Happy Feet Reflexology

Nancy Bartlett, NBCR
Chepachet,  R. I.    

My Reflexology Store - www.myreflexologystore.com  Check out the informative newsletters posted on the site.


  1. Alzheimer's Disease & Dementia
  2. Babies - Reflexology
  3. Bunions
  4. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome & Reflexology
  5. Childhood Cancer-Tommy Fund - Reflexology
  6. Chronic Disease -  Reflexology
  7. Circulation - Reflexology
  8. Dancers -  Reflexology
  9. Diabetes - Reflexology
  10. Ear Candling/Auricular Candling
  11. Fibromyalgia - Reflexology
  12. Lou Gehrigs (ALS)
  13. Multiple Sclerosis - Reflexology
  14. Neuroma - Reflexology
  15. Obesity, Cardiovascular, Diabetes, Cancer-Reflexology
  16. Paralysis - Reflexology
  17. Pain Control - Reflexology
  18. Parkinson's Disease - Reflexology
  19. Planter Fasciitis - Reflexology
  20. Reflexology Stroll Paths for Health
  21. Shingles - Reflexology
  22. Stress - Reflexology


What do Obesity, Cardiovascular disease, Diabetes and even Cancer have in common?

They may each be blamed on a Stress Hormone!

The alarm clangs late again, over-whelmed only by the sound of the     kids screaming about who got more milk. In the middle of a traffic jam, your spouse reminds you of the overdue electric bill and then someone tailgates you all the way to your office so your boss can yell across the room: “Get in here!”

You scoot to your desk and realize your middle is so wide that you can’t get any closer. Your stressful morning has some responsibility for that girth.

That’s because of a stress hormone called cortisol, a major player in the fight-or-flight reaction that we call stress.

Your body secretes cortisol when it feels prolonged tension. In modern society that can last for years. And the result can be obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer.

“If we peeled away the layers of disease and illness, we’d find stress at the very foot of most illnesses,” said Susan Schulte, a wellness counselor in south St. Louis County. “It creates a lot of disharmony in the body and mind. Once we have that imbalance and disharmony, we become very vulnerable to illness.”

The human response to stress has failed to adapt to modern conflicts. When the mind’s eye feels a conflict – rushing to get to work sweating over a $2,000 tax debt – it prepares the body to fight or run away, even though that’s not what you’re going to do.

However you experience stress, the result is the same. “It’s a loss of feeling in control,” said David Pole, deputy director of the Area Health Education Centers at St. Louis University School of Medicine.

Chronic stress occurs “when demand exceeds your capabilities,” said Dr. Mark Mengel, chair of the community and family health department at the same medical school, “Chronic stress is a nagging situation that won’t go away.”

The red flag of the effect of stress is the obesity epidemic. The primary culprit in the scenario is cortisol.

In a dangerous situation, your adrenal gland spits out adrenaline which jolts you into high-level performance to get you out of a short-lived fix. If your stress level remains high, the gland thinks this is a prolonged battle and spits out a super-adrenaline called cortisol.

Here’s a thumbnail description of how cortisol works, according to Mengel, the Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health: Faced with a long battle, cortisol turns down the dial on non-essential body functions such as the immune system, digestion and sexual function.

The next job is to send a lot of fuel to the muscles. The fuel mainly is a sugar from carbohydrates or protein that’s been changed to glucose in preparation for a fight. Cortisol does this until it senses the danger has passed.

But in modern society, the stress never ends. So the cortisol keeps coming.

After a few hours, the pancreas thinks the extra-high blood sugar is from a big meal. It spits extra insulin into the blood so cells will use the food. The blood sugar then drops rapidly and you get hungry and overeat.

The cortisol sees more fuel and rushes it to the muscles. But by this time the muscles are already saturated and have no place to put that fuel.

Cortisol and insulin fight for dominance. High insulin levels eventually result in the body depositing all of that extra sludge into fat cells around the waist, resulting in dangerous and unsightly belly fat. Insulin aims the extra nutrients at belly fat because under normal conditions, belly fat tells the pancreas to speed up or slow down – sort of the accelerator or brake for the pancreas.

Cortisol only takes orders from the adrenal gland, which takes orders from the hypothalamus in your head, which takes orders from your brain, which takes orders from you sitting there stressing over the tax bill, the boss and the moron who was tailgating you.

“It’s the (proverbial) vicious circle,” Mengel said. “Once you get the high insulin level, that causes the body to deposit fat in the stomach rather than elsewhere.”

Muscle cells refuse to metabolize nutrients so the extra food is stored in belly fat cells. They fill to enormous capacities as they try to clear the bloodstream. The resulting sludge blocks blood vessels, resulting in cardiovascular disease.

The pancreas stops working properly, which can result in diabetes. The digestive system doesn’t handle food properly, which results in indigestion and leaves you vulnerable to ulcers. The immune system fails to catch malfunctioning DNA at the molecular level, creating pre-cancerous cells.

Experts say exercise is the first line of defense against stress and its by-products. It’s a simple formula: If your body sees artificial threats, give it artificial combat.

“Our bodies are designed for movement,” says Pole, of St. Louis University. “Our physiology hasn’t evolved past that. So the better shape you’re in, the better your body can absorb the response.”

While you exercise by punching a heavy bag with your boss’s picture stapled to it, experts say there’s still the leaky dam of stress. So even if you exercise, you should get the stress under control. That can take REFLEXOLOGY, counseling, meditation, breathing exercises and other spiritual and mental exercises.
Harry Jackson Jr., in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Article copied from Universal College of Reflexology newsletter, Canada : http://www.universalreflex.com


Reflexology & Circulation

 Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body, and if the smallest fraction of blood supply is cut off from one or more parts of the body, the effects soon become evident.  More than 1,000 times a day, blood circulates through the body's many miles of veins and arteries.

Stress and tension tighten up the cardio-vascular system and restrict blood flow. Circulation then becomes sluggish, causing high and low blood pressure.

By reducing stress and tension, reflexology allows the cardio-vascular vessels to conduct the flow of blood naturally and easily, and assists in the elimination of toxins and impurities.


Pain Control

Reflexology promotes the production of endorphins on the body. Endorphins are the feel-good hormones, which act on the nervous system to help reduce pain.


Diabetes - Reflexology

Reflexology has been known to produce good results with diabetes, especially if the treatments begin shortly after being diagnosed.

Diabetes is caused by a deficiency of insulin production in the pancreas.  Some of the ailments suffered by diabetics are:  bad circulation, peripheral neuropathy or damaged nerve, numbness, retinopathy, constipation, rectal dysfunction in males, and heart problems.

Reflexology improves circulation, boosts the immune system and instigates healing forces. The Diabetes Association has endorsed the effectiveness and results gained from reflexology.  Many patients have reduced their medication under the supervision of their physician.  Since reflexology effectively reduces stress, diabetics who have regular reflexology treatments maintain balanced sugar levels. 


Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

Introduction to Shingles – http://www.Holisticonline.com

Shingles is a very painful and often debilitating condition. It is caused by the same virus (herpes zoster) as chickenpox. After one contracts chicken pox, the virus can lie dormant in sensory (skin) nerves for decades. It reappears when the immune system is weakened by age, disease or unmanaged stress. When events occur that decrease the immune system, such as aging, severe emotional stress, severe illness, or long-term usage of corticosteroids, the immune system cannot suppress the dormant organisms any longer and they become active again, causing infection along the pathway of the nerve.

Painful skin blisters erupt on one side of your face or body. Typically, this occurs along your chest, abdomen, back, or face, but it may also affect your neck, limbs, or lower back. It can be excruciatingly painful, itchy, and tender. After one to two weeks, the blisters heal and form scabs, although the pain continues.

Shingles itself is not a communicable disease. However, exposure to the rash may cause small children to develop chickenpox. Pregnant women, adults who have never had chickenpox, and persons with impaired immune systems should avoid direct contact with anyone suffering from shingles.

Symptoms of Shingles


Slight fever, malaise, chills, upset stomach


Bruised feeling, usually on one side of your face or body.


Pain (often in the chest) that is followed several days later by tingling, itching, or prickling skin and an inflamed, red skin rash.


A group or long strip of small, fluid-filled blisters.


Deep burning, searing, aching, or stabbing pain, which may be continuous or intermittent.

Symptoms of shingles  include a painful rash that usually appears on the torso or face. After a few days, chicken pox like blisters form, then they crust over and eventually heal after two or three weeks. One attack of herpes zoster usually gives immunity for life.

This is typically how the disease progresses:

Several days (three to four) before the skin outbreaks occur, there is usually fatigue, fever, chills, and sometimes gastrointestinal upset.

On the third to fourth day the skin area becomes very excessively sensitive.

On the fourth or fifth day, characteristic small blisters erupt that crust and hurt along the path of a nerve so that the reddened outbreak affects a strip of skin that forms a line. This usually occurs over the ribs in the thoracic area and is usually limited to one side. Rarely, it can affect the lower part of the body or the face.

The affected area is very sensitive and the pain may be very severe.

The eruptions heal about five days later.

In about half of those who develop shingles, the pain persists for months and sometimes years. This is called postherpetic neuralgia. Frequently, the pain is quite severe.

Causes of Shingles

The pain of shingles is caused by an inflammation of the nerve that lies just beneath the skin's surface. Shingles originates from the same virus which causes chickenpox. The virus, after infecting the person with chickenpox, retreats to the nervous system where it remains dormant for many years. It reappears in the form of shingles, only if the immune system is weakened, or as a result of a more severe or lengthy illness, extreme stress, or a therapy involving suppression of the immune system. Herpes zoster is common in people with a weakened immune system, such as AIDS patients or people taking anticancer or immunosuppressant drugs. Shingles is more common in the elderly, who tend to have less efficient immune systems. Overall health and nutrition often determine the severity of illness and length of recovery.

No treatment has yet been discovered to prevent or halt shingles. Although steps can be taken to shorten the duration, the virus must simply run its course. Early medical attention may prevent or reduce the scarring that shingles can cause.   Medications may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and help you cope with the pain. Antiviral drugs may help stop progression of the rash.  Mild to moderate cases may be controlled with over-the-counter painkillers and self-help remedies.  For postherpetic neuralgia, a non- prescription cream containing capsaicin from hot red peppers provides relief for 75 percent of sufferers by anesthetizing the skin's surface.

Hydrotherapy for Shingles

For the first three or four days, try ice for 10 minutes on, five minutes off, every few hours. Later, apply cool, wet compresses soaked in aluminum acetate. (available over the counter in the form of astringent solution, powder packets, or effervescent tablets.)

Take a neutral bath (body temperature). Soak for thirty to sixty minutes. (Add hot water occasionally to keep heat at blood temperature.) This is very calming to the nervous system and reduces stress.

Reflexology for Shingles

Try working the diaphragm, spine, ovary/testicle, pancreas and pituitary, parathyroid, thyroid and adrenal gland reflex points on hands or feet.


The Healing Power of Touch - Fibromyalgia

 A number of specific therapeutic touch disciplines are being integrated with conventional treatments to meet the challenge of supporting the Fibromyalgia Community. Medical professionals are recognizing the importance of touch therapies as studies and clinical trials are showing the effectiveness of touch as an essential component of a holistic health model. Touch therapies can play an important role in a multidisciplinary approach for managing pain, fatigue, depressed mood, sleep problems, gastrointestinal distress, poor concentration, restless leg syndrome, anxiety and headaches.  

Touch therapies promote a “relaxation response” in patients, which allows for a state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress (e.g., decrease in heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension). Bodywork disciplines that can have this effect on the body are massage therapy with lighter to medium pressure, aromatherapy massage such as The Raindrop Technique, Polarity Therapy, Cranio Sacral Balancing, energy therapies such as Reiki and Foot Reflexology. The “relaxation response” induced by the many forms of touch therapy is crucial in helping patients overcome chronic pain and the associated overlapping illness. 

Pain Management Beyond Medication While medications help patients cope with the devastating symptoms of fibromyalgia, touch therapy enables the body to heal and function. Researchers at the Touch Research Institute, University of Miami, have studied adults with fibromyalgia and the effects of massage therapy1. The results reported reduced anxiety and uplifted mood immediately after a massage session. Sleep quality improved and other fibromyalgia symptoms such as pain, stiffness and fatigue were relieved as well. Researchers say that massage therapy alters the sleep pattern, increases serotonin levels and reduces levels of the chemical messenger for pain. 

Touch therapy practitioners who specialize in treating chronic pain clients agree that a multidisciplinary approach is essential to improve quality of life, lend emotional support, decrease pain and support conventional treatments. As we educate the fibromyalgia community and physicians that many complementary therapies have precisely this focus and expertise, we provide options and avenues for each individual to take an active role in their wellness. 

Foot Reflexology In Pain Management  One specific therapy that is effective in promoting deep relaxation and relief of acute and chronic pain is Foot Reflexology, sometimes referred to as foot acupressure. Reflexology is a type of therapy applied to the feet, likened to massage but having a specific focus on systems of the body (organs and glands). The effects take place through the nervous system and clients often report feeling euphoric and deeply relaxed. One explanation for this is the release of the body’s endorphins (the body’s ‘feel good’ chemicals) that can occur with the techniques applied to the acupressure points and nerve reflexes in the feet. The effects of regular reflexology treatments can have profound results, many reporting overall improvements in health, a greater sense of well being and an increased awareness of their body. 

As a provider of various touch therapies specializing in chronic pain conditions, Reflexology is the foundation for every therapy I provide because of its ability to relax the body and reduce pain. A program for pain management may include craniosacral therapy, polarity, essential oils and so on. However, as I tailor the treatment for each individual, the feet are the basic assessment tool and an efficient communicator to the rest of the body. 

How Does Reflexology Work?  With the extensive nerve distribution in the feet, and the large portion of the sensory and motor area of the brain devoted to the feet, stimulation and therapeutic movement of the feet activates responses throughout the nervous system. The results are body-wide effects. Circulation is improved, lymphatic movement is enhanced and the body’s natural pain relieving chemicals are triggered. 

Neurologically, the activation of receptors in the feet changes the tempo and tone of the body by sending new messages into the system, which responds by becoming homeostatic (balanced). In essence, the foot becomes a conduit for sharing information throughout the body. Pressure applied to the feet generates a signal through the peripheral and central nervous system, then is relayed to the brain and on to the various organs to allocate the necessary adjustments in fuel and oxygen. Finally a response is sent to the motor system and the body’s overall tone and tension level is adjusted, reducing stress on the body’s internal systems.  

Dr. J. Manzanares, M.D., surgeon and reflexologist with 20 years of medical experience who has treated 70,000 clinical cases of reflexology patients, confirms this neurological circuit that takes place from the receptors in the feet2. There are over 7,000 nerve receptors in each foot and there is no other single part of the body that when massaged can affect the entire body like the feet. No wonder we love foot rubs!  

Trigger Points In The Feet  The feet have tender points and trigger points just as the body does. With fibromyalgia patients, these points in the feet are significant and relevant to aches and pains elsewhere in the body. A Reflexologist assesses these tender areas in the same way that trigger points are addressed in the body. Identifying structural and mechanical factors in the feet or legs that contribute to these perpetuating trigger points is essential for the treatment of the chronic pain. One example is restless leg syndrome which can be caused by trigger points in the feet and calf muscles. Relieving these tender points can often alleviate this syndrome. 

In addition to treating the body’s 18 FM tender points, the feet need to be addressed. A ‘fibromyalgia foot’ is characterized by certain shape variants. The feet are good indicators of stress in the body. We’ve all heard it said, when the feet hurt, the body hurts. Unfortunately, many are unaware of the importance of the health of our feet and with fibromyalgia and chronic pain sufferers, they are of vital importance. 

A reflexologist will address these points in the feet as part of tailoring a session for the individual. In a treatment, a health history is taken and specific concerns are discussed. The feet are assessed and the treatment proceeds to relax the overall body, internal organs and promote relaxation.  

Closing Thoughts The Electricity of Touch is the title of a report from the Institute of HearthMath that measured the cardiac energy exchange between individuals participating in certain healing techniques3. It presents a sampling of results which provide intriguing evidence that an exchange of electromagnetic energy is produced by the heart when touch or close contact occurs. One person’s ECG signal registered in another person’s EEG and elsewhere on their body. This study provides a solid, testable theory on the observed effects of caring touch and gives a plausible mechanism to explain how this energy from an individual can facilitate a healing process. 

J. Madison Taylor, M.D., wrote in 1908: “No single therapeutic agent can be compared in efficiency with this familiar but perfect tool…The Human Hand. If half as much research had been expended on the principles governing manual treatment as upon pharmacology, the hand would be esteemed today on a par with drugs in acceptability and power.”4 

Science is confirming what we know in our hearts: intentional, caring touch is good medicine. It can create hope, ease the symptoms of disease and calm the body and soul. 

About the Author  Linda Chollar, MTI, APP, CHT, is a board-certified Reflexologist, educator and director of Advanced Body Wellness, a center for healing therapies. She has spent the last twenty years in the holistic health field, treating private clients, researching and teaching at massage schools, hospitals, nursing schools, and health organizations about complementary therapies in an effort to bridge the gap between traditional and complementary medicine.  Linda lectures nationally and is available for workshops and training classes for professionals and the general public. She is designing a program for fibromyalgia support groups to learn reflexology for self care and will soon be releasing a book on reflexology and chronic pain. Her office is located in the Los Angeles area and she can be reached at 310-318-3353 or E-mail: linda@lindachollar.com 


1Fields, Tiffany,, M.D.: Touch Research Institute, http://www.miami.edu/touch-research/history.html
2Manzanares, J.,M.D.: Principles of Reflexology, 2000
3McCraty, M., Atkinson, M., Tomasino, D., Tiller, W.A.: The Electricity of Touch: Detection and measurement of cardiac energy exchange between people. Summary: http://www.hearthath.org/ResearchPapers/Touch/Touchsum.html
4McDonald, G., Medicine Hands, Massage Therapy for People With Cancer. vii, 1999


Stress - Reflexology

  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 www.reflexology-research.com 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:  http://healing.about.com/od/reflexology/a/stress_reflex.htm


Plantar Fasciitis - Reflexology

In Latin, 'itis' means inflammation so whenever you see a syndrome ending in 'itis' you automatically know that it's some kind of inflammatory condition. So, 'fasciitis' means inflammation of some sort of fascia - that is, the tough fibrous outer casing of some muscle. 'Plantar' refers to the foot, or more specifically the part of the foot we 'plant' when we walk - i.e. - the bottom of the foot. Plantar Fasciitis is an inflammatory condition affecting the fascia on the bottom of the foot. This is a particularly bothersome condition that if addressed early is much easier to remedy than if it's left to develop into a chronic condition.

The Anatomy  The plantar fascia originates on the front of the heel and runs lengthwise along the sole of the foot. It's related to the plantar muscles of the foot, which curl the toes under and help support the arch of the foot.  The arch of the foot is supported primarily by the shape of the bones of the foot - the muscles don't have to do a whole lot to maintain the arch. Sometimes over time the arch starts to collapse a bit which can cause the plantar fascia to become over stretched. This can often lead to inflammation and pain in the plantar fascia.

There are numerous factors that have to be accounted for when assessing the cause of plantar fasciitis. Shoes, type of work, running habits and patterns and foot mechanics are all possible contributing causes of plantar fasciitis.

Signs and Symptoms

1)       Pain on the sole of the foot, often localized to the front of the heel

2)      Pain is usually worse first thing upon arising in the morning. The first steps of the day are often the most painful.

3)      Pain often aggravated by standing, walking or running, with running being the most painful.

What's Going On  For whatever reason, the plantar fascia has become inflamed and every time you stand on it you stretch that inflamed muscle. Pain is usually worse in the morning because during the night the muscle will often get tighter. The muscle shortens when we curl our toes or point our feet. While sleeping our feet are often in a position whereby the feet are pointed and this allows the plantar fascia to tighten. When we step out of bed in the morning the muscle is suddenly stretched and we feel extreme pain

When plantar fasciitis becomes chronic, a bone spur (calcium deposit)  will often develop. Bone spurs are easily detected on x-rays. Bone spurs develop because the plantar fascia has pulled for a long period of time on its attachment to the heel and the bone of the heel has reacted to the stress by depositing calcium at the attachment.

What To Do About It  As stated earlier, you really have to catch plantar fasciitis before it becomes chronic so that you don't develop bone spurs. Don't wait in hopes that the pain will go way on it's own because early treatment is the most effective.

Treatment is variable but may consist of ultrasound, current, orthotics, manipulation of the bones of foot and home stretching and exercise. Some of the most useful home treatments are as follows:

1)       Rest - Once you have plantar fasciitis, you should back off of your walking distance and not walk or run through the pain.

2)      Ice - this is the most important thing you can do for yourself. Either an ice pack under the sole of the foot of take a frozen can of juice and roll in under your foot to do a bit of ice massage.

3)      Self-Massage:  Massage the foot before getting out of bed in the morning.  Use long strokes from the ball down to the heel.

Home exercises to strengthen the plantar muscles - 

a) practice picking a golf ball up with your toes, or lay a towel on the floor and scrunch it up with your toes.   

b) Place palm of hand over the toes and ball of foot.  Keeping the leg steady, pull the foot towards you so that the bottom of the foot is stretched.  Hold for 30-60 seconds and release.  Repeat 5 times at each session, 3X  a day.

c) Sit with foot on opposite knee, grasp with opposite hand to pull it towards the knee and stretch the ball of the foot.

d) Use a towel, loop it around the ball of the foot and use it to pull  your foot and stretch the ball of the foot.

e) Step Stretch:  Stand on the edge of a step.  Allow one heel, or both, to drop off the step.  Hold for 15-30 seconds.  Repeat 3X a day.

f) Calf Stretch:  Stand an arm's-length from the wall/post.  Lean into wall/post, bracing yourself with your arms.  Place one leg forward with knee bent - this leg will have no weight put on it.  Keep other leg back with knee straight and heel down.  Keeping back straight, move hips toward wall until you feel a stretch.  Hold 30 sec.  Relax.  Repeat with other leg.

g) When severe, bracing at night may be necessary - because things tighten up when we point our toes at night sometimes a splint which holds the foot in dorsiflexion (toes up) may be necessary. Commercial ones are available but one of the best ways to splint your foot is to sleep with a boot on your foot. A ski boot works great because it won't flex at all but any high, stiff boot should suffice.  It may seem clumsy but it works!

h) Soak with Epson salts -hot water and Epsom salts will draw inflammation out of the sore muscles. 


Neuromas - Reflexology

Can reflexology help with a neuroma?  The answer is “Yes”.  Reflexology can help as an integrative care therapy.  By working on the feet, you can help with pressure and inflammation, caused by the neuroma, along with a general de-stressing of the entire body.  

A neuroma is a thickening of the nerve that arises from irritation of the nerve resulting in an inflammation of the nerve sheath, or covering of the nerve and the formation of scar tissue around the nerve. This is a benign condition that involves the small nerves that run between the metatarsal bones in the ball the foot. The most common nerve to develop this condition is the nerve supplying the third and fourth toes.   This area is outlined in the diagram at the left. 

This is called a Morton's neuroma. It can also involve the nerves that supply the other digits as well.  It usually develops when tight, poorly fitting shoes, often those with high-heels, cause the third and fourth metatarsal bones to pinch together compressing an underlying nerve. Injury, arthritis, or abnormal bone structures may also cause this condition.

 Symptoms Include:

-            - tingling, burning, or numbness around the third and fourth toe
a feeling that there is a lump in the ball of the foot
symptoms begin periodically and progress in intensity and frequency.
        - exacerbated by walking on hard surfaces or wearing high heels or tight shoes


What You Can Do About It: 

Pain from Morton's neuroma can be reduced by taking off the shoe and massaging the area. Reflexology, Daily footbaths*, cold whirlpool and ultrasound can help decrease inflammation and pain.  It is important to have the mechanics of the feet addressed and any lack of movement in the joints of the foot should be addressed and corrected.  Roomier shoes, and a metatarsal pad, placed on the heel-side of metatarsal heads, can often alleviate the pain.  Orthotics can also be helpful.  If conservative measures fail, cortisone injections or surgery may be needed. (note: nerve tissue may regrow after surgery and form another neuroma)

  *footbath:  Epsom Salt softens the skin, soothes aches, reduces swelling, inflammations, exfoliates the skin, removes odors, draws toxins from the body, sedates the nervous system, relaxes the muscles, provides relief from joint soreness and arthritic pain, and is a natural emollient. Unlike other salts, it does not leave the skin feeling dry. Add ½ cup of Epsom Salt to a large basin or footbath of warm (not hot) water. Essential oils, such as Lavender or Rosemary, may be added to enhance relaxation and medicinal effects.




Bunions, referred to in the medical community as Hallux Valgus, are one of the most common forefoot problems. A bunion is a prominent bump on the inside of the foot around the big toe joint. This bump is actually a bone protruding towards the inside of the foot. With the continued movement of the big toe towards the smaller toes, it is common to find the big toe resting under or over the second toe. This causes a common forefoot condition called overlapping toes. Some of the symptoms of bunions include inflammation, swelling, and soreness on the side surface of the big toe. The discomfort commonly causes a patient to walk improperly.

Another type of bunion which some individuals experience is called a Tailor's Bunion, also known as a Bunionette. This forms on the outside of the foot towards the joint at the little toe. It is a smaller bump that forms due to the little toe moving inwards, towards the big toe.


Bunions are a common problem experienced mostly by women. The deformity can develop from an abnormality in foot function, or arthritis, but is more commonly caused by wearing improper fitting footwear. Tight, narrow dress shoes with a constrictive toe box (toe area) can cause the foot to begin to take the shape of the shoe, leading to the formation of a bunion. Women who have bunions normally wear dress shoes that are too small for their feet. Their toes are squeezed together in their shoes causing the first metatarsal bone to protrude on the side of the foot.

It is important for men and women to realize that wearing dress shoes and boots, which are tapered in the toe area, can cause the bunion to worsen to the point where surgery is necessary.

Treatment and Prevention

In the early stages of the formation of a bunion, soaking feet in warm water can provide temporary relief.   Reflexology can help with the pain, swelling and inflammation of a bunion.

The best way to alleviate the pain associated with bunions is to wear properly fitting shoes. Shoes designed with a high, wide toe box (toe area) are recommended for people suffering from forefoot disorders, such as bunions. Shoes with rocker soles will unload pressure to the bunion area. Orthotics are also recommended for this condition to provide extra comfort, support, and protection.

Other conservative treatments include using forefoot products designed to accommodate and relieve bunions such as bunion shields, bunion night splints, and bunion bandages. These conservative treatments can limit the progression of the bunion formation, relieve pain and provide a healthy environment for the foot.

If the problem persists, consult your foot doctor.


Reflexology and Multiple Sclerosis 

Approximately 400,000 people have Multiple Sclerosis in the U.S., with approx8mately 200 more being diagnosed    each week.  It is estimated that 2.5 million individuals may suffer from MS worldwide.  It is an autoimmune disease  that attacks the Central Nervous System consisting of the brain, spinal cord, and the optic nerves.  Myelin which protects the nerve fibers, enabling them to function, is destroyed or damaged causing a disruption of electrical impulses from the nerves to the brain. 

Common symptoms include:  bladder and bowel dysfunction, dizziness and vertigo, difficulty with memory, attention and problem solving, fatigue, balance problems and difficulty in walking, numbness or "pins and needles", pain and vision problems.  Other less common symptoms include:  headaches, hearing loss, itching, seizures, spasticity, tremors, speech and swallowing disorders.

Reflexology has become increasingly popular in the treatment of MS.   The Complementary Medicine Clinic at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel-Hashomer, Israel conducted a study with 71 persons diagnosed with MS for an eleven week treatment period.  53 Reflexology volunteers received pressure on specific points in the feet and a massage of the calves.  The control group received a nonspecific massage on the calf area.  Symptoms were assessed in a masked study in the beginning, in 6 weeks, at the end of the treatment phase and again at a three month follow-up.   

The Reflexology group showed significant improvements at the end of the study period for scores of paresthesias (numbness, tingling), urinary symptoms and spasticity (a condition in which certain muscles are continuously contracted).  Muscle strength scores for the group showed borderline improvement.  The improvement in the intensity of paresthesia remained significant at the three month follow-up.  Subjects in the control group showed no significant improvements on any of the outcome measures.




A pilot study of the effects of foot and hand reflexology applied to paralyzed clients began in 1980. Foot and hand reflexology techniques were applied to a quadriplegic client and two paraplegic clients. The work consisted of 220 hours of sessions, 338 hours of sessions and 358 hours of sessions applied over a time period of three to five years.


From this work it was concluded: (1) A possible mechanism within the existing nervous system explains the workings of reflexology: the integration of autonomic-somatic information by the body. Such a mechanism allows the body to coordinate the involuntary internal reactions of the autonomic nervous system with the actions of the musculo-skeletal system for the purposes of survival. (2) The application of pressure, stretch and movement technique to the feet can effect a physical change within the body. (3) An interruption of the body's imaging process occurs in paralysis. The imaging can be changed by the exercise of locomotive components, pressure, stretch and movement.

A major observation was that pressure techniques applied to the feet elicited (1) what we came to recognize as a segment of the stride mechanism and (2) a direct response of the autonomic nervous system. Specifically, the spasming of paralyzed limbs in response to pressure applied to the feet of the paraplegic clients came to be conditioned into a series of sophisticated movements consistent with the positioning of hips, legs, ankles, and feet for walking. Pressure technique applied to one foot elicited movement of both limbs, each appropriate for a segment of stride in opposition to the other.


The response of the quadriplegic client differed from that of the paraplegic clients. Pressure technique applied to the sole of the foot, base of the toes of the left foot elicited movement of particular digits of the right hand, as if the client was playing a guitar. Responses were elicited from left foot to right foot and vice versa but paled in contrast to the left foot/right hand response.


Secondly, a stereotypical internal organ response was elicited in all three clients from general work on feet. The response varied from client to client but seemed to be internal body adjustments. One client shivered and her teeth chattered, yet when asked, she would report no sensation of being cold. One client perspired on one side of the head. One client perspired below the level of spinal cord injury and experienced intestinal tract grumbling. The responses developed over time and were extinguished over time.


Aside from immediate responses to reflexology work, none of the three clients experienced a bladder or kidney infection, a common occurrence, during the course of the work. In addition, the quadriplegic client experienced a gradual return of the ability to sense pain, heat, cold, light touch, and deep pressure. This ability varied over his body seemingly from dermatome to dermatome. The pain sensation developed into discrete localization of pain. He reported the ability to sense fullness in the stomach next followed by sensation of the need to empty the bladder.

Kunz K, Kunz B, "The Paralysis Project," Reflexions, Vol. 8, No. 1, J/F/M 1987. 


Can I Give Reflexology To My Baby?

We have lots of very interesting questions asked from our students and clients. A lot of them relate to family reflexology, and specifically working with babies.  A most popular question is "Can I give reflexology to my baby?"

Answer: Babies enjoy the relaxing effects of reflexology just as much as adults. A baby's foot has an oval shape to it, usually until they are about 4 or 5 years old, so we recommend a slightly different routine from an adult or older child. Pressure should be gentle, just as if you were smoothing out a crease in a piece of silk, using a gentle tiny forward creeping motion.

Procedure: On the sole of the right foot start at zone 5 and work heel to toe, then move over to zone 4 and work heel to toe, then zone 3, 2 and finally zone 1. Remember to work the inner aspect of the
foot which relates to the spinal reflexes. Stay on the same foot and follow exactly the same procedure - gentle pressure working from heel to toe, again starting at zone 5 and moving across to zone 1.
Finish off by gentle stroking of the entire foot. Move over to the left foot and carry out the same routine.

As baby's feet are so small, the procedure can be carried out once or several times and the entire session can be as short as a couple of minutes to just over five minutes. The golden rule is little, lightly and often! Better to give many two minute sessions than one long one - or none at all.

Jack Marriott - Universal College of Reflexology - Canada.  http://www.universalreflex.com


Reflexology: A Profile in Gentle Touch

 Reprinted with permission from The Tommy Fund for Childhood Cancer.

The following article appeared in the Fall 2004 issue of the Tommy Fund News.

Julie Innocenzi is one of Damian Rynkowski’s favorite people. Once a week, she comes to Damian’s home in Killingworth to administer reflexology therapy. Damian has known considerable pain from the cancer that has wracked his body. During these sessions, Damian’s   entire body relaxes as Julie works her magic on his feet.

Reflexology is a treatment that applies hand pressure to specific areas of the feet in the hope of balancing the flow of vital energy or life fore called qi (or chi) throughout the body.   It is one of a growing number of alternative treatments that patients sometimes seek out in addition to standard medical care.   According to a recent National Institutes of Health survey, as many as one third of all patients seek alternative health therapies.

Though there is no evidence that reflexology cures cancer or any other disease, Damian’s mom, Sue sees major improvements in Damian’s spirits after Julie leaves.  “When he would see Julie during clinic at the hospital, I could always tell. He was just so calm and relaxed,” she recalls. Since his last stay at the hospital, Julie now comes to the house—a service paid for by a grant from the Tommy Fund. 

“I am so grateful for these treatments and that Julie can come to the house.” says Damian.  “The Tommy Fund is a great organization run by amazing people.”

The reflexology program was originally started to help parents of patients. They carry a tremendous burden of caring for a child with cancer.  “What ended up happening was that I would often work on the child or young adult, too, so everyone benefited,” Innocenzi  recalls.

Damian was diagnosed more than three years ago with alveolar rhabdomyoscarcoma. He’s endured three years of chemotherapy. Two weeks of recent radiation therapy have made him more comfortable, as have these weekly sessions.

“It makes a big difference to me when she comes. When I was in the hospital getting chemo, the reflexology made me forget all the nasty stuff that was being put into my body. I just concentrate on the good feeling.” he says. 

Those good feelings have brightened Damian’s days so he can look forward to playing guitar, which he loves, or hanging out with his two younger brothers, or dreaming about fishing in freshwater ponds near his house.

Connie Nicolosi, MSW, has witnessed the impact of the program has had on both the patients and their parents.  “The other day, Julie was working on a little boy as he sat on his mother’s lap. By the time she was done, he was relaxed and ready for his visit, which was a huge help to us as staff members, but also his family, “ she noted.

Julie has performed reflexology on the hands of parents while they are waiting for their children to finish outpatient chemotherapy treatments.  “Parents of children with cancer are under such terrible stress. It’s wonderful to be able to offer them something.”

She describes reflexology as helping people reach a deep state of relaxation. “You are very aware, but in another place,” she notes. 

The program came about after Innocenzi participated in Nurses’ Day events at Yale-New Haven two years ago. Each year, various vendors are brought in to demonstrate new techniques or products for that day. The staff enjoyed the reflexology so much that the Child Life staff looked into establishing a program at the   hospital. Thanks to a grant from the Tommy Fund, the program became a reality.

“It’s been a help in relaxing patients before and during treatment, as well as relieving the nausea they sometimes feel from the medications,” Nicolosi added. “When you can offer your patients something that can do that, it’s a real plus.” 


In Loving Memory and Recognition of  Damian Rynkowski, who passed away from cancer, October, 2004.

The Tommy Fund was organized at Yale-New Haven in 1986 by a group of parents whose children had cancer and the physicians and staff who treated them. Together, they sought to fund programs important for the emotional and medical survival of children with cancer and their families. Through the generosity and support of both individuals and corporations, the Tommy Fund has been able to make a real difference in the lives of families at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital.

 To make a donation or for information about the Tommy fund, call 203-688-4081 or 800-974-5559



Carpal Tunnel Pain and Reflexology

By Laurie A. McDonald, Certified in Advanced Reflexology


Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a disorder characterized by a specific pattern of numbness, tingling, pain or weakness caused by pressure exerted on the median nerve at the wrist. The nerve enters the hand between the carpal bones and the transverse carpal ligament that holds the bones together. This rigid passageway is called the carpal tunnel and swelling in this area can cause compression of the median nerve.


Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) occurs most often in people 30 to 60 years old and is very common in women. Injury, trauma to the area, pregnancy or repetitive movement can cause swelling of the tissues and CTS. Injury can be from sports such as racquetball and handball or from occupations such as sewing, use of tools, keyboard/mouse use, writing and other repetitive activities that affect wrist position and usage. Reflexology includes massage, which relaxes the body and eases the mind, putting the client in a calm, accepting state both physically and mentally. Working the reflexes of the central nervous system can calm nerves, ease pain, numbness, tingling and stiffness. Stimulation of the endocrine system reflexes, in particular the pituitary, pineal, thymus and adrenal gland reflexes can assist in the reduction of inflammation and tenderness. The muscular and skeletal system reflexes, especially the neck, shoulder and other affected reflexes when stimulated ease the muscle tension so that swelling is reduced and mobility is increased. Circulatory, lymphatic and urinary reflexes are all stimulated during a reflexology session to nourish cells with essential nutrients and to remove toxic substances to assist with healing.


Preventative measures can be taken should CTS symptoms appear. Decrease or stop any activities that cause pain or numbness in the fingers, hand or wrist. Resume the activity slowly and with emphasis on keeping the wrist supported or straight. Take frequent breaks of just a minute or two to rest, assess your posture and stretch every hour. Wrist splints help to reduce stress on fingers, hand and wrist by supporting the wrist and keeping it straight. When the wrist is not bent, blood can flow more freely and tension is released. Utilize the splint at work and/or wear the splint and elevate the hand when sleeping. Exercises also ease swelling and irritation in tendons through stretching. Studies show that a Vitamin B6 deficiency is a common in many people suffering from CTS. Therapeutic dosages in Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C assist with reduction of swelling and stimulation of the body's natural cortisone. It is also appropriate to avoid foods containing yellow dyes and limit protein consumption over the treatment period. Botanical medicines such as Turmeric and Bromelain have been used in both Indian and Chinese systems of medicine for treatment of many forms of inflammation. Hydrotherapy is another form of treatment of CTS, which is easy and effective. Ice the area for 3 minutes and then heat the area for 1 minute. Do 3 cycles and finish with cold. This method is very effective in relieving pain and reducing the swelling.


Natural methods of healing take time, care and patience but can often avoid further suffering from the effects of drugs and surgery. Always consult with experts in each field of treatment that you may wish to explore for the best possible results for your condition. The methods above are not meant to take the place of your regular physician as many informed doctors are now including natural methods of healing in their practice.


Laurie A. McDonald is certified in Advanced Reflexology and practices in Nanaimo. Your calls are welcome at 250-758-1201.


Parkinson's Disease

If you’ve just been diagnosed/ or are not medicated, check out www.pdrecovery.org to see if this would be helpful to you.

Parkinson’s is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system. It is a chronic, slowly progressing and often debilitating disease which ultimately affects the mind and personality.  Clinically, the disease is characterized by a decrease in spontaneous movements, gait difficulty, postural instability, rigidity and tremor. Parkinson's disease is caused by the degeneration of the pigmented neurons in the Substantia Nigra of the brain, resulting in decreased dopamine availability. The major symptoms of the disease were originally described in 1817 by an English physician, Dr. James Parkinson, who called it "Shaking Palsy." For the next century and a half, scientists pursued the causes and treatment of the disease. They defined its range of symptoms, distribution among the population, and prospects for cure.

In the early 1960s, researchers identified a fundamental brain defect that is a hallmark of the disease: the loss of brain cells that produce a chemical--dopamine-that helps direct muscle activity. This discovery pointed to the first successful treatment for Parkinson's disease and suggested ways of devising new and even more effective therapies.

Parkinson's disease may be treated by drugs or by surgical therapies or by both. Mind-body and nutritional therapies are useful as supplemental therapies in managing Parkinson's disease.

The highest prevalence of Parkinson's disease is in North America and Europe, while the lowest prevalence rates have been found in China, Japan, Nigeria, and Sardinia).

Practitioners of reflexology believe that the brain, head, and spine all respond to indirect massage. To help ease the tremors of Parkinson's, walk your thumb across the reflexology area for the diaphragm and solar plexus. Working areas for the brain and spinal column may help stabilize the nervous system.  Work these reflex points: pituitary/cerebrum/cerebellum/spine/adrenal/kidney/liver/autonomic nervous system.  Work on the reflexes of all glands and the entire spine to elevate alertness and ambition.   (Also check into Yin Tui Na - www.pdrecovery.org

Because movements are affected in Parkinson's disease, exercising may help people improve their mobility. Some doctors prescribe physical therapy or muscle- strengthening exercises to tone muscles and to put underused and rigid muscles through a full range of motion.   

You can order a free DVD of Exercises: http://shouldersdown.com/id20.html

You can find more information on:   http://www.holisticonline.com/Remedies/Health_Problems.htm


The Reflexology Dancer How-To Guide

By Danielle Gault   http://www.dancescape.com  

Reflexology, acupressure and foot massage are most effective when applied on a regular basis. Just as stress and tension are accumulative, so are the benefits of circulation work and the relaxation response. Following is a simple method anyone can use to relieve tension and ease the aches and pains through constant wear and tear of the foot.

1. WARM UP: Start by rubbing your hands together generating warmth. Sit on the floor or on a comfortable chair. Bend the right knee so that you can place your right foot on your left thigh area with the sole of your foot [the plantar side of the foot] facing you. Rub and wring the foot as if you are trying to squeeze stuff out of it. This will increase the circulation in the foot.

2. BOTTOM SIDE OF FOOT (PLANTAR) SECTION A – HOW TO RELAX TENSION IN THE REFLEXES RELATED TO THE HEAD, NECK, EYE AND EAR REFLEXES: Hold your right foot with the left hand supporting the toes and work one toe at a time. Support a toe with your left fingers behind. Place your right fingers on top of your left fingers to give you a stable supportive position. Press either your right or left thumb (you may want to alternate which thumb to use depending on which toe you are working) into a toe pad giving it a pressure point circular massage – start at either the big toe or baby toe – whichever one you prefer. After working the toe pad, slowly inch your thumb in a press-release manner [referred to as the thumb walk] up the length of the toe from the base of the toe back to top pad. Complete each toe three times.

3. WEBS – HOW TO RELAX TENSION IN THE REFLEXES RELATED TO THE NECK AND SHOULDER AREA: Massage and tug the web between the toes. This helps release tension in the reflexes of the neck and shoulder areas of the body.

4. SECTION B – HOW TO RELAX TENSION IN THE REFLEXES RELATED TO THE CHEST, BREASTS, LUNG AREAS: Work Section B by grasping the right foot with your left thumb on the plantar side and your left fingers behind. Vertically using your thumb walk method, inch upward between the valleys of the bones (called the metatarsal bones) starting where Section B and C meet. Do all four valleys. Repeat three times up each valley.

5. SECTION C – HOW TO RELAX TENSION IN THE REFLEXES RELATED TO THE STOMACH, LIVER, PANCREAS and SPLEEN AREAS: Using your thumb-walk method, inch Section C in a diagonal and/or horizontal direction covering Section C three times.

6. SECTION D – HOW TO RELAX TENSION IN THE REFLEXES RELATED TO REPRODUCTIVE AND COLON AREA: Thumb walk horizontally along the fleshy instep part of the foot in Section D. Cover the area three times.

7. HEEL AREA ON FOOT: Holding the heel area, take one of your knuckles of the left hand and make circular pressure point patterns in Section E. Press and stroke along the U-shaped sides of the heel with your knuckle.

8. TOP OF FOOT [DORSAL] -- HOW TO RELAX TENSION IN THE REFLEXES RELATED TO THE BACK: Using both of your hands, place your thumbs on the plantar side of the foot and wrap your other fingers around the top of the foot. Find the valleys between the metatarsal bones and press and release your fingers (use your index and/or middle fingers) down the valleys toward the ankle area. Complete your valley journey toward the ankle area three times.

9. ANKLE AREA – HOW TO RELAX TENSION IN THE REFLEXES RELATED TO THE GROIN LYMPATHIC AREA: With your left middle finger, press-release into the slight indentation that goes across from ankle bone to ankle bone.

10. LATERAL SIDE OF FOOT – HOW TO RELAX TENSION IN THE REFLEXES RELATED TO THE LATERAL SIDES OF THE BODY SUCH AS THE ARMS, LEGS, HIPS AREAS: With your left thumb on the plantar side of the foot and your left index finger on the top side of the foot, in a pinching-like fashion, pinch the lateral side of Zone 5 going from top to bottom and bottom to top three times.

11. MEDIAL SIDE OF THE FOOT – HOW TO RELAX TENSIONS IN THE REFLEXES RELATED TO THE SPINAL AREA: Cupping the heel of your right foot in your left hand with the thumb resting at the heel area, thumb walk up the medial side of Zone 1 to the top of the big toe.

12. CONCLUSION: Rub and stroke your foot once again. Do the other foot. Once both feet are complete, take some lotion and work into your feet in a massaging manner. Pause and take a couple of deep breaths in through the nose and exhale out through the mouth slowly. Feel the effect of this circulatory work on the body. Notice the stimulating, yet grounding feeling throughout your whole system.

Whether for pleasure, recreation or professional dancing, the pressure placed on the feet when dancing can be relieved through foot pressure point massage. Balance and ease can be returned by improving circulation using self-help tools combined with a self-help massage or regular visits to a Reflexologist. Don’t let tender tootsies stop you from enjoying one of the most valuable and enjoyable pleasures in life. Shall we dance?

Medial – inside/Lateral - outside


Cultures other than the United States continue to embrace reflexology, especially England, Australia, and Japan.  A Japanese company, Shiseido, has built "Stroll Paths" for its employees' health rather than a gym/health club.  Every rock, log and bridge in the stroll path is designed to work a particular part of the foot. A bridge is intended to stimulate the toes of the foot, for example. 

Imagine a stroll path; think of sections of sidewalk with various raised patterns.  One section consists of log-like concrete rolls to walk over.  Another features embedded chipped marble. Another consists of large river rocks embedded in concrete.  Just as tai-chi exercisers are commonly seen in the parks of China, an American businessman who lives in Taiwan reports that people walking Stroll Paths are a common sight in that country's parks.  Maybe you’d like to design a Reflexology path at your home or business!


Reflexology for Chronic Disease

Nancy Bartlett, NBCR 

It’s amazing where reflexology leads us as practitioners.  Reflexology offers many paths to explore – from hospital work to spas.  I am noticing that clients coming to my home office now have chronic health conditions, ranging from plantar faciitis and other foot problems to serious diseases.  Seems that the general public thinks reflexology is a luxury, that they can’t afford, instead of a wonderful way to stay healthy.  When chronic disease strikes, it’s a different story.

 I’m not sure what is causing this phenomenon.  Are these people somehow being drawn to me or is it that these diseases are getting more prevalent and starting at a younger age?  Unfortunately, as I read, research, and note the ages of my clients, that does seem to be what’s happening. 

 Through these clients has come the opportunity to share the gift that is reflexology to various support groups (ie, Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, etc).  Group leaders, usually connected to a hospital, are not familiar with reflexology.  A typical scenario has been:  my client extolling the virtues of reflexology to the support group.  An invitation is issued to speak to the group.  We go.  I talk about reflexology and how it can help them and my client shares their personal experience.  Then I do some demo’s – usually hands depending on the group and how mobile the people are.  It’s exciting to introduce them to something that feels so good, is good for you  – and has no side effects!

It’s a tremendous learning experience and a chance to create awareness in the medical world.  When you work on these clients, you realize how horrific and life-robbing these diseases are.  It can be heart-breaking, but, at the same time,  heartwarming to know that you can provide more quality of life to them and perhaps slow the progression of the disease, working in conjunction with the rest of their team – which could be MDs, Chiropractors, Acupuncturists, Nutritionists etc.  What a wonderful concept for the future of medicine. 

As I’ve visited support groups, researched the web, and put my presentation together each time, I’ve realized that most of my presentation stays the same – with basically the name of the disease and some specific symptoms changing.  It seems that every chronic condition has certain ‘givens’:

Stress, digestion, circulation, compromised immune systems…… and – that’s where reflexology can help!  Reflexology is a wonderful addition to whatever they’re already doing.  Many people think that it’s either/or and that holistic can’t mix with western medicine.


Reflexology for Lou Gehrigs Disease (ALS) 

What is ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's disease," is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually lead to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed. Yet, through it all, for the vast majority of people, their minds remain unaffected.

A-myo-trophic comes from the Greek language. "A" means no or negative. "Myo" refers to muscle, and "Trophic" means nourishment---"No muscle nourishment." When a muscle has no nourishment, it "atrophies" or wastes away. "Lateral" identifies the areas in a person's spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that signal and control the muscles are located. As this area degenerates it leads to scarring or hardening ("sclerosis") in the region.

As motor neurons degenerate, they can no longer send impulses to the muscle fibers that normally result in muscle movement. Early symptoms of ALS often include increasing muscle weakness, especially involving the arms and legs, speech, swallowing or breathing. When muscles no longer receive the messages from the motor neurons that they require to function, the muscles begin to atrophy (become smaller). Limbs begin to look "thinner" as muscle tissue atrophies.


What Types of Nerves Make Your Body Work Properly?

  The body has many kinds of nerves. There are those involved in the process of thinking, memory, and of detecting sensations (such as hot/cold, sharp/dull), and others for vision, hearing, and other bodily functions. The nerves that are affected when you have ALS are the motor neurons that provide voluntary movements and muscle power. Examples of voluntary movements are your making the effort to reach for the phone or step off a curb; these actions are controlled by the muscles in the arms and legs.

 The heart and the digestive system are also made of muscle but a different kind, and their movements are not under voluntary control. When your heart beats or a meal is digested, it all happens automatically. Therefore, the heart and digestive system are not involved in ALS. Breathing also may seem to be involuntary. Remember, though, while you cannot stop your heart, you can hold your breath - so be aware that ALS may eventually have an impact on breathing.

Although the cause of ALS is not completely understood, the recent years have brought a wealth of new scientific understanding regarding the physiology of this disease.

While there is not a cure or treatment today that halts or reverses ALS, there is one FDA approved drug, Rilutek®, that modestly slows the progression of ALS as well as several other drugs in clinical trials that hold promise.  Importantly, there are significant devise and therapies that can manage the symptoms of ALS that help people maintain as much independence as possible and prolong survival.  It is important to remember that ALS is a quite variable disease; no two people will have the same journey or experiences.  There are medically documented cases of people in whom ALS ‘burns out,’ stops progressing or progresses at a very slow rate. 

No matter what your individual course or situation may be, The ALS Association is here to help. http://www.alsa.org/default.cfm?CFID=3848555&CFTOKEN=51464429


By Judith Nourse, USA


I and another ARCB certified colleague, Lynda Byrne, worked with Barbara, in her early 60's, with ALS for a total of 4 years.  She initially came to me with the symptom of foot drop -- weakness in one foot.  The cause was a puzzle to the neurologist for more than a year, when she developed weakness in one hand.  At that point ALS was suspected and finally diagnosed.

 ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, is a degenerative disease of the nervous system with no known cause or treatment.  It affects the motor neurons, beginning with weakness and atrophy of the hands, forearms, legs and feet, and then the face, muscles of respiration and the rest of the body.  It is the disease written about in the book, Tuesdays with Morrie.

Reflexology did not restore use of Barbara's foot, but she felt energized and uplifted by it.  With the hope that it might slow the progression of this degenerative neurological disease and help her to maintain, we continued weekly sessions.  The symptoms progressed to include weakness and eventually loss of use of both feet and legs, and weakness in first one hand, then the other. 

 I began with foot reflexology once a week, then increased to twice a week hand and foot sessions when her hands began to show weakness and the diagnosis of ALS was made.  At this point, Lynda treated her while I was away on vacation.  When I returned, we each continued seeing her once a week.  We work differently -- I use the  Laura Norman method and Lynda does the Ingham method, and we both included energy work -- and I think that was helpful for Barbara. I work with affirmations, and always included a heartfelt prayer for trust that there was meaning and purpose in this experience for all of us. 

 I think it was helpful for each of us to see her only once a week -- it is intense emotionally to work with someone you have come to love, and see her slowly losing ground.  I'm grateful that Lynda was available and interested in working with this client.

 Barbara also received acupuncture twice a week and "as needed" psychotherapy for  3 years with my husband Jim, who is both a licensed acupuncturist and clinical psychologist.  She had retirement income, and the good fortune to be able to pay for all of it, as well as physical therapy, and most recently, water therapy.   She passed on last week, surprisingly quickly and easily.   She never reached the dreaded stage of struggling for breath and being incontinent.   She was blessed with a strong support system -- her loving, dedicated (and exhausted) husband and many, many friends, an active social life, and strong faith.  Her mood was almost always cheerful, and we all agreed that it was as good as it could have been. 

 We believe that our work with Barbara made a huge difference for her, and she and her husband fully agreed. 

Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia

Alzheimer's Disease is a form of progressive, degenerative dementia that disables behavior, memory and thinking abilities.  It varies from person to person, and may progress at different rates. 

Common risk factors for Alzheimer's disease is having a family history, long term high blood pressure, head trauma history, heightened levels of homocysteine, and female gender.

Alzheimer's disease is known to destroy nerve cells (neurons) that subsequently causes a decrease in neurotransmitters. When the correct balance is not maintained by neurotransmitters, the brain's functioning becomes critically compromised

Some early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease include the following:

* Difficulty performing tasks
* Disorientation in familiar surroundings
* Disassociation of names for common objects
* Lack of interest in usually enjoyable activities
* Misplacement of items
* Repetitive statements

Though there is no cure for Alzheimer's Disease, or dementia, there are options for treatment that can slow the disease progression, help manage behavior problems, and assistance with family counsel.  Aside from medications and lifestyle modifications, there are complementary therapies, such as:

Acupressure, Acupuncture, Aromatherapy, Art Therapy, Ayurveda, Brain Gym, Chelation, Chiropractics, Counselling/Psychotherapy, Guided Imagery, Healing Touch, Herbal Therapy, Music Therapy, Naturpathy, Nutrition, Qi Gong, Reflexology, Reiki, Shiatsu, Support Groups, Therapeutic Touch, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Vitamins/Supplements (Vit B12), Yoga http://www.enerchihealth.com .

Helpful Aromatherapy Information: www.senseofsmell.org, www.scentsiblesolutions.net

While these approaches will not provide a cure, they may help relieve some of the symptoms and generally help improve the quality of life for the person with dementia and their caregivers.  Complementary therapies aim to heal the whole person, addressing not only physical symptoms, but also the psychological and emotional aspects of disease.

Disclaimer: The resources and links provided are for information purposes only and one should discuss treatment options with their physician.

Important: Whatever CAM treatment you opt for, it is important that you share the information with your physician. It is important to talk about the many therapies available and determine which are the most helpful.

Complementary Therapies and Dementia

Reflexology Research Project, February 2007 Newsletter

Barbara & Kevin Kunz - www.reflexology-research.com

New research has emerged on dementia and reflexology. The study suggests that reflexology may be an effective treatment for older adults with dementia, appearing to relieve pain and improve psychological well being. Of particular interest is the study's connection between reflexology and the stress mechanism including hormone release, blood pressure and heart rate.

Reflexology Paths are starting to appear in the US following the lead of first Asia and then Europe. Reflexology Paths are being promoted and built by governments interested in helping their citizens get healthy.

All the best, Barbara and Kevin Kunz Reflexology Research Project

Dementia and Reflexology

It has been said there are four geriatric giants- confusion, falls, incontinence and immobility. In a landmark study reflexology has been shown to be helpful with nursing home residents with dementia. In addition, reflexology was shown to create change in measures of the hormones cortisol and DHEA, produced by the cortex of the adrenal glands.

"Efficacy of Reflexology as a Palliative Treatment in Nursing Home Residents with Dementia: A Pilot Study"

INTRODUCTION: Alternative therapies may offer great promise in treating distress in older adults with dementia without the side effects of pharmaceuticals. A growing body of anecdotal literature suggests that reflexology may be an effective treatment for older adults with dementia, appearing to relieve pain and improve psychological well being.

METHODS: This experimental repeated-measures study of 80 subjects (40 control and 40 experimental) with mild to moderate dementia randomized to experimental and control groups was designed to test the efficacy of reflexology as an alternative and complementary therapy in nursing home residents with mild to moderate dementia. The reflexology sessions and control group intervention was provided by a trained reflexology therapist once a week for 4 weeks, and lasted 30 minutes each. Physiologic stress was assessed using blood pressure, heart rate, and salivary measures of cortisol, alpha amyase and DHEA. Measures of pain, anxiety and depression were assessed using standardized indexes by trained data collectors blind to subject group assignment.

RESULTS: Analysis of variance for repeated measures demonstrated a significantly greater decrease in symptoms of pain, depression and physiologic measures of stress for the residents given reflexology treatment than for those in the control group. CONCLUSION: These clinical findings support the use of reflexology in nursing home residents with mild/moderate dementia.

Nancy A. Hodgson, RN, PhD, CS1, Susan Andersen, BS2, and Heather Felker2. (1) Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life, Polisher Research Institute, North Wales, PA, USA, (2) Research, Polisher Research Institute (formerly the Philadelphia Geriatric Center), Horsham, PA, USA

Presented July 19, 2006, The 17th International Nursing Research Congress Focusing on Evidence-Based Practice (19-22 July 2006) Learning Objective #1: Identify three biomarkers of physiologic stress in the physically and cognitively frail older population. Learning Objective #2: Describe the effects of a reflexology intervention in a nursing home population.


Ear Candling (Auricular Candling)


Ear candling, also known as ear coning or auricular candling, is a practice that involves inserting a beeswax or paraffin candle-like device into the ear canal in an attempt to extract earwax and other impurities. Ear candling was a cleansing procedure used by many early cultures, and, is still used in India, Egypt, Mexico, Japan, Germany, Canada, Australia, and the United States today.


Disposable candles are used. They are made from strips of unbleached cotton or linen dipped in paraffin and/or beeswax and herbs. Handmade from beeswax and unbleached cotton cloths, ear candles are specially made candles that range in size from nine to twelve inches long. The spiral of the cone causes the smoke to be pulled down in to the ear canal. This causes the ear canal to warm up and loosen the wax and any other material. As it heats it up, the candle causes suction by creating a vacuum in the ear canal. Air is drawn up from the Eustachian tube into the middle ear then through the porous membrane out into the outer ear. The heat and the vacuum draw out the wax and other materials from the ear canal into the base of the candle.

 While one is having an ear candling session, the individual will lie on his or her side. The candle is then lit. As it slowly begins to burn, the small tapered end of the candle is carefully submerged into the ear canal. As it burns down you will hear some crackling and hissing which is the process of removing the wax etc. The warmth feels soothing and relaxing during the process. To finish, herbal oil is placed in the ear. The complete process takes about an hour.  A session with me includes acupressure sinus points and perhaps some ear reflexology.   Earwax replenishes itself within 24 hours after the candling.  Until then, do not submerge your head in water or stand out in the cold weather without protection.

For a couple of days after the ear candling procedure, one may feel some warmth or itching in the ears. This is a common occurrence, and can be relieved by dropping a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide in the ears and wiping out excess with a cotton swab.  You may also feel increased pressure in the ears, fluid in the ears, and movement of inflammation of the lymphatic system.  This is not uncommon.  A follow-up candling should be done to complete the process.  It is recommended that you begin with three sessions, 3-7 days apart, to complete a cycle of clearing accumulated debris.  Thereafter, candling can be done every 3-6 months. 

Removal of excess ear wax
Soothing and beneficial with ear infections
Release of head congestion due to sinusitis, allergies, colds and flu
Removal of Candida (yeast) and relieving itchy ear
Helpful with some hearing loss and tinnitus-ringing in the ears
Improves balance and equilibrium
Detoxification of sinus and lymph system 

Some times the simplest of remedies are still the most helpful. This is not to say that ear candling is the answer to all ear, sinus, or throat problems; however, ear candling does improve the symptoms and even eliminates many problems associated with eye, ear, nose, and throat ailments.


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