—by Julie Dagenais
It’s Heart Month according to the American Heart Foundation (AHF)! What better time to learn how reflexology can help people with high blood pressure, which reflex points are targeted, and what are some self-help tips one can use to promote healing and balance. But first things first:
What is high blood pressure (HBP)? A heart condition that affects one in three US adults, and can be deadly if not treated or controlled. It is defined as having intermittent or persistent elevated blood pressure. Readings greater than or equal to 140/90mm Hg are considered HBP. Having HBP increases risks for heart attack, angina, stroke, kidney failure, peripheral artery disease and death.
What causes HBP? The exact cause is unknown. In Chinese medicine, it is believed to be caused by disorders of the function of the liver and kidney. In her book “Stories the feet can tell thru reflexology”, Eunice Ingham underlines that HBP is “the effect or result of an underlying abnormal condition such as faulty elimination which can result from deficiency of the glandular system i.e. adrenal glands”.
The following factors and conditions may play a role in the development of HBP:
- Being overweight or obesity
- Lack of physical activity
- Too much salt in the diet
- Too much alcohol
- Old age
- Having a family history of HBP
- Chronic kidney disease
- Adrenal and thyroid disorders
Are there any symptoms associated with HBP? According to the AHF, there are no symptoms. Others make reference to subtle signs occasionally observed such as: shortness of breath after mild exercise, headaches or dizziness, swelling of the ankles during the daytime, excessive sweating, anxiety and occasional nosebleeds.
HBP and reflexology. Research shows that reflexology has very positive effects on HBP sufferers. You can find out more in Part 1 of this article, The Research. For someone with HBP, a reflexologist would work on specific reflexes related to the condition, which would encourage the body’s natural self-healing powers: the diaphragm to promote relaxation in the chest cavity and better breathing, the solar plexus which also encourages deep relaxation, the kidney and thyroid for their role in regulating blood pressure, the pituitary gland since it secretes hormones that helps control blood pressure, and the adrenals which work at normalizing the circulatory system. Reflexes of organs that may be eventually affected such as the heart, brain and eye may also be targeted.
A self-help tool for people with HBP is to work on the solar plexus reflex.
To find it, squeeze each side of your foot, and the hollow is where the solar plexus point is. You can either press and hold on the point for a few seconds at first, then 30 sec to a minute or press firmly with your thumb and rotate clockwise. You can breath in when pressing and breath out when releasing. Repeat on other foot. This can be applied 3-4 times a day.
Including reflexology sessions into one’s regular routine can not only complement conventional medical treatment, but can also serve as an efficient preventative healthcare tool.