To determine whether reflexology therapy—the application of manual pressure to reflex points on the ears, hands, and feet that somatotopically correspond to specific areas of the body—can significantly reduce premenstrual symptoms compared to placebo treatment.
Thirty-five women who complained of previous distress with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) were randomly assigned to be treated by ear, hand, and foot reflexology or to receive placebo reflexology. All subjects completed a daily diary, which monitored 38 premenstrual symptoms on a four-point scale. Somatic and psychological indicators of premenstrual distress were recorded each day for 2 months before treatment, for 2 months during reflexology, and for 2 months afterward. The reflexology sessions for both groups were provided by a trained reflexology therapist once a week for 8 weeks, and lasted 30 minutes each.
Analysis of variance for repeated measures demonstrated a significantly greater decrease in premenstrual symptoms for the women given true reflexology treatment than for the women in the placebo group.
These clinical findings support the use of ear, hand, and foot reflexology for the treatment of PMS.