Monday, September 22, 2008
Reflexology and the (Underappreciated) Urinary System
The Urinary System, Illnesses and How They Can be Prevented,Supported or Managed When it comes to illnesses and how they affect the systems of the body, most people don't think of the urinary system first. Despite this, the urinary system happens to be one of the most important systems of the body - helping to get rid of some potentially toxic waste that may cause us harm. It's no surprise that the urinary system is a factor in ones wellness too. One of the most important things the urinary system does is - it filters our blood and gets rid of it's waste. The urinary system, on the surface may seem simple. It involves only a few main parts: the bladder, the kidney and the ureter. But, these organs perform some vital and complex functions. Each kidney has over 1 million tubules which are known as nephrons. These nephron tubes are the basic unit of the kidneys and they work by helping to filter the impurities andpotentially harmful stuff in your body. Wow - did you know that if you connected them from end to end, they would stretch for as much as 50 miles (80 km). Kidneys do a lot of other things as well:- they're responsible for making a hormone which tells the body when to make more red blood cells. - they also help the body produce active Vitamin D which, in turn, helps the rest of the body especially the bones absorb the calcium from ingested foods which helps in sustaining a strong skeletal system. - and, they also help in regulating the of amount of fluid in your body on a daily basis. Between 7 to 8 litres of blood - all the blood in the human body - gets filtered through the kidneys about 19 times every day! The waste that leaves the kidneys is urine and it moves through a set of tubes called 'ureters' that carry it to the bladder. The bladder, which is also part of the urinary system, holds the urine until it's ready to be passed out to the exterior. Now, a number of different conditions may affect these important parts of the urinary system. In turn, these conditions can affect quality of life, create discomfort or even worse - affect other areas of your body or worsen an existing condition. One discomforting condition is having kidney stones. Kidney stones are formations that occur when minerals aggregate together. Kidney stones tend to be as large as pebbles on the average but they can reach dangerous sizes. Some have been reported to be as large as grapefruit and the record weight of a single kidney is 1.5 kg (almost3 lbs). Kidney stones are 4 times more likely to occur with men than women and the pain that they cause is excruciating. They can also block the urinary tract and cause some very serious problems which may include any of the following: sudden and severe pain in the back, groin, side, abdomen, or genitals; nausea; vomiting; fevers; chills; profuse sweating; or blood in the urine. Bladder infections are another serious condition which may affect the urinary system. They're caused by bacteria entering the urinary tract and they can make the urine smell foul and pus and blood may also come out with the urine. Pain in the pubic region is also a common trait of the condition as well as difficulty in urinating or painwhen doing so. Seeking medical attention is the first course of action to take. Supportive approaches have to do with eating right, avoiding alcohol and tobacco and doing exercises. Dehydration has been linked to the formation of kidney stones - another great reason to drink water. (The recommended amount of water is at least eight glasses of water a day, but that can vary from person to person.) In terms of food, a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits are usually recommended - whole grains and green vegetables especially; vegetables and legumes are rich in potassium as well as citrus fruits. Whether fact or fiction, cranberry juice is largely believed to have some remedial effect on bladder infections as it tends to produce an acid which eliminates the presence of bacteria that leads to bladder infections. However it isusually recommended that the cranberry juice taken should be the version that is 100% pure, the ones with sugar (or mixed sweet juices) could aggravate and not help that much. Regular exercise can be a good deterrent to the formation of kidney stones. This is because the calcium which may cause the stones can be absorbed into the bones instead of accumulating to create kidney stones. About 30 minutes of exercise, 3 times a week, is usually recommended). Don't forget that it's also necessary to drink enough water after exercise in order to prevent dehydration - otherwise you may nullify the aim of the exercise in the first place. So how does reflexology factor into all of this? I'll often notice the "kidney reflex" as an area with a distinct change in tissue texture. Does mean that there are kidney problems? As a reflexologist in the US, it's not legal for me to diagnose, prescribe or treat. So, I just can't say for sure. But as a reflexologist I know that the inner workings of the body and all its systems can be expressed close to or on the surface. I will definitely detail the area in question as well as other organ reflexes in that particular system. And, I don't need to be right or diagnostic in order to offer the finest stress relief and support for my client and whatever their health challenges might be. I'd be taking the same actions, regardless. So now, let's look at the urinary system reflexes: the kidney reflexes - located on the plantar aspect, around the bases of the second metatarsal bones; the ureter reflexes - a thin line diagonally crossing the medial cuneiform towards the navicular bone, plantar aspect, medial side; the bladder reflex - located on the medial side and anterior aspects of the calcaneus. I detail each of these reflexes every time I feel a tissue texture change in any of the urinary system reflex areas and I'll also include the endocrine system for an all-systems balancing support (especially the adrenals due to associated stress and proximity). I also understand that there is a foot here. Given that - there will be a physiological reason for the changes in tissue texture that I might observe, in this case, located near the center of the foot. I also know that the digital flexor tendons converge in this area and there may be a structural or anatomical cause that would certainly influence this change in the tissue texture. But, that's the domain of a podiatrist or, if muscular in origin, a massage therapist, and if warranted, I'll refer my client to one of them. As a reflexologist, my interest is less about the foot and more about the whole body, and all the organ systems. How do I support the whole body with my fabulous reflexology techniques? That's a no brainer. Inherent in its techniques, reflexology can offer the very best in stress reduction, along with support for the natural homeostatic processes and it even supports circulation! An added BONUS is that these changes in tissue texture, i.e., in the area of the urinary system reflexes, are a perfect reason for bringing my skills of detailing to the area and also, an excuse for me to ask my client "how much water do you drink in a day?" This is a wonderful entry for talking to my clients about the benefits of drinking appropriate amounts of water. Here's something else to think about. Did you know that directly telling someone to drink water could constitute prescribing? Don't laugh, someone actually got into trouble over this. As silly as this may seem, we need to be careful to not prescribe.So, I usually say, "I drink water after every reflexology session" or "would you like a glass of water?" This gets the job done and the information remains anecdotal. The client can choose their action as theysee fit.