Reflexology For Depression – A Good Fit?

An ancient Egyptian pictograph depicting four figures practicing body work healing.

An ancient Egyptian pictograph depicting four figures practicing body work healing.

Reflexology is a type of alternative medicine known as body work. Although it can include the hands, feet and ears; the majority of reflexology is performed on the feet.

Amazingly it can be traced back to ancient Egypt and has been used for thousands of years in various forms all around the world. In fact the earliest recording of this type of healing may be a pictograph dated 2,500 B.C. in The Physician’s Tomb in Saqqara, Egypt. In this image, four figures are shown working on each others hands and feet. However, the reflexology of today is no doubt quite a bit different than it was all those years ago.

How Does Reflexology Work?

reflexology-foot-pressure-pointsThe concept behind this type of pressure work is that certain zones on a foot correspond to certain anatomical parts of the body. The theory is that by applying pressure to these points; healing is promoted in certain areas of the body.

For example: The bottom of the pinkie toe is associated with the ear while the arch of the foot may relate to organs such as the pancreas, kidneys and bladder. When a practitioner uses thumb and finger techniques to apply a certain amount of pressure to these areas it is believed that there is a positive effect on the functioning of these parts of the body.

Reflexology isn’t that different from acupuncture in the fact that both methods are designed to work with energy pathways known as qi (chee). The difference is that acupressure consists of well over 800 pressure points that travel along meridian energy pathways.

With reflexology, the goal is to promote health in the organs and to release stress from the body. Although there isn’t a lot of research regarding reflexology depression techniques; this form of foot work is often used to address hormonal imbalances, PMS and stress related problems.

Does Reflexology Work For Depression?

acupressure-for-treating-depressionDepression creates a cacophony of feelings and undesired emotions about life and ones self. Any non-invasive and safe technique that can be used to maintain a healthy outlook on life is unarguably beneficial. So although there isn’t any concrete research to support that reflexology treats depression – it may be something to add to the toolkit of positive lifestyle techniques.

However, studies performed by the National Cancer Institute have suggested that reflexology could potentially diminish pain and psychological distress such as anxiety and depression.

According to, 29 studies showed that this kind of body work can aid in releasing stress, aches and tension in the body. It has also been very popular for some time now in Asia and Europe. In fact 20+% of the population of Denmark have reported using reflexology at least once in their lifetime and a fair number of Denmark-based companies have hired on site reflexologists for their employees.

One excellent component of reflexology is that you can learn to work on your own feet and hands if you choose not to visit a reflexologist. Although this naturally can take some study; reflexology is fairly straight forward and there are many books and charts to help you learn the technique. Some people are understandably hesitant about taking medication to treat depression. For such people there are more natural methods to leading a calm lifestyle.

Body work is one such approach that may help some people relieve worries and strong emotions that often come packaged with depression. Other techniques that might be of use may include meditation, EFT tapping and Qigong.