Caterpillar Therapy

Holistic Beauty Treatments

Reflexology and complementary therapies in cancer care

Reflexology and other complementary therapies are used by people who suffer different health conditions, including people diagnosed with cancer in order to help regain a sense of control, manage anxiety and sleep disturbance, and in general used to improve quality of care during life-limiting diagnosis.1

Unfortunately, stemmed from lack of information, fear and understanding on how reflexology affects the body, cancer was regarded as a contraindication. Still a large number of holistic and beauty outlets list cancer on their list of contraindicated conditions and may refuse treatment.

As holistic practitioners, reflexologists treat the client as a whole taking in consideration a medical diagnosis such as cancer, the type of cancer, stage, medication and all the other aspects that will create a treatment for each individual. Foot and face reflexology do not treat the disease in isolation as many factors contributed to the formation of imbalance in the body.

Sometimes conventional medicine treats disease by suppressing symptoms2  with pharmaceutical drugs and complementary therapies are a great plus to look at other aspects of the person and complete the care holistically, helping in prevention of disease as well as supporting all bodily systems to work together to rebuild health.

“It has been shown that patients who received treatment including reflexology alongside orthodox treatment experienced positive benefits. Treatment with complementary therapies may help to combat the stress and anxieties of coming into hospital for potentially traumatic orthodox treatments. It may also help to reduce side effects like nausea.” (Associations of Reflexologists, September 2010, Reflexology & Cancer).

Researcher Dr Carol Samuel at the University of Portsmouth, a trained reflexologist carried out experimental procedures as part of her PhD studies,” found that people felt about 40% less pain, and were able to stand pain for about 45% longer, when they used reflexology as a method of pain relief. The results suggested that reflexology could be used to complement conventional drug therapy in the treatment of conditions associated with pain such as osteoarthritis, backache and cancers.” (Nursing Times, Reflexology ‘effective pain relief’, UK study suggests, 10 April, 2013).

A great deal of research is done at Whipps Cross University Hospital, Barts Health Trust, London where the evaluation of complementary therapies, including reflexology in cancer care is done by analysing patient view and measuring symptom management. This is done by identifying patients’ two primary concerns and their perception of wellbeing through ‘Measure your concerns and wellbeing’ questionnaire. “By ‘wellbeing’ patients interpret how they feel overall physically, emotionally and spiritually.” (Briscoe J, Browne N, 2013 Nursing Practice, Effects of complementary therapies in cancer care).

As a member of Association of Reflexologists, when I offer a reflexology treatment I have the opportunity to work on the feet or face through reflex points and areas and by stimulating with pressure a general effect on all systems in the body takes place. Holistic treatments can be used as a preventative measure as well as cultivating better health while living with cancer. I believe reflexology is one of the many compassionate therapies to offer comfort during difficult health experiences.


1 Briscoe J, Browne N, 2013 Nursing Practice, Effects of complementary therapies in cancer care

2 Dr. Stephen Hopwood, Totnes Cancer Care – “Treating People not Cancer”, Arcturus Clinic

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This entry was posted on May 28, 2017 by in Uncategorized.