Reflexology is a specialized form of massage which proponents claim can heal a variety of diseases. Basically, this therapy has two forms: foot reflexology (the more popular type), and hand reflexology. Both are known as zone therapy, a term coined by Dr. William Fitzgerald over 80 years ago.

The system was later popularized by Dr. Edwin F. Bowers and taken by a masseuse, Eunice Ingham. She developed the so-called "Ingham Reflex Method of Compression," according to Mark Bricklin in The Practical Encyclopedia of Natural Healing.

How does reflexology work? Advocates claim it eliminates toxins or poisonous substances from the body that make people sick.

To do this, a reflexologist stimulates certain parts of the body (like the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet) that supposedly correspond to internal organs. Unlike the acupuncturist who uses needles, the reflexologist uses his or her own hands – he or she rubs, massages and applies deep pressure to specific points of the body to relieve certain symptoms.

The roster of diseases reflexology can supposedly cure is endless. It includes appendicitis, asthma, bronchitis, bladder problems, sinusitis, diabetes, deafness, epilepsy, goiter, heart disorders, infections, strokes, pneumonia and some say even cancer.

Unfortunately, experts say "scientific studies (of reflexology) have not shown any positive value beyond the power of suggestion."

Even Bricklin, executive editor of Prevention magazine that promotes natural healing, has his own doubts.

"I have heard one or two doctors say that they have been able to achieve some success using foot reflexology. but that is not much to go by. I personally don't know anyone who has been treated by a reflexologist, although in a news¬paper account, the writer did admit that one definite result of treatment was that his feet were very sore," he narrated.

The system, however, may work for people who need nothing more than a good massage. Good holistic methods, after all, are effective in treating maladies with no specific medical cure. These include anxiety, stress, hysterical paralysis and high blood pressure.

"Reflexology treatments can be very pleasant and relaxing, and there are no potentially contaminated needles to worry about. If pain and discomfort are relieved at a moderate cost and without sidetracking a person from adequate medical care, a useful service is being performed," said Kurt Butler and Dr. Lynn Rayner of the University of Hawaii in The Best Medicine.

To this, Bricklin added, "In any case, with personal experimentation and the experiences of acquaintances. I cannot say that I have found any of the principles of foot reflexology to be helpful to any specific body part. On the other hand, I must admit that, personally, I find nothing so totally relaxing and invigorating as a brisk massage of the entire foot."

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Author's Bio: 

Sharon Bell is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and published author. Many of her insightful articles can be found at the premier online news magazine