Dr Carol Samuel, who is a trained reflexologist, carried out this small study as part of her PhD. She said, "As we predicted, reflexology decreases 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, from the Department of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Portsmouth is a co-author of the study. He 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."
The study showed that people felt about 40% less pain and were able to stand pain for about 45% longer, when they used reflexology as a method of pain relief.
Dr Ebenezer continued, "Complementary and alternative therapies come in for a lot of criticism, and many have never been properly tested scientifically. One of the common criticism 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. This is an early study, and more work will need to be done to find out the way reflexology works. However, it looks like it may be used to complement conventional drug therapy in the treatment of conditions that are associated with pain, such as osteoarthritis, backache and cancers."
This study has been published in the Journal of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.
As a practicing Reflexologist for 14 years now, I am not at all surprised by these results. I have had personal experience of clients reducing the frequency and strength of pain medication when receiving regular reflexology and it's my personal opinion that there's a connection. I believe the relaxation effect may be a significant factor in assisting pain reduction and I think I might have read that meditation may help with pain relief - which in my mind supports the beneficial effects of being relaxed and having mind, body and emotions in balance.
So if you, or anyone you know, suffers from any condition which brings with it chronic pain, you might want to try Reflexology. To book an appointment in Edinburgh or Midlothian, just call 07724 197627 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.