The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below. Abdominal pain, acne, alcoholism, allergy (diagnosis), arthritis, breast cancer, bursitis, chest pain (non-cardiac), chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic illness, dementia, digestive disorders, eczema, elimination of blood toxins, fatigue, fibromyalgia, glandular disorders, gum inflammation, gynecologic disorders, high blood pressure, improvement of blood supply, infant development / neonatal care, insomnia, intestinal disorders, kidney stones, liver disease, neck pain, neck stiffness, pain, pancreatic disorders, paralysis, peripheral neuropathy (in HIV/AIDS), postmenopausal symptoms, postoperative nausea and vomiting, multiple sclerosis, "restoration" of homeostasis, sciatica, shingles (herpes zoster and post-herpetic neuralgia), spine problems, stress-related disorders, whiplash.
Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Reflexology is discouraged in patients with recent or healing foot fractures, unhealed wounds, or active gout flares affecting the foot. Patients with osteoarthritis affecting the foot or ankle, or severe vascular disease of the legs or feet, should seek a medical consultation prior to starting reflexology.
In general, patients should inform their medical practitioners of any existing medical problems or medications. Some reflexology texts note specific conditions that theoretically may be negatively affected by this therapy, although scientific data is lacking in these areas. These conditions include diabetes, heart disease or the presence of a pacemaker, unstable blood pressure, cancer, active infections, past episodes of fainting (syncope), mental illness, gallstones, or kidney stones.
Caution is advised in pregnant women, due to reports that rigorous stimulation of the feet may lead to uterine contractions.
Reflexology should not delay diagnosis or treatment with more proven techniques or therapies.
This information is based on a professional level monograph edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Ethan Basch, MD, MSc, MPhil (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center); Wendy Chao, PhD (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); William Collinge, PhD, MPH (Collinge & Associates); Antoinette Edmondson, PharmD (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy); David Lee, PharmD (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy); Katie Nummy, BS (Northeastern University); David Shannahoff-Khalsa (University of California); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Minney Varghese, BS (Northeastern University); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).