Reflexology research answers many questions. For the individual, Can reflexology help me? For a reflexology practitioner, Can research demonstrate the benefits of reflexology services to my client?For a medical practitioner, Is reflexology proven to be an evidence-based application for use in medical settings? The answer to each question is, Yes.It is the goal of this Web site to provide reflexology research to answer such questions as well assome history and context about reflexology research. A list of available research topics is provided in the drop down menu.This Web site is brought to you by Barbara and Kevin Kunz, noted reflexologists, researchers andauthors. The site has provided reflexology research information to help grow the idea of reflexologysince 1996. The information presented here
Research has shown the specific techniques of reflexology to be effective and beneficial in many ways, impacting a variety of physical and psychological concerns. This discussion notes results gathered from year-long research project of 170 reflexology studiesfrom 21 countries with fhindings published inEvidence-Based Reflexology Research for Health Professionals and Researchers(Kunz and Kunz, 2008, RRP Press, ebook, 224 pages). The studieswere selected among those available because the abstract or full study information included
Research measuring brain activity by EEG shows from the moment the reflexologist's hands start their work, the relaxation begins. All together, 24 studies demonstrate reflexology's relaxation effects.Multiple studies using a variety of measurements show that reflexology relaxes the body. The stimulation of reflexology’s pressure techniques creates change in the body’s basic level of tension as demonstrated by research using measurement of: brain waves (EEG), blood pressure, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, pulse rate, and anxiety. One study of a single session noted that reflexology has a “… powerful anxiety-reduction effect ….”
Pain reduction is a significant result of reflexology work. Twenty-seven studies show positive outcomes for reflexology work ranging from “significant difference in” pain to “reduction in” pain.Of note is the broad range of individuals whose pain is impacted by reflexology work. Includedare individuals of all ages and health states: birthing mothers, menstruating women, phantom limbpain sufferers, lower back pain sufferers, kidney stone patients, senior citizens and individualswith pain resulting from surgery. Such a range speaks of impact on an underlying mechanism atwork.
Research shows that reflexology work helps individuals of all ages with some 78 health concerns ranging from aggressive behavior in children to urinary concerns of the elderly.Of the 78 disorders and 168 studies reviewed in Evidence-Based Reflexology Research for Health Professionals and Researchers , research shows an efficacy of 93.3% (11 negative outcomes) by one measure and 80.12% by another (11 negative outcomes and 22 positive-negative outcomes). The positive-negative studies showed at least one positive measure and at least one
Improvement in blood flow is one of multiple mechanisms of action at work in reflexology technique application. Research shows that reflexology work applied to a reflex area reflecting a body part prompts an improved blood flow to that body part: kidneys, intestines, and the brain (fMRI). Research also shows improved blood flow to the feet.
The value of reflexology for patients post-surgically is demonstrated by fifteen studies conducted in eight countries. As reported in Medical Applications of Reflexology: Findings in Research about Post-operative Care, Maternity Care and Cancer Care (Kunz and Kunz, 2011), patient pain, anxiety and recovery are all aided by the application of reflexology post-operatively. Researchers note the value of reflexology post surgically: speeding recovery time; adding to nursing interventions to ease pain when medication alone is not enough as well
Research shows that reflexology work influences physiological measures of the body. Measures include and demonstrate positive impact on: alpha amylase, blood pressure, systolic blood pressure, pulse rate, blood uric acid level, carbon dioxide (exhaled), cholesterol, cortisol, Doppler sonogram, ECG, EEG, fMRI, free radicals, hemoglobin, oxygen density, oxygen saturation, serotonin, triclycerides, uric acid and white blood cell count as well as immune system, intestinal, kidney and pancreas function. Such measures document that reflexology has an effect, providing an objective yardstick to measure reflexology’s effects and offering evidence of reflexology’s potential benefits.
For cancer patients, phantom limb pain sufferers, hemodialysis patients, diabetic individuals, neuropathy patients, and many more categories of patients are among those whose need for help exceeds that available through medical practices. Research has demonstrated that reflexology use enhances medical care to help where medicine can’t, for example, lessening or cessation of pain for those with phantom limb pain.
Reflexology programs and research show that reflexology aids the mentally ill, providing needed benefits unique to reflexology work. Mental health workers report that reflexology work furnishes many advantages including facilitating communication and allowing for the client to be “touched during treatment in a safe non-intrusive / abusive manner.” Studies demonstrate from reflexology work proves to be useful or provides positive results for: aggressive and anti-social children, autistic children; those needing emotional support; individuals with post traumatic stress syndrome; individuals with severe and enduring metal illnesses. Research demonstrates that reflexology can reduce depression (11 studies) and anxiety (9 studies).
Women who received reflexology experienced shorter labor times and used less analgesia. In addition, reflexology showed a positive impact on postpartum depression, anxiety, urination and bowel movements. Reflexology work during pregnancy or delivery creates easier birthing / delivery: lessened use of analgesia; reduced duration of labor and labor pains, improvement in primary inertia and retention of placenta. Chinese researchers have found reflexology to be beneficial for women throughout the child-bearing experience from conception to