Fiona Hardie explains how reflexology can help with easing the symptoms of menopause.
Menopause is a momentous time in a woman’s life marked by major transitions. From cessation of her periods, physical changes in her body, emotional highs and lows, and her general identity shifting, menopause is the ideal time when a woman needs more than ever to care for herself psychologically, emotionally, spiritually and physically.
The threat of ill-health is also ever greater as blood glucose levels fluctuate due to hormone imbalances that are more prevalent, making it harder to keep diabetes well-controlled.
Generally occurring between the ages of 45 and 55, menopause is when fertility ceases, and oestrogen and progesterone are no longer produced by the ovaries. This really need not be a time of discomfort, hot flushes or depression, particularly if a therapy such as therapeutic reflexology is made use of regularly.
What is therapeutic reflexology?
Therapeutic reflexology is an ancient treatment which involves stimulation of the tops and soles of the feet (hands, face and ears can also be treated) using the thumbs to apply pressure.
Reflexology is not a foot massage but a targeted treatment using a specific technique which aims to bring the body’s systems into a state of homeostasis or balance. The reflexes that are worked on correspond to different parts of the body. For example, in working on the ball of the foot which is the lung reflex, the actual lungs will be stimulated together with their partner meridian the lung meridian.
Benefits related to menopause
This makes for a powerful treatment to aid in alleviating many of the symptoms of menopause, such as bloating, constipation, insomnia, brain fog and not to mention the ever-dreaded hot flushes.
Several clients enduring hot flushes and who after receiving reflexology, noticed a considerable drop in the occurrence and severity of these sweaty episodes. It’s suggested that at onset of any symptoms, in fact even before, a regimen of reflexology sessions be started and continued regularly throughout these years.
What will reflexology will alleviate?
Reflexology will in alleviating other symptoms such as:
The hypothalamus is a gland in the brain that regulates body temperature by sending signals to the organs, muscles, and endocrine and nervous systems. During menopause the body becomes more sensitive to fluctuations in core body temperature, so enlargement of blood vessels and sweating is increased. By working the big toe which is where the reflex for the hypothalamus is located, this function can be regulated.
The reflexes of the endocrine glands, such as the thyroid, and the reproductive system, such as the ovaries and uterus, are stimulated to ensure energy flow and harmony in these areas. And of course, the release of “love” hormones, such as oxytocin, enhance the feeling of well-being and self-care. Feeling good about oneself is of great importance during this massive transitory period.
Recipients of a session report better quality sleep. Reflexology is extremely relaxing and this in itself can help the body to regulate itself for it’s when the body is relaxed, it’s able to heal and function efficiently.
Due to the adrenal glands producing more of the stress hormones, adrenalin and cortisol, anxiety levels can increase exponentially especially as an array of other hormones are also out of balance. Reflexology brings about a wonderful feeling of ease and hence a reduction in anxiety. Coupled with anxiety is very often a dose of constipation. By working on the sole of the foot where the digestive reflexes are situated, regular bowel movements are encouraged.
The loss of sensation in the extremities particularly the feet which can be problematic in people with diabetes. Reflexology is very effective in ensuring blood flow to the feet, stimulating the nerves and keeping the heels well-moisturised as a treatment is usually wrapped up with a nurturing oil or cream massage. The reflexologist can also pick up if there are any cuts or sores that perhaps have not been felt by the patient.
Research into reflexology sessions on menopausal women found that two sessions a week for six weeks significantly reduced fatigue, total cholesterol levels and cortisol levels.1
Therapeutic reflexology is a well-respected therapy and modality which can hold its own as an extremely effective ongoing treatment not only for menopause or to ease symptoms thereof, but to maintain a healthy, well-functioning body. When we feel loved and nurture our bodies, our minds respond with health and calm. A therapeutic reflexology session can give that and so much more.
- (Ref: Evidence based reflexology research for Health Professionals and Researchers by Barbara and Kevin Kunz pg. 89).
MEET THE EXPERT
Fiona Hardie has recently relocated to the Western Cape and is teaching Pilates online and looking to further her offerings with Rebounding. She is also studying yoga and new modalities that will facilitate the healing that is so necessary today. She is focusing on growing her online presence and when she finds the right space she will open a Pilates and therapy studio.
Header image by Adobe Stock