Researchers have found that reflexology—a popular form of bodywork that involves deep pressure to reflex points on the feet and is used by some massage therapists—helps alleviate constipation.

The researchers, from the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, in London, England, set out to determine the effectiveness of reflexology in treating idiopathic constipation in 19 women.

Patients’ subjective perception of constipation was recorded, as well as their levels of anxiety and depression, and attitudes toward complementary health care before and after the intervention, according to a report on www.pubmed.gov.

After receiving reflexology, 94 percent of participants identified their constipation to be improved to some extent. Ten patients demonstrated an improved anxiety score and 11 participants demonstrated an improved depression score. Improvement was seen in general health, mental health and vitality, with vitality improving significantly. Sixty-three percent of participants had a more positive attitude toward complementary health care following the intervention.

“This study shows that in this sample reflexology has potential benefit for treating idiopathic constipation in women,” the researchers noted. “Further randomized trials are required.”

The research is published in the journal “Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.”

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