reflexology and Multiple Sclerosis ( MS )

Multiple sclerosis is perhaps the most common neuralgic impairment causing physical disability between the ages 15 – 55. This disease is one of the most common causes of mild and severe disabilities. The injured ones are people on their best years –facing new careers, at the peak of their career or before they had the chance to fulfill their so-many plans. The disease, which can come to terms at various severity levels, affects most of the nervous system's sensory functions. To this day, the reasons to this disease are not clear. One of conjectures to this disease is that the disease is the result of rare reaction of the body to recurring infections – resulting with the body attacking itself. The disease attacks and pauses with no warning signs, therefore there is no way to predict the badness and get ready. Various medicines have been tried through the years in order to try and ease the patients' suffering as well as to delay and blunt the processes of the disease's outbursts. The Helsinki committee for clinical experiments in human beings approved a research regarding the influence of reflexology treatment on multiple sclerosis patients. The research integrates two approaches: the reflexology treatments represent natural medicine and the conventional medicine is represented by comparative scientific research. The research's purpose is not to investigate the reflexology's meaning but its influence of multiple sclerosis patients. Combining the reflexology treatment within this group of patients is innovative since it conveys the preventative treatment approach, which is mainly an approach of “strengthen the health” alongside with the approach of focused treatment on the site where the phenomenon appeared, which is mainly an approach of “fight the disease”. Sometimes, each approach stands alone and sometimes they are integrated. Integrating the two medical approaches contributes to a break-through in the medical world, which means integrated medicine for the patients' wellbeing. The emphasis is not on “honor” to the natural or conventional medicine, but an honor to the mutual thinking. There were four cycles: one pilot cycle, two experiment cycles and one “compensation” cycle to the research's control group. 70 senior reflexologists were involved in this research, all of them graduates of the human ecology institute, guided by Shmuel Zaidel.

The pilot project and its conclusions

20 therapists and patients were involved in the pilot project. The technical approaches that can meet the therapeutic needs for some of the disease's phenomenons were examined:

These physiological occurrences are a result of an impairment that is created by injury and damages to the myelin that wraps the nerves in the central nervous system. As a result, the nervous transmission to the periphery is damaged and disrupted. In other words, the problem is between the inside and the outside of the body. The damage level of the pilot group's patients was not homogeneous, which was also the situation of the intended research groups. Due to these conditions, treatment methods meant to improve the inside-outside connection – the connection between the sickness and the damaged peripheral organs, between the control centers and the controlled organs – were examined.

About the treatment techniques

The purpose of the treatment techniques, represented here, is to explain the holistic reference to the techniques of the reflexology treatment. Holistic reference means connecting between the treatment's technical performance and the therapist's intentions, to the patient's body and mental condition. The verbal explanation cannot demonstrate the treatment's technical performance, this has to be done during a teacher-student direct meeting. This is the way it was done during the preparation meetings that were held to the therapists of each group during the project. The treatment techniques that were used are a result of the research conclusions and they can be used as a research tool that can be repeated in the future with therapist-reflexologist meetings with multiple sclerosis patients. The treatment technical performance needs teacher guidance.

From inside out and from outside in – the treatment method

A possible way to explain a certain characteristic of the human body's condition is by us being between two poles of “from inside out” and “from outside in”. Concerning the treatment we can talk about problems and diseases of body-jamming and inability to get released and bring them from inside out, or get connected to the feet and problems and diseases of body lacking and difficulties of the body to receive what it needs. Energetically – physiologically speaking, the metaphoric meaning of the concept “from inside out” is with the direction of the arterial blood flow, and “from outside in” means with the venous blood flow and the lymph flow. This research emphasized the outside-in treatment direction.

The manipulative treatment techniques

It is accepted to think that the reflexology treatment should be performed while the patient is at rest, relaxed and ready to absorb stimulus and massages transferred by the therapist. The principle is that as much as the patient's body is relaxed his ability to benefit from the treatment, increases. Sometimes, in certain situations, it is recommended to perform a kind of switch-role, meaning, that the therapist is actively guided in order to consciously “get connected” to his feet, in order to rehabilitate a certain level of disconnection between the feet and the body. The manipulative treatment method is a possible way to provide technical solutions to the therapist. This method's technical treatment solutions of are related to various stages of patient-therapist relations that can be reflected in many treatment manners:

The manipulative treatment method is gradual. It has various stages that enable rehabilitation and gain-control – as much as possible – between the brain centers and the feet. These stages conceal the therapist-patient connection dimensions as well as the patient's internal condition. The progress is conditioned by the patient's mental desire and his physical ability. Since each patient in this research was in some stage of the disease, the ability to lead and promote him from stage to stage is individual. The two next cycles were held as scientific research structure, approved by the hospital's research committee – the Helsinki Committee. The following two groups were defined: experiment and control groups. Each therapist had two patients – one from each group, altogether two cycles and 36 therapists. The project's structure as well as the session's were similar to the pilot group's structure. The practical part was divided into two treatment categories: one for the expriment group and one for the control group.

Thraputic map

Reflection points to be treated:

Urinary tracts
Urinary bladder
Sphincters of bladder
Small intestine valve
Lymph system
Lateral longitudinal lines
Solar plexus
Spinal column
Brain stem
Fingures spirals



The experiment group

The treatment method that was the result of the pilot group's treatment was implemented upon the research group. The group received the whole treatment, emphasizing the “from inside out” direction, accompanied by treatment map and combined with “the manipulative treatment approach” including its various stages. Each patient was treated individually, in addition to unified treatment methods guided by the treatment map and fitted to the entire group's illness.

The control group

In fact, the control group was a “placebo” group. Since the treatment deals with a kind of treatment that involves body touch, the group members received “reflexology” only to their lower legs – meaning, various kinds of massages to the lower legs.

The compensation group

Another cycle of 14 patients received a full treatment, similar to the research group. In fact, those were the patients from the first cycle who received the “placebo treatment” – the lower leg massage. Actually, there were two dimensions to this group – the control group vs. the research group – that were the same people.

Conclusions extracted from “Shiba Hospital” report in 1997

Out of 36 patients that were recruited to this research, 27 completed the entire treatment series. Demographic variables are shown in table 1. Statistically, there were no significant differences between the patients of the two groups. 4 parameters were measured: frequency of paresthesia, problems of urine arrest or urine leak, muscle tension and contraction – muscle spasm seizures. After 12 treatment weeks, 60% of the research group patients have shown improvement of the paresthesia compared to only 20% of the control group. Problems of urine arrest or urine leak were improved in 55% of the research group. The most significant improvement was found with the mean results of the muscle tension and the contractions of the experiment group following the treatments.

Table 1. Demographic data

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