Reflexology research

In each issue of FHT’s membership magazine, International Therapist, we publish a research section that features a short summary of four or five different studies that have recently appeared in peer-reviewed journals. As these studies help to highlight the potential health and wellbeing benefits of different therapies – often in a healthcare context – it’s not surprising that our members consistently vote* this as one of their ‘Top 3’ regulars in the magazine. 

With just over two weeks to go until World Reflexology Week (20-26 September, 2021) we thought we’d take this opportunity to share four research summaries that focus on reflexology, which we have re-published on our blog for all to enjoy… 

Reflexology reduces anxiety and improves sleep in informal carers of cancer patients  

Reflexology reduces back pain following coronary angiography 

Reflexology eases anxiety and depression in patients 

Hand reflexology and acupressure are equally effective for anxiety 

If you’d like to learn more about International Therapist and some of the many other benefits you receive as a member of the FHT, please visit 

*In our 2021 FHT Member Survey, 70% of respondents chose research as a section of International Therapist that they were most likely to read and engage with. 

Revisiting some of your reflexology favourites

As World Reflexology Week (20-26 September) draws nearer, we thought we’d re-share a short self-help video and a handful of reflexology articles published in International Therapist magazine. Enjoy!

Hand reflexology routine
In this short video, Kate Mulliss, MFHT, shows viewers how to work reflex points on the hands that can help to address stress and anxiety.
Watch Kate’s video

Steps to health
Six FHT members explain how they are supporting clients with different health and wellbeing needs, from pregnancy and Parkinson’s disease, to cancer care and fibromyalgia. (First published in International Therapist, Autumn 2019.)
Read the full article

Reflexology – pregnancy and labour
Dr Julie McCullough talks about researching the effects of antenatal reflexology on pregnancy and labour outcomes. (First published in International Therapist, Spring 2018).
Read about Julie’s research

Stress reflex
Carol Samuel, PhD, FFHT, examines the link between stress and pain, and looks at how reflexology can help. (First published in International Therapist, Autumn 2017).
Read Carol’s article

Reflexology and autism
Lorraine Senior, MFHT, talks about introducing reflexology to a school for children with autism. (First published in International Therapist, Winter 2018.)
Read Lorraine’s article

A big thank you to our lovely reflexology members who contributed to the video and articles above.

Did you enjoy these articles?
The FHT regularly publishes articles on reflexology in International Therapist magazine. To find out more about the many benefits of being an FHT member, visit

Picture: VTCT

FHT promotes reflexology to Natural Health readers

In the run-up to World Reflexology Week (20-26 September 2021), we have been busy sharing information about the benefits of this gentle but powerful therapy with some of our favourite health and wellbeing titles.

On Natural Health’s website, you’ll find an article that provides a short introduction to reflexology, along with five different ways it can benefit clients – from reducing stress and anxiety and supporting those affected by cancer, to helping women struggling with symptoms associated with the menopause.

At the end of the article, readers are directed to FHT’s Directory to find a local therapist who is professional, suitably qualified and accountable. And to promote our members even more, we also have a direct link to the FHT Directory on the Natural Health website homepage throughout August, as well as a full page advert in the August issue of the printed magazine.

Click here to read the reflexology article on Natural Health’s website

Have you downloaded your World Reflexology Resources from FHT’s website yet?

If you are an FHT member and qualified in reflexology, you can get involved in our ‘treat your feet’ campaign and help to spread the word through a range of free resources available via the Members’ Area of our website. Log in, download and start sharing today!

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Massage helps reduce anxiety in surgical patients

Studies have shown that high levels of anxiety surrounding a surgical procedure can activate changes in a patient’s nervous and immune systems and potentially cause hypertension, impact pain thresholds and post-operative pain, delay surgery being started or completed, and delay patient discharge. Furthermore, pharmacological treatments that can be used to help control peri-operative anxiety may be short-acting or produce undesirable side-effects, such as nausea and vomiting (Guo et al, 2020).

A meta-analysis recently published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice aimed to “evaluate the effect of massage on peri-operative anxiety in adults who were about to undergo, were undergoing or were recovering from major and minimally invasive surgical procedures to provide appropriate and practical suggestions for future research and practice.”

A total of 25 studies met the eligibility criteria for the meta-analysis, comprising 2,494 participants. The authors noted the following key findings:

  • That massage can significantly reduce peri-operative anxiety for most types of surgical patients;
  • In order to be therapeutically beneficial, massage lasting 10 to 20 minutes per session was worthy of recommendation in a busy clinical setting;
  • Acupoint or specific body reflex area massage had a better effect on peri-operative anxiety than general massage;
  • Massage delivered by both massage professionals and non-massage professionals (eg. short-term trained nurses and hospital staff) were both effective.

The authors concluded, “This meta-analysis demonstrated that massage is a simple, safe and effective approach for alleviating peri-operative anxiety in most types of surgical patients. More RCTs [randomised controlled trials] with high-quality and rigorous design are warranted to confirm our findings and to clarify the most suitable time at which to start massage in the peri-operative period, the duration of massage efficacy, the minimal effective dose, and the appropriate frequency of massage”.

Click here to access the study abstract

Did you enjoy this research summary?
The FHT features research summaries in each issue of International Therapist magazine. To find out more about the many benefits of being an FHT member, visit

Guo PP, Fan SL, Li P, Zhang XH, Liu N, Wang J, Chen DD, Sun WJ, Yu L, Yang S, Zhang W. The effectiveness of massage on peri-operative anxiety in adults: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and controlled clinical trials. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 2020 Nov;41:101240. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2020.101240. Epub 2020 Sep 17. PMID: 32977216.

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Announcing our 2021 FHT Excellence Awards finalists

Thank you to everyone who entered and nominated in the 2021 FHT Excellence Awards. It’s never been more important to showcase your work and the different ways you help to improve your clients’ health and wellbeing, as well as supporting others in the industry and your local community.

We’re delighted to announce our finalists for…

FHT Complementary Therapist of the Year

  • Malminder Gill
  • Basma Gale
  • Caroline Purvey
  • Stephanie Quigley
  • Alexandra Skanderowicz
  • Angela Vigus

FHT Beauty Therapist of the Year

  • Alison Day
  • Geraldine Flynn
  • Nima Shah

FHT Student of the Year

  • Suzanne Julian
  • Tracy Butler Simmons
  • Anya Rae

FHT Tutor of the Year

  • Sandy Newbigging
  • Clare Riddell
  • Elaine Wilkins
  • Marie Duggan
  • Sally Kay

FHT Local Group Coordinator of the Year

  • Sarah Holmes
  • Jackie Hamilton
  • Alison Brown
  • Janet Cairnie

FHT Green Therapy Business of the Year

  • Glynis Finnigan
  • Philippa Lee
  • Hannah Lovegrove
  • Melanie Price
  • Rima Shah
  • Lucy Stevens

Finalists for our brand new category, FHT Inclusive Therapy Business of the Year, are:

  • Hinna Bashir
  • Ana Bott
  • Beverli Taylor
  • Farrah Idris

Finalists, you will shortly receive a logo to proudly display on your marketing materials.

Congratulations to you all!

Winners will be announced in November and the winner of each category will receive a certificate, trophy, logo for marketing materials and PR support to help spread the word in their local area, and nationally.

We wish you all the best of luck!

World Reflexology Week 2021 ‘treat your feet’ resources for FHT members

World Reflexology Week 2021 runs from 20 to 26 September and we are hopeful that this year, our members will be able to demonstrate how this wonderful therapy can help to stress and anxiety, encourage relaxation, improve mood, aid sleep and so much more.

If you are an FHT member and qualified in reflexology, you can get involved in our ‘treat your feet’ campaign and help to spread the word by:

  • Downloading our free promotional leaflet/poster, to print and distribute in your area.
  • Downloading our promotional image and cover/banner image for use on your social media profiles.
  • Contacting your regular clients and local businesses, offering a discount of your choice on reflexology treatments booked or carried out during World Reflexology Week.
  • Contacting your local newspaper or radio station, or sending them a press release, telling them what you are doing for World Reflexology Week – remember to insert your special Accredited Register mark.
  • Getting together with other FHT members from your local group to organise an event where taster treatments are available. You might want to consider donating all or a portion of the proceeds raised to a local charity or other worthy cause – it is likely whoever you are supporting will help to promote the event in return, which means more feet to treat!

Please send any short write-ups and pictures to Karen at writing ‘World Reflexology Week’ in the subject box, so that we can share this with our members in International Therapist and online.

Log in to the Members’ area and download your resources

FHT shares five reasons to try complementary therapy with Oh Magazine readers

This August, we shared five great reasons why Oh Magazine readers should try complementary therapy, focusing on how it:

  • Can help to tackle the cause, not just the symptom
  • Can help to improve sleep quality
  • Offers a holistic, ‘whole-person’ approach
  • Involves positive touch
  • Empowers people to manage their own health and wellbeing.

At the end of the article, readers are encouraged to visit FHT’s website to find a professional therapist in their area. We will also be promoting our members with a full-page print advert in the September issue of Oh Magazine, so keep a look out for this soon!

If you’re not familiar with Oh Magazine, this beautifully illustrated publication has a readership of 120,000 and offers a fresh perspective, covering new ways of looking inside ourselves and out. Oh offers mindfulness for everyday living, with mindful activities and adventures for readers who want to live ‘on purpose’.

Read our article on Oh Magazine’s website

Picture: Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

How the environment and community shapes our health

“You can create the most wonderful city from the ground up but it could be totally heartless. If it’s not got a soul, a culture and history, what has it got?” Dr Michael Dixon, GP and Chair of the College of Medicine.

What comes to mind  when you read the phrase, ‘healthy city’? Perhaps an abundance of green space, the whirr of cyclists making their daily commute, or affordable healthy food down every shopping aisle?

As therapists, we are aware of the things we need to make us healthy and how our environment can impact our wellbeing. But in a world with so many options at our fingertips, where do we begin when it comes to building infrastructure, a healthcare system and a health education system that works for all?

In the lead feature of the Summer issue of International Therapist magazine, we share some eye-opening statistics about UK population health, before delving into government plans to improve this and how we can make a difference in our own communities.

Read the full article

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MPs call on government to address lack of regulation over non-surgical cosmetic procedures

On 21 July, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing (APPG-BAW), of which the FHT is an associate member, published its final report into Botox, fillers and similar aesthetic non-surgical cosmetic treatments.

Co-chairs of the APPG-BAW, Carolyn Harris MP and Judith Cummins MP, launched a year-long inquiry following the explosion in the popularity and availability of these treatments. They were particularly concerned that there are currently minimal legal restrictions in place on who can provide these treatments, or what qualifications they must have to do so.

The lack of a legal framework of standards around non-surgical cosmetic procedures has left consumers at risk and undermined the industry’s ability to develop.

The APPG investigated practitioner standards and qualifications, the case for a registration of practitioners or licensing, ethics and mental health considerations, and the serious issues around advertising and social media.

There is much good practice from aesthetic practitioners in the beauty and medic industries, but also cases of poor practice from both. It was not the APPG’s intention to state who should or shouldn’t be allowed to become a practitioner, but ensure all practitioners gain the appropriate training and prove their competence to deliver advanced aesthetic treatments.

In the report the APPG makes 17 recommendations for government to plug this regulatory gap, including:

  • Setting national minimum standards for practitioner training;
  • Mandate that practitioners hold a regulated qualification in line with national standards;
  • Legislate to introduce a national licensing framework;
  • Make fillers prescription only;
  • Develop and mandate psychological pre-screening of customers;
  • Extend the ban on under-18s receiving Botox and fillers to other invasive aesthetic treatments;
  • Place advertising restrictions on dermal fillers and other invasive aesthetic treatments;
  • Require social media platforms to do more to curb misleading ads and posts promoting these treatments.

These recommendations are based on evidence given in public inquiry sessions and written submissions from a wide range of stakeholders including trade associations, aesthetics industry operators, trainers, practitioners, health bodies, regulatory agencies and consumers themselves.

Co-Chairs of the APPG, Carolyn Harris MP and Judith Cummins MP, said: 

“For too long there have been next to no limits on who can carry out aesthetic treatments, what qualifications they must have, or where they can administer them.

“We launched this inquiry as we were deeply concerned that as the number of advanced treatments on the market continues to grow, the regulation remains fragmented, obscure and out of date, which puts the public at risk. 

“We were also particularly concerned about the advertising and social media promotion of these treatments and how to make sure vulnerable people, such as children and those at risk from mental ill-health, are protected.

“We strongly urge the government to implement the recommendations in our report and to take action to improve to improve the situation for the benefit of the industry and public safety. Maintaining the status quo is simply not an option.” 

Minister for Patient Safety, Nadine Dorries, said:

“Far too many people have been left to live with the emotional and physical scars caused by their experience of cosmetic surgery, needing prolonged medical treatment after botched cosmetic procedures, particularly fillers.

“Patients must always come first and I am committed to protecting their safety, making sure people have the right information they need to make informed decisions about cosmetic surgery and ensuring the highest quality training is accessible to all practitioners.

“This report is an important contribution to our shared understanding of the consequences of this kind of treatment and I look forward to reviewing its recommendations on how we continue to improve people’s safety.

“Anyone considering Botox or fillers should pause and take the time they need to consider the potential impact of surgery on both their physical and mental health, and take steps to ensure they are using a reputable, safe and qualified practitioner.”

Access the APPG-BAW report

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Laughter yoga boosts health in older adults

According to a report by the Office of National Statistics, by the year 2066, there will be an estimated 20.4 million adults aged 65 years and over in the UK, who will make up more than a quarter (26%) of the total population (ONS, 2018). The report also highlights that, “the likelihood of being disabled and/or experiencing multiple chronic and complex health conditions among those aged 65 years and over increases with age. As life expectancy increases, so does the amount of time spent in poor health.” Finding innovative approaches to help promote healthy ageing and also protect extra burden being placed on the health and social care services is therefore a growing priority.

A systematic review published in Complementary Therapies for Clinical Practice looked at the effects of laughter yoga on physical function and psychosocial outcomes in older adults (Kuru and Arikan, 2020). Laughter yoga is a non-invasive practice that comes in many forms, but typically combines yoga breathing techniques with laughter exercises, with both having reported health benefits.

While the authors state that the number of studies and data quality in this field is limited, of the seven studies that met the inclusion criteria, laughter yoga was found to have the following health benefits in people over the age of 65:

  • Physical function – improvements in blood pressure, cortisol levels and sleep quality.
  • Psychosocial function – improvements in life satisfaction, quality of life, loneliness, death anxiety, depression, mood and happiness.

The authors conclude that, “Laughter yoga can be used for health promotion in older adults. It is a cost effective and enjoyable technique for older adults. Significantly in this analysis, it has been found that the intervention duration necessary to effect the outcomes in older adults appears to be a minimum of four weeks.” They also call for more high-quality randomised controlled trials with validated study protocols and guidelines.

Did you enjoy this research summary?
The FHT features research summaries in each issue of International Therapist magazine. To find out more about the many benefits of being an FHT member, visit

Kuru Alici N, Arikan Dönmez A. A systematic review of the effect of laughter yoga on physical function and psychosocial outcomes in older adults. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 2020 Nov;41:101252. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2020.101252. Epub 2020 Oct 28. PMID: 33217706.

ONS (Office of National Statistics). Living longer: how our population is changing and why it matters, August 2018. Living longer – Office for National Statistics (

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