London: Facial reflexology is now increasingly used for hard-to-treat common conditions like stress, insomnia, digestive problems, joint pain, menopausal flushes and memory loss as they yield to the therapy that stimulates pressure points.
An estimated 35,000 reflexologists are now practising in Britain and a growing number are using the face instead of the feet or hands to deliver this health therapy.
According to its advocates, facial reflexology is effective because the face has a large number of nerves and blood vessels, the Daily Mail reported.
According to Chinese medicine, our energy flows through the body via 12 invisible meridians. If these energy lines become blocked, imbalances occur and can result in aches, pains, insomnia and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
"The brain is the control centre of the body and the face is much closer to it than the feet are, so face reflexology can work faster than foot reflexology," says leading facial reflexology practitioner Nikke Ariff.
Ariff, who has a clinic in London, explains that each session begins by stimulating the acupuncture points on the face using acupressure (pressing on them with the fingertips and rotating them on the spot).
The treatment is popular with those suffering from conditions that may be stress-related such as insomnia, tension headaches and IBS.
In some IBS patients, for example, there is a strong link between stress and symptoms, especially constipation. If stress can be alleviated, gut symptoms such as constipation can be alleviated too.
Anton Emmanuel, consultant gastroenterologist at University College London, cites a study in which constipated patients received reflexology and bowel behaviour was monitored.
A group of patients not only felt less stressed, their bowel movements became more normal.
"I think it may have an effect on the nervous system. Pain is perceptual: any intervention to alleviate pain has to work on the brain and the nervous system," he said.