The January detox: can reflexology help?

January is detox time. Made cool by new age skinnies – Gwyneth Paltrow style juice cleanses and detox plans are back with a bang this month. But detoxing – the process of flushing out nasty toxins which have built up in the body, is not only about diet. The process of detoxification can be facilitated by complementary therapies including reflexology.

But how do these nasty toxins build up in the first place? External toxins enter the body as a result of consuming processed foods, sugars, alcohol, cigarettes, medicines and even water. Pollution, cleaning products and cosmetics are also sources of external toxins. Internal toxins are created within us, such as yeast overgrowth, bad bacteria, chronic stress and negative thinking.

Detoxifying the body has many benefits including improved immune system functioning and clearing of inflammation and mucus, with detox devotees boasting of their newfound energy stores and glowing complexions. Detoxing and reflexology can bring the body back to homeostasis, maximising its ability to heal – physically, emotionally and mentally.

The underlying principle of reflexology is that there are reflex points on the feet and the hands that correspond to every organ and function in the body. Reflexologists believe that by treating the feet you treat the whole person and view all parts of the body as connected by subtle energy. In a healthy state this energy flows freely from the head to the feet through ten zones, also referred to as channels. Pain or illness signals that these channels have become blocked and energy is not flowing as it should be. Reflexologists are commonly employed to treat a wide variety of conditions from anxiety and headaches to back pain and circulatory issues.

Reflexology naturally encourages the body to flush out toxins by boosting blood circulation and lymphatic movement. Applying pressure to and massaging reflexology points can stimulate the appropriate organs to release stored toxins.

The kidneys filter waste products from the blood before turning it into urine. Reflexology points corresponding to the kidneys are roughly located at the bottom of the arch in between the big toe and the next toe. In a study by Sudmeier et al. (1999) blood flow of the three vessels of the kidney was measured before, during, and after foot reflexology. Results showed that organ-associated foot reflexology is effective in increasing renal blood flow during therapy, which helps the body transport nutrients to cells and remove wastes.

The liver is another important organ involved in the process of detoxification, which can be stimulated through reflexology – it is the job of the liver to filter everything that is consumed and regulate chemical substances in the bloodstream. Reflexology points associated with the liver are located approximately one inch below the smallest toe on the underside of each foot.

Make sure to drink plenty of filtered water and caffeine-free herbal tea after reflexology sessions to aid the body in continuing to flush out toxins. Other things you can do to facilitate detoxification include taking Epsom salt baths, eating plenty of fresh fruit and veg and taking sufficient rest.

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