Posts filed under woman's health

Reflexology and Headaches

Reflexology is a popular complementary therapy enjoyed by people of all ages around the world. I work in a busy reflexology practice in Kidderminster DY115LB with clients experiencing many different issues including headaches. As I am from a nursing background I always look into the reflexology research to guide my treatments and inform clients of the results obtained.

Headaches can range from a mild discomfort that causes little trouble to a debilitating condition that seriously limits people's lives. If you experience headaches it is important to speak to your G.P. about the symptoms prior to addressing them through complementary therapy. The NHS statistics stats that more than 10 million people in the UK get headaches regularly, making them one of the most common health complaints. But most aren't serious and are easily treated. Tension headaches are the most common headache and are what we generally think of as a normal, "everyday" headache. They generally feel like a steady ache that affects both sides of the head. A tension headache normally won't be severe enough to prevent you doing everyday activities. They usually last for 30 minutes to several hours, but can last for several days. there are many other types of headaches such as migraines, cluster headaches, hormonal headaches, viral headaches and rarely headaches related to conditions such as stroke, brain injury or brain tumour. For more information on types of headache please visit NHS conditions and search "headache".

In 1995 a Danish study involving 220 subjects being given reflexology for 3 months concluded that 65% found reflexology helpful for managing their headaches while 16 % reported that they felt their headaches were cured.  

A Chinese study in 1993 looked at 7 adults with a variety of headache types including tension and migraine.  After two sessions of reflexology five of the subjects found their symptoms alleviated while the remaining two were improved after three sessions. Another Chinese study looked at a larger group of subjects and concluded that foot reflexology was a helpful technique for managing symptoms.

In 2000 reflexology for migraines headaches was studied. 60 cases including men and women were divided into two groups, one treatment and one control. The treatment group received reflexology daily for two weeks.  The control group were given medication. The study concluded that 83% of the treatment group found reflexology to be effective compared to 66% of the medication group. The reflexology group experienced no unpleasant side effects but the medication group reported dry mouths, drowsiness and nausea. A Danish study also focused on migraine headaches. the study concluded that reflexology was supportive for migraine sufferers who reported significant reductions in medication use after reflexology treatments.

Reflexology is a complementary therapy which has been shown to be effective for the relief of tension headaches and migraines. The studies are, however, all small in size and consequently all results must be considered as informative rather than prescriptive. 

For more information on reflexology please click: Reflexology or return Home

Lavender: research summary

Lavender for anxiety reduction.

There are many sources of contemporary research demonstrating that lavender has sedative and calming properties. Below is a summary of some of this research.

Diego et al (1998) studies EEG activity, alertness, and mood in 40 adults given 3 minutes of aromatherapy with lavender.  Participants were also given simple math computations before and after the therapy. After exposure to lavender oil the subjects showed increased beta power, suggesting increased drowsiness, they had less depressed mood and reported feeling more relaxed and performed the math computations faster and more accurately following aromatherapy.

Lehrner et al (1998) researched the use of lavender to reduce anxiety and improve mood in a dentists surgery. The goal of the study was to investigate the effect of  essential oils of orange and lavender on anxiety, mood, alertness and calmness in dental patients. Two hundred patients between the ages of 18 and 77 years (half women, half men) were assigned to one of four independent groups. While waiting for their dentist appointment subjects were either stimulated with the odour of orange or the odour of lavender. These conditions were compared to a music condition and a control condition (no scent, no music). Anxiety, mood, alertness and calmness were assessed while subjects waited for dental treatment. Statistical analyses revealed that compared to control condition both oils of orange and lavender reduced anxiety and improved mood in patients waiting for dental treatment. This study supported the previous opinion that aromatherapy is capable of altering emotional states and may indicate that the use of aromatherapy is helpful in reducing anxiety in dental patients.

Toda et al (2008) studied the effect of lavender on salivary stress markers. These markers present in human saliva indicate levels of stress. They evaluated the stress relief effect of lavender aroma by measuring sensitive salivary stress markers. Thirty subjects performed a mathematics task for 10min and then rested for 10min. During the rest, 16 students (aroma group) were exposed to airborne organic essential oil of lavender. Saliva samples were collected immediately before and after the  task, and at 5 and 10min after that.  In the aroma group, levels of stress marker that had been elevated at the end of the arithmetic task were statistically significantly lower 10min later. The control group showed no such change.  The results strongly suggest that lavender aroma has a measurable biological stress relief effect.

Field et al (2008) Studied the effects of lavender on babies and their mothers. Babies were given a bath with or without lavender-scented bath oil. The mothers in the lavender bath oil group were more relaxed, smiled and touched their babies more during the bath. Their babies looked at them a greater percentage of the bath time and cried less and spent more time in deep sleep after the bath. The cortisol levels  (a biological stress indicator) of this group of mothers and infants significantly decreased, showing increased relaxation of the mothers and their infants. These findings supported the  body of research demonstrating the relaxing and sleep-inducing properties of lavender oil.

There are many more research studies available that support the use of lavender for relaxation and anxiety management.

The use of aromatherapy oils in pregnancy, when trying to conceive and breast feeding should only be undertaken after consulting with a trained professional. Please seek medical advise if you are concerned about stress or anxiety. Lavender oil is not suitable for all and you should check with a aromatherapy professional before use.

Posted on April 17, 2015 and filed under woman's health.

Pain management and Reflexology

Reflexology research into pain management.

Chronic or acute pain is debilitating and depressing. At Breathe Holistic Therapy in Kidderminster we see many clients who are experiencing pain. Traditional medicine still struggles to treat pain effectively for many people. There is a growing evidence base for the use of reflexology and other complementary treatments such as hypnotherapy and mindfulness. As more people start to take control of their health care it is vital that those experiencing pain are aware of the research to enable them to make informed choices about their treatment.

It is not fully understood how reflexology helps to manage pain but current studies suggest it is related to the release of our own natural pain killers such as endogenous opioids. It is well established that the stress response is influential on pain and by releasing these influential hormones this can potentially be counteracted.

Pain affects many millions of people across the world and has serious implications on their quality of life. It can also have negative physical impacts on aspects such as sleep, immune system and digestive responses. Finding ways to manage pain that are noninvasive and without complicated side effects could be life changing for many people and their families.

A research study in 2003 (Samuel etal 2003) found that reflexology decreased pain sensation and increased pain tolerance by up to 40%.  Research into patients with cancer pain report that foot reflexology had an immediate positive effect on pain (Stephenson etal 2003). The same positive results were found when partners were trained to deliver a 30 minute reflexology treatment. Following the initial partner-delivered foot reflexology, patients experienced a significant decrease in pain intensity and anxiety. This emphasises another aspect of reflexlology and many other therapies. They can usually be delivered anywhere the client needs them and by relatives after appropriate training. This means the pain relief can be available exactly when it is needed without waiting for treatments.

Back pain is a common form of pain that causes many lost days at work and prevents many people from enjoying some aspects of life. It can be disabling and cause low mood and fatigue.  Nurses with lower back pain were given six 40 minute reflexology sessions.  The nurses showed a significant reduction in reported pain after reflexology compared to the control group (Eghbali etal 2012). A study in 2007 reflects these results. Subjects receive weekly reflexology for six weeks and they too showed reduced pain scores ( Quinn 2007).

Taking an active role in their choices of pain management can begin to help people feel more in control of their bodies. A sense of hopelessness can develop when pain becomes chronic and making decisions regarding management can instill a sense of hope and power which itself helps pain management.

Many of the research studies are small and larger experiments are needed before the use of reflexology in pain management is fully understood. The evidence is positive enough for reflexology to be a useful choice when looking at pain management strategies.

For more information please contact me :  e-mail me or call 07531 12199

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Reflexology research: PMS

Pre Menstrual Syndrome is a condition that effects many women and can have a very negative effect on their lives. They may feel physically and emotionally unwell, causing daily life to be very negatively affected. There are many different symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which can vary from person to person and change slightly every month.

The symptoms of PMS usually happen at the same time in your menstrual cycle each month, which can be up to two weeks before your period starts. They usually improve once your period has started, and then disappear until your cycle starts again.

More than 100 different symptoms of PMS have been recorded, but the most common are listed below:

    fluid retention and feeling bloated
    pain and discomfort in your abdomen (tummy)
    changes to your skin and hair
    muscle and joint pain
    breast tenderness
    insomnia (trouble sleeping)
    weight gain (up to 1kg)
    mood swings
    feeling upset or emotional
    feeling irritable or angry
    depressed mood
    crying and tearfulness
    difficulty concentrating
    confusion and forgetfulness
    decreased self-esteem
    loss of libido (loss of interest in sex)
    appetite changes or food cravings

There have been several studies exploring the use of reflexology in the management of PMS. The results are promising suggesting reflexology would be helpful for most women experiencing PMS. One such study is summarised below.

  • Terry Oleson PhD and William Flocco, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 82, No. 6, December 1993

This study was designed to explore whether reflexology treatments could significantly reduce pre menstrual symptoms compared to a placebo treatment. Thirty-five women who reported pre menstrual syndrome (PMS) were randomly assigned to be treated by reflexology or to receive placebo reflexology. The subjects completed a daily diary monitoring 38 premenstrual symptoms on a four-point scale. Physical and psychological indicators of premenstrual distress were recorded each day for 2 months prior to treatment, for 2 months during reflexology treatment, and for 2 months afterward.

The reflexology sessions for both groups were provided by trained reflexology therapist once a week for 8 weeks, and lasted 30 minutes each.The placebo group recived manual stimulation of feet but not specific reflexology. All the placebo subjects indicated that they believed they were recieving reflexology and found it pleasant.

Results: Statistical analysis for repeated measures demonstrated a significantly greater decrease in pre menstrual symptoms for the women given true reflexology than for the women in the placebo group. The treatment group showed a 46% reduction in premenstrual symptoms, which continued at 41% during the post treatment period. This included both psychological and physical symtpoms. It was concluded that reflexology is a positive therapy choice for the management of PMS.

The study would need to be repeated with a larger group of subjects before reflexology could be described as a treatment for PMS but the results are very promising.

Posted on January 8, 2014 and filed under reflexology, woman's health.

Reflexology Lymphatic Drainage Research

Exciting new research has been published into the effects of lymphatic drainage techniques used in foot reflexology on unilateral secondary lymphoedema. 

Reflexologist Sally Kay has researched and developed reflexology lymphatic drainage (RLD) to help manage secondary lymphoedema following breast cancer treatment. Breast cancer, the most common form of cancer in the UK,with one in eight women at risk of developing it in their lifetime ( Breast Cancer UK 2011). Approximately 20% of these develop secondary lymphoedema of the arm following treatment which includes radiotherapy or surgery. Secondary lymphoedema is a progressive debilitating condition causing swelling in the tissue in and under the arm, pain in the shoulder, weakness and problems with everyday activities.

The study involved women with lymphoedema receiving RLD weekly for six weeks.  As the weeks passed clients reported less discomfort and swelling and an increase in arm mobility. The circumference of the effected arm was measured and the study showed a statistically significant reduction in arm volume.

This study involved only a small group of subjects therefore more research is needed to confirm the results but the evidence so far is positive. One participant stated "I feel like I've got my arm back" while another explained " I'm not embarrassed to take my cardigan off, which has given me my confidence back"

Following more research a course for reflexologists will be designed to train qualified therapists in the techniques of RLD.  Im looking forward to completing the course and sharing this technique with clients who may benefit.


Reflexology in Pregnancy: A Research summary

Reflexology is a popular form of complimentary therapy enjoyed by people at all stages in their lives. Research into its effectiveness is sparse, but the use of reflexology in pregnancy and childbirth has been explored through research.

Exploring easier births using reflexology:

in 1988 103 out of 593 women giving birth at Gentofte county hospital chose to have reflexology as an alternative to analgesia or chemical induction. The results showed 89% stated reflexology had reduced their pain in childbirth. 8% felt no effects from the reflexology treatment. There were 49 women who chose reflexology to stimulate labour, of these 24 gave birth without additional drug therapy. All of the women found reflexology pleasant and relaxing.

Reflexology and labour:

Study conducted by Dr. Gowri Motha and Dr. Jane McGrath, Forest Gate London reported 1994

The study involved 37 pregnant woman who were offered and completed 10 free reflexology treatments. The effects on the labour process were perceived as outstanding. The average time of a first stage of labour was 5 hours, some lasting only 2 hours. This compared to the text book of 16-24 hours for the first stage of labour. This effect of shortening labour occurred in women of all ages including mothers in their 40s. Dr Gowri Motha includes reflexology as an integral part of her gentle Birth method.

Reflexology and Lactation:

Study conducted be Zhang Jie Tianjin China.

Ten women with reduced milk production chose reflexology. The mothers milk production increased and the use of drugs was avoided. The milk production remained stable for the mothers who found the treatment successful.   The study involved only a small number of women and so there would need to be more work in this area before definate conclusions could be made, but it does appear that reflexology would be a positive choice for women with reduced milk supply.

Reflexology and fertility:

There are a number of studies that suggest reflexology can help couples who have experienced difficulties conceiving.

Study By Leila Ericksen, FDZ Research Committee, Denmark

108 women under 35 years with no previous children, and that had attempted to become pregnant for more than two years were selected from 260 applicants. Forty-seven of the 108 withdrew. The remaining 61 women were given sixteen 45 minute reflexology treatments over a 7 - 8 month period. Treatments were given twice a week for 4 weeks, then 2 treatments before ovulation. Nine women (15%) became pregnant within six months after starting treatment. Two thirds of the women had menstruation problems and 77% experienced an appreciable improvement, with the majority totally getting rid of the problems. Three quarters of all the women reported improvements in other ailments such as: muscle tensions, psychic imbalances, indigestion, poor circulation and general imbalance.

Studies such as this suggest that reflexology may help some couples. Professionals such as Zita West, a pioneer in fertility midwife and acupuncturist, recommend reflexology in preparation for IVF treatment. There, however,  must be many more studies before reflexology can be seen as an answer to conception problems but it is a treatment that improves feeling of wellbeing for the women at a difficult time. The stress reduction amd calmness created is a positive influence while the couple continue to explore their reduced fertility.


Maternity reflexology

Reflexology in Kidderminster. Please contact 0753 1121199

Reflexology researched with eating disorder care

Eating disorders are a complex set of physical and emotional conditions.  The symptoms vary from extreme starvation to binge eating and purging. The causes of eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia are multiple and complicated. Orthodox treatment addresses these various causes and symptoms. The reason why individuals develop eating disorders may be debated but the long and often difficult path to recovery is well documented.

Complimentary therapies have in some instances been integrated with conventional medicine to treat eating disorders.  The holistic nature of complimentary therapies such as reflexology may be one of the reasons their use is so helpful with eating disorders because they involve a complex interaction of physical, emotional and psychological factors.

Reflexology is known for its relaxing and calming effect. Recovering from an eating disorder is often described as a slow and frustrating process, reducing stress may well support the other treatments being provided. Reflexology has also been shown to potentially influence healthy hormonal balance which is often disrupted by eating disorders.

Grange Specialist eating disorder hospital in Sheffield offers a range of complimentary therapy as well as support from dieticians, cognitive behavioural therapists and psychiatrists.  The facility is known for being at the forefront of medical thinking and successfully treats and supports many sufferers of eating disorders and their families.

References : International Therapist, FHT, January 2013.

Reflexology Treatments in Kidderminster. Please contact 0753 1121199



Posted on January 29, 2013 and filed under woman's health, reflexology.