Reflexology is based on the principle that the anatomy of the body is reflected in miniature in reflex zones on the feet, hands and ears. A reflexologist will apply specific pressure to the reflex zone which matches the area of the body the therapy aims to treat. This pressure will then trigger the body’s healing process in the corresponding area of the body. Although a reflexologist works only on a small area of the body, the treatment works in a far wider way.
Reflexologists believe that the body is divided into ten energy zones running the entire length of the body, and that these may become blocked by congestion, disease or disorder. The trained hands of a reflexologist can detect tiny deposits of crystals and imbalances in the body, and by working the reflex points on patient’s feet, hands or ears they can release blockages and restore the free flow of energy (Chi) to prompt healing.
How can it help in Parkinson's?
There is very limited scientific evidence into the benefits of reflexology in Parkinson’s and more research is needed in order to draw reliable conclusions. The effects are unique to each person but many believe it promotes relaxation, improves circulation, stimulates vital organs and encourages the body’s natural healing processes. It may also speed up the elimination of harmful toxins from the body, as well as boosting the production of natural chemicals in the brain.
Reflexology can be helpful when used to support traditional Parkinson’s treatments. For example, it can stimulate the saliva glands and tear ducts which are often suppressed as a result of Parkinson’s medications, and can also help to relieve constipation.
This therapy may be unsuitable if you have certain medical conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes, thyroid problems, a blood disorder, foot problems or you are in the first trimester of pregnancy. You should always discuss this with your doctor or other healthcare professional before starting any treatment.
What should I expect at an appointment?
Reflexology is not regulated in many. It is therefore a good idea to ask your doctor or other healthcare professional for recommendations. Friends, family, other people with Parkinson’s or your national Parkinson’s association may also be able to advise based on personal experience.
It is advisable to see a therapist who has experience of Parkinson’s so do ask about their experience of the condition as well as their qualifications.
The initial consultation will last roughly an hour as the therapist must first take your medical history. You would then receive a treatment of around 40 minutes as the therapist works on the energy lines and reflex zones that pass through your feet. Subsequent consultations may last around 45 minutes. The length of the course of treatment will depend on your individual needs.
Sometimes there is a dramatic reaction to a first treatment such as increased bowel movements, cold-like symptoms or skin problems. This usually indicates that the treatment is working but you should discuss any concerns you have with your reflexologist or doctor.
Only footwear needs to be removed. Treatment is usually given on a special reclining couch.