Reflexology is the study and practice of working the reflexes of the feet and hands or ears that correspond to other parts of the body. It is based on the principle that there are reflex points connected to every organ and gland in the body.
Reflexology has been used by many different civilizations as a form of holistic healing for millennia. In the U.S., most reflexologists practice the Ingham method, and there are also ayurvedic and several Asian methods. The main difference is the amount of pressure used (Chinese is generally much stronger). The ayurvedic method traditionally uses a kansa bowl, a handmade metal bowl which, when mixed with oil, is claimed to pull out acidity and toxicity from the body. Some methods are performed with oil, and some with powder only.
The feet are more sensitive and respond well to manipulation and massage. When congestion forms at specific points, it blocks the flow of energy to the corresponding organ or gland. By applying pressure, essential oils, massage or gentle manipulation to the congested areas of the feet or hands, circulation increases and psychological well-being is enhanced.
Reflexology works on the autonomic nervous system; specifically, the hypothalamus, the gland that regulates body temperature, water intake, satiety and emotions. Together with the pineal gland, it controls sleep cycles and hormonal output such as melatonin. Depending on the type of movement applied to thspecific points on the feet, the sensory, or receptor, cells of the brain are stimulated for either relaxation or stimulation. Most often, relaxation is utilized in reflexology, but a sluggish immune or lymphatic system could warrant stimulation.
Reflexology will leave subjects feeling deeply relaxed, grounded and nourished. It is helpful for muscular pain; especially sciatica, backache and headaches. Reflexology enhances other modalities such as acupuncture, chiropractic and exercise and provides a great sense of increased energy and well-being.
Mary Ellen Dorey is a clinical aromatherapist, reflexologist, natural perfumer and owner of Dorey Aromatherapy and Reflexology, in Plano. For more information, visit DoreyAromatherapy.com.