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Reflexology is an alternative therapy that involves the application of pressure to targeted areas of the hands, feet, and ears. Reflexologists believe that these areas correspond to organs and systems in the body. The benefits of reflexology have not been scientifically proven.
By applying pressure to certain points on the extremities, reflexologists may be able to improve the way a person feels or the way his or her body functions.
Reflexology is meant to improve the feel or function of organs and systems in the body without actual intervention. For instance, a reflexologist may press on an area on the right foot to improve liver function. Reflexology may also help with stress relief, similar to massage therapy or acupuncture. Typically, reflexologists work mostly with the feet.
Reflexology can be used to treat a variety of conditions. Reflexologists suggest that their practices benefit patients with diabetes, asthma, and even cancer, but there is no scientific evidence of that. Patients seeking pain relief, stress relief, detoxification, and more may benefit from the use of reflexology.
Reflexology is administered through applied pressure on the hands, feet, or ears. Reflexologists may use their hands for this process. They may also employ tools like rubber bands, rubber balls, and sticks of wood.
The benefits of reflexology have not been scientifically proven. In general, some patients report a reduction of stress and pain in targeted areas or throughout the body. Some patients use this practice to improve circulation or energy levels, to increase range of motion, to normalize body functions, or for detoxification.
The preparation for reflexology is minimal. Some reflexologists may suggest a dietary change before an appointment, especially if it is being used for detoxification. Otherwise, patients simply have to show up for treatment.
Many patients report an immediate relief of symptoms after reflexology, but some have to return for several sessions before experiencing a change.
There are no reported negative side effects of reflexology.
Many patients report improvements in multiple areas of their body, even if treatment targeted only one.
The results of reflexology depend on the type of therapy a person goes through. For instance, a patient who came in for allergy treatment may experience a reduction in allergy symptoms. A patient who used reflexology to treat neck pain may feel better in the days that follow treatment. There is no guarantee that reflexology will improve symptoms.
Written by: Heaven Stubblefield
Medically reviewed on: Feb 11, 2014: George Krucik, MD, MBA
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