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Reflexology to boost fertility By Clara Penn Sunday,15/10/2000

Thousands of women trying to become pregnant may find the answer to their prayers at their feet. Reflexology, the ancient healing art that employs manipulation of pressure points in the feet and hands, is being hailed as a possible treatment for female infertility. Thousands of women trying to become pregnant may find the answer to their prayers at their feet. Reflexology, the ancient healing art that employs manipulation of pressure points in the feet and hands, is being hailed as a possible treatment for female infertility. The technique - first used by the Egyptians and Chinese more than 2,000 years ago - is to come under serious medical scrutiny for fertility benefits. After strong anecdotal evidence of conceptions following reflexology, doctors at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, have begun a comprehensive clinical study of the possible link between the treatment and fertility. Over the next two years, 150 women will take part in trials aimed at determining whether pregnancy rates are affected. The results of the study will offer a direct comparison with the standard fertility drug, clomifene. There is little scientific evidence to prove the effectiveness of reflexology, which holds that natural energy channels running through the body become imbalanced causing congestion which is mirrored in the corresponding area of the feet or hands. Firm finger pressure is applied by the therapist to "break up" this congestion, dispel toxins and restore normal energy flows. Devon-based reflexologist Jane Holt approached the IVF unit at Derriford with a catalogue of rapid pregnancies in supposedly infertile women following her treatment, many after fewer than 10 one-hour sessions. She claims 13 of 23 women with infertility problems have become pregnant after being treated by her over the past year. In the medical trials, 150 volunteers, who would have been treated with clomifene to try to induce ovulation, will instead be offered eight reflexology sessions, with half receiving a bogus treatment. Dr Jonathan Lord, clinical lecturer in reproductive medicine at Derriford, said the trial would be easy to carry out as it focused on how many women ovulate after treatment, not on the number of pregnancies. "We're able to look directly at how effective the reflexology is in prompting ovulation," he said. Up to 30 per cent of infertile women who try clomifene are not helped by the drug, and 10 per cent who become pregnant after using it give birth to twins. It is one of the main causes of triplets and other multiple births in Britain.


Reflexology and Mental Health

A report from the local association of MIND (Worthing) reveals the beneficial effects of Reflexology and counselling on mental health clients. 

Research was carried out between May 1996 and August 1997 in which a reflexologist and a counsellor worked with a total of 74 clients (49 received reflexology and 25 received counselling)

The report findings based upon the observations of the therapists and the participants indicate that:

-Physical improvements underpinned feeling of enhanced mental/emotional well-being for many participants. For example, the researchers observed that the release of tension through being able to talk led to greater relaxation, which in turn was found to alleviate headaches and improve sleep.

-With the exception of two participants in reflexology sample, there was a reported increase in relaxation levels and a decrease in anxiety levels.


Effects of Stress

Understanding the effects of stress on your body and the ways managing stress are both very important. Stress and disease can actually change the shape of our blood cells. Normal healthy cells are round smooth and shapely. While stressed cells are somewhat distorted in shape and do not function nearly as well as the happy round cell. The effects of stress can actually kill the cells inside leaving you a weaker person in every sense of the word. As cells die off by thousands sometimes leaving you wide open to infections and other stress related illnesses.

Examples of stress related illnesses are:

-Migraine/Headaches. There are 16-18 million migraine headache sufferers, 70% women. Most of these headaches are symptoms of stress, muscle tension can be caused by stress. Stiff neck, shoulders or lower back pain are common complaints for all age groups and can be reduced or eliminated by reducing stress and anxiety. Muscle tension is probably the cause of all stress headaches.

-Heart attack and high blood pressure have both been proven to be caused by increased or continuous unresolved stress called Stacking.

-High blood pressure puts undue stress on the blood vessel walls which may burst and cause a stroke. It also over pressures the circulatory system and puts an unhealthy strain on the heat which in turn greatly contributes to the occurrence of heart attacks.

-Many types of cancer are a stress related illness. Stress is a major contributor to the cause of cancer because it weakens the immune system so it has fewer and weaker cell to do the work of fighting problems.

-Insomnia is a stress related illness. Being overworked over stimulated and not coping with stress will keep you from sleeping which in turn will add more to the stacking effect of stress in your life. When the brain is over stimulated the body produces adrenaline a chemical produced by the brain which is the natural stimulant that produces alertness and gives you the extra energy you might need to fight off whatever stressful problems you may be faced with. In order for you to go sleep the adrenaline has to be shut off and or reduced so that the body can begin to produce melatonin (a chemical produced by the brain that induces relaxation and sleep).

-Ulcers are a stress related illness. Stress produces excessive stomach acids that can destroy the lining of the stomach. Stress also tenses and contracts the muscles of the stomach as it does the rest of the body and prevents proper digestion of food.

-Rheumatoid Arthritis has been identified as a stress related. It is a disease of the immune system and is an auto immune illness in which antibodies - (the substance in the blood that normally destroys bacteria and neutralises poisons) becomes misdirected against the body's own cells resulting in tissue damage. Stress, tension and depression adds to the severity of this arthritis.

-Psychological/Emotional stress. It may seem a bold statement but there are numerous illnesses which are in some way linked to stress. This is not a complete list but some examples are; the psychological problems such as depression, persistent fatigue, low self confidence, low esteem. Anxiety related effects such as panic attacks, phobias, PMS Irritable bowel syndrome, cardiac and stroke. Addictions such as alcohol, nicotine, tranquillisers and illicit drugs.

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