What is the best thing about the human body? It is incredibly resilient with wonderful healing powers. But as our busy schedules leave us completely exhausted, highly anxious, and utterly stressed, the body sometimes becomes a little off balance. This not only impacts our overall health negatively but also gives us a number of skin issues including the pesky acne. Reflexology helps up reclaim the control of our well-being by enhancing the natural healing response of our body. As a result, common skin disorders are also alleviated. In this article, we will discuss the link between reflexology and acne as well as how the procedure helps in rebalancing the body in a highly effective and truly holistic way.
What is Reflexology?
Being an ancient healing technique, reflexology has been in practice for hundreds of years, especially in countries like Egypt and China. It is an alternative therapy in which gentle pressure is applied to the reflex points i.e. specific points in hands, feet, and ears with the thumb, fingers, and palm in order to balance out the ‘Qi’ or energy in the body. This benefits our general health, treats a number of ailments, and helps us feel better by targeting hormonal imbalance, easing stress, improving body functionality (1). While reflexologists make use of their hands for applying the right kind of pressure and flexing the right points, it is not a typical massage practice as it does not involve the use of lotions or oils. You can consider reflexology as complementary to medical treatments that can be practiced alongside traditional care.
A reflexology session lasts from 30 minutes to 60 minutes. It offers utmost relaxation as well as restoration of the natural energy levels through the application of gentle to firm pressure.
How Does Reflexology Work?
There are multiple theories about how the procedure of reflexology helps the body heal and regenerate itself. Check them out below (2):
1. Stimulates the CNS (Central Nervous System)
Our skin and internal organs are neurologically connected and stimulating the reflex points stimulates the entire nervous system. As pressure is applied to the extremities of the body, the peripheral nerves send a calming message to the central nervous system and the body gets a signal to adjust the tension level. This ensures the optimal functioning of the internal organs and their systems by increasing blood supply and promoting overall relaxation.
2. Reduces Stress Levels and Improves Mood
According to the ‘Gate Control Theory’ or the ‘Neuromatrix Theory’, pain is a subjective experience created by the brain and it can be relieved by reducing stress as well as enhancing mood. Apart from the sensory input, the brain also responds to emotional or cognitive inputs like mood and external factors like stress by creating pain. Applying pressure to the reflex points of the body helps in lowering stress levels and boosting mood, which influences the brain not to create pain in their response.
3. Keeps the Vital Energy Flowing
According to traditional Chinese medicine, a ‘Qi’ or ‘vital energy’ flows through every human body. Stress blocks Qi in the body and causes congestion of energy, which leads to bodily inefficiencies and eventually triggers the illness. Addressing the stress by applying pressure to the reflex points keeps the vital energy flowing through the body. As it reaches the targeted area, the balance is restored and the health is improved.
4. Targets Each Zone of the Body
Based on the ‘Zone Theory’, every human body has 10 vertical zones. Each of them contains different body parts (organs, muscles, valves, etc.) all the way up to the head, which again correspond to specific fingers and toes working as different pressure points on the body. Hence, touching these fingers and toes helps in accessing the body parts in different zones and the body gets a signal to adjust the tension level accordingly as these pathways are connected through the nervous system.
Benefits of Reflexology
Reflexology focuses on the trouble areas and the desired outcomes, which vary widely from one individual to another. Here are the potential benefits offered by the holistic treatment (3):
- Lowers stress levels, anxiety, and depression (4), (5)
- Promotes muscle relaxation and uplifts mood
- Provides relief from pain (arthritis, PMS, etc.) (6)
- Strengthens the immune system
- Keeps cold and infections away
- Improves digestion and cures constipation
- Encourages healthy blood circulation
- Corrects hormonal imbalance
- Gives clean, clear, and healthy skin
- Clears up nasal congestion and sinuses
- Stimulates lymphatic system
- Boosts fertility chances
- Fights cancer symptoms (7)
- Treats peripheral neuropathy caused by cancer drugs
- Enhances general health and well-being
- Improves quality of life
Reflexology for Skin Disorders
As mentioned earlier, reflexology is closely linked to common skin disorders, which are often known to be the parts of bigger issues or malfunctions happening within the body. When the organs and systems in the body start to function the right way, the health of the skin also gets improved. Reflexology works as a great tool for healing skin and maintaining its health by relieving stress, boosting blood flow, eliminating toxic wastes from the body, normalizing liver functionality, and balancing hormone production. Some common skin disorders that can be treated by the practice of reflexology are acne, hives, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, shingles, erythema, seborrhea, ringworm, and so on.
How Is Reflexology Linked to Acne?
Acne (acne vulgaris) is open or closed comedones (non-inflammatory) or papules, pustules, and nodules (inflammatory). It is one of the most common skin disorders that is mostly experienced by adolescents and sometimes even adults. When the sebaceous glands on the skin produce extra sebum and it gets accumulated in the pores due to the blockage caused by a plug of skin debris, the glands get inflamed and acne is formed. The condition becomes even more distressing as the inflammation worsens due to bacteria buildups. However, reflexology has been found to be highly effective in treating this skin condition.
The relation between reflexology and acne can be traced to bringing about a hormonal balance in the body. Acne is normally triggered by an imbalance in the endocrine system. Precisely, the activity of sebaceous glands in women is controlled by adrenal glands, which again turn very tender upon overdrive of the sympathetic nervous system (8). Moreover, the malfunction of the liver and kidney prevents the toxic wastes from flushing out of the system. When pressure is applied to the reflex points corresponding to the endocrine system, liver, and kidneys, the production of sebum remains normal and the body remains toxin-free. This also helps in clearing out excess sebum from the pores of the skin. As a result, you can steer clear of acne and other skin eruptions.
Read Also – Acne Surgery – Keep Your Skin Breakout Free
How Does Reflexology Help Acne?
It is simple to spend a few minutes every day on the reflex points of the body to give yourself a reflexology massage at home in order to address any imbalance in the endocrine glands. If you are suffering from acne, consider applying pressure to the following points:
1. The Joint Under the Big Toe
The joint under the big toe is the point that corresponds to the adrenal glands. Putting pressure on it with your thumb will help you even out any hormonal imbalance. Rub the point with your fingers in a circular motion for 5 minutes until you start relaxing. Doing this to both the big toes will reduce acne inflammation caused by overactive hormones.
2. The Joint Between the Big Toe and the Second Toe
The joint between the big toe and the second toe corresponds to the thyroid gland. Pressing this point and the area around it with your thumb or index finger for 5-6 minutes will help you relax. It also helps in correcting skin and weight disorders caused by an imbalance of thyroid hormones.
3. The Point Above the Wrist
The point above the wrist under the little finger corrects any disorder of liver by detoxifying it. Hold your left hand in your right hand. Now, trace your right thumb along with the little finger of your left hand and stop just short of your wrist at the place where the palm ends. Put pressure on the point for 5 minutes. Once the toxins from the liver are flushed out, you will find yourself with clearer skin.
4. The Joint Between the Little and the Index Finger
Find the joint between your little finger and your index finger. A centimeter below this is the reflex point that corresponds to the gall bladder. Putting pressure on it for 5 minutes with your thumb will cleanse your digestive system and eliminate toxins from it. Consequently, you will get a blemish- and acne-free, clear skin.
5. The Ball of the Thumb
If you want to balance your pituitary gland, the ball of the thumb is where you need to put pressure on. Hold your left thumb between your right thumb and the right index finger and press it for 5 minutes. This will help your skin absorb essential nutrients while improving blood circulation throughout the body.
Risks and Complications
Being a non-invasive and extremely comfortable therapy, reflexology is considered very safe. You may even consult your doctor and try it while experiencing some serious health conditions. But make sure that you stay away from reflexology while suffering from circulatory problems, inflammation or blood clots, gout, foot ulcers, fungal infections, open wounds, thyroid issues, epilepsy, etc. Some people may also experience some short-term side effects of reflexology including lightheadedness, emotional sensitivity, tenderness in feet, etc.
Read Also – Revealing the Link Between Oil Pulling and Acne
Reflexology is an ancient healing technique practiced mainly in countries like Egypt and China. It is an alternative therapy in which gentle pressure is applied to the reflex points i.e. specific points along hands, feet, and ears with the thumb, fingers, and palm in order to balance out the ‘Qi’ or energy in the body. It works by stimulating the CNS (Central Nervous System), reducing stress levels and improving mood, keeping the vital energy flowing, and targeting each zone of the body. The holistic treatment offers a wide range of benefits including the treatment of common skin disorders like acne by balancing the production of hormones in the body. When the reflex points corresponding to the endocrine system, liver, and kidneys are pressed, the production of sebum remains normal and the body remains toxin-free, which gives acne-free clear skin. If you are suffering from acne, consider applying pressure to the joint under the big toe, the joint between the big toe and the second toe, the point above the wrist, the joint between the little and the index finger, and the ball of the thumb. Though reflexology is considered very safe, you must consult your doctor before undergoing the therapy to avoid short-term side effects and adverse reactions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the Difference Between Reflexology and Massage?
Reflexology stimulates the nervous system and releases tension by focusing on specific points in the hands, feet, and ears while massage refers to the systematic manipulation of certain muscle groups (soft tissues) to release tension.
What is Facial Reflexology?
Facial reflexology is a type of reflexology in which light, upwards strokes are applied to different points on the face. This not only makes the clean, healthy, and rejuvenated but also stimulates other parts of the body.
What Should I Avoid After Reflexology?
You must have good and light food, drink enough water, avoid drinking and smoking for 24 hours, and reduce your caffeine intake after undergoing a reflexology treatment every time.
How Long Does It Take for Reflexology to Work?
As the outcomes of reflexology are subtle and cumulative, you need to attend one session of it for at least 6 consecutive weeks in order to see greater benefits.
- “What Is Reflexology?“, WebMD.com
- “How Does Reflexology Work?“, TakingCharge.csh.UMN.edu
- “Reflexology 101“, Healthline.com
- “The Effects of Foot Reflexology on Anxiety and Pain in Patients With Breast and Lung Cancer“, PubMed.NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “The Effects of Foot Reflexology Massage on Anxiety in Patients Following Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery: A Randomized Controlled Trial“, ScienceDirect.com
- “Randomized Controlled Study of Premenstrual Symptoms Treated With Ear, Hand, and Foot Reflexology“, PubMed.NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Recruitment and Early Retention of Women with Advanced Breast Cancer in a Complementary and Alternative Medicine Trial“, NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Endocrinologic Control to the Development and Activity of the Human Sebaceous Gland“, ScienceDirect.com
- “The Acupressure Points for Inducing Labor“, Healthline.com