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What is reflexology?
Reflexology is an ancient art of healing that involves stimulation to reflex points found on the feet and hands. Specialist techniques stimulate the nerve and circulatory pathways within the body to activate the body’s own innate healing processes. These reflex points correspond to different organs and systems of the body and aim to restore equilibrium in the body, mind and spirit. Reflexology can support many conditions and some of the most common that I see in my practice are IBS/digestive issues, headaches/migraines and Insomnia.

Can it help IBS/Digestive issues?
You’ve probably experienced some form of a digestive issue at one stage in your life. Stomach cramps, nausea, gurgling, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea, whatever it is, it’s unpleasant. Many people get so used to their symptoms that they are unaware that not going to the toilet for 3 days is quite an issue. More often than not there is a stress element associated with digestive issues, think of when you get ‘butterflies’ or when you feel so nervous your stomach is ‘in knots’. We don’t just feel this out of coincidence, neurons that connect the brain and the gut let the stomach know that we are stressed, or freaking out about something and so the stomach muscles become extremely sensitive. If we are left in this stressed state for a prolonged time, the symptoms of IBS begin to occur.

When treating someone with IBS, we work through the upper and lower digestive reflex points such as the stomach, liver, pancreas, gallbladder and large and small intestine reflexes. The other reflexes that can assist clients with IBS are the adrenal and solar plexus reflex as these are involved in the stress response. The aim is to keep the body as relaxed and stress-free as possible, giving the body the correct nutrients so that there is a healthy environment for the digestive system to work efficiently. Read our top tips on how to de-stress!

Can it help headaches and migraines?
Cluster headaches, sinus headaches, tension headaches – whatever kind you get, it ain’t nice! If you experience migraines, you’re probably not a stranger to a couple of days of hibernation, lying in a dark room to help you get through. We can put an end to this and reflexology is an extremely powerful way to reduce the pain. There are such varying causes for headaches; congestion in sinuses, tension in jaw or neck, eye strain or even a build-up of toxins in the body, so the treatment will depend on the person. The main reflex points to work on are the head, brain, neck, spine, eye point and solar plexus reflex. These points will really allow the head and neck to become relaxed, congestion to be reduced and for any blockages in the spine that may be causing the pain to be relieved. The solar plexus is behind the stomach and is the group of nerves that allow us to feel emotions such as nervousness and excitement, it is a wonderful reflex to work which really calms the body, mind and spirit. We may also look at working the liver to assist in the elimination of toxins in the body and the adrenals to reduce stress levels that may be causing the headache. If you suffer from headaches, hand reflexology is a great way to relieve it, focusing on the reflexes mentioned above. You can do it on the train, at your desk, or if you want to make it into a little more of ritual; light a few candles, lie down, take a few deep breaths and begin your own treatment.

Can it help insomnia?
If you have experienced insomnia, you will understand the implications that it has on your life. It doesn’t only have an effect on your concentration and energy levels but your metabolism, digestion, hormone levels and other systems can be affected too. Sleep is so important for your health as it is the time of repair and regeneration for our bodies, a time where all of our cells, systems and functions can have some quiet time to really get to work and prepare your body for what is ahead the next day. One of the most common responses that I see after a treatment for any issue is a good night’s sleep, so if you’re suffering from insomnia, reflexology is a great place to start.

What causes insomnia?
There are many causes of insomnia and they will differ from person to person. Some of them include stress, anxiety, depression, hormonal imbalances such as cortisol and melatonin (the body’s own body clock) and some not so obvious causes such as blood sugar levels, food sensitivities and inflammation. The most common cause is usually hyperarousal of the nervous system, too much time spent in “fight or flight” response. The best areas to focus on to regulate sleep cycle is the nervous system and the endocrine system which includes the hormone glands; pituitary, thyroid and adrenals. Focusing on the nervous system allows the body to enter the parasympathetic nervous state, also known as ‘rest and digest’. The pituitary gland is the master hormone gland which orchestrates all of the hormones in the body, one of its many functions is to regulate the circadian rhythm which is the 24-hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings, one of the processes being the sleep-wake cycle. The adrenal glands respond to stress and control blood sugar and the thyroid gland regulates the body’s metabolism. Ensuring these are balanced through reflexology will support anyone experiencing and struggling with insomnia.

words by Alex Bottomley

Alex Bottomley (MAR) is a registered reflexologist based in London and Margate. Alex takes an intuitive approach to recognise your individual needs. She creates a bespoke treatment with love and intention, providing you with a safe space to receive healing, allowing your body to find balance and enhance your overall health and well being. www.mokshatherapies.com

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