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What Is Zone Therapy?

Reflexology is often practiced on the hands as well as the feet.
A person doing zone therapy.
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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 August 2014
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Zone therapy, also known as reflexology, is a type of alternative medical treatment that uses specialized hand and foot massage as a means of treating mental and physical ailments. Its central foundation rests on the notion that the hands and feet are made up of five major zones on each side of the body that correspond with various health conditions. By massaging a particular zone, a therapist believes he or she can treat the corresponding condition.

The first major zone in zone therapy is referred to as the center zone. This zone is simply the big toes and thumbs on both the left and right sides, which are meant to correspond to the body parts and organs that are located in the center of the body, including the brain, heart, intestines, and reproductive organs. A zone therapist will massage the big toes and thumbs as a means of treating any physical or mental conditions affecting these areas.

The rest of the zones in zone therapy represent either the left or right sides of the body and are ranked second through fifth. The second major zone is located on the left side of the body and includes the left index fingers and left second toes. Massaging these areas is intended to also treat some areas that the center zone treats, including the brain and intestines. The zone also represents the stomach, eyes, and spleen.

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The left middle fingers and left third toes are known as the third zone in zone therapy. Touching these spots is believed to stimulate the same areas as the first and second zones, in addition to the kidney. The fourth and fifth zones are also located on the left side of the body. The fourth zone includes the left ring fingers and fourth toes and represents the ovaries, eyes, and lungs, while the fifth zone calls for massaging the pinkies and is primarily used to treat ear problems.

In zone therapy, the right zones correspond to the same types of fingers and toes as their left counterparts, but on the right side. For example, the second zone on the right calls for massaging the index fingers and second toes on the right side, in the same manner as the left zones. The main difference between the zones on the opposite sides of the body is some of the body parts they represent.

The right second zone includes the same body parts as the left second zone, but it also is thought to treat liver problems. The main treatment difference between the right third zone as opposed to the left version is that the right third zone may be massaged by a zone therapist to treat conditions affecting the gall bladder. The right fourth zone is mainly responsible for treating the same conditions as the left version, with the exception of also treating appendix issues. Both the right and left fifth zones are identical and mainly treat ear problems.

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