Reflexology has been used for centuries.  It is thought to have originated in ancient Egypt.  It is not a medical approach in the usual sense of the word but rather a holistic approach that is complementary to more traditional conventional medicine. Reflexology_Foot_Chart1

It is a touch therapy which works by applying pressure and massage to certain areas on your feet and hands (it is more common to treat feet than hands).  As reflexologists believe, you have ‘reflex areas’ in your feet that relate to individual parts of your body.  And thus by applying pressure to certain reflex areas, certain bodily functions or correlating organs can be stimulated.  It is one of the most popular types of complementary therapies in the UK among cancer patients.  As it is a complementary therapy is should not be used as an alternative to conventional medicine, but rather as an additional therapy to conventional treatment.

Hows does reflexology work?

The human body is divided  into different zones represented by a point in the foot or hand.  Our feet and hands have nerve endings.  Reflexology works by stimulating these nerve endings.  Reflexology works by stimulating these nerve endings which results in promoting relaxation, improving circulation stimulating vital organs in the body and encouraging the body’s natural healing processes.  Unlike conventional medicine, reflexology works on the underlying problems within the body and through the body’s nervous system.

Can reflexology help cancer patients?

Reflexology aims to help muscles relax and encourage the body to use its own resources more effectively.  As a result, reflexology is believed to help with a wide variety of conditions and disorders including;

  • coping with stress and anxiety, reducing tension
  • pain relief
  • help lift patient’s mood and give them a feeling of well-being

Reflexology will not fix serious health problems but if used regularly it will enhance any other treatments you are receiving by keeping the circulation stimulated and the lymph system active.  You should also experience feelings of vitality and well-being after reflexology treatment which encourages the healing process throughout the body.

Several studies have looked at using reflexology to help cancer patients with symptoms such as pain, sickness and anxiety.  We cannot say whether or not reflexology has a great effect on cancer patients as these studies involved small numbers of patients and the results are mixed.  Some studies suggest that reflexology can reduce pain and anxiety in patients with metastatic cancer.

What does the treatment involve?

First of all you have to find a qualified reflexologist or contact me, i’ll be happy to answer any questions.  Another way is to contact one of the reflexology organisations, for eg, the AoR and ask for a list of reflexologists in your area.  Ask the therapist whether they have experience with treating people with cancer and how many years of training and practice they have had.

On your first visit, the therapist will ask you general questions about your health, medical history and lifestyle which will help assess whether or not you are a suitable candidate for reflexology treatment.  It is not recommended for people with certain conditions, eg, people with serious diabetes, heart conditions, pregnant women; first trimester, people with circulatory problems, epilepsy, etc.  It is not advisable to be treated by reflexology for people with low platelet count either.

Reflexology treatment session usually lasts between 45 to 60 minutes.  Six weekly sessions are commonly recommended for optimum results, although this may differ to meet every individuals’ needs.  You will be asked to remove your shoes and socks and sit on a reclining chair.  The treatment involves firm massage to the feet.  It is possible that there will be quite a dramatic reaction to the first treatment in various forms, such as increased bowel movements, cold type symptoms or headache.  This is a very healthy sign which means that the treatment has encouraged the release of harmful toxins from the body.  During treatment some areas of the foot may feel a little tender and these will relate to the problem areas in the body.  Your therapist may advise you howto  self treat a certain disorder at home by showing you the exact areas to press on the hands.