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Also known as zone therapy, reflexology is an alternative medical practice in which pressure is applied to specific points on the patient's feet, hands, and ears, generally using thumb, finger, and hand massage techniques without the use of oil.

Similar to Ayurveda, Shiatsu, and acupressure in some ways, reflexology is based on a system of zones and reflex areas that are believed to reflect an image of the body no the hands and feet, under the premise that applying pressure to points on the hands and feet will result in a physical change in the corresponding areas of the body, thus promoting healing.

Reflexology is an alternative form of medicine that involves the application of pressure or the massaging of specific points of the hands, feet, and ears, usually without the use of oil or lubricants. This is accomplished using a few thumb, finger, and hand techniques.

Although contemporary techniques may differ in significant ways, the origins of reflexology are ancient, with evidence of its practice in ancient Egypt, India, and China. Aboriginal Australians are believed to have practiced a form of reflexology more than sixty thousand years ago.

The first published European written account of what would later become known as reflexology was published by Doctors Adamus and A'tatis in 1582, and entitled, "Zone Therapy." Another book on the subject was published by Dr. Bell in Germany during the same time frame.

The practice was first termed "reflexology" in the 1800s, and physicians in Russia and the Middle East often used the application of pressure or the massaging of certain points of the hands, ears, and head to relieve pain, discomfort, and tension. Dr. Ivan Pavlov and Dr. Vladimir Bekhterev were pioneers in the modern field of reflexology.

However, in the English-speaking world was forgotten or not widely known until its rediscovery by Dr. William Hope Fitzgerald at the turn of the 20th century Dr. Fitzgerald introduced reflexology to the United States in 1913, and Dr. Edwin F. Bowers carried on with his work. Others included Dr. Eunice Ingham, a student of Dr. Fitzgerald, and her nephew, Dwight Byers, who organized the International Institute of Reflexology.

In many countries, including the United States, reflexology is not considered a legitimate medical discipline by conventional standards. In the United Kingdom, the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council coordinates reflexology through a voluntary system in which registered reflexologists must abide by the Council's proficiency standards. The Reflexology Association of Canada registers reflexologists in all provinces, but the Canadian government does not recognize them.

The Danish and Norwegian governments recognize reflexology, which is integrated into the national healthcare system.

There is no standard conclusion among reflexologists as to how reflexology works, although a unifying theme is an idea that there are areas on the foot that correspond to those of the body and that manipulating these can result in health benefits.

For many reflexologists, the practice is integrated with various energy therapies that hold that through the manipulation of specific areas of the feet, hands, and ears, blockages to the flow of an invisible life force (qi) can be removed, bringing the body back into balance, promoting healing. To others, reflexology is more physical, in that stress and pain can be relieved through manipulations due to the release of endorphins.

Many people use reflexology in conjunction with other treatments, while a few will turn to reflexology instead of conventional treatments.

Reflexology is considered safe when it doesn't delay conventional treatments for serious diseases or disorders.

Reflexology is often used as a complementary therapy in the treatment of headaches, anxiety, nervous disorders, sinusitis, asthma, diabetes, eating disorders, obesity, kidney disorders, penile dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, but it should not be used to diagnose or cure serious health issues or disorders on its own. Reflexology is safe and may be effective when used in conjunction with conventional medicine and in consultation with a medical doctor or healthcare advisor. It may also be used as a preventative measure and to relieve stress.



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