The origins of Reflexology date back thousands of years, as a tradition first practiced in ancient Egypt and China. It was Dr William Fitzgerald in the late 1800’s who brought Reflexology to the attention of the medical profession in the western world.
In recent years, clinical trials have shown that Reflexology has a number of benefits. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recognises the valuable contribution Reflexology makes in reducing a wide range of symptoms. According to Cancer Research, Reflexology is a popular choice for people who have been diagnosed.
When we have imbalances in the body it affects our mental and physical wellbeing. Imbalances prevent energy from flowing freely in the body which subsequently causes stress, suffering and illness. Reflexology assists in clearing blockages along the 'meridians' allowing the life force energy ‘chi’ to flow.
Ying and Yang work together to create balance, similarly the mind and body work in partnership to function effectively. Albert Einstein postulates that everything is energy including the human body. Reflexology stimulates energy flow in the body and facilitates homeostasis. Specific points on the feet correspond to organs and systems of the body and by applying pressure to these points, you can work on each system. For example a point on the big toe represents the pineal gland. The pineal gland is a small endocrine gland in the vertebrate brain, which produces melatonin - a hormone which affects our sleep-wake cycles and the body's response to sunlight. The reduction of melatonin triggers the ageing process in our body. Melatonin is also a derivative of serotonin which is the happy hormone, controlling appetite and pain sensitivity. The reduction of serotonin is associated with depression. Working on each system of the body through the feet stimulates the body's regenerative capacity and as a result has many positive benefits to health and well-being.
Research informs us that reflexology can provide positive effects on the following body systems, according to the theory of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) each organ has an emotional link. I have listed some of the benefits of reflexology with an organ expression.
The Circulatory and Lymphatic System
The heart works to circulate blood around the body, distributing oxygen, nutrients and hormones to the cells. Reflexology helps by improving blood flow to the cells and vital organs.
The lymphatic system is the secondary circulatory system and consists of organs and tissues that help remove toxins. The lymphatic system helps fight infection. Working on the lymphatic reflexes circulates the lymph fluid and boosts the immune system. The spleen and thymus are part of the lymphatic system. The spleen can be associated with issues of worry. Reflexology works the body from the inside out. Reflexology works with the body’s system to
Balance and stimulates the lymphatic and circulatory systems.
Improve conditions of lymphedema
Improve the immune system
Create a detoxifying effect on the body
The Respiratory System
The respiratory system is responsible for, taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide. The lungs can be associated with sadness or grief. Working on the respiratory reflex points can have a positive effect on these issues, providing relief for the following conditions
The Digestive System
The digestive system breaks down food into small molecules, which are absorbed into the blood stream. Food is converted into energy and basic nutrients for the body to repair itself.
By working on certain reflex points digestive problems can be reduced.
Stress can also affect symptoms of digestion, with Reflexology bringing a relaxing effect to the body, subsequently assisting the body to re-balance itself. Issues of digestion can relate to holding on to the past and feelings of regret. The liver and gallbladder which are part of the digestive system can be associated to issues of anger. Reflexology works on the mind body connection bringing everything into alignment. Listed are some of the common digestive complaints that can be alleviated through reflexology.
The Nervous System
The nervous and endocrine systems work together to create homeostasis. The nervous system is a complex network of nerves and cells that carry messages to and from the brain and spinal cord to various parts of the body.
According to Meta-Health, which is an advanced bio-psycho-social model, pain can be tracked to areas of the skeletal system, each of which relates to certain emotions or feelings. Most skeletal pain represents an area of self in life. For example, the back represents 'bending over backwards' for others, not being supported, and/or feeling devalued. Working on the nervous system optimises the roles of the central, peripheral and autonomic nerves, bringing the organs and cells into balance. Reflexology can assist with the following:
Migraines and headaches
ME and Chronic fatigue
The Endocrine System
The endocrine system houses a collection of glands that produce hormones, which in turn regulate body processes such as metabolism, tissue function, reproduction, growth and blood pressure. The pancreas is associated with excessive concern. Working on the reflex points of the endocrine has benefits including weight loss. Reflexology benefits issue such as:
Stress and tension
The Urinary System:
The Urinary system filters the blood and removes waste products that could be harmful to the body. The kidneys and bladder are found in this system. The kidneys are responsible for filtering the blood, maintain body's fluid balance and controlling blood pressure. According to TCM, imbalances in the bladder can be associated with psychological symptoms, these included inability to make a decision and irrational fear. Imbalances in the kidneys can be associated to fear and anxiety. Reflexology can also work on the psycho-emotional aspect.
Reflexology can assist with the following,
Reflexology improves bladder and kidney function.
Encourages eliminations of toxins
Promotes a calmer outlook in life.
The Reproductive System
Areas of concern may range from prostate issues to impotence for men and fertility to period problems for women. Reflexology can improve fertility by increasing blood circulation throughout the body. Working on reproductive areas through the points on the feet can help greatly. Reflexology can help assist with the following conditions
The body system can overlap into other areas, for example when treating a sore throat I would pay particular attention to the throat, sinuses and lung reflexes in the respiratory system, as well as paying attention to the cervical spine neck and head reflexes. The spleen reflex in the lymphatic system will help increase immunity and limit congestion in the throat area. Aromatherapy oils or flower essences can be used in conjunction with reflexology to aid the healing process further. Paraffin wax treatment can be applied to the feet after reflexology to soften dry skin, soothe aching feet and improve circulation.
Reflexologist, Holistic and Well Being Therapist
Simi is a member of the Federation of Holistic Therapies, which is the largest leading professional association for Reflexology in the UK and Ireland. Simi is studying for a degree in Psychotherapy, alongside her Holistic Therapies practice.