Reflexology, or zone therapy, is an alternative medicine involving the physical act of applying pressure to the feet and hands, or ears utilizing specific thumb, finger and hand techniques without the use of oil, cream or lotion based on a system of zones and reflex areas that reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands with a premise that such work effects a physical change in the body.
Reflexologists believe that these areas and reflex points correspond to different body organs and systems, and that pressing them has a beneficial effect on the organs and person’s general health. For example, reflexology holds that a specific spot in the arch of the foot corresponds to the bladder point. When a reflexology practitioner uses thumbs or fingers to apply appropriate pressure to this area, it affects bladder functioning.
Although reflexology is not used to diagnose or cure health disorders, millions of people around the world use it to complement other treatments when addressing conditions like anxiety, asthma, cancer treatment, cardiovascular issues, diabetes, headaches, kidney function, PMS, and sinusitis.
Reflexology is growing increasingly popular across Europe and Asia as both a complement to other treatments and as a preventive measure.
Research has shown the specific techniques of reflexology to be effective and beneficial in many ways and that are as follows:
- Creates relaxation: From the moment the reflexologist’s start their work, the relaxation begins as shown in research using EEG brain activity. All together, 24 studies demonstrate reflexology’s relaxation effects.
- Reduces pain: Pain reduction following reflexology work is documented in 27 studies including research showing impact on individuals of all ages and health states.
- Improves blood flow: Separate studies show that reflexology work increases blood flow to the feet, brain, kidneys and intestines.
- Aids post-operative recovery: Reflexology work aids recovery after surgery as shown by several studies, reducing pain and lessening the use of post operative analgesics.
- Impact on physiological measures (e. g. blood pressure and cholesterol; measurements by ECG, EEG, and MRI).
- Benefits mental health: Research demonstrates that reflexology can reduce depression and anxiety that are being found in today’s hectic life.
- Complements cancer care: Pain, nausea, vomiting, and/or anxiety eased for chemotherapy patients following reflexology work as shown by 16 studies from 7 countries.
- Eases pregnancy, delivery and post-partum effects: Women who received reflexology experienced shorter labor times and used less analgesia. In addition, reflexology showed a positive impact on postpartum depression, anxiety, urination and bowel movements.
Whatever the approach, the reflexologist attempts to release congestion or stress in the nervous system and balance the body’s energy.