This week we were asked for the first time we were asked to do a peer review of a reflexology research article. Usually a peer is considered a doctor or a PHd who really isn't familiar with reflexology so they don't really understand field. So this is a step forward.
But in thinking about this step forward it also struck me that there is an underlying question here that lies outside this particular study. We are living in a fishbowl in essence trying to speculate what it is like on the outside. So I am jumping out of the fishbowl in an attempt to explain the workings of reflexology as they apply to our internal milieu.
Does reflexology impact the autonomic nervous system?
1. Each and every application of pressure causes a change in the autonomic nervous system if it is beyond a certain threshold. In other words if the pressure applied is a strong enough signal to be picked up by the sensors in the foot it will cause a shift in the ANS.
2. Reflexology is the systematic applying of pressure to the feet and hands. The strength of the signal is significant enough to be picked up by the sensors of the skin and the deeper pressure sensors in the feet and hands.
3. Therefore it causes a shift or change in the ANS. The tone or tension level in the body is changed.
4. Now whether that shift is significant enough to have a positive impact on the tone of the body is related to a number of factors. In fact, there could be a situation where the application of pressure would actually cause a negative impact on the tone of the body. Say the practitioner applied pressure beyond the individuals comfort level.
The factors that determine a positive impact are frequency, duration and strength of signal. We translated this as How often?, how long? and how much?. These are key elements.
So to jump out of the fish tank for a second -anytime pressure is applied whether it be standing up or having a reflexology session there is a shift in our internal organs as the new demands require allocation of fuel (glucose) and O2 (oxygen). A footstep or a reflexology session both require fuel and oxygen to be supplied. They are simply different rates.
They also require a shift in tension level or tone. There are different demands and different settings form each.
The introduction of a new demand such as a footstep or a reflexology technique causes a shift in the tone or tension level of the body. Again these are of course calibrated to the specific demand or signal introduced.
So the real question is whether you can cause a significant enough shift in both the ANS and the tonal system of the body to have a positive impact on the disease and illness. This would depend on the factors of frequency, duration and strength of signal.
I would add one more which is the type of signal introduced. A pat on the back is certainly going to cause a different shift in the ANS and tonal system than a poke in the eye.
Now I will jump back in my fishbowl.