Reflexology is the use of applied pressure and massage on specific points of the hands and feet to benefit corresponding organs. It is based on an understanding of the Chinese meridian system — the system of subtle energy flow that circulates through the body, interconnecting everything. It is through these energy pathways that vital energy, or chi, flows. When chi is unblocked and able to flow freely then the body
can be in a state of health. This principle is not unlike the idea that good blood circulation is necessary for well-being. In order to thrive organs require both vital chi energy and oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood flow. Blocked chi indicates disease, the potential for disease or trouble healing.
The energy link between meridian points exists on the palms of the feet and hands, and corresponds with organs and glands. When pressure is applied correctly to these points energy becomes unblocked, facilitating healing and a return to proper functioning. How does this translate into actual health benefits for an individual? What types of problems and conditions can be improved with reflexology?
Releasing energy blockages, encouraging the removal of waste from the body and restoring balance, reflexology can simply be used to improve overall well-being. Learning how to manipulate the meridian points on your hands and feet yourself, or finding an experienced reflexologist, undergoing regular reflexology treatments can:
- Promote relaxation
- Improve circulation
- Encourage detoxification
- Normalize gland function
- Help the body manage pain
- Strengthen the immune system
- Restore energy
- Improve the quality of sleep
These are the holistic benefits of this form of alternative medicine. Reflexology can be safely used by anyone to improve well-being and to balance psychological and physical well-being. There are no negative side effects, although some people may feel tenderness on the area where pressure was applied. People with serious health conditions, such as diabetes, thyroid problems, epilepsy or deep vein thrombosis or who are pregnant, should of course talk to their doctor before seeking treatment.
What research has been done on reflexology? In 1993 in the journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a study was published demonstrating the benefits of this therapy for PMS. After using reflexology women reported a 40 percent reduction in PMS symptoms.
Reflexology treatments have also been shown to benefit asthma sufferers — after three months of therapy participants reported a significant improvement in symptoms in one clinical trial. In a Danish study, published in 2001, only patients’ subjective reports showed an improvement in symptoms and feelings of well-being. Objective testing of lung function did not show any significant improvement after using reflexology treatments.
While reflexology is not a substitute for regular medical care, nor is it a cure for any disease, it is an ideal therapy for improving overall well-being. There are many potential benefits and many reasons to try this therapy out for yourself.
Reflexology Association of Connecticut, https://www.reflexologyct.org/ractfaqs.html
“Reflexology and bronchial asthma.” US National Library of Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11266233
Balch, Phyllis A. “Prescription for Nutritional Healing.” Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).
Page, Linda. “Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone, 11th Edition” (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).
photo by Marcin Bober
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