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reader comments: reflexology

7 Jun 1999
A true skeptic reviews the facts before making a judgement. There are studies on reflexology including Medline. Your biased piece shows that you haven't reviewed the facts. Shame on you.

Kevin Kunz
Reflexology Research Project

reply: I took the bait and checked out Kevin's page on "controlled studies in reflexology [now gone but here is another page to review]." He lists 34 studies, most of them done in China for the Chinese Society of Reflexology or the China Reflexology Association. A couple were done for the Danish Reflexology Association. None of the studies were published in a reputable refereed scientific journal. The reader is invited to check out the list. You will probably be as impressed as I was.

Kevin Kunz replies, heaping more shame on me:

You said there was no research on reflexology. There is. You didn't retract your statement. You may take issue with the studies done but you can't say there hasn't been studies on reflexology. There are studies on Medline. Shame on you for not telling it straight.

Kevin Kunz
Reflexology Research Project

reply: I can't find where I claim that there has been no research on reflexology. I do say that there is no scientific evidence for the claim that each part of the body has a corresponding double in the feet. I do say that there is no evidence that chi, yin, yang, separate bioelectrical charges or energies are key factors in health. I'm especially puzzled by Mr. Kunz's reply, since I posted his first comment and even linked to the studies he is so proud of.

A search of PubMed for "reflexology" yields some interesting results, e.g., "Physiotherapy as manual therapy," "Effective techniques for massage in labour," "Using massage in the care of children," and from the Journal of Nurse Midwifery, "Acupuncture and acupressure. Applications to women's reproductive health care." Apparently, Medline equates reflexology with massage.

19 Nov 1999
You wanted scientific. Here is a controlled, randomized study from Medline. Will you be putting this up on your site. Or do you strictly stick to polemics devoid of science?
[Reflexology Forsch Komplementarmed 1999 Jun;6(3):129-34[Anderung der nierendurchblutung durch organassoziierte reflexzonentherapie am fuss gemessen mit farbkodierter doppler-sonographie] by Sudmeier I, Bodner G, Egger I, Mur E, Ulmer H, Herold M Universitatsklinik fur Innere Medizin, Innsbruck, Austria. [Medline record in process]]

Using colour Doppler sonography blood flow changes of the right kidney during foot reflexology were determined in a placebo-controlled, double blind, randomised study. 32 healthy young adults (17 women, 15 men) were randomly assigned to the verum or placebo group. The verum group received foot reflexology at zones corresponding to the right kidney, the placebo group was treated on other foot zones. Before, during and after foot reflexology the blood flow of three vessels of the right kidney was measured using colour Doppler sonography. Systolic peak velocity and end diastolic peak velocity were measured in cm/s, and the resistive index, a parameter of the vascular resistance, was calculated. The resistive index in the verum group showed a highly significant decrease (p </= 0.001) during and an increase (p = 0.001) after foot reflexology. There was no difference between men and women and no difference between smokers and non-smokers. Verum and placebo group significantly differed concerning alterations of the resistive index both between the measuring points before versus during foot reflexology (p = 0.002) and those during versus after foot reflexology (p = 0.031). The significant decrease of the resistive index during foot reflexology in the verum group indicates a decrease of flow resistance in renal vessels and an increase of renal blood flow. These findings support the hypothesis that organ-associated foot reflexology is effective in changing renal blood flow during therapy.
PMID: 10460981, UI: 99392031

Kevin Kunz

reply: I have to admire Kevin's tenacity. Perhaps others will duplicate this study and soon we will have hundreds of such studies showing that there is a correlation between parts of the foot and all of the organs of the body. This is a most interesting approach to science. First we invent the theory and then we go looking for confirmatory evidence. Who knows? Maybe this approach will work for reflexology, but it seems they have a long way to go and are taking the long way home. (Scientists do not first give an explanation and then seek for something to explain.) The risk of confirmation bias is exceeding high with such a methodology.

I hope Kevin realizes that such a small study should not be taken as final. I hope he also realizes how much faith I am putting in him by publishing these claims.

22 Nov 1999
It is fortunate the nonplussed Kevin mentioned MEDLINE, in his harangue.

This site - MEDLINE - among others, most notably WebMB, are loaded with alternative remedies, conjectural essays and authoritative-sounding discourses with no references or citations.

Some of the 'strategic partnerships' for these sites between, say, Cnn's WebMD and those listed on the home page are very questionable - with a decided lack of scientists and scientific institutions.

Most of the partners I have checked that WebMD claims are vitamin stores or shadowy organizations within a few miles of CNN center. The online chat 'experts' are usually vitamin charlatans who sell there wares on the WEB.

Try typing in "Gingko Biloba" in the search window of one of these sites sometime. You will find many, many glowing articles. I have personally done this and found enlightening pieces purporting to be full of scientific data. Alas, the article that sounded the best was signed "ANON" and the next best one was signed "D. Jones", or something like that... Surprising some of these sites haven't been sued by folks experiencing bad results or no results.

Indeed, a search on MEDLINE for many quack cures turns up articles suspiciously non-critical, seeming to imply good results for substances the FDA has banned.

I would NOT do any research nor attempt to retrieve data held to be valid on these sites !


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