Research Studies into Reflexology

Impact of Reflexology on the Workplace Danish Study 1 A reflexologist was hired by a Scandinavian airline’s cargo department to improve staff morale and reduce sick leave for its 60 employees, resulting in monthly savings of US$3,300. This is what their employees said:

“Our work is done through computers and people spending many hours in a chair doing their work, resulting in aching shoulders and back. Since we employed our reflexologist we have experienced a substantial decrease of people being ill and away from work. It has had a physical and psychological effect. There is a much better atmosphere in the department, because the employees feel there is something being done about their problems. Before staff used to stay at home, now we see them go to work anyway because they know they can get a treatment and feel better.” (Research has been published and undertaken by the FDZ – the Danish Reflexology Association)

Danish Study 2 The Odense Postal District employed a reflexologist for 3 years to deal with employee stress. Two hundred and thirty five employees participated resulting in a 25% fall in sick leave, saving £110,000 and 170 employees reported a good impact on their health. (Research has been published and undertaken by the FDZ – the Danish Reflexology Association)

Danish Study 3 A reflexologist was employed for 6 months. 52 employees (all women) were treated for various ailments. Sick leave fell by 65.9% 97.5% had a positive effect on their primary problem 77.5% had a positive effect on their secondary problem They had a 27.5% reduction in medication. (Research has been published and undertaken by the FDZ – the Danish Reflexology Association)

Headaches and Migraines
The National Board of Health Study, Denmark This widescale study was commissioned in Denmark since there were 729,000 lost workdays in 1994 from migraines. The results showed that 19% of headache sufferers stopped taking medication following reflexology work. They found that reflexology treatments had a beneficial effect on patients suffering from migraine and tension headaches.

The study was conducted at the Department of Social Pharmacy, The Royal Danish School of Pharmacy in co-operation with 5 reflexology associations. 220 patients participated. The majority had moderate to severe symptoms: 90% had taken prescribed medication for their headaches one month prior to the study (81% was acetvlsalicyclic acid and paracetamol taken twice a week, with 72% of stronger medication taken fortnightly); with 36% experiencing side effects from the medicines. 34% had taken medication for other non-headache ailments.

3 months after completing the reflexology treatments, the results were:

16% had been cured 65% had reduced symptoms 19% reported that they had been able to stop all medication taken before the study. Those participants who continued with reflexology sessions after the six-month period reported the greatest probability for cure. Those who had headaches for the shortest period prior to the study reported the greatest relief after the study. One thing the researchers noticed that may have affected the study was that once receiving reflexology, many of the participants seemed to make lifestyle changes that reflected how they looked at their headaches. Prior to receiving reflexology, patients looked at their headaches as something separate from themselves over which they had no control. After working with a reflexologist, they seemed to understand the mind-body connection to their headache and how it could be controlled through the integration of the mind and body. It appeared that the reflexology practitioner became a catalyst for initiating the learning process and inspiring personal development in the patient. (Brendstrup, Eva and Launs‾, Laila, “Headache and Reflexological Treatment,” The Council Concerning Alternative Treatment, The National Board of Health, Denmark, 1997)

 
Reflexology was found to be as effective in the treatment of headaches as medication (flunarizine), without its side-effects. It was concluded that the reflexology treatment may be classified as an alternative non-pharmacological therapeutic treatment that would be particularly appropriate to those patients that were unable to follow pharmacological treatment. (Lafuente A et al (1990). Effekt der Reflex zonenbehandlung am FuB bezuglich der prophylaktischen Behandlung mit Flunarizin bei an Cephalea-Kopfschmerzen leidenden Patieten.Erfahrungsheilkunde. 39, 713-715.)

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Chinese Study A Chinese study of 26 patients, 9 men and 17 women, from 19 to 43 years of age showed that after one session of foot reflexology, 13 of the participants considered themselves symptom free, and 1 reported symptoms relieved. After two sessions, 6 considered themselves to be cured and 1 reported to be symptom free. After three sessions, 2 participants said they were cured and 3 stated their symptoms were unchanged. The conclusion of this study was that reflexology is a safe, economic therapy.
Gynaecological Problems • Pre-menstrual syndrome • Various gynaecological disorders • Menopausal Symptoms • Amenorrhea • Male Impotence • Dymenstruation/(painful periods) • Hypermenorrhea/(excessive uterine bleeding)

Diabetes
Chinese Study 1 32 cases of type II diabetes mellitus were randomly divided into 2 groups. One group was treated with conventional Western Medicine hypoglycemic agent and reflexology, the other group with the same medicine only (WM).

After daily treatments over 30 days, fasting blood glucose levels, platelet aggregation, length and wet weight of the thrombus, senility symptom scores and serum lipid peroxide (LPO) were greatly reduced in the reflexology group (P,0.05-0.01), while no significant change was observed in the WM group.

The study suggested that reflexology was an effective treatment for type II diabetes mellitis. (Wang, X. M., “Type II diabetes mellitus with foot reflexotherapy,” Chuang Koh Chuang Hsi I Chief Ho Teas Chi, Beijing , Vol. 13, Sept. 1993, pp 536-538)

Chinese Study 2 22 cases with non-insulin dependent diabetes were split into 2 groups. The patients of both groups had taken hypoglycemic agents for a long time. Reflexology was provided daily for 30 days. Results: The indexes of the scores of senility, thrombocyte aggregation rates (TAR), the length and wet weights of thrombosis in vitro, and the serum oxidative lipids were measured to judge curative effect.

The results were so positive that the researchers recommend that further research using larger numbers of patients in controlled clinical trials into the effectiveness of reflexology in alleviating pain, nausea and anxiety in the management of these symptoms by the family at home is warranted. (Foot Massage: A nursing intervention to modify the distressing symptoms of pain and nausea in patients hospitalized with cancer,” Grealish, L. Lomasney, A., Whiteman, B., Cancer Nurse 2000, June;23(3):237-43 (On-line review: “Reflexology Used for Cancer Patients,” Internet Health Library, October 11, 2000)

Cancer (Quality of life) Results: 100% of the reflexology group benefited from an improvement in quality of life: appearance, appetite, breathing, communication (doctors), communication (family), communication (nurses), concentration, constipation, diarrhoea, fear of future, isolation, micturition, mobility, mood, nausea, pain, sleep and tiredness. An improvement in all components of the quality of life scale was reported in the reflexology group compared to 67. 5 in the placebo group. This study suggests that the provision of reflexology for palliative patients within the general setting could be beneficial. Not only did the patients in this study enjoy the intervention, they were also ‘relaxed,’ comforted’ and achieved relief from some of their symptoms. (Hodgson, H. “Does reflexology impact on cancer patients’ quality of life?,” Nursing Standard, 14, 31, p. 33-38)

Cancer (Anxiety and pain) Results: Foot reflexology alleviated anxiety and pain for 23 patients with breast and lung cancer. Researchers noted a significant decrease in anxiety for patients diagnosed with breast or lung cancer and a significant decrease in pain for patients with breast cancer. “This has important implications for nursing practice as both professionals and lay people can be taught reflexology. Reflexology is a simple technique for human touch which can be performed anywhere, requires no special equipment, is non-invasive and does not interfere with patients’ privacy.” (Stephenson, N. L., Weinrich, S. P. and Tavakoli, A. S., “The effects of foot reflexology on anxiety and pain in patients with breast and lung cancer,” OncolNursForum 2000, Jan.-Feb.;27(1):67-72)

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