Overview:

Many people believe that Reflexology dates back to ancient Egypt and China. There are many references back to an old Egyptian hieroglyph depicting someone manipulating another person’s foot. The hieroglyphics roughly translate to “Don’t hurt me” with a response of  “I shall act so you praise me.” However, there hasn’t been any direct explanation of what was being done to the foot.

Reflexology is similar to massage therapy and consists of the application of pressure to areas on the hands, feet and ears generally.  It is believed by some that reflexology can relieve stress.  The theory is that these areas of the body have a relation to organs and thus bodily systems.  The proponents of reflexology believe that pressure applied to these areas affect organs and has a beneficial impact on the person’s health.

Foot charts are utilized by a Reflexologist to guide them as pressure is applied to specific areas of the feet.  Practioners of reflexology at times use items such as rubber bands, sticks of wood, rubber balls or other materials to assist them.  Those who practice reflexology are often chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists and others…

Does Reflexology Work?

Some studies have been funded by the National Cancer Institute as well as the Institutes of Health that indicated reflexology may reduce pain, psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression and even aid in relaxation and sleeping.  Studies also showed the reflexology may have some benefits to those in end of life palliative care in cancer patients.

Many Reflexologists make claim that the therapies can treat a wide variety of health conditions such as diabetes, cancer and asthma for example however there is no scientific or clinical evidence to support such claims.

Reflexology is generally considered safe though pressure applied during the therapy may cause discomfort for some participants.

Considered an alternative medicine technique there is no consensus among reflexologists on how reflexology is supposed to work; a unifying theme is the idea that areas on the foot correspond to areas of the body, and that by manipulating these one can improve health through one’s Qi which is a term coming from Japan meaning “material energy”, “life force”, or “energy flow”.  Reflexologists divide the body into ten equal vertical zones, five on the right and five on the left.

Reflexology Foot Chart
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Concerns have been raised by medical professionals that treating potentially serious illnesses with reflexology could delay the seeking of appropriate medical treatment.

Reflexologists posit that the blockage of an energy field of Q1, can prevent healing. Another tenet of reflexology is the belief that practitioners can relieve stress and pain in other parts of the body through the manipulation of the feet. One claimed explanation is that the pressure received in the feet may send signals that ‘balance’ the nervous system or release chemicals such as endorphin’s that reduce stress and pain. These hypotheses are rejected by the medical community, who cite a lack of scientific evidence.

  • Reduces tension and helps with combating stress
  • Improves circulation of blood and lymph throughout the body
  • Promotes well being and relaxation
  • Helps to reduce toxins and impurities from the body
  • Creates a space for the body to balance itself
  • Strengthens the immune system and energizes the body

Reflexology in relation to Multiple Sclerosis somewhat came to a forefront when Ann Romney the wife of Mitt Romney former Presidential candidate turned to reflexology as one of the mechanisms in coping with her multiple sclerosis symptoms and many people afflicted with MS have turned to reflexology as an alternative treatment.

Since multiple sclerosis is a neurological disorder stimulation of points in the body may well have some positive effects just as is the case in massage therapy.

Conclusion:

Reflexology and massage therapies make a certain amount of sense with people who have multiple sclerosis.  Nerves are being stimulated and of course reduction of stress and relaxation are an important part of coping with MS.  Science and research has stated that human being appear to have an excess of neurons in the Central Nervous System (CNS).  As nerve cells are damaged or simply through aging become problematic nerves in reserve are able to take up function.  Some researchers have stated that they believe the progression of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis which is the most common form of the disease progresses to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis due to this reserve running out.

Nerve stimulation causes activity in the Central Nervous System so therapeutic elements of reflexology may well exist.

What is very important is should you engage in trying reflexology consider it as a supplement to front line medical community therapy and care, not as a solution or substitute to professional medical care.

Just as with any form of therapy or treatment in respect to multiple sclerosis you should communicate with your health care team before engaging in any new tactics in respect to MS.  Multiple Sclerosis is a complex disease in that differing areas of ones neurological makeup can be impacted and thus careful consideration and speaking with your health care professionals in respect to any lifestyle, dietary, exercise or therapeutic changes should be fully discussed prior to engaging in them.

There are many people with multiple sclerosis that state reflexology has been beneficial to them and many that say it seems to have had no impact at all.