Add as bookmark

Case Study 20: in Reflexology

by Ann Gillanders(more info)

listed in reflexology, originally published in issue 20 - May 1997



CYSTITIS is the inflammation of the bladder, and is usually acute, with scalding pain on the passing of water. It has a rapid onset. The patient feels off-colour. There is pain in the centre, low in the abdomen, which is worse when urine is passed. There is frequently passing of small amounts or merely the sensation of wanting to. Most cases resolve themselves without the need for deep-acting agents.

Bacteria invade when there has been continued irritation such as that of sand or gravel in the urine. Bacillus coli resides in the rectum but may invade the bladder. Urine is often turgid and evil smelling. By travelling down the ureters kidney infection may be conveyed to the lining of the bladder.

A common cause is diuretic indiscretion, such as too much spicy food, curries, peppers, vinegar, coffee, alcohol, tea, too much and too strong cola and other stimulants. Too much meat concentrates urine, as do other high purine foods.

Plenty of fluids should be drunk, either in the form of herbal teas, alfalfa, or bottled waters rather than coffee or tea. These dilute the irritating effect of uric acid in the urine.

Mandy was a very attractive 24-year-old and came to me with a history of chronic cystitis which had occurred during the last 12 months. The infections caused a lot of low pelvic and back pain. She often had a raised temperature and frequent episodes of passing small amounts of urine during the night, which gave her a very disturbed sleeping pattern.

She seemed an anxious young woman, although on the initial consultation there was no real evidence of the reason for her emotionally stressed state. During the treatment sessions the area of the bladder and pelvic areas were extremely sensitive to pressure; in fact, the slightest pressure gave rise to extreme discomfort in her feet and made the general pressure unacceptable to her.

Mandy also reported that during the attacks of cystitis she was quite sure that her eyes became affected as they were normally sore, irritating and watery. She had reported this fact to her GP who said that there was no link between cystitis and eye conditions whatsoever. However, when she was introduced to the benefits and understanding of Reflexology, I explained to her how the kidney and eye areas are in the same related areas and it is very common to find when people have bladder inflammations that their corresponding area, the eye, is extremely sensitive and can cause the symptoms of soreness, watering and sensitivity that she described.

Mandy used to bring her three-year-old son with her, so the treatment sessions were not as relaxed as I would have liked them to be, but she explained that she had nobody to leave her young son with and so it was necessary for him to accompany her in order that she could continue regular Reflexology treatments.

We worked out a rota for a weekly treatment session. I said that in normal situations six sessions should give good, satisfactory relieving results, then maybe the occasional treatment on a monthly basis would be advisable for her.

There was very little improvement until the third session, when she said that she had noticed that she felt generally much calmer and very relaxed after treatment, and in fact the night following the treatment session would give her uninterrupted sleep for eight or nine hours, which was most unusual.

She still suffered a lot of low pelvic discomfort, however, and frequency in her urinary output during the daytime. I asked her to return to her GP for yet another urine check just to make sure that there was nothing underlying. There is sometimes the problem of another associated illness linked to urinary frequency and low pelvic pain. However, after her visit to her GP, who gave her a further examination and tested her urine, he confirmed that she was in fact still suffering from chronic cystitis and recommended yet another course of antibiotics, which she declined. The antibiotics always gave her an intense attack of thrush, therefore she had a dual problem to cope with.

Over the next few weeks there appeared to be a great improvement in her urinary condition but it was not until the eighth treatment that she confided in me that her husband had left her and their young son just a year before for another woman, and it was from this period of time that her first attack of cystitis had occurred.

It often happens that when we have emotional hurts which are very close to our heart our reproductive or urinary areas are most commonly affected, almost as a hurt to our very femininity.

Reflexes in the feet that revealed sensitivity:

Reflexes in the feet that revealed sensitivity: Cystitis

Mandy was quite sure that her eyes were sensitive and watery during her bouts of cystitis.
I explained to her that the kidney and eye areas are in the same related areas and it is quite common to find an eye problem during bouts of urinary tract disorders.
The kidneys were sensitive, but the bladder was acutely sensitive even when the slightest pressure was applied.

Beneficial herbs, vitamins and dietary advice: Cystitis

Tea, coffee, alcohol and any caffeine-type drinks, such as cola, should be avoided.
Echinacea is a good immune stimulant and excellent for cystitis as it also acts as an anti-inflammatory.
Dandelion leaf and horsetail are recommended.
Plenty of fluids are advisable and those with a barley base are especially beneficial, lemon barley in particular.
Cranberry helps to prevent the bacteria from adhering to the bladder.
Vitamin C: 1—3g daily. Vitamin C helps boost the immune system to fight infection.



DIABETES MELLITUS (Mellis means sweet: Greek) occurs as a result of diminution or absence of insulin supplied by the beta cells of the Islets of Langerhans.

Chris was in his sixties when he came to me having suffered from diabetes for many years. His diabetes had been very difficult to control all his life, and he had suffered as a result arterial corrosion of the eyes and the kidneys. He had also had two mild heart attacks. At the time of coming to see me his main problem was an inability to walk any great distance because of intermittent claudication in his legs, which meant that after very short periods of walking he had cramp-like seizures in his calf muscles which made him have to stop whatever he was doing. The main sensitivities which appeared in the feet were in the eyes, kidneys, heart and groin areas. This indicated the arteriosclerosis that he suffered due to the diabetes.

He was constantly exhausted and had a very restricted lifestyle, although he did take quite an interest in his engineering company, which he had built up over 30 years. He was treated very regularly over a period of eight weeks with hardly any results, which made me feel that perhaps this treatment was going to be of little support for him. However, he was insistent on continuing, and I am so pleased that he did because on the ninth treatment he suffered quite a severe reaction to the treatment.

An angry rash appeared all over his body. He had excessive bowel actions, which was most unusual for him as normally he suffered from constipation and had to rely on laxatives to help any bowel action. After this rather major cleansing of the system he began to make great strides. The main benefit he achieved was the ability to walk distances; the breathless condition which resulted from his mild heart attacks improved considerably; and he was able to take an interest in jobs in the garden which previously had been completely out of the question. Chris was very impressed by the benefits of Reflexology and after three months (12 treatments carried out consistently on a weekly basis) his improvement was so marked that he suggested that he would like to come to have a regular Reflexology treatment every fortnight. This he did and he lived for another nine years, constantly having Reflexology; he described it as his life support.

During the nine years of treatment from me he hardly ever had a problem with maintaining his insulin (blood sugar) levels, which was very encouraging as previously he had had no end of increases and then decreases in his insulin injections in an attempt to try to control his very difficult condition.

Chris was a fine man. He was over-generous to all who came his way, was loved by all members of his staff and family, and when he died (he did in fact die of kidney failure), he left a large sum of money to the Diabetic Trust.

Reflexes in the feet that revealed sensitivity: Diabetes

Reflexes in the feet that revealed sensitivity: Diabetes

The eye reflexes were sensitive in both feet.
The kidneys were also very painful.
The damage to the heart was apparent from the reaction in the heart reflex area.
Congestion in the groin area revealed the congestion in the arteries which caused the cramp-like seizures in his legs (intermittent claudication).

Beneficial herbs, vitamins and dietary advice: Diabetes

The diet suitable for diabetics would have been discussed by the doctor or dietician in charge of the case.
The dosage of insulin and the number of units of carbohydrate is all-important.
However, a good, basic, nutritious diet, free from junk foods and refined sugar, provides a positive direction for any health condition.
The use of garlic is advised for the general health of the arteries.


Frozen Shoulder

Edward contacted me. He needed an urgent appointment, as the pain and disability in his shoulders was so intense that he was not able to sleep at night. Although only 38 years old, he said that he walked about like an old man of 80.

There seemed to be little reason for his shoulder restriction. He had been married for a couple of years and had just had his first child and his work did not involve any heavy physical lifting. His job was demanding. As a computer programmer for a large company he sat for hours in front of a screen and the more he worked throughout the day, the more his pain and discomfort increased.

His doctor had treated the problem initially with pain-killing tablets, and because the condition failed to improve he then had two cortisone injections. He described the pain of these injections as 'agonising' and initially had some relief but six months later he was back to square one. The sensitivity in his shoulder reflexes were extreme, his thoracic spine and neck also revealed a lot of tension and inflammation.

After his first treatment he reported that in fact the condition seemed worse. I reassured him that this was not unusual; often the condition gets a little worse before it gets much better following a treatment of Reflexology, particularly the first one.

Edward attended for his weekly appointments and very gradually an improvement began. First and foremost, his pain levels decreased and then gradually he was able to raise his arms a little more each week.

As we got to know each other he said that he had found the responsibilities of marriage, a mortgage and a new baby rather a strain and he did constantly worry about his job security and so on.I explained that the shoulders are traditionally where we 'shoulder our responsibilities'. Tense shoulders often mean that we are carrying too many burdens. Our shoulders get painful and rigid when we are not expressing our real needs, when perhaps we are doing something that we would rather not be doing.

He said he was scared of sharing these insecurities with his wife in case she felt that he was a bit weak and watery.

Maybe the acceptance of the cause of his condition helped admirably but after eight sessions of Reflexology his shoulder condition became a thing of the past. Edward still comes back from time to time. He says that when he feels like 'the milkmaid carrying her yoke' he rings for another appointment.

Reflexes in the feet that revealed sensitivity:
Frozen Shoulder

Reflexes in the feet that revealed sensitivity: Frozen Shoulder

Acute sensitivities appeared in his shoulders, neck and thoracic spine.

Beneficial herbs, vitamins and dietary advice: Frozen Shoulder

Soothing herbal teas such as chamomile are indicated to help towards relaxation in tense and stressful situations.
B5 (pantothenic acid): 250 mg 2—4 times daily may help to alleviate painful symptoms. Vitamin C: 1—2 g daily helps tendons and bones. Vitamin E is known for its certain anti-inflammatory properties.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (IBS) This condition was previously known as 'mucous colitis' or 'spastic colon', and was believed to be associated with psychosomatic rather than allergic causes.

Food is said to be responsible for one-third of cases, but X-ray fails to reveal evidence. Prostaglandins are implicated. Females are far more susceptible than males. Cow's milk and antigens in beef can precipitate the condition.

The two main symptoms are abdominal pain and altered bowel habit. Pain is usually relieved on opening the bowels or on passing wind. Diarrhoea with watery stools may alternate with constipation and a sensation that the bowel is incompletely emptied. There is flatulence and passing of mucous between stools.

The chronic condition may cause weight loss and poor health, calling for treatment of the underlying condition. Sufferers are usually hard-striving perfectionists who find it difficult to relax.

It is said that men express their dis-ease by experiencing duodenal or stomach ulceration which is common in mentalities as described above.

Pauline came to me in a very stressed state. She was only 42 but looked far older. Her life had been very complicated and sad for the previous four years. Her marriage had failed, resulting in a divorce, and she was having quite a time in trying to hold down a job as a sister-in-charge of the accident and emergency department at her local hospital.

She had two children in her care, a boy of thirteen and a daughter of ten. Her son in particular was very difficult to manage following her divorce and seemed to blame her for the breakdown of the marriage.

Finances were strained, as Pauline was trying to maintain the family home and had a mortgage to pay and all the usual expenses of running a home, car and family. She frequently worked extra shifts at the hospital when money became short, and now, just to add to these problems, she had irritable bowel syndrome. It had become so bad that the attacks of diarrhoea in the morning, when they were at their worst, were embarrassing, to say the least.

She experienced quite excruciating pain on her left side, which was the descending part of the colon. The frequent bowel actions had caused haemorrhoids, so now sitting was painful and she was nearly at the end of her tether.

She had had numerous bowel function tests at the hospital and various medications from the doctor, so I knew that nothing sinister was underlying. It is always essential when a patient presents with alarming symptoms such as she had that all possibilities of a severe disease are eliminated. Remember, doctors have access to all forms of X-ray screening devices whereas Reflexologists do not.

Pauline's feet certainly did tell the tale. The intestinal area was so sensitive that she could hardly bear any pressure on the reflexes, particularly in the descending and sigmoid colon on the left foot. Her stomach and liver reflexes were over-sensitive too, and that poor old solar plexus area again, the great seat of emotions and feelings. Locked in there I am sure were all the hurts and pains of her divorce, the heavy responsibilities of being a single parent, and uncertainty regarding her future.

Apart from her irritable bowel, Pauline had such severe pains in her neck, shoulders and the tops of her arms that at times she could hardly hold a shopping bag.

People who have a lot of responsibilities and take the problems of the world on their shoulders frequently suffer arm and shoulder pains – you know, rather like the milkmaid carrying a yoke, heavy weights across the shoulders!

Always remember, the arms and hands are the wings of the heart, they encircle your heart, so heavy emotional burdens affecting your innermost feelings affect your arms and hands – your wings!

It was quite hard to know where to start. You can't say, 'Why don't you change your job, let somebody else have your children for a while, have a break?' All those things were impossible.

Having somebody to talk to who understood helped immensely. Reflexology did the rest.

I gave Pauline a light general treatment, and also some body massage, which she said was a luxury. 'Do you realise, nobody has touched me for three years?' she said.

I asked her to telephone me the next day to report any reaction. She said that she slept very well, the best night's sleep she had had for many months. Her bowel actions had been the same, but she felt less stressed and her shoulders and arms were definitely less painful.

Very, very slowly over the next few weeks her diarrhoea improved, the daily morning routine of eight or nine visits to the toilet reduced to two or three. Her energy levels started to improve, and that consequently gave her more emotional strength to cope with her son, who blamed her for his lack of a father.

I have suggested to Tony (her son) that he go and live with his father – just to see if he is happier there. He obviously does not like what I have to offer him, she said. Perhaps a few months there will help us all.

After the sixth treatment I noticed a marked reduction in sensitivity in the colon, and to me this reflected that the inflamed colon had begun to heal. Pauline's symptoms were greatly improving now, and some days she was not troubled by her bowel condition at all. She stuck rigidly to the dietary advice.

There was little she could do to reduce her work load at the hospital. She had a responsible, demanding job and there was very little she could delegate. However, as she put it, 'If I can get rid of some of my health problems I will be able to cope more confidently with my job.'

I suggested to Pauline that she take Slippery Elm Food after a busy shift at the hospital instead of trying to eat a rushed meal often at odd times. The bark of the elm is well known for its healing process, particularly of the digestive system.

I worked hard with Reflexology and Pauline put in her 50 per cent, which is so essential in achieving a good result.

Pauline had ten treatments in all, and then a further three on a monthly basis. Her bowel condition improved dramatically. She looked 10 years younger and life took on a better meaning.

Tony, who left to live with his father, returned home after four months with a much improved disposition, realising that it takes two parents to create a situation that culminates in divorce and there is always another side to the story.

Reflexes in the feet that revealed sensitivity:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Reflexes in the feet that revealed sensitivity: Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The stomach and liver reflexes were sensitive. This was mainly due to the digestive system being out of balance.
The intestinal areas on both feet were so sensitive that even the lightest pressure on her feet was hardly bearable.
The sigmoid colon and rectum on the left foot were acutely sensitive. The inflammation in this part of the colon was at its worst and the rectum was painful because of the haemorrhoids.
The solar plexus is easily upset by emotional disturbance. This was another area that caused a strong reaction to the treatment session.

Beneficial herbs, vitamins and dietary advice: Irritable Bowel Syndrome

When there is such an acutely inflamed condition in the digestive system it is recommended that you choose perhaps a weekend when you can take life easy and go on a two-day grape fast. Eat nothing but grapes, as many as you like, chew the kernel and swallow. Also drink pints and pints of pure spring water. The grape is a healing fruit; that is why for many centuries it has been taken to the sick as a luxury; the luxury being the fruit, not the cost. Today, grapes are very reasonable in price.

Slippery Elm Food is available in powder form and can be made up in milk as a drink. It is quite pleasant and should be taken first thing in the morning and always last thing at night. Slippery elm is soothing and healing to the entire digestive system.

Coffee and alcohol must be avoided. For the first few weeks, or until you get an improvement, eat fish, chicken, root vegetables, rice, pasta, potato, pears and stewed apples and avoid a lot of roughage.

There is usually a problem in the emotional field, a feeling of being unable 'to digest' a certain situation or irritation in the personal life. An inability to accept an inflammatory situation!

The physical symptoms of irritable bowel are often accompanied by fatigue, depression and anxiety. Gentle exercise such as curl-ups help to strengthen abdominal muscles and promote normal intestinal contractions. Acidophilus supplements contain lactobacillus-acidophilus which helps to repopulate the intestinal flora with beneficial bacteria. Pantothenic acid is essential for proper functioning of the gastrointestinal tract. Herbal antispasmodic complex such as valerian, hop, hawthorn and passiflora are known to have soothing properties. Peppermint oil capsules can be taken, as peppermint oil has a well-proven antispasmodic effect on the stomach and intestines.

Further Reading

If you would like further information on Irritable Bowel Syndrome, please consult Issue 13 of Positive Health Magazine (to order: phone +44 (0)117-983 8851). For more in-depth information on Irritable Bowel Syndrome, please consult Irritable Bowel Syndrome by Lynn Toohey Ph.D. (from Issue 14, also available from +44 (0)117-983 8851).



LARYNGITIS is an acute infectious illness of the larynx which often spreads to other parts of the throat and sometimes the ear. The infection causes hoarseness, swelling and pain in the throat and often results in a complete loss of voice.

Simon was a dental surgeon who, for the last two and a half years, had repeated episodes of laryngitis which often lasted for several weeks. He said he had suffered many throat infections as a child. There was no real pattern to these attacks apart from the fact that his voice was reasonably normal, although a little husky, in the mornings and became increasingly huskier and weaker as the day progressed. He was a very conscientious man, a perfectionist in his work and had worked very hard to build up his successful practice.

He had gone through the usual routine examinations with an ear, nose and throat specialist but nothing abnormal had been discovered.

The courses of antibiotics, which he had resorted to in a desperate attempt to improve his condition, gave him very little relief. His doctor had referred him for allergy testing wondering if there was something he was using in his work that was affecting his throat, particularly in view of the fact that the condition improved once he was away from his practice. The only time his voice returned to near normal was when he took his twice-yearly holiday.

There was considerable sensitivity in his throat and neck area; in fact, the whole shoulder, thoracic spine and head areas were acutely sensitive to even the lightest pressure, and the diaphragm and solar plexus revealed a strong reaction. The most acutely sensitive areas however, were his adrenal glands. 'What on earth have my adrenal glands got to do with my throat condition?' he asked.

A very accurate picture was emerging of a sensitive, conscientious, hard-working dentist who was under considerable pressure, and his body was indeed in a tense condition, which was why his adrenal glands were so sensitive. His shoulder, neck and thoracic spine were reacting and this, in the main, would have been due to hours of standing over patients in rather fixed position.

His body was reacting to stress by a loss of voice. After explaining the situation to Simon, he tended to agree with my findings. He attended for treatments on a twice-weekly basis, although he was reluctant at first to agree to two treatments a week because of his heavy workload. However he did agree that really his health came first and if Reflexology could sort out his repeated laryngitis then he would be overjoyed. Simon attended for two months and had eight treatments in all. There was a remarkable change in his condition within the first three treatments and after two months his voice was nearly back to normal.

Reflexes in the feet that revealed sensitivity: Laryngitis

Reflexes in the feet that revealed sensitivity: Laryngitis

There was considerable sensitivity in the throat, neck and head.
The area of the thoracic spine and shoulder also reacted to pressure.
The adrenal glands were acutely sensitive, also the diaphragm and solar plexus.

Beneficial herbs, vitamins and dietary advice: Laryngitis

As a good immune boost, echinacea, 100—200 mg daily for a 2—3 week period.
Balm of Gilead natural throat pastilles will help ease the huskiness.

Case Studies and Illustrations: Taken from Gateways to Health & Harmony with Reflexology by Ann Gillanders. The Alden Press, 1997. Used with permission.


  1. No Article Comments available

Post Your Comments:

About Ann Gillanders

Ann Gillanders qualified in Reflexology in 1976 under the method developed in the USA by Eunice Ingham, the founder of modern Reflexology. She is the Principal of The British School of Reflexology. Sidebar intro In this article, Ann Gillanders outlines case studies of how – using Reflexology – she has helped patients suffering from Cystitis, Diabetes, Frozen Shoulder, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Laryngitis. She also includes information on beneficial herbs, vitamins and dietary advice to help sufferers.

  • mycology research MRL

    MRL markets mushroom products food grade US & Netherlands GMP standards. Health Professional Videos

  • Liposomal Nutrients

    Optimum system for nutrient delivery to cells - fully bioavailable vitamins absorbed and metabolised

  • nutrition and cancer

    by Sandra Goodman PhD The latest scientific research regarding Nutrition and Cancer. Full details at

  • Super Patch Wellbeing

    Super Patches – a most revolutionary advance in wellbeing strategies in the history of medicine

  • Ultimate Body Detox

    Immune system support & heavy metal detox - 3 powerful products: ACS 200, ACZ Nano & ACG Glutathione

  • Beginner's Guide to ME

    Essential reading for people/carers with ME/CFS serious debilitating illness. Counteracts bad advice

  • Seaweed as Superfood

    Comprehensive nutrient balance found in no other natural food but seaweed: colon health, weight loss

  • College of Ayurveda UK

    Diploma in Āyurvedic Medicine, 4-year self-paced distant learning program in Āyurvedic medicine.

  • Water for Health

    Specialist online health store focused on hydration, body pH balance and quality nutrition.

top of the page