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.


Exploratory study on the efficacy of reflexology for pain threshold and pain tolerance

ReflexologyDr Carol Samuel is a trained reflexologist who carried out the experiment as part of her PhD studies. She said it was the first time this therapy had been scientifically tested as a treatment for acute pain.

Dr Samuel concluded the results suggested that reflexology could be used to complement conventional drug therapy in the treatment of conditions associated with pain such as osteoarthritis, backache and cancers.

The experiment involved 15 subjects who attended two sessions, in which they were asked to submerge their hand in ice slurry.

In one of the sessions they were given foot reflexology before they submerged their hand, and in the second session they believed they were receiving pain relief from a Tens machine, which was not actually switched on.

The researchers found that when the participants received reflexology prior to the session they were able to keep their hand in the ice water for longer before they felt pain, and that they could also tolerate the pain for a longer period of time. The study found that people felt about 40 per cent less pain, and were able to stand pain for about 45 per cent longer. Statistical analysis showed the compared to control data, reflexology increased acute pain threshold (F(1,14) = 4.5958, p < 0.05) and tolerance (F(1,14) = 5.1095, p < 0.05).

Dr Samuel said: "As we predicted, reflexology decreased pain sensations.

"It is likely that reflexology works in a similar manner to acupuncture by causing the brain to release chemicals that lessen pain signals."

Dr Ivor Ebenezer, co-author of the study, said: "We are pleased with these results. Although this is a small study, we hope it will be the basis for future research into the use of reflexology."

Dr Ebenezer said: "Complementary and alternative therapies come in for a lot of criticism, and many have never been properly tested scientifically.

"One of the common criticisms by the scientific community is that these therapies are often not tested under properly controlled conditions.

"When a new drug is tested its effects are compared with a sugar pill.

"If the drug produces a similar response to the sugar pill, then it is likely that the drug's effect on the medical condition is due to a placebo effect.

"In order to avoid such criticism in this study, we compared the effects of reflexology to a sham Tens control that the participants believed produced pain relief.

"This is the equivalent of a sugar pill in drug trials."

Reflexology is a complementary medical approach, which works alongside orthodox medicine, in which pressure may be applied to any body area but is commonly used on either the feet or hands.  More reserach is needed with larger subject groups but this study represents an exciting starting point in studying the effects of reflexology on pain.

Posted on April 16, 2013 and filed under pain, reflexology.

Reflexology Research

As a reflexologists with a nursing background it is always brilliant to read new research studies examining reflexology.  I believe it is vital that complementary therapists do not make claims about the benefits of their treatments that can not be supported by research evidence.  It can be difficult to find robust studies so when new reflexology research is published it is greeted eagerly by therapists who can then share the results with their clients.

In The International Therapist Journal  there is a study on the use of reflexology for constipation.  Constipation is a common problem in the U.K. with up to 20% of the population being affected at some time.  It can be a painful and distressing condition with many of the traditional medical treatments having associated adverse effects. The clients in the study had no underlying medical cause for their constipation ( idiopathic constipation ). 

After a course of reflexology treatments over six weeks the study found 94% of the participants reported an improvement in their condition. This does suggest that reflexology can potentially help people with idiopathic constipation.  This reflexology research does have some limitations and further studies are needed before the results can be certain but it is definitely a promising development for reflexology research and reflexology for clients struggling with the discomfort of constipation.



Reflexology Kidderminster. Please contact 0753 1121199


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.

Reflexology Research

Reflexology is a popular therapy not only with clients but also in complimentary therapy research.  This blog aims to regularly share reflexology research with you to enable you to learn more about the therapy and see the results attained in the studies.  There will be studies related to many issues including maternity, menstruation, surgery, mobility and pain relief.

I am a reflexologist working in Kidderminster and also providing mobile treatments in the Stourbridge, west Midlands and Worcester areas.  I qualified as an Adult General Nurse and moved on to train in Reflexology and a number of other therapies including massage and aromatherapy.

I aim to present the reflexology research to you in brief terms to enable you to read it when you have a few moments to spare, rather than overloading the blog with too many long detailed reports.  If you ever want more information I will include links to the original pieces where possible.

I hope you find this blog useful and enjoy the insights into reflexology.

Reflexology home page

Posted on January 19, 2013 and filed under reflexology.