sampleResearches About Reflexology 

Masoud Jamshidian Reflexologist, MD
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Research studies in throughout the world indicate positive benefits of reflexology for different conditions. In particular, there are several well-designed studies, funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health that indicate reflexology's promise as an intervention to diminish pain and improve relaxation, sleep, and the reduction of psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression.

Perhaps the most advantageous results have been in the area of cancer palliation (Ernst, Posadzki, & Lee, 2010). Please keep in mind that all these researchers are clues for healthcare professionals to think and decide how to implement them in their professional careers. Before making any decision, ask your medical doctor and your certified Reflexologist about them.


Physiological Research

Using thermographic pictures of the soles of the feet before and after reflex therapy, along with similar images of the spinal column, Dr. Piquemal was able to show a change in the thermal pattern on the sole of the feet. This change was reflected on the skin of the back for each of the five selected [cutaneous] areas, which were already described as "zones."

The value of this research is that it relates reflexology work on the feet to blood flow of inner organs (lung, liver, stomach, pancreas, and small intestine), either through vasoconstriction or vasodilation via the autonomic nervous system. It seems that reflexology may be able to play a role in regulating blood flow disturbance, at least to these organs.
Kunz and Kunz have developed a summary of 168 research studies and abstracts from journals and conferences from around the world. Many of these studies originated in peer-reviewed journals in China and Korea. All of the studies had information about the frequency and duration of the reflexology application.
Based on the studies they reviewed, Kunz and Kunz identified four main effects that reflexology demonstrates:

   Reflexology has an impact on specific organs (e.g., fMRI readings showed an increase in blood flow to kidneys and the intestines)

can cause an amelioration of symptoms (e.g., positive changes were noted in kidney functioning with kidney dialysis patients)

creates a relaxation effect (e.g., EEGs measure alpha and theta waves, blood pressure was decreased, and anxiety was lowered)

aids in pain reduction (27 studies demonstrated a positive outcome for reduction in pain; e.g., AIDS, chest pain, peripheral neuropathy of diabetes mellitus, kidney stones, and osteoarthritis

Here are some research examples that show reflexology to be effective for a wide variety of health concerns.


Williamson et al. found that both reflexology and foot massage reduced anxiety and depression in postmenopausal women. In addition to this study, see the reviews listed under Cancer Treatment.

           Cancer Treatment

Evidence shows a reduction of pain, nausea, diarrhea or constipation, and improved quality of life with reflexology.
In a controlled study with 87 patients, Hodgson (2000) found 100% improvement in a reflexology group in quality of life categories of appearance, appetite, breathing, communication (with doctors, family,nurses),concentration, constipation/diarrhea, fear of future, isolation, mobility, mood, nausea, pain, sleep/tiredness. The placebo group reported 67.6% improvement in these categories.

 Some studies show a significant reduction in pain, nausea/vomiting, and fatigue with reflexology, and improved sleep and mood. In short, all four studies suggested beneficial effects of reflexology for women with breast cancer. The problem, according to the authors, is that the flaws in the studies jeopardize the validity of their results. The RCT was rigorous, but because of its study design, it was "unable to demonstrate specific therapeutic effects of reflexology" (p. 329). Kim and colleagues contend that the CCT results suffer from selection bias.


The key to the understanding of these studies, and to the interpretation of all of the studies discussed in this section, is that it is difficult to plan and execute a well-designed study that meets all of the parameters. These authors state that "the main limitations of the included studies were small sample sizes, inadequate control for nonspecific effects, a lack of power calculations, and short follow-up or treatment periods.


 One important thing is that our so-called Western scientific tools are not Necessarily enough to explore the exact mechanisms of traditional medicine. One of the main reason for high efficacy of traditional medicine is that its territory is the whole body including Spirit, Mind, and Physical body, and our current scientific methods are Not Enough to cover all these aspects of human body.

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Premenstrual Symptoms

According to many researchers, clinical findings support the use of your hand, ear and foot reflexology for the treatment of premenstrual symptoms like pain, depression, anorexia or desire for too much eating. 


Research evidence indicates that reflexology or nonspecific foot massage can be of great help to decrease the menopause symptoms like depression anxiety and hot flashes.  
Three typical symptoms that women can feel in peri-menopause and menopause are hot flashes, poor sleep, and anxiety. A study has been completed in Iran, studying the effect of Reflexology on menopausal women and showed a decrease in hot flushes and an improvement in sleep.  Reflexology has also been shown to significantly diminish stress associated with ‘an increased feeling of relaxation and a reduction in anxiety.

Tip for Pregnancy:

For all women of reproductive age, who attend for Reflexology, it is recommended to ask about their menstrual cycle. If they are unable to remember the date of their last period, if they think they may be pregnant or if they are actively trying to conceive, it is wise to manage them as if they are pregnant, with appropriate therapeutic cares.
Women with a history of previous abortion need to be treated very carefully.
They may want the soothing effect of a hand-operated therapy, as they will feel very anxious, but it may be wise only to perform simple foot massage and reflexology relaxation techniques.

            Enlargement of Prostate

According to ultrasonographic examinations performed before and after reflexology in patients with hyperplasia of the prostate, it shows that some decrease in size and improvement in symptoms and signs can be achieved as a result of reflexology.


 Cardiovascular System

Frankel  conducted a pilot study to identify the effects of reflexology and foot massage on the physiology of the body, measuring baroreceptor reflex sensitivity and the link between pressure to the feet, as well as the baroreceptors of the heart (neurons).

Diabetes Type II 

Ying conducted a controlled research study on reflexology and blood flow in patients with Type II Diabetes. Pre- and post-session, blood flow rate, time and acceleration were tested by Doppler ultrasonic equipment. Results showed that the blood flow improved for 20 patients receiving reflexology (there were 15 patients of normal health in the control group). This is a small sample, however.