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January February 2002

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REFLEXOLOGY

Brian Jeffery M.B.R.A. qualified as a reflexologist in January 1994 with the Bayly School of Reflexology, Worcester (the oldest school of Reflexology in the U.K.)

After a period of practicing mobile treatments and various static locations around Lancashire, Brian opened his own clinic (Harmonious Healthcare) in July 2000 at Clayton-le-Woods, Chorley.

The following article expresses the personal views of Brian Jeffery and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of any professional body.

WHAT IS REFLEXOLOGY?

Reflexology is a very ancient form of Chinese medicine, as far as we know about 5,000 years old. However, the ancient Egyptians practised it, as did some American Indians and even some African tribes. A very ancient form of healing in any man’s language!

Reflexology practitioners believe each part of the feet (and hands) represents a part of the body. The left foot representing the left side of the body and the right side representing the right side of the body. All parts of the body therefore are found as a reflex in the feet and arranged to form a map, which is very similar to the body’s anatomical layout. Therefore, in Reflexology, we are not really treating the feet (or lower limbs) as such, but stimulating the body’s healing mechanism through the feet (or hands).

It should be pointed out at this stage that the vast majority of reflexologists are not medically qualified and are therefore forbidden to diagnose (this being the job of your G.P./Specialist). However, the feet do not lie! In almost all cases, if an area of tenderness is experienced, the patient will verify that indeed the corresponding area is not behaving at optimum levels!

WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE?

Many people relate feet to tickling - Reflexology does not tickle!.

For the physical application, talcum powder is used to give the practitioner a smooth/dry surface to work on. Ideally in a reclining chair or similar, and with suitable ‘relaxing music’ in the background, firm pressure is then applied to the feet on precise reflexes.

Some areas may feel tender, sometimes very sharp, bruised or hot. These types of sensations indicate to the practitioner that the corresponding area in the body is out of balance. A skilled practitioner will feel areas that are ‘out of balance’ themselves – generally feeling hard, lumpy, gritty or crunchy. However, it will almost certainly not be a physiological issue, as the patient will have experienced no pain until precise pressure was applied. The degree of tenderness will dictate how ‘out of balance’ the corresponding bodily part is.

WHAT ARE THE CAPABILITIES OF REFLEXOLOGY?

Stress related and Chronic conditions are generally accepted to be those suitable for treatment with Reflexology. My philosophy on this is very simple – “If you have a condition where the body is capable of healing itself, but is not doing at that particular time, then Reflexology should be able to ‘wake the body up’ and make it.

If however, the body has a condition that the body cannot deal with (e.g. acute conditions) then it is unlikely that Reflexology will be able to assist with that particular condition. It may, however, be useful for general stress associated with the main issue”

I personally feel that it is absolutely essential that all Reflexology practitioners understand the above, and moreover that General Practitioners and Specialists not only understand their own limitations, but also the limitations of all other practitioners, complementary or otherwise. Only in this way can we achieve integrated medicine.

The conditions that I tend to see are :-  HEADACHES, MIGRAINES, STRESS, FATIGUE, LOWER BACK PAIN, IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (symptoms include a combination of feeling bloated, pain, wind, constipation and diarrhoea).   SINUSITIS, PERIOD PAINS, IRREGULAR PERIODS, HEAVY PERIODS, MOOD SWINGS, CYSTITIS, THYROID DISORDERS, NEURALGIA, SCIATICA, INFANT BEDWETTING, INFERTILITY plus many more. A collection of non-life threatening conditions, but ones nonetheless that are extremely distressing for the client. If you follow my logic at the top of this section you won’t go far wrong.

For example in the case of headaches, Reflexology is absolutely ideal because it can deal not only with issues of Stress, but also Hormonal, Digestive and Sinus at the same time. Only in the case of a skeletal root cause, would you not expect to reach a permanent solution using Reflexology, and I personally would favour Chiropractic in that particular instance.

However, your G.P. is there to diagnose and should always be consulted in the first instance.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

“I’ve been diagnosed as having cancer, can I still have Reflexology?”

– Absolutely no problem at all. The body is a magnificent healing machine and the act of Reflexology is simply encouraging that activity naturally. Therefore Reflexology is a very useful therapy for treating cancer patients in that the patient is receiving a ‘hands on’ treatment and by receiving a holistic treatment, they may simply feel better, especially when receiving heavy duty drug therapy.

“There’s nothing wrong with me, can I still have Reflexology?”

– absolutely! Reflexology is one of the best ‘preventative medicines’ and therefore may be used for example once a month for maintenance, i.e. by stimulating the body’s healing mechanism and boosting the immune system it is intended to maintain optimum levels of health and avoid many chronic, stress and immune related conditions, that we normally put up with. An hour dedicated to your own well-being has got to be a good thing!

 “I’m pregnant, can I have Reflexology”

 – unfortunately I have come across many practitioners who refuse to treat pregnant women, because of the way pregnancy has been portrayed during their training.

This would appear to be a lack of understanding regarding the limitations of Reflexology. Ultimately, Reflexology can only deal with conditions within the body, utilizing it’s healing mechanism. As far as pregnancy and Reflexology is concerned, the act of Reflexology alone cannot initiate anything that would not occur naturally anyway. However, appropriate care (common sense) should be taken, for example the reproductive reflexes may be excluded altogether during a treatment, especially during the early stages of pregnancy. I personally have treated many pregnant women for conditions such as cystitis, sciatica and lower back pain without any problems.

“How often should I have Reflexology?”

 – often the texts books will tell you 6 sessions at weekly intervals is an average course of Reflexology. This is a reasonable guide but in actual fact will depend on what condition is being treated, how long the individual has had the condition and how they respond. Many clients come once a month (if there are no particular health issues) as a maintenance program for general health and relaxation.

“Isn’t it all in the mind?”

 – partially! Reflexology is a holistic therapy, i.e. treating not just the physical but also the mental and emotional levels. So the mind has a part to play in healing and many conditions nowadays are originated from the mental/emotional levels, even though the symptom appears to be very physical!

“How much can I expect to pay for a Reflexology session and how long are they?

-        Reflexology sessions last between 50 minutes and 1 hour.

At Harmonious Healthcare we normally charge £22 per session, but give generous discounts during the day for senior citizens, students and the unemployed.

Between £22 - £25 is considered the norm.

“Can I claim Reflexology treatments against my Health Insurance Plan?”

- I am very pleased to say that some companies have just started to include Reflexology in their policies. This was news to me and I therefore checked with the two companies concerned, and happily my qualifications met their requirements.

Another step towards integrated medicine?……………

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Apart from the map of the body transposed onto the feet, we also believe that there are invisible lines of energy within the body. In Reflexology, we believe these lines of energy follow the toes all the way up to the top of the head and down to the fingers on both sides of the body. Therefore there are 10 lines of energy within the body, connecting organs and tissue. During a treatment, if tenderness is experienced, it doesn’t mean you have a sore toe or foot, but that the corresponding part of the body is out of balance. Another way of expressing this is to say that there is a blockage in that particular line of energy and simply by applying firm pressure, one hopes to release that blockage and encourage self-healing through stimulation.

To satisfy the clinical Western mind, one could argue that many nerve endings are found in the feet, and by applying firm pressure to the feet, we are stimulating the body’s central nervous system.

IN CONCLUSION

My vision of integrated medicine is that all practitioners, complementary or otherwise, should have quality standards applied to their discipline, and that they should all understand their own and each other’s limitations. Only in this way would chronic and stress related conditions be appropriately directed by G.P.’s and Specialists for the best possible results. It is my belief that where appropriate, if there is a more gentle, natural way of treating a condition, (e.g. Reflexology), then this should be tried first. However, this will only happen if all healthcare practitioners communicate effectively.

 BRIAN JEFFERY M.B.R.A., M.G.C.P.

If you wish to contact Brian you can email him at brian@reflexology100.fsnet.co.uk

Or contact him at :- 

Harmonious Healthcare

1st Floor, 353, Preston Road,

Clayton-le-Woods,

Chorley

PR6 7PY

 

Tel : (01257) 231232  www.HarmoniousHealthcare.co.uk

 

If you prefer, we also have an experienced female Reflexology practitioner at Harmonious Healthcare.

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