control group. However, as it’s not a set science, many people find reflexology works for them, while others – don’t.
What reflexology does is basically restoring the balance within the body in a natural way. After the first treatment, you might discover that your tension is reduced, and you feel somehow relaxed and calmer. Many patients also report better sleep and more regular sleeping patterns, following the treatment. There has been some clinical research, supporting the idea that reflexology can alleviate pain or stress but there is not a large enough body of evidence to conclude that with certainty.
Studies conducted in the US and around the world indicate that reflexology can indeed bring positive benefits to patients, suffering from a variety of conditions. Research, funded by the National Cancer Institute, suggests that reflexology may and should be used as an intervention to reduce pain and enhance relaxation, improve sleeping patterns and reduce a variety of psychological symptoms such as depression or anxiety. One of the most promising results comes from a study by Ernst and colleagues in 2010, who discovered that reflexology can be beneficial in the area of cancer palliation.
So, does reflexology work? Science cannot conclude that with certainty, but Kunz and Kunz (2008) established that reflexology in fact has impact on specific organs and can demonstrate amelioration of symptoms. They suggested that it could in fact create a sense of relaxation and can aid in pain reduction in a variety of conditions, including AIDS, chest pain and kidney stones.