Monday, October 14, 2013

Reflexology: Quack or Smack On?

Your health is in your hands, I mean, your feet.

Whether you are an athlete suffering from muscle pain because of a good run, or an individual who feels the burn of a high-intensity cardio workout or lower body pains from an awesome leg/thigh exercises, or someone in pain because of various illnesses, reflexology might help you deal with the pain. 

Reflexology is basically about applying pressure on certain parts of the feet that are connected to a body organ in pain. Massaging these parts are believed to reduce stress and pain by balancing energy levels.


People who grew up drinking medicine tend to be wary when they hear alternative medicine. For them, reflexology, acupuncture and the like smell as fishy as a quack doctor. 

But if you want to try a different therapy, something easy to do, and at the same time, something that may provide immediate benefits, if not long-term when continued, reflexology can offer something for everyone in pain.

Reflexology: Pressure that Ends Pain 

Reflexology is "the application of appropriate pressure to specific points and areas on the feet, hands, or ears." 

Reflexologists assert that these areas and reflex points are connected to different body organs and systems, and pressing or rubbing them can have a positive effect on that organ, as well as the individual's general health (1). The positive effect may be alleviation of pain or curing of that illness (2).

Another simple explanation of the impact of reflexology is that for those who feel pain in different parts of their body, pressure on those reflex points can relieve their pain. If you look at the reflexology chart below, number 1 refer to the sinus, so if you have sinusitis, massaging those places can help relieve it.

Reflexology is not officially recognized as an acceptable medical procedure for diagnosing or curing health problems, but millions of people use it because it helps them treat their illnesses, or it complements other medications or other set of alternative therapies, such as acupressure and acupuncture (3).

Several studies showed that reflexology can treat pain and anxiety that go with these health conditions: asthma (4), cancer (5), cardiovascular issues (6), diabetes (7), headaches (8), kidney function (9), PMS (10), and sinusitis (11). See also the Howcast video below for relieving pain from menstrual cramps.

Reflexology Quack or Smack On
Reflexology Chart: Health in Terms of Feet
How to Relieve PMS and Menstrual Cramps through Reflexology

Reflexology Points and Areas

Maps of reflex points are used by practitioners all over the world, but not all of them agree on the exact location of every point (12). General agreement has been established, nonetheless, on primary reflex points (13).

Reflexology charts or reflexology maps are representations of the human body. Each foot refers to the "vertical half of the body" (14). The left foot stands for the left side of the body, while the right foot refers to the right side of the body. 

Some reflexologists massage the hands or ears too. Though they may have different approaches, their main goal is to release the stress from the nervous system and to balance energy levels (15).

Take Caution

You do have to be mindful of your health conditions before trying reflexology. For example, reflexology may not be advisable for you, if you have diabetes and you're just healing from wounds and gout flares.

You also have to be cautious if you're pregnant or breastfeeding. If you have severe vascular disease of the legs or feet or heart conditions, reflexology may not be advisable for you. Though some people with heart conditions might claim that reflexology helped them, it's not always something that safely and effectively applies to everyone. 

In other words, like pharmaceutical medicine, reflexology has its limits and it may have drawbacks for certain people.

Reflexology: Quack or Smack On?

I'm not claiming that reflexology is the best and only treatment for you. I'm just offering an alternative. Something else that you can do on your own or ask others to do for your without popping pills.

I honestly prefer alternative therapies and food as medicine compared to drinking pharmaceutical drugs. I don't have any serious illness though so my case is different. 

What is quack to others might be smack on effective for you.

All I know is that I hope that if you try reflexology for your different health needs, it will work for you, so you don't have to drink pain or anxiety medications.

All I know is that our body can heal itself. That we can manage our own pain. 

All I know is that your foot is your health too. 

What alternative therapies have you tried when treating pain and other illnesses? Did they work or they worked only in combination with other therapies or medicine?

References

1) Teagarden, K. (n.d.). "Reflexology." University of Minnesota. Retrieved from http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/reflexology

2) Ibid.

3) Ibid.

4) Ng,T.P., Wong, M.L., Hong, C.Y., Koh, K.T.C., & Goh, L.G. (2003). The use of complementary and alternative medicine by asthma patients. QJM, 96(10), 747-754. Retrieved from http://qjmed.oxfordjournals.org/content/96/10/747.short

5) Stephenson, N.L., Weinrich, S.P., & Tavakoli, A.S. (2000). The effects of foot reflexology on anxiety and pain in patients with breast and lung cancer. Oncology Nursing Forum, 27(1), 67-72. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10660924

Hodgson, H. (2000). Does reflexology impact on cancer patients' quality of life? Nursing Standard, 14(31), 33-38. Retrieved from http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/11973949/reload=0;jsessionid=54sj8hr5Y8m5IIy0OIRE.40

6)  Padial, E.R.,  López, N.T.,  Bujaldón, J.L., Villanueva, I.E., & del Paso, G.R. (2012). Cardiovascular effects of reflexology in healthy individuals: Evidence for a specific increase in blood pressure. Alternative Medicine Studies. Retrieved from http://www.pagepress.org/journals/index.php/ams/article/view/3589

7) Ulbricht, C. (2009). Diabetes: An integrative approach: a natural standard monograph.  Alternative & Complementary Therapies, 15 (6), 311.

8) Stone, P.S. (20110. Reflexology & headaches: Opening the door to relief. Massage & Bodywork, 26(4), 34.

9) Markell, M.S. (2005). Potential benefits of complementary medicine modalities in patients with chronic kidney disease. Advances in Chronic Kidney Disease, 12(3), 292–299. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1548559505000704

10) Steiner, M. (2000). Premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder: guidelines for management. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 25(5): 459–468.

11) Gunter, A., Van Eeden, V., & De Jager, L. (2007). Reflexology versus reflexology and colour therapy combined for treating chronic sinusitis. Interim : Interdisciplinary Journal, 6(1), 24-36.

12) Teagarden

13) Ibid.

14) Ibid.

15) Ibid.