Development of Reflexology

Write a detailed account of the history of Reflexology, and explain Zone therapy and its development. Throughout the history of mankind the feet have played an important role in healing practices. Reflexology is believed to date back to ancient times in several different civilisations. One of the most concrete proofs of this was the discovery of this wall painting in the tomb of Ankhmahor at Saqqara (on the left). This was also known as the physicians tomb, and depicts men receiving both hand and foot reflexology.

It has been dated at around 2330 BC. 1 There is also evidence of some kind of foot and hand therapy being practised in ancient Chinese cultures as far back as 4,000 BC,2 whilst the ancient Greeks were also believed to have practised this. Below is a picture of Tranion massaging Hippodemons foot. This has been dated at around 510 BC. 3 In India, 5000 years ago, the feet were believed to represent the unity of the entire universe. The Sanskrit symbols portrayed on the feet of Buddha were seen as expressions of a higher reality.

This is a line drawing of the left footprint at Pakhan-gyi, Union of Myanmar – the world’s largest footprint of Buddha. 4 By l00 A. D. Buddhism had spread to China where, with monks, Reflexology began to be more and more widely spread. Reflexology was practiced in China as part of acupuncture and moxibustion [The burning of moxa or other substances on the skin to treat diseases or to produce analgesia]. The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine describes it, where it is called the Examining Foot Method.

A Japanese monk studying in China is given credit for introducing reflexology to Japan upon his return home to Nara as a medical Practitioner. 5 There are several passages in the bible, particularly in the book of Corinthians that suggests certainly Paul, and probably other early Christians knew about reflexology. The Jewish tradition of washing the feet and anointing them with oil was believed to have significant medicinal purpose, as well as their traditional teachings related to humility and being of service.

The Native American Indians also separately developed techniques, which were based on very similar principles. Throughout the 16th Century several books were written on Zone Therapy, the most famous being Dr Adamus and Dr A’tatis, and another a little later by Dr Ball in Leipzig. In 1834 Heinrik Link, the man who lead the way for Swedish massage in modern society, noticed that pains in particular organs were linked with those on the surface of the skin, but that the exterior location and the internal organ seemed to be unrelated.

By the 1890s, Sir Henry Head (a doctor and research scientist in the UK) concluded that specific zones on the skin become overly sensitive to touch and pressure when an organ on the nerves pathway to the skin was infected, diseased or malfunctioning. He proved that there was a neurological connection between the skin and the body’s organs, and he began mapping areas of reflex zones on the back. This became known as ‘Head Zones’6. Also in the 1890s Ivan Pavlov & Vladimir Bekhterev (Russian Doctors) were exploring reflex responses in the body. Dr.

Pavlov introduced the ‘theory of conditioned reflexes’7. His theory says that there are straightforward and direct relationships between a stimulus and a response. He states that more or less any stimulus could create an equivalent conditioned response. The Russian awareness of zone therapy stemmed from this notion that a distressed organ is essentially getting wrong instructions originating from the brain. The aim then, of Russian zone therapy, was to break off this information and even potentially to send new instructions to the afflicted organ.

Germans were also investigating the potential of treating illness with massage and Dr Alfons Cornelius noted that pressure applied to specific areas of the body can trigger muscle contractions, an increase or decrease in blood pressure, variations in warmth and moisture in the body, as well as directly affecting the mental state and emotions of the patient. In 1902, he published a manuscript called ‘Pressure Points: the origin & Significance’, which explains how specific massage techniques can be applied to the “reflex zones” to successfully alleviate pain and disease8.

Development of Zone Therapy from Dr William Fitzgerald Dr. William Fitzgerald (Ear, nose, & throat surgeon) who had been studying in Vienna and London returned to the US in 1913 to introduce reflex therapy to America. Dr Edwin Bowers (a cynical medical writer) scrutinized Dr. Fitzgerald’s claims, but ended up finding the evidence to be so exciting that he jointly published a book with Fitzgerald called ‘Zone Therapy’ or ‘Relieving Pain at Home’.

Fitzgerald and Bowers claimed that by exerting pressure on particular areas of the body they could alleviate pain and improve productiveness of particular organs of the body. One of the research techniques that they used was to apply pressure with tight elastic bands to the middle of the each finger; or place small clips on the fingertips. They found that pressure applied to the fingertips would create a local anaesthetic from the hand, arm, & shoulder, all the way up to the face9. Dr. Fitzgerald even performed minor surgical operations, using only this method for anaesthesia.

Reflexology: Practicing Three Reflexology Techniques             For the past week I tried to perform three of the nine techniques and these are the following: first is the technique used on the respiratory system; second is the technique used on the …

Fitzgerald divides the body up into ten equal, vertical zones, ending in the fingers and toes. He theorised that pressure on one part of a zone would effect every other part of the body that lay within that particular zone. …

Main reflexes to work would be the prostate gland (to encourage balance and healing), the vas deferens and the testis (encourage balance and prevent spreading of the disease). Assisting Reflexes The first assisting reflex I would rework would be the …

‘Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities. As Alzheimer’s progresses, individuals may also experience changes in personality and behaviour, such as …

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