Reflexology And The Effects On The Autonomic Nervous System

In many populations, reflexology has resulted in reducing stress and anxiety. This may occur within modulation of the autonomic nervous system function (ANS); there is only a limited amount of evidence that’s available on this subject, however.

A feasibility study was conducted to investigate with an experimental model in order to learn and determine if there was a physiological effect from reflexology that targeted stress. As well, the study assessed and compared reflexology and control interventions’ effect upon the heart rate as well as blood pressure after mentally stressing tests.

A feasibility study to assess an experimental study design to compare the effect of reflexology and control interventions on heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) following mental stress tests. 26 voluntary subjects were tested.

Volunteers were put through mental stress prior to and following their intervention. Those in the group for reflexology had 20 minutes worth of reflexology treatment, while the other group had 20 minutes to relax with a therapist that held their feet.

The heart rates and blood pressure were carefully measured during the mental stress sessions, both before and after receiving reflexology or therapeutic treatment.
The study proved to be feasible. Significant reductions were noted in systolic blood pressure (SBP) as well as diastolic blood pressure (DBP) (22%; P = .03 and 26%; P=.01 respectively) when comparing the mental stress tests before and after reflexology treatment. The following mental stress showed reduced SBP of only 10% (P=.03) and only 5% of increased DBP (P=.67).

Although results seem positive more testing is still required since there was not enough of a difference between reflexology’s group and the therapeutic group.