The world’s population is struggling more than ever before with depression, hopelessness, anxiety, and a host of other issues that are invading our peace. In fact, approximately 450 million people are currently battling a mental health disorder of some kind. With a brand new year and decade in sight, many have started hunting for answers to create a more meaningful life. The medical community’s influence on mental wellbeing continues to grow, although we are increasingly aware of the myriad of “alternative” therapies available that produce astounding effects. Reflexology, although known and practiced since ancient times, continues to be an alternative therapy “mystery” for most people – but could it be an answer for which we have all been searching?
In most minds, reflexology is a term that seems to partner easily with spas and massage services. While these have been synonymous in some areas, true reflexology is a standalone service. The popularity of offering reflexology in spa and massage settings has radically increased in the last decade, giving way to a natural progression of enhanced research on the benefits of reflexology. A looming question remains, however. Is reflexology scientifically supported? And, more interestingly, if there is objective evidence to support it, what exactly can we hope to achieve by using it?
Research on the efficacy of reflexology
The overarching response to this question is complicated. Modern western scientific principles have been applied to this field since the mid-1980’s, with many cases (of small sample size) demonstrating measurable positive results from reflexology. Numerous studies from countries other than America have supported the efficacy of reflexology for countless conditions, ranging from foot pain to treating symptoms related to chronic cancer treatments.
The medical field in general takes hundreds of years to effectively test interventions and medications in order to understand the true efficacy and safety of them. However, it is a well-known and understood problem that funding drives most research for medical and alternative therapies. This can create strong differentials in available research studies on emerging practices – especially practices that do not advocate along “standard” medical treatment lines.
From the perspective of personal experience, reflexology has the ability to treat chronic conditions in minimal time. I have experienced the resolution of longstanding health issues by using reflexology. Anecdotally, others have shared with me their reduction in blood sugar, decrease in high blood pressure, and many more acute health benefits from accessing this holistic resource.
Open minded healing
Reflexology is a service that is far from standard. It draws on ancient principles of mind-body connections, using certain reflex areas on the feet and hands that are believed to be connected to internal organs and other body parts. It is non-invasive, promotes holistic healing, and emphasizes the need for individuals to harness the power of their mind in restoring health. Many of these principles are a full return to early world ideologies, which can make those depending on modern science techniques squeamish and pessimistic. However, for individuals seeking to learn more about the potency of healing literally at their fingertips, an open mind focused is essential.
The power of human minds is unsurpassed. This has also been known since the beginning of time as we know it. The role that mind-body connection plays in reflexology cannot be denied, and it should be celebrated. If reflexology is indeed a way to utilize the immense capacity of our minds to decrease the stress and anxiety of contemporary life, it could be an answer that addresses many of our underlying conditions.
Stress is a killer
Medical science has gone out on a limb to verbalize, finally, that stress is the #1 killer in the world. It is hiding behind all of those mental health conditions that we are struggling with as well, wreaking havoc eventually on our physical wellbeing in addition to our minds. Stress causes inflammation. Inflammation has been established as the root of many noncommunicable diseases. The connections are stark, objective, and cannot be ignored.
Fascinatingly, one of the most well-cited, positive effects of reflexology happens to be a reduction in stress. Even if the objectively identified benefits of chronic pain resolution, improved labor, reduction in migraine headaches, and more, are completely ignored, reflexology has been proven repeatedly to primarily resolve stress. It goes without saying that resolution of stress, now more than ever, appears to be the first step in creating healthier, more meaningful lives for every individual on the planet.
An answer to the perfect storm?
As we enter this new decade, it is abundantly clear that life is not going to slow down. Fast paced living, combined with technological advances and access to nearly every facet of others’ lives, create the perfect storm for a rise in stress and inflammation. As our focus grows to finding quality life on a planet that is already overwhelmed, overused, and overworked, survival will depend on accessing the immense power everyone has been gifted to produce meaning and hope. Our external resources have been nearly exhausted, necessitating a shift in core beliefs regarding our health and wellbeing.
Humans need fulfillment. We need answers. The human brain is constantly adapting, flexing to meet the demands of everyday life. Given the undeniable proof of the capacity for mind-body connections to produce remarkable outcomes, we must refocus on alternative methods to taking control of our health. Reflexology has the potential to treat the root of most conditions, making it a compelling option. By letting go and trusting in the immeasurable connections found within our human bodies, perhaps we can gain mastery of our wellbeing.
Jamie Cannon, MS, LPC
World Health Report. NMH Communications. World Health Organization, Geneva, 2001.
Stress in America: Our Health at Risk. Mind/Body Health. American Psychological Association. January 11, 2012. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2011/final-2011.pdf
The Physiological and Biochemical Outcomes Associated with a Reflexology Treatment: A Systematic Review. J. E. M. McCullough, S. D. Liddle, M. Sinclair, C. Close, and C. M. Hughes. Institute of Nursing and Health Research, University of Ulster, Jordanstown Campus, Shore Road, Newtownabbey, County Antrim BT37 0QB, UK. Published May 5, 2014.
Reflexology Research. American Academy of Reflexology. http://www.reflexologyresearch.net/Research380ReflexologyResearchAbstracts.shtml.