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Not Just the Feet

When most people think of reflexology they think first of feet. This is completely understandable since foot reflexology is the practice developed by Eunice Ingham, an American physical therapist, in the early part of the 20th century. Her work is the basis of reflexology as it is practiced today in the West. However, integrated reflexology has arrived in the United States and is spreading quickly. It is now available here in Pittsburgh. This more thorough practice of reflexology is quite familiar in Europe and includes work with the ears, hands, and feet.

Ears you say?

Yes, ears. And interestingly of the three types of reflexology, work on the ears is the more documented scientifically. This is because ear reflexology or auriculotherapy was developed by a French physician, Dr. Paul Nogier, in the 1950s. He noticed that a number of his patients had a scar in the same place in their ears. It was clearly from being cauterized and when he investigated the source of the scar, he met a woman whose father had been in China. In China the father learned about the relationship between that particular point on the ear and sciatica. Cauterizing that place on the ear eliminated the pain of sciatica and Dr. Nogier’s patients confirmed this.The doctor began researching and ultimately developed maps of the ears showing points which corresponded to specific places in the body, much like foot maps. The doctor’s work was published in an international acupuncture publication which reached the Chinese. The Nanking Army Ear Acupuncture Research Team undertook a massive study which confirmed the clinical accuracy of Nogier’s findings. And ultimately the World Health Organization standardized names used in auriculotherapy anatomy and ear reflex points identified by the Chinese and French acupuncturists.

Since that time priority order has evolved for treatment of certain conditions. For instance, many conditions of the neck, shoulders, lower back and hips are most effectively treated with ear reflexology first and then hand and foot work. Sinusitis and headaches are best treated with hand work first and then ear and foot work. Many conditions of the abdominal and pelvic organs should first be treated with work on the feet followed then by the hands and ears.Use of integrated reflexology helps to ensure the patient will experience a profound level of relaxation and stress relief, providing the body with maximum support in its effort to reestablish balance and good health.

Grateful acknowledgement to Bill Flocco, American Academy of Reflexology, for material excerpted from various of his publications.