Reflexology, – Nay, Massageology

Many among the world population take Reflexology as an alternative system of medicine. Reflexology is one of the most used alternative therapies in Denmark, Great Briton and Canada. Despite its being practiced in several Countries, modern medicine take reflexology as quackery. They equate Reflexology with the disproved curative impact of Acupuncture, European Faith healing, Japanese Shamanism, Indian Siddha, Chinese-Korean-Mongolian-Tibetan Unani, Naturopathy and Homeopathy, – supposed curative effect of which are considered as of placebo effect.

The method of treatment in reflexology is gentle touching and pressing certain points on different parts of the patient’s foot to produce a purported effect elsewhere in the body. For this, reflexologist examines the emotional and physical conditions of the patient and if it affects the health and wellness of the person concerned, then certain areas in the foot will be pressed using the thumb of the therapist supposedly to “stimulate energy”.

Threads of historical evidence indicate that massaging the surface of foot and hand as a form of treatment was prevalent in China about 4,000 B.C., so also was it practiced in Egypt during that period. However modern    reflexology based on the perceived theory that body of a person is reflected on the feet of the person, was introduced in 1920s by American physicians, Dr. William FitzGerald and Dr. Joe Shelby Riley.

Researchers have scientifically proved that reflexology is not at all effective for any type of medical condition. A systematic review conducted in 2009, through a number of randomized controlled trials made the following conclusion:

“The best evidence available till date does not convincingly demonstrate that reflexology is an effective treatment for any medical condition.”

There is no consensus among the practitioners of reflexology as to the method of treatment meted out and also as to how it works. Similarly there is no specific or unifying idea about the particular points on the foot which correspond to the specific area in the body and also how manipulating the points on the foot can relieve the patient of the illness and thereby improve the health by foot-pressing methodology.

According to the acclaimed practical theory of Reflexology, human body is divided into ten similar zones out of which five are on the right side of the body and the remaining five on the left side. The theory postulates that the zones which are weak causing the malady get stimulated and thereby the patient gets solace. Reflexology is therefore nick-named as Zone therapy because the pressure imposed on the foot is believed to produce effects on perceived zones in the body via the flow of the so-called “stimulant energy”. Whatever it is, In that context, the therapists and the patients including their dear and near ones shall have to remember that treating potentially ill people through reflexology would delay proper medical treatment leading to irrecoverable loss.

Despite the truth as it is, people approach reflexologist to resolve problems relating to relaxation, stress, tired feet, pain, blood circulation, overall well-being and mindbody conflicts. Because of the so-called placebo effect perhaps patients may randomly get some relief or so for these traumas through reflexology.

Modern life is increasingly demanding and stressful. Reflexology followed by appropriate counseling, may be effective in helping patients to relieve daily stresses and maintain good health and well-being. However, it should have to be used in tandem with medical care.

It has been explained that the so-called curative effect of reflexology is of placebo effect. As for patients who undergo the therapy, if ever and wherever they experience curative impact, so far so good.   But use of the word ‘Reflexology’ for the treatment is unethical as well as unscientific.

What is done by Reflexologist is simple massage of certain parts of the foot or any specific area in the body. ‘Reflexology’ has nothing to do with “Reflex” action.  Scientifically put, according to neuroscience, Reflex is an action that takes place automatically in response to the stimulation of a nerve. The action is without conscious effort. This explanation conveys the essence of a reflex action. In reflexology, pressing the part of foot is not automatically taking place. The pressure is thrust upon the foot by the therapist. How then can the process of the treatment are linked to or linked with reflex action! At best, “Reflexology” can be called as “Massageology”. Yes, it is Massageology, and the therapist is “Massageologist”.

It is therefore logically and ethically prudent for Reflexologist to rename himself/herself as ‘Massageologist’ and what they perform in the name of the therapy as ‘Massageology’.