Health Articles

Depression & Reflexology

By Michelle Becz

Depressive disorders affect approximately 18.8 million American adults age 18 and older in a given year. It broadly affects all aspects of your life such as physical health, sleep patterns, eating habits, work and relationships and results in thoughts, feelings and behaviors such as anger, irritability, hopelessness, fear, anxiety, fatigue, numbness, confusion, worthlessness and shame. When suffering from depression you are often told by frustrated family and friends to “snap out of it” or “cheer up” but what they don’t realize is that you are suffering from a real illness that extends beyond your immediate control. It is a condition that has much more power over you than a period of unhappiness caused by painful circumstances.

My research into the causes of depression found that it is actually a state of high arousal. This leads to over arousal and agitation and subsequent exhaustion and chronic fatigue. When depressed you actually have higher concentrations of stress hormones such as cortisol and noradrenaline in your blood than a non depressed person. Therefore, you often need to experience regular relaxation as part of your treatment and recovery.

I have found in my practice that reflexology can aide the body in dealing with this disorder and its accompanying symptoms. By inducing deep relaxation, reflexology encourages the body to regulate chemicals and hormones for optimal functioning. I can also target specific areas in the feet such as working your adrenal gland reflexes to encourage the body to regulate adrenaline and to release natural pain relief chemicals.

Reflexology can trigger your brain to release endorphins. Endorphins (natural pain killers) in turn can elevate your mood such as in the endorphin release referred to in the well known “runner’s high.” I have witnessed clients feeling energized after a session and ready to take on life’s tasks.

Depression also often results in physical discomforts which reflexology can aide by relaxing your body so that the muscles are not overly constricted causing aches and pains.
Circulation is improved moving more oxygen into your cells where it is needed. Thousands of nerve endings reside on your feet and stimulation of these is an enjoyable treatment that benefits your mind, body and spirit.

Reflexology is also a wonderful form of TLC. If you are feeling in an emotionally vulnerable state, only your feet are worked allowing you to feel safe as you nestle under a blanket in a comfortable, non-judgmental environment to receive some loving human touch. This is one of the parts of reflexology I enjoy most. In my own experience I know that nothing comforts like the touch of another human who genuinely cares for your well being. It is gratifying that my practice in reflexology now allows me to share that kind of nurturing with others.

A good reflexology session treats your whole person with compassion. Relaxation of your physical body is offered through the stimulation of the myriad of reflexes on your feet and nurturing of your spirit is felt through my hands’ touch and the concern and compassion I intend during each session. It is a natural way to bring your body back into balance with the intent of enabling you to respond to life’s events in a healthier way.


Pre & Post Operative Reflexology Side Effects

By Pat Urban and Michelle Becz, Certified Reflexologists

Any surgery intervention coupled with the effects of anesthesia can result in debilitating effects on the immune system. There are successive lines of defense in the body. The first warrior against infection is our skin which includes the hair in our nose and the mucous membranes found in our nose, mouth and throat. The second warrior in line consists of a network of other systems within the body, which include our endocrine and lymphatic systems, liver, spleen and intestinal systems. We are born with an innate immunity.

A healthy immune system will often responded to an invasion of an outside organism without us recognizing any changes in our bodies. There are other times, however, when the system needs extra fuel to combat a foreign exposure. How often have you felt tender or swollen glands accompanied with a slight fever? Your body was incubating white blood cells to fight an infection. This is the body’s innate self healing process. If an immune system is weakened by continuous physical and emotional ailments, it loses the ability to naturally combat health issues. It takes a great deal of energy to repair the wounds of the body.

Most times, we have an opportunity to ready our bodies for surgery and the recovery process to follow. We may consider improving our eating habits, adding supplements to our diets, increasing exercise to strengthen the body and reducing stress. Another consideration may be incorporating weekly reflexology sessions into your pre- operative and post operative plan. Clinical studies have shown regular reflexology sessions post operatively can be of great benefit in restoring the immune system thereby aiding in pain reduction and more effective healing.

At the Sole Connection, llc we have also worked with clients six to ten weeks prior to surgery. Reflexology sessions were designed to meet the needs of the individual client and were done consistently in preparation for the surgery scheduled. It was a commitment on the part of the client but the great thing is it yielded results. Clients reported that they used little to no pain medication after surgery and the surgeons themselves expressed amazement at the rate of the healing process. Why the results? Well, the true aim of reflexology for the body is homeostasis; a state of well-being and balance maintained despite changes in the external environment. As Reflexologists, we always approach our sessions with the intention of offering the body the opportunity to regain balance by reducing tension and improving circulation to the glands, organs and various body parts. The wonderful thing is that in doing reflexology on an individual’s feet, the balance that their body regains from this therapy has some positive “side effects.” Pre-operatively, reflexology boosts the immune system by improving the lymphatic system’s functioning, improving the circulation and providing necessary time in “relaxation” where the body can be at optimal functioning. Post operatively reflexology helps keep blood flowing, aides the body in toxin removal, provides relaxation to aid in healing and has a wonderful effect on pain levels. Facing surgery can be an intimidating life event. Your body already has its own healing system. Reflexology helps this system to work optimally and ultimately this leads to a more positive surgery experience.


The Healing Power of Your Feet - Chronic Pain

By Patricia A. Urban

Pain, like stress, is a healthy component to our existence as it serves the vital function of triggering avoidance. It is a simple reflex action, for example, you put your hand under the faucet, the water is very hot, it hurts and you quickly pull your hand away. Pain is sensory, physical and emotional. Imagine living a life of pain which is often associated with an overlapping illness.

Constant pain can create a never ending cycle of destruction. You are uncomfortable, therefore, you do not sleep, you battle fatigue all day which affects your appetite, your mood, your relationships with family and friends, your ability to concentrate, to be productive, and the list goes on. The physical and mental challenges can be overwhelming.

Many clients I work with have chosen to incorporate a multidisciplinary approach to cope with their chronic pain. Medications help deal with the specific symptoms, exercise and diet fuel their bodies, a positive attitude reinforces their mental well being and Reflexology helps to manage pain. The combination of the various disciplines in total brings about some remarkable results. My clients report less fatigue, improved sleep patterns, increased productivity, reduced pain and stiffness, more mental clarity, less anxiety and, in general, uplifted spirits.

The results from Reflexology do not occur in one session, but, over a period of time. Chronic pain is individualized; therefore, each session is customized to meet your specific needs and concerns. Your feet are the basic assessment tool and the communicator to the rest of your body. By applying pressure to specific areas of the foot, I can break up stress patterns in parts of the body inducing a state of deep relaxation. With over 7,000 nerve receptors in each foot, stimulation and therapeutic movement activates responses throughout the nervous system. The results have wide effects on the body such as improved circulation, enhanced lymphatic movement and increased serotonin levels which reduces the chemical messenger of pain.

In my practice, I see people with long standing conditions regain an improved quality of life and mental well being. Reflexology is not a cure, but, a form of natural healing which has been practiced for centuries. This therapy can be traced back to the Chinese, the ancient Indians and the Egyptians. There is scientific research that backs this therapy based on the premise there are zones and reflex points in the feet which correspond to the entire body. The most important function of Reflexology is to activate and harmonize your body’s own life forces and healing powers.


Top 10 Things Reflexology Can Help With

By Jane Williamson, MR

1) Phantom Limb Pain
a. Research has shown that reflexology can alleviate and, at times, eliminate phantom limb pain

2) Postpartum Depression
a. Research has shown that Reflexology is beneficial for post-partum women including issues such as depression, anxiety and recovery from cesarean section

3) Diabetes
a. Research has shown that Reflexology works to reduce physiologic measures for diabetics and is an effective treatment fro type II diabetes mellitus. Circulation to the feet is also improved.

4) Cancer and Chemo
a. Thirteen studies from several countries have targeted cancer care and have shown the benefits of reflexology work including anxiety, depression, fatigue, pain, nausea and vomiting.

5) Neuropathy
a. Research has shown that Reflexology improves the blood flow rate, time and acceleration within the feet following a session of reflexology.

6) Hemodialysis
a. Research has shown that Reflexology has helped individuals undergoing hemodialysis by improving kidney function in physiologic measures; increases red blood cells (due to anemia concerns); increase lymphocytes (helps to fight infection) and enhances disposal of waste products.

7) Aids mentally ill
a. Research has shown that because reflexology produces relaxation; it reduces anxiety and depression which has at least one major advantage in therapy and that is it helps to facilitate communication.

8.) Relief from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome
a. Again, because of the relaxation that reflexology produces, symptoms such as anger, depression and muscle tension as well as improved sleep patterns, levels of concentration and a lift in overall mood are felt.

9) Measures of stress are significantly decreased
a. Research has show that Reflexology decreases measures of stress such as blood pressure; pulse rate and anxiety are significantly decreased or lowered.

10) Immediate feelings of wellbeing
a. Clients have said that when they go to there doctor’s office they don’t know what the outcome will be, but, when they come to see me they know when they leave they always have a feeling of well being.

Please understand that certain medical conditions require written approval from your physician. Also, please know that reflexologists do not diagnose, prescribe or treat and we are not a substitute for other medical professionals.


What is Reflexology Effective For?

by Pat Urban

In my practice, I have seen people with long standing conditions regain some quality of an improved life style. Since I am not qualified to diagnose any condition, nor do I prescribe or offer medical advice, reflexology is not a substitute for medical care, medications, or any other prescribed medical modalities.

I seek to balance the whole body. Medical centers are qualified and promote reflexology as beneficial for the following conditions:

The California Pacific Medical Center: Reflexology reduces stress, balances energy flow in the body and mind and supports the immune system. Though given on the hands and feet, this extraordinary technique affects the entire body.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s Cancer Center: A reflexology treatment is deeply relaxing and helps to reduce stress, relieve pain, increase circulation, and enhance well-being.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center: Though empirical studies are lacking, many patients have benefited from reflexology. Conditions treated may include: migraine headache, hypertension, menstrual cramps or irregularities, myofascial pain, fibromyalgia, insomnia and anxiety disorders.

Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine: The benefits (of reflexology) include reduction in tension and stress, increased vascular, neural and lymphatic circulation, and the releasing of toxins. Research has shown that blood pressure can actually decrease during a session! Clients use reflexology to alleviate or manage asthma, sinus problems, digestive disorders, inflammations, menstrual irregularities, pain, fatigue, inflammatory skin conditions and other imbalances. It is especially beneficial for circulatory problems.

Citizens Medical Center Healthplex: Relieves stress, improves circulation, and promotes relaxation. May help relieve headaches, arthritis, back aches, allergy and sinus problems.

The Heart Center at St. Rita’s Medical Center: Reflexology helps speed recovery and reduce discomfort after surgery. Reflexology therapy strengthens and supports the body’s own healing process. St. Rita’s conducted a three month pilot study on open-heart patients who received reflexology, and the study confirmed a patient’s level of pain and anxiety decreased significantly. It also helped patients increase the distance they were able to walk, decreased the number of days they were hospitalized and the amount of medication administered during their recovery process.

Beebe Medical Center: May help relieve stress, improve circulation, relieve stiffness and reduce pain. Reflexology can also be help relieve symptoms from PMS, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The DeKalb Medical Center: Promotes stress reduction, circulation, balance, vitality and normal body functioning, as well as enhancing relaxation.