Reflexology – by Kyriaki
Have you ever complained to a friend that your headache was killing you, only to be presented with the entire history of reflexology, along with anecdotal ‘evidence’ why it absolutely positively really works? They probably urged you to try it, and you may have been so desperate that you actually went to a reflexologist, who then proceeded to massage your feet using some weird techniques, focusing on specific spots for a while, before moving on to the next ones.
Besides enjoying a thoroughly relaxing foot massage, though, did you start feeling any better? Perhaps your headache disappeared miraculously – in which case, good for you! We will add your name to the long list of anecdotal evidence pointing towards reflexology’s legitimacy. However, is this enough to conclude that this type of thing actually works?
Truth be told, reflexology seems to be based on ancient foot massage techniques, originating from China and Egypt. According to this type of alternative medicine practice, there are specific areas on people’s feet, each corresponding to their respective organ inside the human body. By applying pressure on these points, reflexologists believe they can physically affect these organs in a positive manner. By manipulating a complex system of energy fields, where the invisible life force of the body, known as Qi, flows freely, they claim they can unblock the body’s energy, so that it can heal itself more efficiently.
These awesome pressure points are located on the patients’ feet, or even on their hands, and reflexologists often spend time poking and prodding these areas with the help of a chart, depicting the exact location of each and every zone, and their corresponding organs. The problem is that most of these energy ‘maps’ are very varied. A simple google search will show you that there are so many different versions of these charts, some of which look nothing like the others. If reflexology really worked, wouldn’t there be a widely accepted, common chart, that practitioners would be able to use to produce consistently great results?
Besides, according to modern anatomy, and despite the teachings of reflexology, there are no nerve connections between these areas in the patients’ feet, and their organs. Absolutely none! So how could reflexologists affect the patients’ organs by massaging their feet, when there is no physical evidence of nerve endings that connect the two? Not to mention that there is absolutely no scientific research proving that reflexology has any beneficial physical effect on the body’s organs at all.
Reflexologists, when faced with this type of argument, often retort by declaring that their practice must be working, because there are hundreds of happy customers who feel way better after completing the required sessions! Well, that may very well be true, however we must not forget that sometimes a placebo can work just as well as the real thing, when dealing with symptoms. Actually, ‘treating’ a headache with a relaxing and soothing 1-hour long foot massage sounds just about right, to be honest.
However, what happens when reflexologists claim that they are able to treat serious conditions, such as heart disease, dementia, or even cancer? That’s when relying on alternative medicine and reflexology can really endanger people’s lives, as they may delay going to an actual doctor, because they ‘feel better’. However, even if their symptoms really did ease up, even if reflexology helped manage their pain and discomfort (which is doubtful, but let’s remain open to the possibility), it would still not be able to treat the underlying cause, their (sometimes life-threatening) conditions and ailments. Besides, we must not forget that unlike reflexology, medicine is a science, and, even though it’s not perfect, it is the patients’ best bet to a healthier life!
On the other hand, we must not vilify traditional medicine; in fact, studying ancient traditions and discovering how various techniques, plants and other materials have been used through the ages to heal and soothe people, may lead to the discovery of new ways of utilizing them in medicine. Through legitimate research, we can separate legitimate practices from the irrelevant ones, and use them for the benefit of mankind. However, even though reflexology and other alternative medicine practices could be used along with modern medicine, as supplementary methods only, which might be able to help alleviate the patients’ symptoms, it’s imperative that we keep in mind that they are not a miracle cure.
But then, why do some reflexologists make false claims, and advertise that they can help people overcome almost anything, from AIDS to cancer? Well, I would say that the obvious reason is complete lack of integrity, accompanied by irresponsibility and greed. Sure, why wouldn’t people pay them at least $60-70 an hour for their bogus services, when they’re sick and desperate for a little hope, even if it turns out to be false? This is the kind of practice that, in my opinion, needs to disappear from the face of the earth, as it preys on the frailty of people in need.