Articles and Research into Reflexology for Mental Health and Wellbeing.
Articles and Publications into Reflexology
So far, there is limited research into Reflexology, and studies are still ongoing in the UK and across the world.
Some research studies in the U.S. and around the world indicate possible benefits of reflexology, particularly in reducing pain, enhancing relaxation, and reducing psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, however, reviewers of the research have noted that the quality of reflexology studies is mixed and more high-quality research is needed.
Reflexology: A Systematic Review
A 2014 systematic review into 'The Physiological and Biochemical Outcomes Associated with a Reflexology Treatment' concluded that reflexology isn’t an effective treatment for any medical condition, however it may have some value as a complementary therapy to help reduce symptoms and improve someone’s quality of life, much like massage. Since the massaged area is the feet, for some people that will provide even more relief of stress or discomfort.
Reflexology: Supporting clients with Anxiety
If you have ever struggled with anxiety, you know how painful it is to go on medication after medication and not find any relief. Additionally, your anxiety may become so crippling that it’s the only thing on your mind 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It affects your ability to sleep, your ability to socialise, maintain friendships, and function in public settings. Although there are a wide range of treatment options, studies into reflexology have shown this to be a powerful holistic complementary therapy in alleviating the symptoms of anxiety disorder.
A 2014 randomised controlled trial into 'the effects of foot reflexology massage on anxiety in patients following coronary artery bypass graft surgery' concluded significant decrease in anxiety in the experimental group following the foot reflexology massage supports the use of this complementary therapy technique for the relief of anxiety.
Furthermore, there have been a few studies done demonstrating the effectiveness of reflexology. One of these studies involved the use of foot reflexology in cancer patients. In the 23 patients, it was found that foot reflexology significantly reduced their symptoms of anxiety, and also helped with nausea and pain management.
Reflexology has been investigated in a variety of studies to see whether it can help with MS symptoms. In one study, 71 patients were randomised to either reflexology treatment with manual pressure on specific points of the feet and massage of the calf area, or to non-specific massage of the calf area only. 53 patients completed the study and there were significant improvements in the mean scores of paraesthesia (abnormal sensations such as pins and needles), bladder symptoms, muscle strength and spasticity.
In another study, 73 people received either reflexology or basic foot massage weekly for ten weeks, primarily as a treatment for pain. Both groups showed benefit in pain, fatigue, depression and spasms with no clear difference between reflexology and massage. The effect on pain lasted for up to 12 weeks.
More recently, three separate studies compared the effects of reflexology and relaxation on fatigue, pain and psychological symptoms (anxiety, stress and depression) in women with MS. In each of these studies, reflexology was given to 25 women with MS for four weeks, twice a week for 40 minutes. Results were collected through a questionnaire completed before, immediately after and two months after treatment. In all of the studies, reflexology was found to reduce the severity of these symptoms and was recommended as an 'effective technique'.
Reflexology: Supporting clients with Cancer and Palliative care
Reflexology is one of the most popular types of complementary therapy in the UK among people with cancer.
There is some evidence that reflexology can help you:
relax and cope with stress and anxiety
lift your mood and give a feeling of wellbeing
Furthermore, several studies have shown the positive benefit of reflexology in cancer care and end of life - reduction of pain, nausea, diarrhoea or constipation, and improved quality of life with reflexology. A 2017 study into the effect of reflexology on the quality of life in patients with breast cancer concluded that reflexology was found to reduce the symptoms experienced by breast cancer patients, while at the same time increasing the functional and general health status.
Reflexology and Mental Health
Awareness of mental health issues has increased greatly over the recent years, which means that those suffering in silence have an increasing support system, gradually reducing the stigma that has often been applied to this area for many years.
A number of scientific studies have shown how the reflexology can alleviate the physical effects of severe stress and symptoms of mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety disorder. These have been published and available on Reflexology-research.com
The physical, mental and emotional benefits of reflexology make it particularly helpful for all stress-related conditions, even when there is no clinical evidence of disease. By inducing a state of relaxation, tension is eased, circulation improved and toxins released and eliminated from the body.
As the body’s energies flow there is a renewed sense of health and wellbeing on all levels. Reflexology can benefit, and be enjoyed by, everyone.
For clients suffering from stress-related illnesses, anxiety attacks, confidence issues or where they may be mentally or emotionally challenged, reflexology can prove to be a life-altering therapy. Self-esteem and confidence can be enhanced significantly, with recipients reporting an ability to deal with difficult situations more ably.
Reflexology: Supporting clients' journey through Fertility, Conception and Pregnancy
Trying for a baby is such an exciting time but when it doesn't happen as quickly as we might like it can become very stressful and the stress that this causes becomes a further obstacle to conception. In addition, the stress around assisted conception and IVF treatments can cause further pressure on the body. Reflexology principally aims to enhance body's natural healing processes, by taking some time to relax and allow your mind and body to de-stress and work in harmony. The relaxing effect of reflexology can be a huge contributor to successful conception, either natural or assisted.
Recent studies have shown that regular reflexology throughout pregnancy significantly reduced both the time in the first stage of labour and the pain through out it. A 2017 randomised clinical trial into the effects of counselling and sole reflexology on Fatigue in Pregnant Women concluded that counselling and sole reflexology significantly decreased fatigue in pregnant women.
A 2011 study into the effectiveness of using foot reflexology to improve quality of sleep amongst Taiwanese postpartum women demonstrated an intervention involving foot reflexology in the postnatal period significantly improved the quality of sleep.