Leading research shows that reflexology makes the heart pump more efficiently.
Researchers from the Stirling University in Scotland have unearthed the first scientifically robust evidence that reflexology does have a physical effect.
Heart function in particular shows "subtle" improvement when reflexology massage is applied to the heart point - a spot located somewhere on the ball of the left foot.
Volunteers underwent a professional reflexology massage as well as a sham treatment - where only the heel of the foot was massaged - to highlight the specific benefits of the complementary therapy.
Significantly there was no change to cardiac output following the sham treatment.
Jenny Jones, a PhD student, said the finding was “intriguing”, adding: “We have no idea what caused this change.”
Adding to the mystery is that there were no differences in other cardiac measures, such as heart rate and blood pressure after the reflexology massage was carried out.
Reflexology is the practice where certain points on the feet and hands are massaged to promote healing in corresponding parts of the body.
It has been used for thousands of years to help treat a number of illnesses and conditions, and today it is often applied in addition to medical care to improve overall health and promote the body's natural healing processes.
Although the university study has been published in the journal 'Complementary Therapies in Clincial Practice' Miss Jones did say that the findings are "not clinically relevant".
Certainly there is still more to learn about the significance of reflexology in helping patients with heart problems such as chronic heart failure and coronary artery disease, and the researchers at Stirling University are keen to carry out further tests to better understand the nature of reflexology treatment.
To find out more about reflexology as a complementary therapy and the range of benefits it provides, please see our reflexology page.
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