History Of Reflexology - Corrections

By Master Helen Whysong

Chapter One - From 'One Step Beyond, author Master Helen Whysong'
History of Reflexology

Many civilizations have practiced reflexology. Evidence of this has been documented on four continents: Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America. The most common theory is that the earliest form of reflexology originated in China, as mcuh as 5000 years ago. The early Taoists are credited with originating many Chinese health practices.

The Cherokee tribes of North America to this day practice a form of reflexology that they continue to pass from generation to generation.

Reflexology traveled across India, Japan, Asia, and China. Traditional East Asian foot reflexology is called Zoku Shin Do. This is the foot portion of the Japanese massage technique. The roots of Zoku Shin Do go back to ancient China and are over 5000 years old.

Many changes took place in zone therapy, or reflexology, as new knowledge was added. In China, reflexology reached a new level. The practice of acupressure using the fingers turned into the practice of acupuncture using needles. The study of the reflex points still existed, but the knowledge was linked or added to and taken in a new direction—the direction of meridians. The Chinese concept of meridian therapy is an important part of the foundation of reflexology.

There are many peoples and individuals who deserve credit for the development of reflexology. This timeline charts some of the salient contributions.

2500 BC Ancient Egypt. Evidence of the practice of reflexology has been found in anceint Egypt, dating as far back as 2500 BC. Alternative medicine procedures were commonly practiced. The Tomb of the Physician, Ankhmahor, is located in the necropolis (city of the dead) of Saqqara. Saqqara was a burial ground of Egyptian pharaohs for over a thousand years, from the time of the First dynasty, the earliest organization of the civilizations of the Upper and Lower Nile Valley, dating back to 2750 BC.

Physiotherapy was depicted in a relief tomb in Saqqara, showing the massaging of a shoulder and a knee. Heliotherapy (exposure to ultraviolet sun rays) for pain relief was mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus. To relieve pain in any part of the body, the procedure was to anoint the body and expose it to the sun. Mud and clay therapy was described in this way: “Thou shalt do for it: rub her feet and legs with a mat [mud and clay] until she is well.” Hydrotherapy (treatment by water) was practiced in a sanatorium near Dendara temple, in chambers that were equipped with basins. Water was poured down over a statue, then flowed down a canal into the basins. In the tomb of Nenkh-Sekhmet, Chief of Physicians in the 5th dynasty, it was written: “Never did I do anything evil towards any person.”

A pictograph dating between 2500 - 2330 BC in the tomb of Ankmahor displays the operation of circumcisions. Some illustrate the care given to the hands and feet, and it has been suggested that they represent the manicure and pedicure. The translation in *** most reflexology books of the hieroglyphs states: “Don’t hurt them; and make it enjoyable for you, my dear.” Most reflexologists say that this is a reference to an early practice of reflexology, though this is questioned.

(*This is it! the picture in our reflexology books have a different translation than in the history books. The history book translation states; Make these give strength. Reply: I will do thy pleasure. and Do not cause pain to these. In the history books the practitioners have tools in their hands performing work on the feet. Dr. Fitzgerald used tools!!!)

(Because of copyright I was not permitted to include the picture so here is the information; The books is; The Tomb of Ankhm'hor at Saqqara by Alexander Badawy.)

(The history book translation doesn't sound like a manicure but a physical help for the body??)

One of the temples built by Ramses II contains a carving of the victory at the battle of Kadesh. The carving includes a depiction of soldiers on the campaign having their feet tended to. Even today ancient footwork practice can be found in some remote Egyptian villages.

The Egyptian people were a giving civilization. The water from the Nile river would flood the gardens and produce rich black soil. As a result they had an abundance of crops of wheat, corn, figs, and other vegetables. The crops and fish from the streams were shared among all the people, even the laymen. The weather in Egypt was rainy, making the climate sticky and humid. The Egyptian people were clean-shaven, with little or no body hair; the ladies used to shave their heads and wear wigs that were worn up on the top of the head like a beehive. In these beehive hairstyles, they would put essential oils embedded in wax. As the wax warmed, it would melt and the fragrant essential oils would be released into the air. Jewelry was strung around the neck like a large collar, and bracelets were worn both on the forearm and the upper arm. Often Egyptian people wore no tops; they only wore their gold jewelry and a silk sheet that wrapped around certain parts of the body.

The Egyptians educated within their community, and they were a gifted community; they had the first dentist, wonderful architects, doctors and so on. If the head of the household was a dentist, you were trained to be a dentist; if a builder, the offspring became a builder. Egyptians were the first to use gold in tooth fillings. Most of our holistic arts come from Egypt: Cranial Sacral, Aromatherapy, Massage, and Reflexology.

Egyptian families all lived together: grandma, sisters, brothers, father, mother, and all their children. They were very family minded and took care of each other, marrying as teenagers. They married their servants, and mixed marriages with their own relations was common practice. Because of this early motherhood and inbreeding, bloodlines became weak. The death rate among children was high and lives were short by today’s standards.

The Egyptians were a rich people. Other peoples found out about this and wanted to trade services with them. Trade began spreading across the large expanses of water that protected the Egyptians and surrounded their homes. People were jealous of the riches in Egypt and started wars with them. The Egyptian warriors were very organized and they usually won their battles. They would fight with a great deal of forward planning. They would line their warriors up both in a line and several rows deep. The attackers could not get through them, and they would have their victory. Despite the wealth in the land, the Egyptian people remained very humble in their workmanship. They would use the old ways of gardening, without modern equipment. Even today they live very humbly.

Everyone has seen movies of the great tombs of Egypt. They would cover these tombs with pictures to honor their dead. One of these tombs is particularly important for our discovery of reflexology—the physician’s tomb, the tomb of Ankhmahor in Saqqara. There is a really nice book called The Tomb of Ankhmahor at Saqqara by Alexander Badawy that shows you the tomb’s pictographs, which include circumcision, childbirth, pharmacology, embalming, dentistry, and reflexology. Scenes like these were carved into the tomb wall not only to honor the physician but also for religious purposes. On the reflexology pictograph you will notice that it looks as though the therapist is holding a tool in his hand for working on the feet. Underneath the picture it is written, “Make these give strength, reply, ‘I will do thy pleasure,’ reply, ‘Do not cause pain to these.’ ”

475-221 BC In China, the Yellow Emperors of Internal Medicine identified 14 channels (meridians) within the human body, six of which travel to the foot. Meridians are energy pathways all over the body that link our internal organs with the other parts of our body. These energy channels are the pathways for the circulation of the vital life force, which the Chinese call chi and the Japanese ki. Chi is also referred to as “life force,” “vital force,” and “vital energy.” Although chi is necessary for the existence of life, it is not visible to the naked eye; it is more akin to the electrical energy in our body. Reflexology is very effective in stimulating and revitalizing this energy flow. As we practice our reflexology techniques, we stimulate the autonomic nervous system, which is linked to every organ, gland, and all parts of the anatomy. The Chinese theory is that there must be an open flow of chi to maintain good health.

60 BC Mark Anthony is noted in historical works to have worked on Cleopatra’s feet at dinner parties.

300-700 Age of the Mayans and the Incas. These high cultures developed reflexology to diagnose and treat many illnesses. The Mayans documented their findings by carving them into stone plaques. The altar at Copan has engravings with symbols encoded that only medicine men could understand.

790 Buddhas footprints are found in the Medicine Teacher Temple in Nara, Japan.

1292 Marco Polo, upon his return to Italy, may have introduced Chinese massage techniques to the West. Another possibility is that the Dominican and Franciscan missionaries brought this knowledge home sometime during the Middle or Dark ages of Europe, between 400-1400 AD.

1582 In Europe at this time, zone therapy was practiced in several countries. The first book found published on the subject was by Dr. Adamus and Dr. Atatis in 1582. In Leipzig, Dr. Ball writes a a book on the same subject.

1771 Johann August Unzer, a German physiologist, in his published work is the first to use the word “reflex” with reference to the body’s motor reactions.

1830 Neuro-vascular holding points are discovered in 1830 by Dr. Terrance Bennet, a chiropractor. He found these points mainly on the head, and deduced that they seemed to influence the flow of blood to specific organs and structures in the body.

1833 Marshall Hall, an English physiologist, in a study on the reflex function of the medulla oblongata and the spinal cord, uses the term “reflex action” and demonstrates the difference between unconscious reflexes and volitional acts.

1834 The Swedish doctor Pehr Henrik Ling notices that pains emanating from certain organs are reflected in certain areas of the skin, but with no direct relation to these organs. Other students followed this line of thought, including the English neurologist Sir Henry Head. The treatment zones that he discovered came to be known as “Heads zones”. Therapeutic anesthesia was born.

1870 Russian psychologists begin researching zone therapy. These include Ivan Pavlov and Vladimir Bektev, founder of the Russian Brain Institute.

1890 Sir Henry Head publishes his discoveries that the sensitive areas of the skin are connected through nerves to a diseased organ. “The bladder,” he wrote, “can be excited into action by stimulating the soles of the feet.”

1900 Dr. Alfons Cornelius in Germany improves his own health by reflex massage.

The year 1913 witnessed the rebirth of reflexology.

“Reflexology is Nature’s push-button secret for vibrant health, more dynamic living, abundant personal energy, and better living without pain. A scientific technique of massage that has a definite effect on the normal functioning of all parts of the body.” – Dr. William Fitzgerald, 1913

Dr. William Fitzgerald (b.1872 – d.1942) is known as the “Father of Zone Therapy.” He was the most forward thinking of medical men, who became a natural healer through the art of using pressure therapy to benefit and heal the human body. A graduate of the University of Vermont, he was for many years senior Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon at St. Francis Hospital, Hartford, Connecticut. While working at his specialty, he observed that by applying pressure to certain parts of the body the patient would feel no pain, and he was able to do minor operations without using cocaine or any other local analgesic.

Dr. Fitzgerald is responsible for what we call zone therapy today. He devised the system of mapping the body into five zones on each side of a median line. These zones run the length of the body from the head to the feet.

It is by using this map of the body on the feet that we are now able to find the reflex points that mirror our entire body. Dr. Fitzgerald called these lines the “ten invisible currents of energy” through the body, and he demonstrated the correlation between the reflex points on the feet and areas in distant parts of the body. He showed how a pressure of between 2 and 10 pounds on a given finger or toe could alleviate pain anywhere in a corresponding zone in the body.

Dr. Fitzgerald showed that the upper and lower surfaces of the joints and side areas could all be pressed with good results. He also showed that each zone could be worked on a client’s hand or foot, because the zones run to both extremities. The zones pass through the body from front to back. Each zone represents or includes all the organs, muscles, and bones through which the respective zone line passes.

The distance between the area treated and the corresponding organ was of no importance, since the entire zone was being treated. When pain was relieved, the condition that produced the pain was generally relieved as well, and this led to the mapping out of these various areas and associated connections, and also to the conditions influenced through them. Dr. Fitzgerald would use rubber erasers for therapy bites, metal combs, elastic bands, pegs and percussion motors, and surgical clamps on reflex areas. He applied pressure over any bony eminences or upon the zones corresponding to the location of the injury. In the book Zone Therapy (1928), Dr. Benedict Lust M.D. wrote, “I have reason to believe that there are now upwards of five hundred physicians, osteopaths, and dentists using these methods every day, with complete satisfaction to themselves and their patients.”

Dr. Fitzgerald was responsible for the studies and practices of zone therapy. Zone therapy (as it was called) has been practiced and taught by some of the most noted doctors in America. Zone therapy was taught by Dr. Fitzgerald to many doctors and chiropractors. The chiropractors, impressed with what they saw and learned, taught it to others in their chiropractic schools. Dr. Joe Selby-Riley (M.D., M.S., D.O., N.D.) said, “The scope of the science of Zone Reflex [Reflexology] is almost unlimited. Great physicians who have investigated it fully made the claim that it is the greatest ally yet found to this work. Side by side with other great therapies, zone therapy will stand in the march of science and progress.”

The work was wonderful, and very effective for the client. The level of discomfort was at times unbearable, but the results were fantastic. The practitioner, however, found a flaw in these techniques. Not only was a treatment sometimes beyond a client’s comfort zone, but the client could watch the practitioner, then go home and copy the action the practitioner applied to them. Reflexology is easy to learn, so as the doctors and chiropractors worked on the clients, the clients worked on themselves, and thus would not have to come back as often, yet still get fantastic results. Over the years, however, zone therapy became less popular because of the pain level induced by the techniques used.

Here is a list of contemporaries of Dr. Fitzgerald who used zone therapy. This list gives some idea of the wide range of therapies that included zone therapy techniques.

• Dr. J. S. Selby-Riley, Washington D.C. (chiropractor)
• Dr. Edwin F. Bowers, M.D., Los Angeles CA, author of Zone Therapy, or Relieving Pain in the Home
• Dr. George Starr White, M.D.
• Dr. Benedict Lust, N.D., D.O., D.C., M.D. He was called the “Father of Naturopathy.” Dr. Lust was the founder and dean of the American School of Naturopathic, the American School of Chiropractic, and the New York School of Massage. He was also owner and director of the Youngborn Health Resort, which had locations in Butler, NJ and Tangerine, FL. Author of Universal Naturopathic Encyclopedia, he wrote an article on zone therapy entitled, “Relieving Pain and Sickness by Nerve Pressure.”
• Dr. R. T. H. Nesbitt, Waukegen, IL. Dr. Nesbitt was one of the physicians who used zone therapy for childbirth. He had very gratifying experiences with pressure analgesia.
• Dr. G. Murray Edwards, Denver, CO, also used zone therapy for childbirth. He replaced the use of chloroform with elastic bands, each an eighth of an inch wide, that he wrapped around each foot, one around the large toe at the first joint and one around the remaining toes.

1913 Dr. William Fitzgerald

1916 Dr. Joe Shelby-Riley, who ran a school of chiropractic in Washington D.C, and his wife, Elizabeth Ann Riley, were students of Dr. Fitzgerald. Dr. Shelby-Riley wrote twelve books on the subject of zone therapy. He also introduced the technique called “hookwork,” by which the fingers are hooked under the bones to work certain areas of the body in connection with zone therapy.

1917 Dr. Edwin F. Bowers, M.D., a well-known medical critic and writer in New York, heard of Dr. Fitzgerald and his work, and, after making his acquaintance, helped Dr. Fitzgerald to write down his findings. Together they published the book, Zone Therapy, Relieving Pain at Home. It was Dr. Bowers who coined the term “zone therapy.”

1917 V.M. Bechterev of Russia coined the term “reflexology.” He was a colleague of Pavlov.

1920 Harry Bond Bressler was a writer and graduate of the Shelby-Riley Chiropractic School. In his writings he altered the zones from five lines to four. It is important to be aware of his alteration, because early books on the subject of reflexology can provide conflicting information with regard to zone location.

1925 Eunice D. Ingham Stopfel (b.1889 – d.1974) was a massage therapist (*error in the reflexology books) and lecturer, and author of Stories the Feet Have Told Through Reflexology. She learned the technique of reflexology while working for many years under Dr. Shelby-Riley. Eunice Ingham became known as the “Mother of Reflexology.” She blazed the trail for further developments in reflexology, and the technique we use today, The Original Ingham Method, is named after her. Eunice Ingham’s nephew, Dwight C. Byer, now continues her work.

(*Reflexology books state that Eunice was a mere massage therapist, while in fact she was a Chiropractic. I interviewed her nephew Dwight C. Byers about 1997 and he stated that he had been going through his aunts belongings and ran across a diploma for her as a Chiropractor.)

1938 Dr. Fitzgerald discovers Mayan stone plaques that seem to pertain to foot reflexology. He and Eunice Ingham decode these plaques; other stone plaques detailing hand reflexology were too eroded to be deciphered (which may help explain the prominence of foot reflexology).

1966 Doreen E. Bayly was trained by Eunice Ingham in America. She is responsible for bring reflexology therapies to Great Britain (in 1966). Ms. Bayly is also the author of a book on reflexology.

1974 Publication of Zone Therapy by Anika Bergson and Vladimir Tuchack.

From the book: “Zone therapy systems are a boost to conventional curative methods as practiced by the medical profession, not something opposed to or at variance with its practice. The stark simplicity of these wonderful methods stands in direct and dramatic contrast to the very nature of disease and those stubborn and depressing psychological conditions which disease brings in its wake. Zone therapy systems cannot possibly be detrimental if followed correctly. They can be amazingly, miraculously effective.”

The authors go on to say that zone therapy has been practiced for some fifty years before the publication of this book.

1975 Mildred Carter, a student of Eunice Ingham, was author of the book Hand Reflexology: Key to Perfect Health. She calls reflexology “a form of western-type acupuncture. The body’s vital life force circulates along pathways, and we can tap into an estimated 800 points on the body. But we can work these reflex buttons that go to all the organs with the feet and hands.” Ms. Carter has passed on, but her family has a website with her tools and books for resale.

1976 Stephan Thomas Chang published the theory that the discovery of pressure points took place when wounded soldiers baffled the ancient Chinese physicians by claiming that symptoms of disease vanished after they had been hit by arrows or stones. The relationship of pressure to the various organs was developed by trial and error by other Asian peoples as well. The various schools of martial arts began using pressure points to disable opponents.

1979 Ed and Ellen Case of Los Angeles, CA, on a tour of Egypt with Dr. Gwendolyn Raines, brought back an ancient Egyptian papyrus scene depicting the treatment of hands and feet in 2500 B.C.

1981 Anna Kaye, noted for her seminars and workshops, was co-author with Don C. Matchan of the book Mirror of the Body. Anna Kaye was a student of Eunice Ingham, and a student of polarity of Randolph Stone, Ph.D. She was 74 years of age when this book was published.

1983 Jurgen Kaiser was author of the book Masseur and Medical Balneologist. After training in foot reflexology, Mr. Kaiser researched hand reflexology intensively and put the zones into a topographical order. He concluded that hand reflexology could achieve even better results than foot reflexology, and that since it was easier to use, it had greater potential for the lay person.

1983 Dwight C. Byers holds special training and seminars on the subject of reflexology, and is author of Better Health with Foot Reflexology.

1984 Hanne Marquardt is the author of Reflex Zone Therapy of the Feet. This was the first British publication on reflexology since Eunice Ingham’s books. Hanna has twenty-five years experience as nurse, midwife, ward sister, and tutor in England and South Africa. Mrs. Marquardt offers courses in the United Kingdom at: British School of Reflex Zone Therapy of the Feet, 87 Oakington Avenue, Wembley Park, London HA9 8HY England, UK.

1985 National Inquirer reports that Prince Charles is hooked on reflexology therapy, which involves clearing the body’s 10 vertical energy channels by massaging different areas of the feet.

1990 Helen Whysong studied with Carole Poore, a Nature Sunshine provider, in Phoenix AZ. Carole held classes on herbs, iridology, and reflexology in her home. At this time Helen had persistent ear aches in her right ear (it had been punctured when she was eleven years old), and the doctor had recommended surgery. Since she had no insurance she was administered reflexology treatments, and these treatments eliminated the pain and kept infection out of the ear. Since then Helen has had two surgeries—she still has the hole in her left ear—and reflexology is still working its magic. Helen’s first experiences with reflexology left a deep impression on her, but she did not know that their was proper training in this area until 1991.

1997 Newsweek reports that Princess Diana has foot reflexology three times a week.

1998 Ladies Home Journal reports that the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, is a client of Joseph Corvo, practitioner of the “so-called discipline of zone therapy”. The treatment involves massaging fifteen specific nerve endings on the face, which are said to revitalize eleven areas of the body.

Other Sources on the History of Reflexology
International Federation of Reflexologists, from Reflexology - An International History www://reflexology-ifr.com/history.html

Reflexology: Art, Science and History by Christine Issel
New Frontier Publishing P.O. Box 246654, Sacramento, CA 95824

Hand Reflexology by Jurgen Kaiser, Alexander Scharmann, MD, Beate Poyck-Scharmann, MD, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. New York