Reflexology Study Surfaces from National Council Against Health Fraud

Value of reflexology questioned

The ability of one part-time reflexologist to diagnose in 1982 is the basis of a National Council Against Health Fraud opinion about reflexology today. The Council has issued statements to advise the media and the general public that reflexology has no therapeutic or diagnostic value since the classroom exercise in 1982.

The study found that the reflexologist was unable to correctly identify areas on the feet which related to the health problems of 70 individuals. The conclusion was reached that "reflexology was not an acceptable method for medical screening." The classroom exercise on health fraud was conducted by members of a graduate class at Loma Linda University in California. The class was taught by Dr. William Jarvis.

Recurring Role for the classroom Exercise

The classroom study plays a recurring role in comments about reflexology by Council members. Council members provide expert opinions about health fraud during television interviews, in newspaper articles, and in written work. Consumer Reports publishes books by Council members. The Council now provides information for the America-On-Line Health Forum.

Current comments about the study are included in a Council publication, "Information for Prudent Consumers From the National Council Against Health Fraud: Massage/Bodywork," © 1996 National Council Against Health Fraud. The flyer is sent to consumers requesting information about acupressure, Alexander technique, Feldenkrais, Hellerwork, polarity therapy, reflexology, rolfing, shiatsu, Tragerwork or massage.

The study is referred to in a 1992 Denver Post article, "An expert in health fraud (Dr. William Jarvis) said a scientific experiment disproved the corresponding spots theory 10 years ago." (Will, Ed, "Sole Healing, Denver Post, p. 1E, Jan. 25, 1992) In an on-line interview, Jarvis has stated that the study went through the approval process of Loma Linda University. The graduate student who conducted the work never published a paper, however, and he left school with the data.

In statements about reflexology, Council representatives fail to note that their expert evaluation is based on one unpublished fifteen-year old exercise in health fraud using the work of one reflexologist.

When told of the results of Chinese analysis of foot reflexology applied to 8,096 clinical cases, Dr. Jarvis of the Council stated that reflexologists were "deluded but perhaps not out for ill-gotten gains."

Attack on Flocco-Oleson Study

In a March, 1994 article title "Another Medical Journal Quacked," Council members allege that Obstetrics and Gynecology, the official journal of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, was the victim of health fraud when it "published an article an article by two proponents of 'reflexology,' sometimes also called 'Zone therapy.' The scam here is that the human body is somehow (never mind how) completely 'represented' on everybody's hands, feet, and ears and that specialized massage of the hands, feet, and ears can 'stimulate' the corresponding body part to health.

"The theory behind such nonsense seems to be a combination of modified acupuncture … and ideas of a religious flavor about human being 'connected' to the earth and its electromagnetic fields at the feet."

The author of the article reports that a letter to the journal's editor resulted in a response that he, the editor, was satisfied with not being associated with a "narrow-minded organization," i. e. the National Council Against Health Fraud. ("Another Medical Journal Quacked," National Council Against Health Fraud, March, 1994)

ŠKunz and Kunz 2004
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