Reflexology reduces arm swelling in women with breast-cancer related lymphoedema

The team of researchers from Cardiff Met’s Complementary Healthcare Clinicmeasured a reduction in the volume of the affected arm – across the group the average percentage difference was 36%. Initial indications suggest that this reduction may be sustained for up to six months....In addition, the researchers recorded a significant increase in patient wellbeing with comments highlighting less pain, more movement and a boost in body image. Click here to read more


According to a recent study, 74% of MD's delivering "anesthesia" want to learn Acupressure.Since reflexology has these great results in pain management, and is in some ways similar to acupressure, though lesser known, you can ask your MD* to refer you for reflexology, even though at this time reflexology is only covered by some HSA (Health Savings Accounts), PIP, and in some cases, L&I.  There is a clause in the IRS code that indicates reflexology may very well be taken as a medical deduction: "Payments of fees to doctors, dentists, surgeons, chiropractors, psychiatrists, psychologists,and nontraditional medical practitioners.Best to check with your tax advisor  or accountant as to their interpretation of this ​

*ask your insurance company to cover reflexology, and ask any medical facilities you visit to offer reflexology and other CAM modalities. Of the 24% of hospitals in America offering CAM modalities, 85% say it's due to "patient demand". See my article "The future of Integrative Medicine may be in your hands" here

REFLEXOLOGY INCREASES BLOOD FLOW TO ORGANS RESEARCH STUDYBY M. PIQUEMAL, M.D., E.E. Global Effect of Reflexology on Blood Flow Research Study By M. Piquemal, M.D., E.E. “The mechanism of action of reflexology seems to act by blood flow redistribution of the autonomic nervous system using presumably a higher integrative nervous structure. Therefore, reflexology appears to be, at least for these five organs [lung, liver, stomach, pancreas, small intestines], a good therapy for regulating functional blood flow disturbance to these inner organs.”   Click here to read more 

Reflexology reduces feelings of pain -   excerpts from the Univ. of Portsmouth website

Reflexology may be as effective as painkillers, according to a small study carried out by the University of Portsmouth.

Researchers have found that people felt about 40 per cent less pain, and were able to stand pain for about 45 per cent longer, when they used reflexology as a method of pain relief.

Dr Ebenezer said: “Complementary and alternative therapies come in for a lot of criticism, and many have never been properly tested scientifically. One of the common criticisms 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 the first time this widely used therapy has been scientifically tested as a treatment for acute pain, meaning it may be used to complement conventional drug therapy in the treatment of conditions associated with pain such as osteoarthritis, backache and cancers.   Click here to read more from the University site  


     Determination of efficacy of reflexology in managing patients with diabetic neuropathy: a randomized controlled clinical trial.....

     The outcome measures were pain reduction, glycemic control, nerve conductivity, and thermal and vibration sensitivities....Reflexology group showed more improvements in all outcome measures than those of control subjects with statistical significance.

     Conclusion. This study exhibited the efficient utility of reflexology therapy integrated with conventional medicines in managing diabetic neuropathy. Click here to read more 

Health-Related Quality-of-Life Outcomes: A Reflexology Trial With Patients With Advanced-Stage Breast Cancer   A NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH (NIH) STUDY, Lead researcher: Dr. Gwen Wyatt Design:

Longitudinal, randomized clinical trial conducted at 13 community-based medical oncology clinics with a convenience sample of 385 predominantly Caucasian women with advanced-stage breast cancer receiving chemotherapy and/or hormonal therapy.

Conclusions: Reflexology may be added to existing evidence-based supportive care to improve HRQOL* for patients with advanced-stage breast cancer during chemotherapy and/or hormonal therapy

Implications for Nursing: Reflexology can be recommended for safety and usefulness in relieving dyspnea and enhancing functional status among women with advanced-stage breast cancer. Click here to read more

*HRQOL= Health related quality of life 

LF note: Studies done with animals and infants tend to rule out the possibility of "the placebo effect"


Title: The Effect of Foot Reflexology on Acute Pain in Infants: A Randomized Controlled Trial

AIM: This study was a randomized controlled trial designed to evaluate the effect of foot reflexology applied on infants on acute pain that may arise after vaccine injection.

RESULTS: ...A statistically significant difference was observed between the mean FLACC pain scores of infants in the reflexology and control groups (p = .000). The infants in the reflexology group also had lower heart rates, higher oxygen saturation, and shorter crying periods than the infants in the control group (p <.001).

LINKING EVIDENCE TO ACTIONS: Reflexology before vaccine reduced the pain level experienced after vaccination....Click here to read more


While there are hundreds of "qualitative" reflexology trials for everything from asthma to headaches to prostate problems to sciatica (see links on my "About Reflexology" page, found here), the studies below are highlighted because they are structured more in line with what medical professionals are looking for in measurable results.  That's not to say that the many "anecdotal" results aren't valid -- because when "x" percentage of participants who've had "x" session of reflexology report a disappearance or reduction of symptoms, that's noteworthy to all of us...especially those for whom the reflexology has provided relief.   

Published in American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology:  

Randomized Controlled Study of Premenstrual Symptoms Treated with Ear, Hand and Foot Reflexology by Terry Oleson PhD and Bill Flocco. Copy this url below for the PDF


"Research in the field of reflexology began for Dr. Manzanares with a focus on three primary goals that he accomplished:

1. to explain the neuro-physiological basis (the nervous system pathways for reflexology);

2. to determine specific anatomical location of the reflex areas of feet (developing precision mapping of the foot-to-body connection over 27 years on 70,000 clinical cases);

3. and finally, to establish reflexology protocols for pathologies. 

Further research includes biopsy studies to determine the characteristics of the tissue in the feet for areas referred to as ‘deposits’; crossed reflex representation in the feet to bring precision and correction to the Fitzgerald zone theory, research using reflexology for ADHD and research concluding the beneficial effects of reflexology for hypertension."

Dr. Manzanares' findings after years of biopsying patients' feet: "This anatomical-pathological study reveals the neuro biochemical character of reflexology. Deposits are formed by a net of hypodermic connective tissue with abundant neurovascular elements. The presence of abundant nervous fibers in tissue with existent deposits supports the relationship between reflexology and the body’s neurological system."

Click here to read more on the "research" tab