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A step by step guide to two popular hands-on therapies.

Lisa Kaaki

The overwhelming interest in complementary therapies is happening at a time when orthodox medicine is making substantial progress. The truth is that people have become aware that a medical breakthrough also causes new threats to our health. In the United States, side effects from prescription drugs are at least the sixth most common cause of death.

We are even witnessing the return of tuberculosis; killer diseases, once eradicated with the help of drug treatment, are coming back with a vengeance, thanks to AIDS and growing poverty. Antibiotics have also been overprescribed and this has resulted in the discovery of new strains of bacteria which are able to resist them.

All this is creating an auspicious momentum for alternative medicine. An increasing number of people are looking for complementary therapies such as reflexology and acupressure to relieve both their physical and emotional problems.

The roots of both reflexology and acupressure can be found in the ancient civilizations of Egypt, India and China. The earliest medical reference comes from Ancient Egypt around 2500 BC. A wall carving found in the tomb of the renowned physician Ankhmahor shows several doctors touching their patient's hands and feet. Hieroglyphics explain in a clear fashion that the patient is saying "Don't do anything that hurts" which proves that the doctors are using a medical technique, and not a beauty treatment or a relaxing massage.

In reflexology, all parts of the body are connected by gentle streams of energy, flowing down the body from the head to the feet, through 10 zones also known as channels. When we are sick or feel a discomfort, these channels become blocked and the flow of energy is disturbed. Working on the hands or the feet, through reflexology and acupressure, unblocks the channels, allowing the energy to flow as well as reestablishing the balance. This in turn relaxes the body, stimulates the blood circulation and relieves unpleasant symptoms.

A fairly recent area of study, psychoneuroimmunology highlights the vital role played by our emotions in our physical health. Bereavement can lead to cancer and a woman's risk of breast cancer doubles after her marriage breaks up. Similarly, anger, depression and stress increase the risk of heart disease.

On the other hand, researchers have found that laughter strengthens the immune system. Negative thoughts bring us down by draining our energy and killings our hopes. When we fall into the habits of resentment, regret, envy, jealousy or despair, we can easily become depressed and lethargic. A good reflexology treatment can be deeply relaxing and it also boosts the immune system, allowing tension to ebb out of the body. Muscles will then loosen up and the blood circulates more freely, bringing nutrients to every cell in the body.

Reflexology practitioners believe the body heals itself from the inside to the outside. If symptoms have been suppressed by medical treatment, they may return briefly in the order in which they were suppressed which is the reason why symptoms often become worse for a while after the first treatments.

Reflexology is a holistic complementary therapy; therefore it treats the whole person rather than a singular symptom like orthodox medicine. The presence of symptoms, such as pain or skin rashes, is due to internal problem. In other words, symptoms cannot be eradicated as long as one ignores what has caused them in the first place.

It is interesting to know that in reflexology the whole body is represented or "reflected" (hence the name) onto the hands or the feet. Therefore most of the body is represented on each hand or foot.

The feet, incidentally, are unique structures. They hold a quarter of all the bones in our body amounting to 52 bones, plus 7200 nerve endings and 107 ligaments. In spite of being permanently trampled on, our feet are among the most sensitive parts of our bodies. For this reason, the feet are the best place for reflexology treatments. The truth is that we care more for our hands which are in fact less sensitive than our feet!

This book offers a full reflexology treatment and sufficient acupressure training to deal with everyday problems. It gives the right amount of information on the history of acupressure and reflexology as well as its basic concepts. It constitutes an excellent practical guide with user-friendly treatments, detailed step by step color photographs throughout the book and an abundance of tips for everyone including children and the elderly. These invaluable tips include a useful selection of gentle self-help remedies for many common problems and ailments. Acupressure is particularly efficient in alleviating nausea caused by pregnancy or medicinal drugs. It is also well known for relieving pain such headaches, muscular pain, backache, anxiety and stress to name but a few.

In using complementary therapies, we are taking responsibility for our own well-being and this is particularly empowering.

"On an everyday basis, a reflexology or acupressure session can achieve significant changes in our health and well-being. It is worth the effort because we are worth it" concludes the author.


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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Oct 15, 2014
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