The History of REFLEXOLOGY
Egypt: The oldest documentation of the use of reflexology is found in Egypt, in the tomb of Ankhmahor, a physician who was the most influential official, second only to the king. In this pictograph dating back to 2,500 B.C. medical practitioners are shown treating the hands and feet of their patients. The hieroglyphic above the scene reads:
“Do not let it be painful,” says one of the patients. “I do as you please,” an attendant replies.
India: The art of reflexology was also known 5,000 years ago in ancient India. Hinduism, one of the oldest religions in the world, is the major religion of India. Various temple shrines portray the divinities in sculptured images and in paintings. A painting titled “Vishnu-padas” shows the feet symbolizing the unity of the entire universe. All elements of the universe are represented by the signs and also indicate the many aspects of the Ultimate One. Many of the Sanskrit symbols can be translated and their exact placement closely corresponds to various reflex points used today
China and Japan: Ancient Chinese writings described a pressure therapy using the fingers and thumbs. Acupressure is an old Oriental therapy, developed before traditional Acupuncture, which evolved around 2,500 B.C. The 12 meridians used in TCM also play an important role in reflexology systems. Buddha’s footprints carved in a rock at Kusinara, China, show symbols on all the toes depicting the sun, possibly reflecting the Chi energy within the toes.
A form of reflexology originated in China about 4,000 years ago under Emperor Hwang as part of Chinese acupuncture and moxibustion. The roots of reflexology can be traced to the Chinese medical book Hwang Tee Internal Text where it is called the “Examining Foot Method”.
It is recorded that a Japanese monk and others studied in China and brought the knowledge to Japan around the time of the Tang Dynasty.
Europe: Around 1300 A.D. Marco Polo is credited with bringing Chinese massage to Europe after having traveled extensively in the Orient. Also there were many Franciscan and Dominican missionaries that traveled to China, therefore they also could have brought reflexology to Europe. However, it is evident that the two streams, one from the East and one from the West (Egypt) found their way to Europe sometime during the Dark Ages.
Much later, a form of reflexology called zone therapy was known and practiced. Zone therapy relieves pain and stress with the application of pressure to zones of the body. The pressure causes a reflex action to occur in another part of the same zone. Dr. Adamus and Dr. Artatis wrote a book on the subject of zone therapy which was published in 1582.
In the late 1890′s massage techniques were developed in Germany that became known as “reflex massage”. This was the first time that the benefits of massage techniques were credited to reflex actions.
Americas: Pressure applied to the feet as a source of healing, was used by the American Indians, which could have been passed down from the Incan Empire. The Inca’s probably did have some kind of footwork, but since they did not develop any writing system there are no sources to reference.
The practice of reflexology had been passed on through an apprenticeship since the 1690′s in the Cherokee nation. Although they were the only Indian nation with a written language there is no record of footwork or charts among the Cherokees or any other American Indians.
Formally, the development and practice of reflexology in the United States is a result of studies conducted by Dr. William Fitzgerald in the early 1900′s.
Dr. fitzgerald was a senior nose and throat surgeon at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut. It was at this time that he made his findings of zone therapy known to the medical world.
He developed this therapy, because he observed that when applying firm pressure to certain points on the hands, toes, and other parts of the body, it caused a type of anesthesia to a limited area. This allowed him to perform minor surgery without the use of cocaine or other local analgesics. Dr. Fitzgerald is credited for his findings of the 10 vertical zones used in modern reflexology.
Dr. Fitzgerald taught Dr. Joe Shelby Reily zone therapy. Dr. Reily used this method extensively in his chiropractic school, which led him to discover eight horizontal divisions, which also govern the body. His work with reflexes and zones also included the hands, head, and ears.
Auriculotherapy, as ear reflexology is termed, was also practiced through the ages by the Chinese. In 1950, a French doctor, Paul Nogier brought ear reflexes again to the attention of the West.
During the 1930′s Eunice Ingham trained and worked with Dr. Reily in St. Petersburg. Florida. She is known as the ‘Mother of Modern Reflexology’. Eunice made two major contributions. Her first was that she found alternating pressure, rather that having a numbing effect, stimulated healing. For forty years she lectured and traveled back and forth across the United States. She wrote three books in the process. Most authors of reflexology have at one time studied the Ingham method.