Reflexology: The application of appropriate pressure to specific points and areas on the feet, hands, or ears…these areas and reflex points correspond to different body organs and systems, and that pressing them has a beneficial effect on the organs and person’s general health. – The University of Minnesota, Center for Spirituality & Healing

When institutions such as the University of Minnesota are studying alternative and natural health, it’s a big deal. The studies coming out of academic institutions that scientifically demonstrate the health benefits of natural healing and wellness have proliferated. As a result, many leading medical practitioners are now practicing natural treatment; some have even left traditional “diagnose, prescribe, repeat” cycle of traditional medicine for a more holistic/wellness approach.

What is “reflexology”?

This leads us to another important and beneficial practice: reflexology. For the uninitiated (yours truly), reflexologists achieve positive health outcomes for patients by manipulating certain pressure points that correspond to certain areas of the body. This pressure is then applied to help alleviate symptoms of various types.

Practitioners of reflexology are either using the treatment exclusively or as a complement to other methods for an assortment of conditions. These conditions are wide-ranging and include: anxiety, asthma, cancer treatment, cardiovascular illness, diabetes, kidney function, PMS and sinusitis, among others.

Key areas of the body – including the hands, feet and ears – affect specific bones, organs and bodily functions. Our feet, which we’ll focus on, correspond to different areas of the body affected by cold and flu. Pressure points in the left foot parallel the function of all organs and valves on the left side of the body, while pressure points in the right foot affect the right side.

Practitioners of Chinese reflexology (more on this later) have discovered that certain areas of the foot correspond with life’s energy, or “qi” (pronounced “chee.”) When certain spots of the foot are sore, this is likely because of an internal imbalance of energy. Cold and flu symptoms are notorious for causing soreness of the feet, and these are the areas that need attention.

How can it help with my cold and flu?

Here’s how this 5 minute foot massage relieves cold and flu symptoms:

Well, Chinese reflexology practice helps in different ways. First, it’s effective, which is the most important part of any treatment regimen. Second, it’s very quick – the entire process will take about 15 minutes (five minutes, three times a day.) Third, in addition to being quick and effective, the practice is incredibly relaxing to others areas of the body.

Given the fact that many of us will continue our lives despite of fighting a cold (sometimes, even a flu), simple practices that promote relief are often preferential to chasing our malady with medicine and simply waiting it out. A targeted, quick massage may indeed substitute for this “drug and sleep” ritual.

Furthermore, those that practice Chinese reflexology will testify to the effectiveness. Chest congestion and pain is often alleviated, as are headaches, muscle pain and other unpleasant symptoms. To be clear, this technique probably won’t create feelings of euphoria (wouldn’t that be nice?), but it will likely result in noticeably more tolerable symptoms.

Chinese Reflexology, although very powerful, the practice does require a little time. Please don’t expect to be cough and headache-free after one session, in other words.

Let’s get to it!

First, note that rubbing sore areas of the feet may cause some unpleasantness at first – this is completely normal. As such, progressively rub despite of this, as the subtle pain will eventually reside. Second, try this practice on an empty stomach or, at minimum, an hour before eating.

The primary areas we’re seeking to affect are the lungs, tonsils and throat, sinuses, and lymph (or lymph nodes). As mentioned, each area correlates with different parts of the foot.

Area #1: The Lungs

In Chinese medicine, a balance exists between the lung meridian (energy) and the presence of germs. When we’re sick, this balance shifts and requires intervention to achieve equilibrium.

The lung meridian’s pressure point is located on the ball of the foot, between the little and big toe. As cold and flu symptoms tend to wreck some havoc on our lungs, it’s normal for this area to feel somewhat tender.

Massage this area by pressing deeply with the thumbs. If a certain spot is tender to the touch, rub even deeper in smaller circles.

Area #2: The Sinuses

When one’s head is “stuffy,” this is almost always a sign of sinus congestion. Massaging the foot area corresponding with sinus function is one of the best ways to help alleviate a cold.

This area is located on the underside of the big toe. Use the thumb and forefinger to pinch and rub the bottom of the toe gently. Continue this motion for about 30 seconds.

Area #3: Throat and Tonsils

This is an area where the pain/benefit line is momentarily blurred. Rubbing the foot area connected with the throat and tonsils can be painful. Despite of the discomfort, this technique has been known to work wonders on a sore throat.

There are actually four pressure points for the throat and tonsils – side-by-side on the bottom of each big toe, just below the knuckle. To massage these four points, make a fist and then place the knuckles of the middle and index finger on top of the big toe. Move the wrist back to apply pressure to all four areas simultaneously. Continue for about 30 seconds.

Area #4: Lymph

No, we don’t generally feel lymph congestion or pain, but attention to this area can help speed up recovery from a cold or flu. This is because the lymphatic system is responsible for transporting white blood cells (read: healthy immune system) and eliminating waste – two essential functions for fighting off (and preventing) sickness.

The pressure point for the lymph system is in the webbed area between the bones of the big toe and second toe. To massage this area, use the knuckle of the index finger and apply strong pressure from the base of the toe to the “V” area when the bones meet (roughly 3 inches). Repeat this stroking motion 30 times.

Rub these points on both feet four times a day at these times:

– After first waking up

– 1 hour before or after lunch

– End of the workday

– Before going to sleep

Perform this ritual for at least two consecutive days. As symptoms reside, it’s okay to decrease the daily frequency (four times a day down to two, for example). For good measure, stick with the message for a couple days after feeling better.

As always, drink plenty of fluids and get adequate amounts of rest.