Reflexology: A randomised controlled trial investigating the effects on beta-endorphin, cortisol and pregnancy related stress

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Reflexology is used for various pregnancy related complaints. A three-armed, pilot randomised controlled trial was conducted to test changes in physiological and biochemical stress parameters. Ninety primiparous volunteers experiencing low back and/or pelvic girdle pain (LBPGP) were recruited to receive either six reflexology or footbath treatments or usual care. Primary outcome data included pain intensity and frequency measured on a visual analog scale (VAS), and salivary beta-endorphin and cortisol levels. 61 (68%) women completed the intervention. A clinically important reduction of 1.63 cm occurred for VAS pain frequency following reflexology. Beta-endorphin levels increased by 8.8% and 10.10% in the footbath and usual care groups respectively and decreased by 15.18% for the reflexology group. Cortisol increased by 31.78% for footbath participants, 31.42% in usual care and 18.82% in the reflexology group. Reflexology during pregnancy may help reduce LBPGP, and associated stress. However, antenatal reflexology is under researched and requires further investigation.

Keywords: Beta-endorphin; Cortisol; Low back pain; Pelvic girdle pain; Pregnancy; Reflexology.


McCullough JEM, Liddle SD, Close C, Sinclair M, Hughes CM. Reflexology: A randomised controlled trial investigating the effects on beta-endorphin, cortisol and pregnancy related stress. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2018 May;31:76-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2018.01.018. Epub 2018 Feb 3. PMID: 29705485.

The conclusion of this research paper in Greek

The purpose of this section is to make this research paper useful to Greek speaking reflexologists. This is a tool developed by the Center of Reflexology and Research (Κέντρο Ρεφλεξολογίας και Έρευνας) in Greece and supervised volunteers from across the world.

Μετάφραση των συμπερασμάτων της συγκεκριμένης έρευνας:

Η ρεφλεξολογία κατά τη διάρκεια της εγκυμοσύνης μπορεί να βοηθήσει στη μείωση του άλγους της μέσης και/ή της πυελικής ζώνης και του σχετικού στρες. Ωστόσο, η προγεννητική ρεφλεξολογία είναι υπό έρευνα και απαιτεί περαιτέρω διερεύνηση.

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