Irritable Bowel Syndrome & Reflexology
By Kate Mulliss, MAR
I recently wrote an article for the FHT professional therapist magazine on reflexology and aromatherapy approaches to IBS.
This common gastrointestinal condition is characterised by a number of symptoms and each individual diagnosed with IBS will have their own unique experience of the condition which can significantly alter the individual’s quality of life.
It is not clear as to the exact cause of IBS, but a number of triggers have been identified and because of the multifactorial aetiology and similarity of symptoms with other conditions, this means that IBS is diagnosed by an exclusion of other conditions.
As reflexologists we cannot claim to “treat” IBS but we can certainly say that we enhance wellbeing through the release of tension, improvement in sleep, relaxation and mood. This in itself can have a huge impact on clients with symptoms associated with IBS.
Listed below are a number of reflex areas to which the reflexologist might consider paying particular attention and which may enhance the treatment outcomes:
The spinal column: We often work up and down the spinal column for the spinal muscles and vertebrate, but be mindful that when we work this area we also include the reflex areas for the nerves of the autonomic nervous system.
The vagus nerve point: In recent years much more has become known about the role of the Vagus nerve and its role as a modulator of the gut-brain axis. This parasympathetic nerve has a major role normal functioning of the digestive tract.
The brain area: Working the brain area includes the pre-frontal cortex and limbic areas, both key areas for emotions and perception of pain.
Sphincters and valves: The ileo-caecal valve is probably the one that most reflexologists are aware of, but also consider the anatomical position of the cardiac and pyloric sphincters, particularly relevant for clients with upper gastric issues.
Lymphatic reflexes: Boosting the immune reflex areas may also be a good idea as gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) is the prominent part of mucosal-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) which represents almost 70% of the entire immune system.
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