How researchers view acupuncture gives a clue to how reflexology can be seen as well. “Medical Science Decoding Acupuncture Therapy” was the title of a recent Wall Street Journal article (March 23, 2010, p. D1). Statements about acupuncture’s mechanisms of action—how it works—sound similar to research discoveries about reflexology. “Studies in the early 1980’s found that acupuncture works in part by stimulating the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, much like vigorous exercise does.… “Now, a growing body of research suggests that it may have several mechanisms of action. Those include stimulating the blood flow and tissue repair at the needle sites and sending nerve signals to the brain that regulate the perception of pain and re-boot the autonomic nervous system, which governs unconscious functions such as heart beat, respiration and digestion, according to Alejandro Elorriaga, director of the medical acupuncture program at McMasters University in Toronto which teaches a contemporary version to physicians.” The article notes that studies show acupuncture “Has proven effective in reducing nausea and fatigue caused by chemotherapy.” In addition, the article discusses findings about acupuncture resulting from neuroimaging such as the fMRI and EEG showing special effects on the brain.
Hmmm. Maybe medical science could decode reflexology too. Let’s see how reflexology and its research stacks up by the above measures. Stimulating blood flow: separate studies show reflexology improves blood flow to the kidneys, intestines, brain and feet. Perception of pain: 27 studies show reflexology’s impact on pain relief. Re-boot the autonomic nervous system: multiple studies show reflexology’s impact on heart beat, respiration and digestion. Reducing nausea and fatigue caused by chemotherapy: 8 studies show reflexology’s effect on nausea, vomiting and fatigue for those receiving chemotherapy. fMRI and EEG: 5 studies using fMRI and 5 using EEG demonstrate the effects of reflexology.