Thursday, June 26, 2008

Reflexology & Stress

The grim reality of stress is showing up in more and more scientific studies like one by the American Medical Association that reported stress was a factor in 75 percent of all diseases. A recent study even linked the effects of stress to weakening of the heart muscle.
In the August, 2004 edition of Great Life magazine it was reported that Duke University Medical Center researchers in Durham, N.C. studied the effects of stress on hearts in a clinical trial that monitored the reaction of the heart to everyday events.
They discovered that the more stress, anger and sadness someone experienced, the less able their hearts were able to respond effectively. It was like the pressure exerted on the heart by the constant emotional ups and downs of stress caused it to stretch beyond its capacity to bounce back to normal.
Another study determined a link between depression and impaired heart health.

Researchers at Emory University, Atlanta, Ga., and Yale University, New Haven, Conn., recently studied 50 pairs of male twins by hooking them up to electrocardiograms for 24 hours. They concluded a link existed between depression and reduced heart rate variability (HRV) or fluctuations between heartbeats. Decreased HRV can weaken the heart and make it more susceptible to sudden fatalities.

Reflexology can be a natural, low cost option to offsetting the effects of stress on heart and overall health. Reflexology endeavors to treat the body, mind and spirit as a cohesive system by getting to the cause of disease not its symptoms. Reflexology possesses the capacity to cancel out the effects of stress while it helps the body to reach a place of deep relaxation where it can balance the body systems.

Through the relaxation process the body is more capable of dealing with the stresses placed on it by daily living and those associated with illness. Reflexology gently nudges the body towards improved functioning of the system by improving lymphatic drainage and venous circulation, simulation to the nerve pathways, and muscle relaxation.

In a report on reflexology research published at a Chinese study demonstrated how reflexology efficiently alleviated the effects of extreme stress. Twenty patients being treated for neurasthenia, a condition of extreme emotional stress-- were given a course of reflexology at the hospital’s department of physiotherapy. The treatments focused on areas of the feet relating to the adrenal glands, kidneys, bladder, sinus, brain and heart organs that are compromised by the effects of stress.

The treatments were given daily for a week with the following results presented at the China reflexology symposium in July, 1993: 40 percent experienced a complete cure; 35 percent were greatly improved; 15 percent mildly improved; and 10 percent reporting no change at all.

Reflexology therapeutically reduces stress and tension throughout the body’s systems to improve blood and lymph circulation, increase nerve supply to the cells and release toxins from the body’s tissues. It is believed to encourage the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones, well documented in their ability to relieve stress.

These physiological benefits facilitate improvements in the body's assimilation of nutrients, elimination of wastes and immune system stimulation. Reflexology supports the body in its process of self-healing and maintaining the balance that leads to good health.

Plus, reflexology feels great and nearly everyone is a candidate for reflexology--even people who are not candidates for traditional massage therapy due to physical restrictions or who may be inhibited about disrobing. With reflexology, all you remove is footwear.

About this contributor: Thomacine Haywood is a writer, teacher and practitioner in private practice in Indianapolis. She is a Reiki Master, certified reflexologist, massage & sound therapist. Website:

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