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Holistic Health by Audrey L Seidl

January 9, 2018

Research: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Reflexology

 Research has shown reflexology to positively effect post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is not just about soldiers. While concern has been raised about its projected impact on one-third of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the trauma of witnessed and experienced events has also been linked to: children in China’s earthquake disaster zone, victims of community violence in Northern Ireland, aggressive and anti-social children in England, policeman involved in shootings in America and mothers recovering from labor.

Post traumatic stress impacts some 10% of new mothers. “Some medical experts say that PTSD, most commonly linked to people who have experienced violent events, can also be triggered by a painful or complicated labor and delivery in which a woman believes she or her child might die. PTSD can set in immediately or months after a traumatic event. According to the (Wall Street) Journal, the condition often occurs when someone has experienced an event that includes actual or threatened serious injury or death and evokes intense fear or a feeling of helplessness. Symptoms of the condition can include anxiety, flashbacks and a “numbness to daily life,” the Journal reports.”

Specific reflexology research into PTSD as well as studies of common symptoms show hope for the victims as well as concerned loved ones and governmental agencies. Common symptoms include depression, insomnia and anxiety. Schools in the UK seeking to mainstream into regular classrooms children scared by traumatic events in their home countries have utilized reflexology to good effect. Social workers in Northern Ireland and soldiers in Israel have also found reflexology to help. The following provides discussion of these studies.

Israeli Soldiers

Israeli researchers found frequency to be important in treating soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Following the compiling of results, researchers suggested 2 or 3 sessions a week to achieve a more effective result.

Reflexology was applied to 15 Israeli soldiers suffering from post traumatic stress disorder following the Yom Kippur War of 1973. The 50-60 minutes weekly sessions over 14 weeks showed improvements of symptoms on Day 1 and Day 2 after treatment. Day 3 found symptoms back as before. During a second cycle of 50-60 minutes weekly sessions over 14 weeks symptoms were measured immediately after the session and three days after. Symptoms on Day 3 were improved over those of Day 3, Cycle 1.

Cycle 1

Improvements on a scale of 0 (no change) to 4 (very positive change): Depression (Day 1 after treatment: 3.2/ Day 2 after treatment: 2.2), Outbursts (3.2/2), Muscle tension (2.9/2.2), Concentration level (2.8/2.2), Sleep scores (2.8/2.2);

Improvements on a scale of 0 -5: General feelings (3.7/2.9); Reduction in medication by 50% (7 individuals /3 of the 7/ 1 of the 3)

Cycle 2:

Depression Immediately after treatment: 2.16/ 3 days after treatment: 1.16), Outbursts (2.79/2.05), Muscle tension (2.83/1.6), Concentration level (1.98/1.05), Sleep scores (2.56/0.64); Improvements on a scale of 0 -5: General feelings (3.04/1.2); Reduction in medication by 50% (11 individuals /3 of the 11)

(Meier Teichman, Ph.D. (Clinical Psychologist and Head of Tel Aviv’s University’s Bob Shapell School of Social Work) and Scmuel Zaidel, “Experimental Treatment in Reflexology with Severe, Chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” Institute of Human Ecology) (Our thanks to

Moshe Kiuchik of for tracking down and sending us the full study.)

School-Age Children and Mainstreaming

“… At present we are within four schools and one after school club where we offer a series of 8 – 15 weekly reflexology sessions to children with emotional and behavioral difficulties. These are specific partial treatments aimed at calming down the children and young people so that their behavior becomes less challenging within the classroom and generally, making the mainstream more accessible.

“The children and young people’s difficulties can vary from bereavement to neglect, sexual, emotional, mental and physical abuse as well as exposure to drugs and alcohol. Some have witnessed and experienced horrific events within their country of origin and are separated from family members. … The experience of living in an unsafe environment over a period of time or a severe threatening experience can cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or an unbalance within the body’s systems which can lead to anti-social behaviour. …

“The results from evaluation to date show a reduction in aggression, stress and anxiety and an improvement in focus, concentration, self esteem, listening skills and confidence.”

BUD, Therapies for Life, Accessible complementary therapies for vulnerable children and adults to improve quality of life.

Victims of Community Violence

“Researchers found that voluntary reflexology work and befriending were significantly related to improvements for post-traumatic stress victims in Northern Ireland. Researchers were exploring voluntary work as a practice in social work. Establishment of evidence-based practices “has become accepted as a benchmark for service delivery in almost areas of social work.”

Seventy-five service users were followed over a nine to twelve month period with a completed research inventory up to four times. “‘The results showed that despite detrimental effects of additional life stresses, psychological health and depression scores improved for all service users. Some community-based services (befriending) and some complementary therapies (reflexology) were significantly related to these improvements. Changes in post-traumatic stress disorder severity were not significant….’”

(Dillenburger, Karola, Fargas, Montserrat, Akhonzada, Rym, “Evidence- Based Practice: An Exploration of the Effectiveness of Voluntary Sector Services for Victims of Community Violence,” British Journal of Social Work, August 9, 2007; Correspondence to Dr. Karola Dillen- burger, School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, The Queen’s University of Belfast, 6 College Park, Belfast B17 1LP, N. Ireland. E-mail:

Other Studies

Eight studies show an improvement in mood or lessening of depression. Anxiety was significantly decreased, decreased or lowered for particpants in 9 studies: Nine studies show improved sleep patterns.

Reflexology Research Project      Copyright © 2015

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