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Guide to Reflexology by Wunderwell

Our friends at Wunderwell (www.wunderwell.com) have produced a series of incredible guides to wellness that might be helpful in these stressful times. Please see their latest post on the benefits of Reflexology.


Reflexology applies stimulation to targeted reflex points along the hands, feet, and ears that are understood to correspond to organs and systems throughout the body. Reflexologists are guided by diagrams that pair different points along these extremities with targeted body systems. The pressure applied to these points is believed to encourage a wide variety of health benefits.

Marco Polo reportedly produced an Italian translation of the Chinese guide to ancient reflexology in the 12th century, introducing the practice to Western Europe. In 1582 the first European guide to zone therapy was released as a published book.

In the early 1900s a physician in the United States published on the application of pressure to ten vertical zones extending across the body and the subsequently observed pain relief during minor surgical operations. This work was expanded into modern reflexology over the next 50 years by doctors who diagramed detailed reflex points across the human body, finding the feet to be the most easily mapped.

While the observed benefits of reflexology have been recorded for decades, there is still some debate about the exact mechanism through which applying pressure to reflex points exerts known benefits. Explanations include the argument that this reflex stimulus causes the nervous system to adjust tension levels across the body which induces relaxation, increases blood flow, and subsequently increases nutrient and oxygen exchange, a jump start to organs and body systems.

It is also believed that reflexology reduces pain based on the understanding that the brain responds to subjective stressors. Reflexology provides the brain with new sensory input that is thought to alter the experience of pain and induce pain relief. People most commonly report a profound sense of relaxation following a reflexology session.

Reflexology uses “maps” of the feet, Hands, and ears that correspond to stimulation in different parts of the body. A reflexology session might focus on a specific connection that needs extra attention, or the session might be used for general stimulation of the entire body through the reflex points. Practitioners might utilize lotions, oils, balls, brushes, or other tools to achieve desired therapeutic effects.

Most states do not regulate reflexology licensing. The American Reflexology Certification Board privately accredits practitioners. A database of certified practitioners can be found on their website. A reflexology session typically lasts about 30 minutes to an hour. The practitioner might augment treatment based on information about your health history and physical state provided in a pre-session interview. Reflexology is considered a low-risk therapy.

Research on reflexology is limited and does not indicate the practice to be an appropriate substitute for any formal medical treatment. However, small-scale studies published within the last two decades have shown that cancer patients, patients with PMS, and patients undergoing heart surgery have reported reduced rates of anxiety, shortness of breath, stress, and PMS symptoms.

Source: Wunderwell


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