Author: Cathy Searle


The effect of reflexology on the autonomic nervous system in healthy adults: a feasibility study.

Hughes CM, Krirsnakriengkrai S, Kumar S, McDonough SM.


School of Health Sciences, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom.



Reflexology has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress in various populations. The mechanism by which this occurs may be in modulating autonomic nervous system (ANS) function; however; there is limited evidence available in the area.


The aim of the study was to investigate the feasibility of using an experimental model to determine the physiological effect of reflexology on stress.


A feasibility study to assess an experimental study design to compare the effect of reflexology and control interventions on heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) following mental stress tests.


The Health and Rehabilitation Science Research Institute at the University ofUlster, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom.


Twenty-six healthy volunteers.


Mental stress was induced before and after intervention. Participants in the reflexology group received 20 minutes of reflexology, and the control group received 20 minutes of relaxation with a therapist holding each participant’s feet.


The outcome measures, HR and BP, were measured throughout mental stress testing intervention, and a second period of mental stress testing following intervention.


The study design was considered feasible. There were significant reductions in systolic blood pressure (SBP) (22%; P = .03) and in diastolic blood pressure (DBP) (26%; P = .01) during mental stress following reflexology compared to the stress period prior to intervention. In contrast, there was a 10% reduction in SBP (P = .03) but a 5% increase in DBP (P = .67) during the period of mental stress following the control intervention compared to results obtained during mental stress prior to this intervention. However, there were no significant differences between reflexology and control groups.


This study has demonstrated the feasibility of conducting an experimental study on the effect ofreflexology in stress using BP as the primary outcome measure. Results from such a study would address the lack of high-quality evidence for the physiological effects of reflexology.


US National Library of MedicineNational Institutes of Health

Filed under: Reflexology Research


A new Functional MRI Scanning trial has been done, furthering the proof that Reflexology really does have effect on the body and the brain. The trial paper is titled:
Activity in the primary somatosensory c…ortex induced by reflexological stimulation is unaffected by pseudo-information: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study.
These findings suggest that a robust relationship exists between neural processing of somatosensory percepts for reflexological stimulation and the tactile sensation of a specific reflex area.
Reflexology Footer from Hellas (Greece) “found” the link to the entire article and kindly shared it with Reflexology NZ, from where STS has shared from facebook. More

Filed under: Reflexology Research, Uncategorized


A fantastic new look at the origins of reflexology by Tony Porter





I don’t know about you, but I have never been satisfied with the ‘romantic’ origins of reflexology. It has always been accepted that its origins were from ancient China or Egypt. After all there is the ‘proof’ from an illustration from the physicians tomb at Saqqara Egypt purporting to shown a reflexology treatment. The Chinese we are lead to believe were the discoverers of the meridians and acupuncture This is something that like you, I have always believed and respected as rock-solid proof. So we also assumed that reflexology was discovered by the Chinese. Although I believed this to be true, a little voice inside, made me think is this so? Many years ago I had the opportunity to visit China and through family connections I was introduced to eminent people in the field of acupuncture. One of these was a charming lady, Dr Susan Wong. Dr Wong was the head of the Chinese acupuncture association. I was invited to take afternoon tea with her and inevitably I broached the subject of the Chinese origins of acupuncture. (You can see me with her on the Archive page) I fully expected her to tell me that reflexology originated in China, imagine my surprise when she told me that this was not so! She went on to explain that the feet, because of their bad energy were not looked upon as portals to any kind of therapy using the hands, with the exception of massage of the feet in bathhouses to help with insomnia. I was so interested and at the same time pleased to hear this, here was a true kindred spirit!  This meeting lead to another – a medical doctor and acupuncturist  in a hospital some distance away, which meant travelling in a rickety old bus full of farmers taking animals to market. The doctor spoke perfect English, which was due to the fact of him working in America for a few years. He also confirmed what Dr. Wong told me – that reflexology did not originate in China. He went on to describe in great detail about the fact that reflexology was comparatively new to China and many other interesting points of information.
Before going further , I wish to make an important point, which is – just because a picture from an Egyptian tomb shows somebody touching or holding a toe, does not mean they are performing reflexology! I do know the true origins of this illustration, because it was me who got the translation and a description of what they were doing from the British Museum many years ago. I can tell you it was not reflexology!  OTZI THE ICEMAN This leads to something even more intriguing which is the case of Otzi the iceman. Otzi is the name of a valley in the Tyrolean Alps in Austria. In 1991 a group of climbers came across a body on the mountain, it was so well preserved by being entombed in ice they assumed it to be the body of a dead skier. When it had been examined by experts it became evident that it was not the body of a modern – day skier, but a corpse who had died at least 5,300 years ago! Examination showed it be a male body of European race. There was something which puzzled the experts, which was the evidence of strange tattoos on the skin. These were not usual tattoos, but rather lines and dots which intersected at certain points. Dr Leopold Darter, president of the Austrian Society of Acupuncture noted that most of the tattoos were on specific acupuncture meridians and points. Of interest was the fact that out of the fifteen groups of tattoos, nine were on the Urinary Bladder meridian points, many of these were on his back where Otzi could not have possibly put them. Dr Darter implied that owing to the location of the points, the tattoos were made for therapeutic purposes. Forensic analysis of Otzi revealed that he suffered from arthritis and injury to the hip joints, lumbar spine and ankles. Nine of the fifteen tattoo lines were on the Urinary Bladder meridian, which is a meridian commonly used to treat back pain in acupuncture. There were also cross shaped tattoos on UB60 (Urinary Bladder acupuncture point) this is considered as the ‘Master Point’ for treating back pain. Another surprising piece of evidence was discovered. Forensic testing revealed that his intestines were filled with worm eggs, which would have caused him severe abdominal pain. Some of the other tattoos were located on points associated with gall bladder, spleen, and liver meridians. These points are traditionally used to treat stomach disorders. This meant that somebody with a great knowledge of the energy channels of the body (meridians) put these tattoos on Otzi’s body to show him where to apply pressure to help alleviate the pain of his ailments. The astonishing fact is that carbon dating showed the tattoos were put on the body at least 2,000 years before the earliest known evidence of the use of acupuncture in China! This, to me was the final part of the puzzle and something I had suspected. The knowledge of where to apply pressure, either with fingers, sticks, knives is part of universal knowledge. After all did we have to be told whether to press or whether to rub or apply static pressure to alleviate pain in our bodies? No of course not, it is instinctive knowledge.  My feeling is that this knowledge became instinctively known by ‘sensitive’ individuals since mankind began to walk the Earth, and gradually built up to such a degree where they could be mapped on the body. I have gone into this subject in more detail in my forthcoming book on ART reflexology. I hope you found this of interest.
Tony Porter  Tony Porter Reflexology
Filed under: Uncategorized