The origins of Reflexology evidently reach back to ancient Egypt as evidenced by
inscriptions found in the physician’s tomb at Saqqara in Egypt. The
translation of the hieroglyphics are as follows: “Don’t hurt me.”

The practitioner’s reply:- ” I shall act so you praise me. ” We
cannot determine the exact relationship between the ancient art as practiced by
the early Egyptians and Reflexology as we know it today. Different forms of
working the feet to effect health have been used all over the ancient world. Dr.

Riley maintained that this form of healing spread from Egypt via the Roman

Empire. The Zone Theory was the precursor to modern Reflexology which began with

Dr. William H. Fitzgerald, M.D. whom Dr. Edwin Bowers, M.D., encouraged to
publish the many articles he had written on the subject of Zone Analgesia. In
the forward to their combined book, “Relieving Pain At Home” published
in, 1917, he wrote, “Humanity is awakening to the fact that sickness, in a
large percentage of cases, is an error – of body and mind”. How true this
has proved to be. Dr. Fitzgerald, was an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist working
at the Boston City Hospital, as well as at St Francis Hospital in Connecticut.

He called his work Zone Analgesia where pressure was applied to the
corresponding bony eminence or to the zones corresponding to the location of the
injury. He also used pressure points on the tongue, palate and the back of the
pharynx wall in order to achieve the desired result of pain relief or analgesia.

He made use of the following tools: elastic bands, clothes pegs and aluminum
combs, on the hands, surgical clamps for the tongue, nasal probes and a regular
palpebral retractor for the pharynx, He was responsible for formulating the
first chart on the longitudinal zones of the body. Dr. Fitzgerald discovered a
very interesting fact, that the application of pressure on the zones not only
relieved pain but in the majority of cases also relieved the underlying cause as
well. The same result is experienced through Reflexology today, which is based
partially on the Zone Theory. Dr. Shelby Riley, M.D. worked closely with Dr.

Fitzgerald and developed the Zone Theory further. It seems that he added
horizontal zones across the hands and feet, together with the longitudinal zones
and thus determining individual reflexes according to the Zone Theory. He, like

Fitzgerald, espoused continual pressure on the reflex or point of contact.

Eunice D. Ingham, a Physical Therapist, worked closely with Dr. Riley and was
fascinated by the concept of Zone Therapy and started developing her foot reflex
theory in the early 1930’s. She had the opportunity to treat hundreds of
patients where each reflex point of contact had been carefully and thoughtfully
checked and rechecked until with all confidence she was able to determine that
the reflexes on the feet were an exact mirror image of the organs of the body.

Dr. Riley encouraged her to write her first book entitled “Stories The Feet

Can Tell” where she documented her cases and carefully mapped out the
reflexes on the feet as we know them today. This book was published in 1938 and
was later translated into seven foreign languages which spread the benefits of

Reflexology way beyond the borders of the States. The confusion between

Reflexology and Zone Therapy started at this point because the foreign publisher
changed the name of Eunice’s book, ” The Stories The Feet Can Tell”
to “Zone Therapy” and in some parts of the world it is still thought
of as Zone Therapy. However, there is a distinct difference between the two
therapies. Zone Therapy relies solely on the zones to determine the area to be
worked, whereas Reflexology takes the zones as well as the anatomical model to
determine the area or areas to be worked. After the publication of her book

Eunice Ingham found herself on the program at many health seminars. She traveled
around the country giving book reviews. Only sick and dilapidated people
attended these book reviews/ seminars where she would teach people by working on
them and discuss their particular health problems. As these sick people, whom
everyone else had given up on, got better the word spread and Reflexology became
better known amongst the medical fraternity as well as lay people. In the late

50’s Dwight Byers started helping Eunice Ingham at her seminars. In 1961 Dwight

Byers and his sister Eusebia Messenger, RN joined their Aunt Eunice teaching at
seminars on a full time basis. Seven years later they became responsible for the
continued teaching of Reflexology under the banner of The National Institute of

Reflexology. In the mid 70’s Eusebia retired and Dwight Byers formed The

International Institute of Reflexology®, where the theories and techniques of

Reflexology were further refined. Eunice Ingham died in 1974 at the age of 85
still thoroughly convinced that Reflexology could aid in easing the suffering of
mankind. She was on the road with that message until the age of 80. Eunice

Ingham’s undisputable contributions to the world of Reflexology are as
follows: What is reflexology? Reflexology is the application of pressure,
stretch and movement to the feet and hands to effect corresponding parts of the
body. Reflexologists view the feet and hands as a mirror image of the body. By
applying technique a reflexologist can break up patterns of stress in other
parts of the body. Stress is a barrier to the body’s return to a normal state of

How does reflexology work? There are many theories but in our approach we look
at the nervous system as the explanation of reflexology’s working. Pressure
applied to the feet generates a signal through the peripheral nervous system.

From there it enters the central nervous system where it is processed in various
parts of the brain. It is then relayed to the internal organs to allocate the
necessary adjustments in fuel and oxygen, Finally a response is fashioned that
is sent onto the motor system. This message is feed forward to adjust the body’s
tone or overall tension level. If applied properly the tone will reset itself to
a lower operating tempo. A lower operating tempo means a lessening of stress and
less wear and tear on the body’s systems.
************************************************************ Where do you apply
technique? We apply techniques to the feet and hands. There is a school of
thought that also applies it to the ear arguing it is also reflexology. The
techniques, however, are modified from auricular therapy, an acupuncture
technique. It could be argued that all bodywork is reflexive therefore
reflexology. We find that the extremities have a powerful influence because of
locomotion. While we acknowledge that repeated patterns exist throughout the
body we find our most effective focus to be the feet and hands.
************************************************************ What are the
benefits of reflexology ? In general terms the benefits of reflexology have to
do with the reduction of stress. Because the feet and hands help set the tension
level for the rest of the body they are an easy way to interrupt the stress
signal and reset homeostasis, the body’s equilibrium. Whether reflexology can
benefit certain conditions and diseases in still under investigation. Further
scientific study need to be done in order to come to some definite benefits of
reflexology in regard to illness and disease. Reflexology is a complement to
standard medical care. It should not be construed as medical advice. It should
not be a replacement to medical help. Please use it wisely. We care about your
safety. When should I do reflexology ? Reflexology can be done practically
anytime and any where. The trick is consistency. We have been impressed with the
results from China. Their secret seems to be that they do reflexology once a day
for six days in two week segments. Then they review the results and do more
segments as necessary. This requires self help and family help as well as the
guidance of practitioners. The practitioner can give you a quality signal to
break up the pattern of stress but you and your family can provide the quantity
to help break it up. Build reflexology into your life. It is easy to do
reflexology well doing other activities. Put a foot roller under your desk or
work your hands while waiting for the kids at school. Be creative but be
consistent. Five minutes a day is worth more than an hour once in awhile. How
can I learn more? We have designed a number of books with you in mind. If you
are looking for self help try Hand and Foot Reflexology: A Self Help Guide. If
you want to work on your child try Parent’s Guide to Reflexology. If you would
like to learn to be a reflexologist try Complete Guide to Foot Reflexology
(Revised 1993) and Hand Reflexology Workbook. If you are interested in research
try “Medical Applications of Reflexology, Findings in Research about

Safety, Efficacy, Mechanism of Action and Cost Effectiveness of

Reflexology” and Reflexions- the Journal of Reflexology Research Project.

Who does reflexology? There are a variety of people doing reflexology from
concerned parents to doctors in China. It is a useful tool for a variety of
situations. Many professions have taken up reflexology from cosmetologists to
nurses. Reflexology is now being introduced into hospitals and HMO’s. It is even
being considered for insurance reimbursement. There are full time professionals
doing reflexology. We think the future looks bright for reflexology and the
profession of reflexology. What should I expect from a reflexology session?

Reflexology sessions in general last from 30 minutes to an hour. It is a clothed
session with only the removal of shoes and socks as a requirement. (Some massage
therapists add it as a part of a overall massage session so they will require
the removal of additional clothing.) Reflexologist will use a chair and at times
a table. Some do use oil. However, this is a tool that is debated within the
profession. Dry technique is common. Reflexologists use pressure, stretch and
movement to work through the foot methodically. The whole foot should be worked
in most circumstances. Both feet should be covered as well. The reflexologist
should work within your comfort zone. Too much pressure can actually be harmful
and could lead to injury. But personal preference is something you should
communicate with your reflexologist. If you indicate that too much pressure is
being used and the practitioner continues we suggest you stop the session. You
should always have your wishes respected. Do not rely on a reflexologist for
medical help. The reflexologist is limited to complementing medicine not
replacing it. You should feel relaxation at the end of a session. How long that
relaxation lasts is a good indicator of the effectiveness of the session. Make
note of this. And tell your reflexologist your response to the session. This can
be helpful information. Finally enjoy the session. Be careful that talking
doesn’t interfere with the relaxation effect. Discussing world politics is
probably something best left to another time. Are there scientific studies?

There are many studies on reflexology. The rush is now on to test the
effectiveness on certain disorders. The jury is far from in but we have compiled
some of the findings in “Medical Applications of Reflexology, Findings in

Research about Safety, Efficacy, Mechanism of Action and Cost Effectiveness of

Reflexology”. If you are looking for a specific problem and whether there
has been testing try We
also have a search engine at

There are pages with listings at
and and
/faq.html But browse around. There are lots of research here. And more to come.

So bookmark this site and come back often. What is Reflexology Research Project?

Reflexology Research Project is a project started in 1979 to forward the field
of reflexology as a scientific method. We have written 6 books and have done

Reflexions- the Journal of Reflexology Research Project since 1980. We continue
to actively promote research and the scientific study of reflexology on a
worldwide basis. We maintain two web sites with two more in the works, Our sites
are and

Research Answers a Sixty Year-Old Question for Reflexologists What does
reflexology do? For some sixty years, reflexologists have theorized about the
effects on the body caused by reflexology. Since the publication of Eunice

Ingham’s Stories the Feet Can Tell in 1938, the mantra of the practice has been
that reflexology relaxes tension, normalizes gland and organ function, and
improves circulation. Recent research has upheld such contentions and shown
reflexology to be effective in several other areas. (Numbers in parentheses
refer to controlled studies listed on Controlled Studies on Reflexology ) A
survey of reflexology research shows that reflexology work not only achieves
results in these areas but also helps in other ways such as reduction of pain,
improvement in effectiveness of medication, and avoiding side effects of drug
therapy while achieving results. Reflexology normalizes gland and organ function
• Women who have recently given birth lactate earlier and more satisfactorily
when given foot reflexology work. (21) • 95% of women who experience
amenorrhea find foot reflexology to be effective. (2) • Reflexology improves
the symptoms of 46% of those suffering from PMS. (24) • Reflexology was found
to be 87.5% of men experiencing impotence and 100% effective for other male
sexual dysfunctions. (26) • Individuals who receive foot reflexology show an
improvement in symptoms of hyperlipimia (cholesterol and monoglyceride). (16)
• Individuals who have received lithotrity (external mechanical impact on
kidney or ureter stones) expel the fragmented stones more quickly with foot
reflexology work. (28) •Symptoms of coronary heart disease (chest distress and
angina) disappear in those receiving foot reflexology work as well as causing a
drop in blood pressure of 25/5, results better than those achieved with
medication. (9) • Not only do constipated individuals evacuate their bowels
more quickly when receiving reflexology work but individuals with normal bowel
function do also. (8) • “The reflexology and foot massage control groups
experienced a significantly greater reduction in baroreceptor reflex
sensitivity,…” “the mechanism that maintains blood pressure and
homeostasis by changes in autonomic outflow.” (3) • Children with
cerebral palsy who received reflexology work showed an improved growth rate over
those who did not. (4) • Mentally retarded children were shown to improve
significantly in height, weight, health states, social living abilities, and
intellectual development when receiving foot reflexology as opposed to those not
receiving treatment. (7) • Individuals with cervical spondylosis were found to
experience a higher clinical cure rate than those treated with traction. (5) •

Foot reflexology work was found to decrease the free radicals present in test
subjects. (14) Reflexology reduces pain • Reflexology work reduces the pain of
those with kidney and ureter stones. (20) • Reflexology reduced the pain of

66% toothache patients as well eliminating the symptoms of 26%. (27) Reflexology
reduces use of medication • 19% of headache sufferers ceased taking medication
following reflexology work. (15) Reflexology aids recovery • Lithotrity
(external crushing of kidney and ureter stones) patients experienced less pain,
began excretion of stones earlier, and completed excretion earlier than those
who did not receive reflexology work. (18) Reflexology is safer than
conventional treatment • Reflexology work was found to be more effective and
safer than the standard treatment of catheterization in patients with uroschesis,
retention of urine following surgery. (30) Reflexology saves employer money •

Reflexology saved on Danish employer US$3,300 a month in fewer sick days for
employees in addition to improving the work environment. (31) Reflexology
indicators of disorder • The feet of mentally retarded children were found to
be of abnormal color and show abnormal shapes in toes as opposed to other
children. (6) Reflexology is an overall health enhancement, manual,
complementary, biological, integrative health science, through which an exercise
pressure is applied to reflex areas, formed by 7,200 nerve endings in each hand
and foot, encouraging improved instruction to each and every single gland, organ
and part of the body, Thus Persuading the body to biologically correct,
strengthen, and reinforce itself, to reach balance, normalization, and
homeostasis. Thus, by working on one part of the body (foot area) there is an
effect on another. The goals of reflexology are to re-educate, re-pattern and
re-condition the nerves through the neural/electrical system of the body. This
will cause four reactions: To relax a particular area of the body through a
highly specialized specific relaxation. technique. To improve nerve, blood and
lymphatic supply. To persuade the body to biologically correct itself. To allow
the body to reach homeostasis. Reflexology is not a belief system, but a health
practice without contraindications. This is a safe, effective and reliable
process, and a no risk therapy because it is persuasive, not invasive. A
four-step program will: Stop further deterioration Persuade the body to
biologically correct itself. Strengthen and reinforce all systems in the body

Continue the body’s maintaining balance (good health). What Reflexology does not
do A Reflexologist is NOT a doctor. A Reflexologist is NOT a massage therapist A

Reflexologist NEVER prescribes or diagnoses A reflexology session is to be
exclusively reflexology. It should NEVER incorporate any other professional
practice during the reflexology session. Reflexology CANNOT cause health
problems. There are NO contraindications with reflexology. Reflexology CANNOT
give or take anything away from the body. Reflexology does not increase,
decrease, replace, alter or over stimulate the body’s functioning abilities.

WHAT REFLEXOLOGY DOES? Reflexology allows the body to self-correct, and to do
for itself. Every time a person has his/her feet worked on, it is an
examination, an evaluation, or a re-evaluation. This is accomplished through
first doing a visual observation, and then by applying an exercise pressure upon
relax areas to achieve a specific, highly specialized relaxation in that area of
the body. This improves the nerve, blood, and lymphatic supply. The entire foot
is assessed; and throughout the session, whenever a trouble (sore) spot shows
up, more time is spent on that area of the foot reflex. By working on that area,
the corresponding part of the body receives improved nerve, blood and lymphatic
supply, in addition to working all 12 systems of the body: cardio-vascular,
central nervous, digestive, endocrine, immune, lymphatic, muscular,
reproductive, respiratory, sensory, skeletal, and urinary. The purpose of the
nerves is to carry messages and instruct the body. When the nerves improve that
instruct the body, the instruction has to improve, the body has to improve.

Every nerve in the body begins and ends in the hands and feet. By applying this
specialized exercise pressure on the foot, the outcome is improved instruction
to each and every part of the body, resulting in a re-educating, a
re-patterning, and a re-conditioning of the nerveS instruction through the
reflex/neutral electrical system of the body. The purpose of the blood is to
transport nutrition, glucose, and oxygen to all parts of the body. The blood
travels approximately 168,000 miles per day to supply about 60 trillion cells in
the body. The heart pumps about 103,000 times per day. It is in the hands and
feet that blood transfers from arteries to veins to return back to the heart.

This is the reason why the feet must be flexible and dexterous. Stress, which
can be responsible for 80 percent to 90 percent of ailments, can act like a
tourniquet, wrapping around the body, squeezing so tightly that it causes an
impediment of blood flow which results in an ischemic condition. Since the
capillaries feed the functioning part of the body, we are only as healthy as our
capillaries. Again, by using this specific, highly specialized relaxation
technique, reflexology is able to relax a specific area of the body enough to
improve the blood supply to that area. This will then allow improved
transportation of the nutrition, glucose and oxygen which that area of the body
desperately needs to function or to regulate. It is essential to remember that
we are not only what we eat, we are what we supply to our cells, and then
assimilate. The purpose of the lymphatic system is to cleanse and purify the
body and lubricate the muscles. A healthy system is a cleansed system;
congestion is disease. The absence of balance in the body is disease. The
lymphatic system cannot cleanse or purify very well if it is weak, sick or
congested. A healthy persons body will rid itself of at least eight pounds or
toxic waste per day through the four channels of elimination: kidneys, bowels,
skin and the breath. The lymph flows in one direction only, toward the heart;
also every lymphatic vessel begins and ends in the hands and feet. By using this
specific, highly specialized relaxation technique (reflexology) we are
persuading the body to correct, strengthen, and reinforce itself. Imagine a
healthy body that has a strong and well-toned nerve, blood and lymphatic supply.

Reflexology, which is not invasive but persuasive, can enable the body to obtain
and maintain this healthy condition. In essence, healthy, strong feet are
attached to a healthy, strong body – Doctor Left Foot and Doctor Right Foot, if
you will. DIFFERENT LAWS OF REFLEXOLOGY DEFINED The law of evidence: same as the
method used by conventional medicine, dealing with the scientifically proven,
that which is measurable by physicians; i.e. Glucose, blood pressure, etc.
(Note: pain is not measurable.) The law of the understood: the body has a built
in self-correcting system. The law of similars: whatever is happening inside the
body is identical and similar at the end of the nerves in both hands and the
feet. In other words, the symptoms of swelling and tenderness anywhere in your
body will be duplicated in that related foot reflex area to the same degree as

Professional techniques lie in expert evaluations and assessment by the
practitioner: the ability to tie in the identity of the reflex area to that
specific gland, organ, or single part of the body. A Reflexologist does not see
just the hands and feet of a client; they see the entire body with the 12
systems mapped out in the hands and feet. The reflex area of the body is
treated, not the disease or condition. The author has pioneered the use of the
“cold-pack therapy” on swollen reflex areas in her reflexology center.

The concept behind the “cold-pack therapy” is reducing the pain and
swelling at the end of the nerves will reduce the pain and swelling in the
problem area of the body which corresponds to that particular reflex area. This
“cold-pack therapy” has been used with different dentists while
performing route canals and dental work without any anesthesia. It was also used
on an 18-year-old client before, during, and after his tonsillectomy. By working
with the law of evidence, we would document the condition of the client. Proper
tests would be conducted by the physician before the client begins reflexology
and then again after a clients condition has improved, as evidenced by identical
tests given by the medical professional, thereby establishing a documented case
study. This is the proving scientific ground for reflexology, allowing it to
receive the credit and status that it is due. Examples of this type of
documentation can be found in the video, Golden Hand of Reflexology, by Telepo.

1 Fortunately, the body as a whole is highly intelligent. Innately it knows what
to do, how to circulate blood, how to maintain health, etc. Reflexology simply
facilitates the different processes when a problem arises due to a person’s
lifestyle. It is a safe, no-risk, non-evasive but persuasive, highly effective
therapy. Its success can be seen in many case studies. Hence a most logical
conclusion would be that to maintain a healthy body. “reflexology” is
a necessity not a luxury. In broad terms, Reflexology is one of the alternative
healing arts and one of the modalitites which is considered
“bodywork.” Reflexology is considered both an art and a science – an
art beacuse the skill and technique of the practitioner can affect the result,
and a science because it has a physiological and neurological basis. RAC
supports the following definition: “The art and science of reflexing the
feet, hands and/or ears relative to maps and zones of the body with the
practitioner applying pressure with the thumb and fingers.” There are many
definitions about reflexology as there are reflexologists. Other organizations,
authors and practitioners have described Reflexology in vairous books and
articles and a sampling of their definitions are: “Reflexology is a unique
system of foot massage, based on holistic principles, which can treat and
prevent a wide variety of ailments. By locating and massaging the reflexology
points on the foot, which relate to different parts of the body, we can redress
the imbalance of energy that can cause stress and ill health…”


The Complete Illustrated Guide to Reflexology, Inge Dougans, Element Books,

1996. “Reflexology: 1. The ananlysis of motor behavior in terms of
component simple and comples reflexes. 2. The study of neurophysiological
mechanisms of reflexes in general…” ~International Dictionary of Medicine
and Biology, 1986. “Reflexology: 1. A system of massaging specific areas of
the foot or sometimes the hand in order to promote healing, relieve stress,
etc., in other parts of the body. 2. medically, the study of reflex movements
and processes…”