Ever since the beginning of organized medical practices, and probably even before, people have acquainted certain parts of the body with others. In effect, the theory proposes that treatments or applications put on a certain part of the body will result in a reaction by another body part that is not apparently linked. The areas most associated with this theory are the hands and feet, although of course the muscles surrounding the spinal cord are well known as transmitters of signals to other parts of the body. However, the spinal cord and the muscles surrounding it have been medically and scientifically linked to the central nervous system, which accounts for pressure there having a positive effect when treating illness as well as stress. When it comes to the practice of reflexology, there is scepticism in scientific circles as to its basis.
What cannot be argued, however, is the effectiveness that reflexology has had on people suffering from illness and stress. Let's take a look at what the practice is and how it works. Reflexology works in a similar manner to acupuncture and other alternative medical practices that relieve the body of certain pressures, although the part treated appears not to be linked to the part where stress is manifested or ill health felt.
Reflexology focuses mainly on the feet (sometimes hands and ears are used) as the area of the body to which all other parts are linked, and the application of pressure through squeezing, massaging, or pushing can have a holistic effect on the body. There are two theories among practitioners of reflexology about how the method treats stress or illness. Some believe that the pressure applied to the hands, ears and/or feet break up patterns of stress that are being communicated to other parts of the body.
Other practitioners believe that the human body is surrounded by a life force known as Qi. Stress and illness occur when parts of the Qi are blocked, and application of pressure to the parts of extremities that correspond to afflicted organs may result in a clearing of the Qi passageways. As with any unproven treatment, the scientific and medical communities are sceptical over the effectiveness of reflexology. Moreover, they strongly caution against using the practice as the sole means of dealing with a serious illness. Still, reflexology, like many other alternative approaches, may assist some patients when it comes to alleviating the pain caused by illness and stress, and may be a vital addition to a comprehensive treatment plan.
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