When people ask me, "Can reflexology help my cold?" I believe in my heart that it can. But that doesn't mean it'll happen the way I want it to. Here are some factors to consider to help you and your clients decide what's best for them.

The Pros or "Benefits":

Here's what we can claim about reflexology:

1. Reflexology is stress relieving. (It's probably THE most relaxing method, bar none.)

2. Reflexology helps support the body's own healing efforts toward balance or homeostasis. (This makes sense because when we're more relaxed, everything tends to function better.)

3. Reflexology may influence circulation. (It's a byproduct of our techniques - a bonus!)

Think about it... there's a whole world of support in just these 3 processes.

We know that stress is a factor in at least 85% of all pathologies, either directly or indirectly.

We all know that reflexology can pack quite a wallop. Even though (in America) we don't diagnose, treat or prescribe, we've all seen or had our own personal experiences with the effects of "the extreme sense of relaxation" that often occurs.

If stress can make you sick indirectly then it could be said that stress relief can make you better indirectly.

The Cons or "Timing of the Benefits":

Detoxification is natural process for the body but, in some cases this elimination process can reproduce symptoms that are similar to those that occur when stress is winding inwards while creating constrictions and blockages.

The return of symptoms as a result of the unwinding of stress is referred to as a "healing crisis".

Now, a true healing crisis is a positive sign - that a balancing process is under way.

And, it happens naturally in every holistic modality; Massage, Reiki, Polarity, Acupressure, Reflexology - you name it - there's potential in all for a "healing crisis" to occur.

The healing crisis can occur during, immediately afterwards or days later and is usually over within 24 hours. But because of its potential to occur at all, there's good reason to proceed gently, especially when a body is weak or already dealing with eliminating elements.

Which Brings us to Colds:

I received an email from a former student recently, and in it she expressed concern about the results of giving a reflexology session to a friend with a bad cold. She reported that a few hours after the session - her friend was in the emergency room with bronchitis!

Has this happened to you too?

Now, reflexology can't put something into a body that isn't already there.

But, does it sometimes seem like reflexology works so powerfully that we might actually make someone feel worse with its sheer balancing force?

It doesn't happen often, but it can.

When to Work and When to Wait

My mother, Irene, always said: if you treat a cold it's gone in 7 days, and if you don't - it'll last a week.

I believe that reflexology can reduce either the symptoms or the length of a cold. Reflexology can help the body detoxify, which is powerful help when the timing is right.

So why aren't we all opening "Cold Reduction Clinics"?

Let's go back to the Pros and the Cons.

As I mentioned above, I believe that reflexology can reduce either the symptoms or the length of a cold or both.
This is a function of helping the body "detoxify", thereby accelerating the healing process which in turn may relieve symptoms. We're in effect helping the body to help itself.


With a cold, if you work too intensely or too early - the detoxification effect can help elevate some of the symptoms but it might just make some of them seem worse (healing crisis) before they get better. Kind of like being hit by a truck!
And, even though there's a good chance that the cold will likely break sooner, you'll need to weigh the pros against the cons.

Remember, if you work on people with a cold

1. they might feel worse before they feel better (but the length of the cold may shorten).

2. find out if a fluctuation of their symptoms is okay with them. Some people will choose one over the other.

So, I let them know the possibilities and give them the choice. I let them decide.

And, Always Remember, When in Doubt.... Go Slow. See how they tolerate the work and how their body responds. You don't have to do it all at once.Just like when you're working for the first time on a client of advanced age, or immune system compromised or very ill, go slowly the first session, with a shorter duration.
Work for support and balance rather than maximum detoxification.
Be careful in the acute stages of any issue, and prepare your client for what to expect.

Bottom Line...

People who receive reflexology report an impressive amount of stress relief. Our bodies are balancing and healing themselves all the time. But sometimes they're overwhelmed or diverted from their natural rhythms. However, when the body is no longer spinning deeper into its stress, or when a stress is interrupted, there is a greater possibility for healing.

Sometimes the unwinding is in such contrast to the "tightness of stress" that there's a huge surge in the body's ability to be more efficient in its detoxification.

As a reflexologist, I know that one of the most important things I can do is support my client's own healing processes and that I'm NOT doing the healing for them.When a body feels supported shift happens. And, yes sometimes "miracles" happen too.

For colds, I work the reflexes to; the immune system (thymus, spleen, upper and lower lymph reflexes), the respiratory system (lungs, chest, bronchial, and sinus reflexes), the respiratory diaphragm, the endocrine system, and yes, the large intestine and the ileocecal valve reflexes (almost always indicated with respiratory issues).

In addition, there may be other reflexes that refer to symptoms like headache. And, remember to check with a medical doctor when in doubt or before embarking on any technique when a serious, acute or advanced pathology is involved.

©Wendy I. Coad, 2008

Author's Bio: 

Wendy Coad, Master Reflexologist, Licensed Bodyworker and Creator of "The Foot Factor" DVD Reflexology Training Program, helps reflexologists and aspiring reflexologists find their true passion for helping others (or take their existing skills to a whole other level) while "healing the world one foot at a time." Wendy’s wealth of knowledge and teaching skills provide the techniques, guidance and confidence for you to begin or expand upon a brilliant career in Holistic Health. For a FREE download report and a treasure trove of instruction to get you started today, visit Wendy’s website www.ReflexologyProf.com