Across the world, medical communities are waking up to the benefits of clinical reflexology. Here we explain more about this ancient, complementary, holistic therapy and how it is now being used to ease the symptoms of many serious and often difficult to treat medical conditions. Today, we are focusing on how it is being used in the UK.
Complementary treatments on the NHS
In 2000, a report from the Select Committee on Science and Technology recommended that the NHS look at offering holistic therapies alongside other treatments. Since then, individual health trusts have gradually started to offer reflexology to their patients.
In some cases, the NHS funds that treatment. In others, it is partly funded by the patient.
Each area uses the treatment in different ways. Here are the main ways it is used within the NHS.
Symptom relief for cancer sufferers
Most cancer sufferers find the side effects of their medication difficult to cope with. In addition, they suffer from anxiety, often find it difficult to sleep and can suffer from depression.
Reflexology has been shown to relieve anxiety in many people. This helps the body to relax, which in turn helps to reduce pain levels. In a more relaxed state, the body is better able to heal.
Often people who have painful conditions suffer from muscle tension. The initial pain makes the person tense, and the muscles in the area get tighter and tighter leading to more pain. This makes the pain a lot worse. Breaking the pain cycle can be difficult using painkillers alone. Massage can help, but having someone touch a painful, swollen area is the last thing most people want, so it is not always a suitable option. It just hurts too much.
Reflexology applies pressure to the feet or hands only. Each reflex (pressure) point in the feet or hands corresponds to a specific area of the body. Applying gentle pressure to the relevant area of the feet or hands stimulates the healing process in that area of the body. Over the course of several treatments, this brings targeted relief, relaxes the muscles and helps to break the pain cycle.
Anxiety and fatigue
Reflexology has proved to be helpful for people who suffer from anxiety related disorders. The treatment can also be used to help with fatigue.
Relief for other conditions
This gentle complementary treatment is also used to help to relieve the symptoms of other diseases like IBS, MS and Parkinson’s. It can help with constipation, nausea and insomnia. Some private clinics are also experimenting with using reflexology to help to relieve the pain of labour.
As the use of reflexology becomes more widespread, it is likely that the NHS will begin offering it as a complementary treatment to more people. In the meantime, many patients are deciding to use to privately. This is because they or someone they know has had a positive experience with reflexology.
People are already using it to help them to deal with back pain, depression, substance addiction and to help them to recover from injuries. Research into reflexology and how much it helps with health issues is ongoing. As understanding increases, so demand for this holistic treatment grows in popularity.