Reflexology and the Digestive System:

The digestive system breaks down food, extracting nutrients and assimilating them for use throughout the body. Poor digestive function can create serious ill-health, both physically and psychologically.

Disorders of the digestive system are extremely common ranging from the occasional upset stomach to the more life-threatening colorectal cancer. They encompass disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. Indigestion is a common digestive system disorder and can be described as pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen. It is also known as dyspepsia.

Therapeutic effects of reflexology on the digestive system:

Working the intestinal reflexes in the direction of peristalsis can help move the contents through the gastrointestinal tract.

The relaxation induced by reflexology helps the body switch over to the parasympathetic nervous system, which supports the whole digestive process.

 Promotes harmonious contraction and relaxation of diaphragm resulting in rhythmical massage of the abdominal organs.

Releases muscular and emotional tension, both of which can severely hamper the digestive process.

 Unblocks congested energy promoting free flow of energy through all the channels so that the digestive process from the mouth to the anus can work effectively.

 Break down of deposits in the feet and the stimulation of reflexology decongests energy pathways allowing the digestive system to work optimally (as it does for all systems).

Indigestion:
Indigestion is caused by stomach acid coming into contact with the sensitive, protective lining (mucosa) of the digestive system. The stomach acid breaks down the mucosa, causing irritation and inflammation, which brings on the symptoms of indigestion.

In most cases, indigestion is related to eating and may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as fullness in the stomach or belching. Sometimes, indigestion can be caused by other factors, such as an infection or taking certain medications.

Heartburn:
Heartburn occurs when the acid contents of the stomach pass backwards up into the food pipe (called the gullet or oesophagus). This is also known as stomach acid reflux.
Most people have stomach acid reflux at some point in their lives, either as heartburn or acid regurgitation. Heartburn typically occurs after eating a large meal or drinking a lot of alcohol. Some people get heartburn when they bend over or lie down. Heartburn is annoying and may have a detrimental effect on a person's wellbeing. Sometimes the tendency for heartburn may develop into a mucous membrane inflammation in the food pipe, also known as oesophagitis. In the worst cases, oesophagitis may become complicated with ulcers, which, in rare cases, may bleed or cause chronic anaemia. Occasionally, reflux oesophagitis may become complicated if scars cause a tightening or narrowing (stricture) in the food pipe. A gullet stricture can prevent swallowing. This is a serious condition, which requires immediate examination and treatment.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
Disorders of the digestive system are extremely common ranging from the occasional upset stomach to the more life-threatening colorectal cancer. They encompass disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive system disorder, which simply means 'inflammation of the colon'.

Constipation:

In a healthy person the bowels should pass a motion at least once a day, and naturopaths suggest that we should have one bowel motion for each meal. When we are constipated the water in the faeces is re-absorbed by the body causing the stools to harden in the colon. Eventually, the colon loses its muscle tone and the condition becomes chronic.

Symptoms associated with constipation include infrequent bowel movements, hard stools, straining when passing a motion, cramps, abdominal bloating, and flatulence, with a desire to defecate but an inability to pass a stool. Related symptoms include headaches, halitosis, coated tongue, pale complexion, and dizziness.

In acute constipation the causes can be simply a matter of eating concentrated foods that swell in the body (e.g. bread and oats) with insufficient water. However, the causes may also be fairly serious including an obstruction in the bowel, insufficient bile secretion by the liver, lack of peristalsis due to nerve paralysis, drug toxicity and infections.

Chronic constipation often results from a low fibre diet, poor muscle tone due to lack of exercise, obesity, stress, nerve dysfunction and habitual use of laxatives. However, research has shown that the most important factor in chronic constipation is diet.

Poor Appetite:

Disorders of the digestive system are extremely common ranging from the occasional upset stomach to the more life-threatening colorectal cancer. They encompass disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. Poor appetite is not a disorder in itself, but usually a symptom of some other problem. It may be related to a digestive system disorder or emotional factors such as depression, illness, stress or trauma.

Certain controllable factors, such as the use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs, can also result in poor appetite. An undetected underlying illness, heavy metal poisoning, and / or nutritional deficiencies may be involved.

Post Operative Recovery:

Post-operative recovery at home should promote physical healing and rest and recovery from the stress of surgery. Emotional and psychological recovery from life-altering surgeries may also begin during the home recovery period.

Caution is necessary giving reflexology within 3 months of surgery requiring a general anaesthetic (GA) as surgery requiring GA denotes the seriousness of the situation.

However, reflexology can assist in post-operative care by speeding up recovery, healing scar tissue and alleviating long-standing post-operative symptoms, and also in uncovering underlying problems in a previously misdiagnosed condition.

Reflexology can also release the symptoms of old, unresolved conditions or injuries that have healed imperfectly, and it has proved equally effective for releasing emotional trauma.