Reflexology

Reflexology

Reflexology is a therapy involving the physical application of pressure to the feet with the premise that massaging certain zones positively affects other areas of the body. A small study funded by the National Cancer Institute found that the ancient therapy may be an effective way to deal with cancer-related pain.

Reflexology May Help Cancer Treatment Issues

Source: MD Anderson Cancer Center
By Bayan Raji, Staff Writer

The importance of hands and feet make them the focal point of reflexology, a healing art historians believe was used first in China more than 5,000 years ago. It focuses on pressure points of the hands and feet and can be used by anyone, but it may be especially beneficial to cancer patients.

Pressure applied to hands, feet
Reflexology may help relieve symptoms often related to cancer treatment such as nausea, insomnia and stress. The technique also is believed to have a generally beneficial effect on a person’s health and well-being.

Reflexology therapists use their hands – usually their thumbs or forefingers – to apply pressure to areas of the hands and feet that they believe are connected to specific zones of the body. Stretching and movement techniques also may be used. They may open or close the session with a gentle hand or foot rub.


Ancient Alternative Therapy May Ease Cancer-Related Pain

Source: EmaxHealth
By Denise Reynolds RD

Reflexology is a therapy involving the physical application of pressure to the feet with the premise that massaging certain zones positively affects other areas of the body. A small study funded by the National Cancer Institute found that the ancient therapy may be an effective way to deal with cancer-related pain.

Researchers with Michigan State University divided 385 women diagnosed with advanced breast cancer into three groups. One group received treatment by a certified reflexologist for 11 weeks. The second group received foot massages by someone not certified in reflexology. The third group received standard pain treatment that didn’t involve any sort of alternative therapy.

Gwen Wyatt, a professor in the college of nursing and lead author of the study published in the latest issue of Oncology Nursing Forum, reports that those who received the reflexology treatment were able to return to their day-to-day activities, such as getting dressed or going grocery shopping, better than those cancer patients not receiving the massages. Patients in the experimental group reported less shortness of breath and less pain and fatigue. However, the team was surprised to learn that reflexology did not appear to improve mental stress, such as depression or anxiety.

“It’s always been assumed that it’s a nice comfort measure, but to this point we really have not, in a rigorous way, documented the benefits. This is the first step toward moving a complementary therapy from fringe care to mainstream care,” said Wyatt.

Reflexology comes out of the Chinese tradition and has been shown in Egyptian hieroglyphics. The therapy is growing increasingly popular across Europe and Asia as both a complement to other treatments and as a preventive measure. It was introduced to Americans in 1917 by Dr. William H. Fitzgerald, frequently referred to as the “father of reflexology.” He described ten vertical zones that extended the length of the body. Application of pressure to certain zones corresponded to the location of an injury that could serve as pain relief.

The ancient therapy is being studied as a complement to Western medicine in many areas of health. Recently, a study from the University of Stirling found that reflexology massage benefited cardiology patients, presumably by increasing blood flow to the heart.

Jenny Jones PhD, from the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health says, “In our experiment with healthy people there was an inexplicable change in the heart function which occurred only when the heart reflex point area was massaged. All the patients (also) found the treatment to be really relaxing, so it seems to be a safe and useful relaxation tool for cardiac patients to use.”

To find a Reflexology Therapist, look for one certified by the American Reflexology Certification Board (ARCB) which recognizes those who practice on a professional basis and have passed an exam ensuring their knowledge of reflexology techniques. The Reflexology Association of America also has a list of professional practitioners in your area, plus a guide to licensing requirements by each state.

References:
Michigan State University, “Ancient Foot Massage Technique May Ease Cancer Symptoms”, published November 12, 2012.
University of Minnesota – Taking Charge of Your Health


Safety
Reflexology can be safely used by patients with cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy. Therefore, the use of reflexology for breast cancer patients can be suggested by health professionals.
Study


Published Clinical Trials / Studies / Reviews
Reflexology for symptom relief in patients with cancer.

Reflexology audit: patient satisfaction, impact on quality of life and availability in Scottish hospices

Where can I get this treatment and more information?
Reflexology is widely available.

Warning
1. Some cancer therapies can conflict with others. Do not start ANY therapy without consulting your doctor to ensure it’s safe and beneficial to do so.
2. Just because any given therapy worked for someone else does not necessarily mean it will work for you.
3. Although there are many viable alternative cancer treatments, there isn’t a “best” treatment for a certain type or stage of cancer.

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