Reflexology (a manipulative and body-based practice Manipulative and Body-Based Practices Five categories of complementary or alternative medicine are generally recognized: Whole medical systems Mind-body medicine Biologically based practices not usually used in conventional medicine... read more ) is a variant of massage therapy Massage Therapy In massage therapy (a manipulative and body-based practice), body tissues are manipulated to reduce pain, relieve muscle tension, and reduce stress. The therapeutic value of massage for many... read more that relies on manual pressure applied to specific areas of the palm or foot; these areas are believed to correspond to different organs or body systems via meridians. Stimulation of these areas is believed to eliminate the blockage of energy responsible for pain or symptoms in the corresponding body part. (See also Overview of Integrative, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine Overview of Integrative, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine Integrative medicine and health (IMH) and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) include healing approaches and therapies that historically have not been included in conventional, mainstream... read more .)
Reflexology is considered a homunculus-based therapy because it presumes that the entire body is represented on the bottom of the feet or surface of the palm. In most clinical studies of reflexology, findings tend to be nonspecific effects on subjective symptoms (eg, causing relaxation, indistinguishable from that caused by massage). A systematic review of randomized clinical trials concluded that the best available clinical evidence does not support the efficacy of reflexology as treatment for any indication; the review also noted that methodology in studies of reflexology is often poor (1 Reference Reflexology (a manipulative and body-based practice) is a variant of massage therapy that relies on manual pressure applied to specific areas of the palm or foot; these areas are believed to... read more ).
1. Ernst E, Posadzki P, Lee MS: Reflexology: an update of a systematic review of randomised clinical trials. Maturitas 68(2):116–20, 2011.