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Reflexology as a holistic therapy

Reflexology is a holistic therapy that dates back thousands of years and can be traced to the ancient civilisations of Egypt, India and China. Evidence has been found in the tomb of an Egyptian physician at Saqqara, near Cairo, depicting patients having treatments to their hands and feet. Up until AD200 in Greece, Delphi was an ancient health spa where reflexology was one of the treatments used to create relaxation and wellbeing.

The more modern form of reflexology was first pioneered by an American surgeon, Dr William Fitzgerald (1872-1942) who founded Zone Therapy, an earlier form of reflexology. He discovered that exerting pressure on the tips of the toes or fingers caused corresponding parts of the body to become anaesthetised. Reflexology as we know it today was pioneered by a woman called Eunice Ingham (1889 – 1974) who developed a powerful technique based on the premise that the entire body – organs, glands and systems - are mirrored on the feet and hands through a system of reflexes stimulated by the nervous system. By using massage techniques on these reflexes, a positive effect is created in the corresponding body part.

Reflexology as we know it today is a deeply relaxing, safe and non-invasive complementary therapy. It has a profound effect on reducing stress levels, and helps restore the body's natural equilibrium, or homeostasis, in order to encourage healing.

Types of ailments treated

Allergy symptoms; anxiety and depression; digestive upset (constipation and/or diarrhoea); effects of stress and nervous tension; headaches (including migraines); hormonal imbalances; inflammation related problems (including arthritis, asthma, diabetes, injuries, heart disease, cancer); insomnia; poor circulation; sinus pressure; stiff, aching and painful joints and muscles.

As an essential part of the Level 5 training syllabus, specific conditions such as maternity reflexology, palliative care reflexology and hand reflexology are studied.

Pregnancy Reflexology

Many women find reflexology during pregnancy extremely relaxing and the treatments would be planned to:

  • relieve tired and aching feet (particularly with the extra weight of the baby you are carrying)
  • help relax your body and calm your mind
  • promote better sleep quality, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy when you might be feeling tired or anxious about the birth or are having difficulty
  • finding a comfortable sleeping position.
  • provide a sense of well being

Palliative Care Reflexology

We are fortunate that today, many oncology and palliative care units across the UK offer reflexology alongside chemotherapy and allopathic medicine. The reflexology is an adjunct to the conventional treatment, helping to give relief from both the side effects of the disease itself, as well as from the drugs being used. Physical and emotional benefits from the reflexology may help to:

  • boost the immune system
  • relieve anxiety, stress and depression
  • boost energy levels
  • reduce the side-effects of some of the medical treatment e.g nausea, constipation
  • improve sleeping patterns
  • reduce pain and discomfort

I practice reflexology as a holistic therapy in the Haslemere & Farnham area and have clients from the surrounding counties of Surrey, Hampshire and West Sussex.

Medical News Today (2015, August 6). What is Stress? How to Deal with Stress. Link
MIND (2013). Work is biggest cause of stress in people’s lives. Link
McCullough, J.E.M., Liddle, S.D., Sinclair, M., Close,C,, Hughes, C.M. (2014). The Physiological and Biochemical Outcomes associated with a Reflexology Treatment: a Systematic Review. Evidence -Based Complementary Alternative Medicine 2014 502123.

Never thought reflexology could help me deal so well with stress, I found the course very relaxing and it helped relieve a sore shoulder which other treatments had not sorted. I look forward to my fortnightly reflexology a great way to relax and de-stress. Thank you.

J.P.F