The following excerpts are taken from the Reflexology article posted on Wikipedia:
Reflexology, or zone therapy, is an alternative medicine involving the physical act of applying pressure to the feet, hands, or ears with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques. It is based on what reflexologists claim to be a system of zones and reflex areas that they say reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands, with the premise that such work effects a physical change to the body.
There is no consensus among reflexologists on how reflexology is supposed to work; a unifying theme is the idea that areas on the foot correspond to areas of the body, and that by manipulating these one can improve health through one’s Qi (chi). Reflexologists divide the body into ten equal vertical zones, five on the right and five on the left.
Concerns have been raised by medical professionals that treating potentially serious illnesses with reflexology, which has no proven efficacy, could delay the seeking of appropriate medical treatment. Reflexologists posit that the blockage of an energy field, invisible life force, or Qi (chi), can prevent healing.
Another tenet of reflexology is the belief that practitioners can relieve stress and pain in other parts of the body through the manipulation of the feet. One claimed explanation is that the pressure received in the feet may send signals that ‘balance’ the nervous system or release chemicals such as endorphins that reduce stress and pain. These hypotheses are rejected by the general medical community, who cite a lack of scientific evidence and the well-tested germ theory of disease.
Various versions of reflexology have been practiced. This has been documented on four continents: Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America. The most common theory is that the earliest form of reflexology originated in China, as much as 5000 years ago. The early Taoists are described as having originated many Chinese health practices.
Many changes took place in zone therapy, or reflexology, over the years. In China, the practice of acupressure using the fingers turned into the practice of acupuncture using needles. The belief in the reflex points still existed, but the practice was taken in a new direction with a new theory of claimed meridians. The Chinese concept of meridian therapy is a fundamental part of the claims of reflexology.
The precursor of current reflexology was introduced to the United States in 1913 by William H. Fitzgerald, M.D. (1872–1942), an ear, nose, and throat specialist, and Dr. Edwin Bowers. Fitzgerald claimed that applying pressure had an anesthetic effect on other areas of the body.
Reflexology was further modified in the 1930s and 1940s by Eunice D. Ingham (1889–1974), a nurse and physiotherapist. Ingham claimed that the feet and hands were especially sensitive, and mapped the entire body into “reflexes” on the feet. It was at this time that “zone therapy” was renamed reflexology.
Reflexologists in the United States and the United Kingdom often study Ingham’s theories first, although there are also more recently created methods.
On a personal note: My wife (Tonya K. Freeman) and I have studied, given and received foot reflexology. We find it to be an outstanding Complimentary Alternative Medicine modality which provides both comfort and healing. I strongly suggest that before you “write this off” as pure nonsense… that you try it for yourself.
Sign up for a series of reflex procedures from a highly trained and popularly recommended Reflexology practitioner. I believe that it will be a rewarding experience. Many thanks to our teacher, Joseph L. Jones, Jr (Yusuf Kaba Imhotep) – who is a compassionate and highly learned practitioner of Reflexology.
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