Reflexology Treatment Of Diabetes And Arthritis Biology Essay

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The pathological condition of diabetes mellitus is characterised by high blood sugar levels due to defect in insulin secretion and polyurea that is caused by the osmotic dieresis. The depletion of water and a catabolic state with reduced glycogen, proteins, and triglycerides tends to produce polydipsia, and polyphagia (Atkinson and Maclaren, 1990). The inception hyperglycaemia may also produce clinical symptoms that may also include lethargy, nausea, and blurred vision. Sudden onset of the disease is not atypical followed by increased stressful condition that may lead to ketoacidosis.


The physiology of diabetes mellitus primarily indicates a catabolic disorder followed by a condition where pancreatic beta cells do not respond to the insulin-secretor stimuli and thereby, reduce the insulin circulation. The plasma glucagon begins to elevate and in order to overturn catabolism the exogenous insulin is required. Diabetes mellitus is an autoimmune disorder and there is an increased risk of insulin deficiency as the pancreas indicates lymphocytic infiltration and further damages the islets of Langerhans, responsible for insulin secretion. The prime function of islets of Langerhans is to regulate glucose, when blood glucose passes above 80 mg/dL; they release insulin followed by the release of glucagon when glucose passes below 80 mg/dL (Atkinson and Maclaren, 1990). The circulation of blood transport insulin from pancreas to liver which plays an integral role in stabilizing blood sugar levels.


The conventional method for the treatment of diabetes mellitus is to control initial hyperglycaemia and maintain serum electrolytes and hydration which is done by the initiation of insulin therapy followed by a positive change in life style, healthy and nutritious diet. The initiation of insulin therapy is dependent upon patient’s weight and the dose is adjusted by taking into consideration, the pre-prandial plasma glucose at 80-150 mg/dL (Atkinson and Maclaren, 1990). However, before the commencement of diabetes management strategy followed by both the conventional treatment and reflexology points, it is imperative to determine the root causes of the underlying issue.

Linking Physiology and Reflex Points

The excessive anxiety, anger and mental depression cause severe damage to liver and that eventually causes the liver to malfunction. The extended damages to liver increasingly consume body fluids that sooner or later lead to diabetes. Moreover, the functioning of the bladder gets out of control thereby restraining urine discharge that causes polyurea. The indicative reflex point for the treatment of damaged liver in diabetic condition is 24-Liver found on the foot, located about 3 finger widths from the edge. Circular massage to the 24-Liver point condenses depression and also helps in anger management. The reflex points when worked on, they significantly trigger stress and tension in the corresponding zone and induce a relaxed response of the body as a result of which the nerve impulses are unblocked causing improved blood circulation (Norman, 1988). Excessive alcohol intake and over-eating fatty food results in disrupting the function of spleen and stomach that also leads to the accrual of internal heat and over consumption of body fluids causing diabetes. 6-Spleen is a reflex point on the inside of the lower leg that crosses the meridians of spleen, kidney and liver; massaging which the digestive, gynaecological & emotional disorders can be improved. The pressure and intention on the reflex points including 2-pituitary, 30 cerebrum, 4-cerebellum, 20-adrenal gland, 21-kidney and 22-pancreas are also helpful points, massaging which in a slight clockwise circular motion may help to enhance the effects of hypoglycaemic agents on blood sugar (Field, 1997) however, the exact mechanism foot reflex-therapy in the treatment of diabetes is still under investigation. The circular massage treatment on the reflex points helps resolve phlegm throughout the body and also produce a balancing effect on the liver and kidney while; the workflow of adrenal and pituitary glands is also stabilized (Tanner, 1990). In addition to this, concentration of serum oxidative lipids and number of nodes in the main reflex zones can be reduced.


Anxiety, frequent urination, tender feet and fatigue can be induced followed by the foot reflexology in certain cases of diabetes. It has been observed that the risk of foot ulcers is also elevated during first metatarsal foot peak pressure or when abnormally high pressure is applied to the reflex points. Soaking feet in hot water after the treatment might also be contraindicated for certain diabetic patients. Reflexology treatment is contraindicated for pregnant women in the first trimester as it might interfere with the prescribed medications and for the patients with low platelet counts which are likely to bruise more due to excessive pressure (Mars et al, 2008).


Atkinson, M. A. And Maclaren, N. K. (1990) What causes Diabetes? Scientific American Journal, 263: pp. 42-49.

Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., LaGreca A., Shaw, K., Schanberg, S., & Kuhn, C. (1997). Massage therapy lowers blood glucose levels in children with Diabetes Mellitus. Diabetes Spectrum ,10, pp. 237-239.

Mars M, Desai Y, Gregory MA. (2008). Compressed air massage hastens healing of the diabetic foot. Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics, 10(1): pp. 39-45.

Norman, L. (1988) The Reflexology Handbook. London. Piatkus.

Tanner, R. (1990) Step by step Reflexology. 5th Ed. London: Douglas Barry Publishing.


Pathological Presentation

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder characterized by pain, swelling and inflammation of joints. The immune system that is capable of resisting infections tends to attack the lining of joints that significantly cause inflammation that may subsequently lead to permanently damage joints. The thickness of synovium causes the inflammatory cells to produce cytokines and metalloproteinase which lead to cartilage destruction and also damage secondary joints (Grassi et al, 1998). Instability of joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis may also cause deformity.


The defence mechanism of the human body is solely dependent on its immune system that guards it against the attack of germs, viruses and other invaders. The lymphatic system is composed of a wide network of capillaries, vessels, trunks and ducts which plays a fundamental role in offering imperviousness to the body (Grassi et al, 1998). A variety of white blood cells along with thymus gland, spleen, tonsils, adenoids and lymph nodes also act as protective agents.


The treatment plan for rheumatoid arthritis is initially comprised of analgesics and non steroids anti-inflammatory drugs but there is a chance of potential side effects that may include CNS disorders, duodenal ulcers, gastrointestinal haemorrhages and acute renal failures. DMARDs have said to produce some positive effects during initial phases as they interfere with the release of cytokines by activated T lymphocytes and tend to suppress the inflammatory disease process. A number of other treatment options may include physiotherapy, occupational therapy and orthotics however, surgical treatment becomes essential in the conditions like septic arthritis and compression of nerves and spinal cord (Ernst and Koder, 1997). Reflexology is an alternative approach for the treatment of arthritis which might produce positive effects if applied in addition to good nutritious diet and vitamin supplements (Lingyun et al, 2004).

Linking Physiology and Reflex Points

Working on the lymph node reflexes, following the flow back to the venous system tends to stimulate the lymphatic system which removes toxic waste products from the body and ultimately revitalize the energy levels. The Si-10 reflex point stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisone which reduces pain and inflammation in the joints. The Lu-10 reflex enables the hip, knee, thigh and leg muscles to support the skeletal muscle pump and thereby benefit the circulatory system (Haera, 2003). Pressing the reflex point in the lower back, between the first and second lumbar vertebrae located roughly 5 cm up from the coccyx or tailbone helps maintain homeostasis of blood flow and fluid balance (Field et al, 1997). Reflex points including solar plexus Li-4, 10, 11 and Spine st-36 decongests energy pathways and produce constant beneficial effects for the free flow of lymph.


Excessive pressure on the adrenal reflexes may result in increased secretion of cortisone that may produce severe side effects i.e. damage to muscle, bone, stomach ulcers, bleeding and imbalances in the hormonal and nervous systems.