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A reflex point is a point on the body that can be manipulated via acupuncture, acupressure or reflexology massage to stimulate nerve endings and support healthy physiological functions. The reflex point systems for reflexology and acupuncture/acupressure are generally different. Reflexology uses a system of reflex points on the hands, feet, and ears to stimulate the nervous system and support health. Acupuncture and acupressure generally use the reflex points identified in traditional Chinese medicine. These hundreds of reflex points are normally spread across the entire body.
While reflexology and acupuncture/acupressure typically use somewhat different methods, the goal is basically the same. Both therapeutic systems usually seek to support nerve health throughout the body, and therefore, to support the health of the body as a whole. Reflexologists generally believe that reflex points on the hands, feet, and ears can be manipulated to support the health of various corresponding organs and physiological systems. A reflexology chart can help laypersons understand how each reflex point corresponds to each organ or area of the body.
Acupuncture and acupressure are generally considered to be basically the same discipline. Both therapeutic systems typically rely upon manipulation of pressure or reflex points along the meridians of the body. According to traditional Chinese medicine, manipulating these pressure points helps support an abundant flow of life energy, or ch'i, throughout the body. There are almost 800 reflex points typically used in acupuncture/acupressure, each with its own specific purpose, and they are located all over the body. Acupuncture generally stimulates each reflex point via the insertion of a fine needle, while acupressure stimulates each reflex point via massage with fingertips or specialized tools.
These therapeutic systems typically aren't used to diagnose medical conditions, and they're usually not considered adequate to treat most medical conditions, either. They can, however, offer benefits for some minor medical conditions, such as nausea brought on by motion sickness or pregnancy. Many feel that the manipulation of reflex points through reflexology, acupuncture or acupressure can provide valuable complementary therapy, even for those suffering from serious illness.
Studies seem to suggest that these therapeutic systems can relieve muscle tension and stimulate endorphin production, to manage stress and relieve pain. They also offer compelling evidence that reflex point manipulation can soothe nausea and improve mood. They are believed to offer enormous benefits to patients suffering from chronic pain conditions, cancer, depression, anxiety, and nausea.