Over the years I've been lucky enough to help a number of headache and migraine sufferers, in fact it was one of my first successes as a Reflexologist, just after I qualified.
As a nervous new practitioner in 1998 I had a local resident come to me with recurrent headaches. I treated according to my training and suggested, if she was still having problems, that she return for another treatment. I thought she would go away, realise how lovely the treatmet was and book another, but I never heard from her. Then a few years later she booked another session. She had taken my at my word - the headaches had disappeared after that one Reflexology session and it was only then, a couple of years later that she had another cluster of headaches and returned for a Reflexology session.
I have since had a number of successes over the years: one client with a very demanding job, was getting 3 migraine a week and we eventually reduced that to one every 3 months; her daughter suffered from cluster migraines and found Reflexology helpful; another client had almost daily headaches as a consequence of neck problems and found Reflexology sessions gave her some relief. And recently I've had a client who has had increasingly regular headaches and migraines and has found Reflexology to provide some relief.
There are no guarantees of course and very little substantive research has been done, but my observations and experience suggest that Reflexology should be the go-to treatment if you suffer from Headache or Migraine. There may of course be food triggers - I had one client who (eventually) discovered that it was ice-cream which was the trigger - we think it was the sugar and/or fat rather than the cold that did it. One of the interesting things about Migraine from a complementary therapy point of view is that it is connected to the gallbladder meridian in Traditional Chinese Medicine. This is because the gallbladder meridian ends around the back of the ear in the head - and in alopathic medicine the gallbladder organ is responsible for producing bile to break down fat in the body. Surely not just a coincidence?
The one area where migraines can be more problematic are when they are hormone related. A lot more patience and commitment may be required as hormone levels fluctuate, but because Reflexology is designed to create balance in the body, that can support the body to modulate hormone levels to create less fluctuation which will hopefully have a knock-on effect on migraine and headaches.
I tried to find some scientific evidence, but it's thin on the ground (and can be very expensive to access). I found this report on a 2018 study written by Sally Robertson BSc in News-Medical.Net an American website. This article reported on the results of a placebo-controlled clinical trial assessing the effect of reflexology massage on nitroglycerin-induced migraine-type headache. This type of headache is the main side effect of nitrate therapy, which is used to treat angina.
The trial assessed the effects of reflexology massage on 75 coronary care unit patients who were divided into an intervention group, a placebo group and a control group. The intervention group received two 20-minute massages (separated by a 3-hour interval) of the upper part of both foot thumbs, which in reflexology, is the reflection point of the head. Among the placebo group, an unspecified part of the heel unrelated to the head was massaged and the control group received neither massage.
The study revealed a significant between-group difference in mean pain scale that suggested a reduction in the intensity of headache when reflexology massage was applied.
But really, if you suffer from Migraine or Headache the only way to know is to give Reflexology a try. If you don't suffer from Migraine or Headache, lucky you - but please spread the word to your less fortunate friends, family or colleagues.