How Reflexology Brings Balance to Your Thyroid
by Catherine Morris | November 26, 2020, updated about 2 months ago
The thyroid is a tiny gland, capable of causing big problems. This essential organ is the centre of our endocrine system, where hormones are manufactured, released, and regulated. When the thyroid produces too much (HYPERthyroidism) of its hormone, or too little (HYPOthyroidism), it can cause a cascade of symptoms that seriously disrupt our physical and mental health.
With the thyroid it's all about balance. Striking the right balance and maintaining it throughout your life can be difficult, particularly when stress, poor diet and genetic issues all contribute to poor thyroid health.
Reflexology is a gentle, non-invasive, holistic therapy that aims to bring every function in the body into balance. Reflexology can be used as a complementary therapy for the millions of North Americans dealing with symptoms of an over-active, or under-active thyroid.
What is Reflexology?
Closely related to Chinese medicine, reflexology takes a little from acupuncture and a little from acupressure. It's based on the principle that pressure points on the hands and feet map to other parts of the body. Manipulating these points through touch and massage can stimulate the nervous system and boost circulation in the corresponding organs, promoting healing in that area.
“People have been using reflexology to heal, treat pain, stress and tension for thousands of years,” says Reflexologist Yasina Bhanji.
“People usually ask if it's massage, and in a sense it is, but I am using pressure points instead of massaging your muscles.”
Where on the Body Does the Treatment Take Place
While most of the work is done on the feet, the hands are also important. Bhanji explains–
“We have more of an intellectual connection with our hands, but our feet do more work than anything else. I spend more time on the feet because that’s where I connect to your nerve endings and your soul. That's where I get that mind body connection. In my sessions I start at the feet but I might use hands first with seniors, children or anyone who's nervous. It gives them comfort.”
What Happens During a Reflexology Appointment?
This time also gives Bhanji the chance to ask if clients are on any medications or are pregnant—these groups should use reflexology cautiously, particularly those taking blood pressure medications. Bhanji explains—
“Reflexology can cause you to release toxins and if you have issues with blood pressure you can start to feel faint.”
Once the treatment begins, clients feel their stress melt away almost immediately. “Right away you feel a release. Your body feels tingly and relaxed,” says Bhanji.
From there she works over the major pressure points, taking her cues from the client's reactions. If an area is sore or stiff, that's usually a sign that it needs some gentle attention–
“You can't just jump into it. You want to see how the client is going to start reacting. I see where I feel the most kickback and go from there. If you’re not comfortable, you can stop at any time. If you find the pressure too much just tell [your practitioner]. We’re not going to judge you, we’re looking for these reactions because we want to help.”
Reflexology for Thyroid Health
Stress is a big contributor to disease, and can disrupt thyroid function, so a soothing reflexology session can be extremely therapeutic for clients with thyroid issues. Sometimes, just the physical sensation can be enough to steady the body and mind, says Bhanji—
“As humans we need physical touch. Most of us are very tangible people and you get that touch with reflexology while it works its magic on the backend.”
Bhanji has seen firsthand how reflexology can help even the most serious thyroid conditions—when her friend was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, Bhanji used her skills to help her through the chemotherapy.
“It helped with her chemo, helped release that pain. She had less nausea, was more relaxed, her body was able to accept the chemo better.”
The thyroid has its own pressure points in both the hands and the feet. On the foot it's located between the joint and base of the big toe. On the hand, you'll find it between the knuckle and the base of the thumb.
Bhanji doesn't leap right into manipulating these points. When clients come to her with thyroid-related issues, she prefers to take a gradual approach, noting,
“The thyroid affects most of your body [and] every part of our body talks to each other.”
She begins with the kidneys and large intestines, to promote detoxification and digestion, then moves onto the adrenal glands, and then upwards to the hands. She tells clients not to eat for an hour before the treatment, or up to an hour afterwards, but to drink lots of fluids to promote the cleansing effects. She also recommends a course of three weekly sessions, giving the nerves a chance to relax between each.
Do You Have Hyper– or Hypo– Thyroidism?
Reflexologists take a holistic approach in their healing, knowing that sometimes conditions can show up in unexpected ways. This is especially true of the thyroid which can go undiagnosed for years as people fail to make the connection between their host of seemingly minor ailments and the tiny gland in their neck.
Hyperthyroidism is usually diagnosed from a cluster of symptoms including weight loss, anxiety, irritability, muscle weakness, thin hair, and brittle nails.
The hallmarks of an under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism) are weight gain, fatigue, depression, sluggish digestion, dry skin, and cold intolerance.
Bhanji says reflexology treats all of these symptoms by honing in on each organ and area of the body. After an hour-long treatment, the entire nervous system is rejuvenated as it's taught to “make new connections.”
DIY reflexology for Your Thyroid
Although connecting with a trained reflexologist provides a more complete, relaxing, and customized treatment, there are a few DIY tricks you can use at home, according to Bhanji.
She recommends hitting the basic points, where you can't over-do it with too much pressure. These include—
- The webbing between the index finger and thumb, which promotes overall thyroid health
- The tips of the fingers and toes can relieve stress, tension, and headaches
- Tracing a V from the middle of the left foot across to the outer edge of the feet and down to just before the heel helps with digestion and clears toxins.
If that doesn't sound appealing, Bhanji has an even easier piece of advice—
“I always tell my clients, if you can't see a reflexologist go earthing! Take your shoes off and go walk in the grass, let mother nature do it for you.”
If you are interested in reflexology, reach out to one of our experienced Which Doctor practitioners today to book a session or simply find out more about how it can help you on your wellness journey.
Catherine Morris is an award-winning journalist with a bad case of wanderlust and a passion for all things health and wellness. Originally from Northern Ireland, she worked as a news and feature writer for media outlets in the UK, South Africa, France and the Caribbean before settling in Canada. Catherine now lives in Alberta with her husband and rescue mutt and spends her time happily exploring the great outdoors with both.