Do you suffer from stress and tension? Reflexology or zone therapy may help you.

Reflexology is a healing approach (first practiced in ancient Egypt and China) in which practitioners believe there are pressure points or reflex areas in the feet, hands and ears that connect through the nervous system to specific organs and glands within the body. By applying pressure to these reflex areas, it can have a beneficial effect on the corresponding area of your body, as well as to your general health. For example, if you suffer from bladder problems, the reflexologist would apply pressure with his/her thumbs or fingers to the specific spot in the arch of your foot that corresponds to your bladder in order to relieve pain and strengthen it.

Reflexologists work from charts that outline the particular pressure points located on the feet and hands (bottom, sides and top), and the ears (inside and outside). The left foot, hand and ear correspond to the body’s left side; and the right foot, hand and ear correspond to the body’s right side. Reflexologists use specific thumb, finger and hand techniques when applying the proper pressure to your reflex points.

While reflexology can help many health problems, it shouldn’t be used to diagnose or treat these conditions. However, when used to complement other medical treatments, it can help relieve pain, anxiety and some symptoms of injury or illness, as well as balance your body’s energy. Reflexology is also a natural way to promote good health and prevent illness.

However, reflexology shouldn’t be confused with massage. Unlike massage, reflexologists do not use oils, creams or lotions when applying pressure to your feet, hands or ears.

Some benefits of reflexology include:

Stress reduction – It promotes relaxation, helping the body to heal and balance itself.

Pain relief – It relaxes muscle tension and interrupts the pain pathways in your nervous system.

Improved circulation – It increases blood flow, supplying your cells with oxygen and nutrients

Nerve function stimulation – It opens and clears neural pathways while helping to repair and create new cells.

Increased energy – It relieves fatigue by promoting restful sleep, so you feel revitalized.

Improved immune system function – It stimulates your lymphatic system, so waste products are removed from your body. And it helps lower your risk of infection.

Improved mental health – It stimulates the production of endorphins to reduce depression and anxiety.

Eased pregnancy, delivery and postpartum effects – It promotes shorter labor times with less pain medication. And it reduces postpartum depression and anxiety.