Medicine Pseudoscience Quackery Skepticism/critical thinking

What’s more quackademic medicine than Harvard’s acupuncture course? Maybe Duke’s reflexology course!

Quackery has thoroughly infiltrated medical academia in the form of “integrative medicine.” So what’s worse than Harvard offering an acupuncture course? It might be Duke offering a reflexology and reiki course.

[Orac note: This post on Duke Integrative Medicine’s reflexology course was supposed to be yesterday’s post, but, amazingly, I forgot to schedule it. By the time I realized my mistake it was already afternoon yesterday. So, given that I’m rapidly approaching a grant deadline, I just decided to publish this today and use last night to work on my grant application. So it all worked out in the end, I guess.]

I’ve been writing about the infiltration of pseudoscience and quackery into medical academia for 13 years now. Over that time, I’ve seen some amazingly depressing things, veritable atrocities against science committed by some of the most prestigious academic medical centers in the world, ranging from Georgetown University to Harvard University to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, to the University of California, San Diego, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and the University of California, Irvine, among many others. Among these, one of the most spectacular examples of quackademic medicine has been the acupuncture course offered every year since since I first started paying attention to it nearly a decade ago. The course,The International Structural Course for Physicians: A Palpation-Based Approach, a course that spans nine months and requires you to come to Boston five times for live “hands-on” teaching about meridians and the latest quackademic studies trying to show that acupuncture “works. It’s pure quackery, but you can get over 300 CME credits for it if you’re a doctor.

What quackery could be worse as far as being prescientific vitalistic mystical nonsense? True, there’s homeopathy, and I’ve caught both Georgetown and UC-Irvine being credulous to homeopathy. It’s also true that all too many academic medical centers embrace naturopathy and that you can’t have naturopathy without homeopathy because it’s part and parcel of naturopathy. Even so, most academic medical centers view homeopathy much like the way a family views its drunk uncle, part of the family through a relation (naturopathy) but something it’s ashamed of. They don’t usually publicize it or teach it, the way Harvard teaches acupuncture.

Then there’s Duke University, which appears to be dipping its toes into the quackery course game. I’m referring to a course offered this spring by Duke Integrative Medicine in reflexology. That’s right, reflexology:

Integrative Reflexology® is a foot and hand reflexology training – a mix of massage and bodywork therapies. Clients who receive reflexology work report better sleep, less pain, calmer digestion, and decreased anxiety. This unique application is easy and fun to do, without injury from over use of the thumbs. You will learn the basic techniques of foot and hand reflexology through the 4-Theory Approach. The four theories include Structural Alignment Theory, Zone Theory, Meridian Theory, and Psychoneuroimmunology Theory. The whole-hand technique that is taught makes it gentle to give and receive this work.

Therapists who complete this workshop say:

  • “Reflexology finally makes sense!”
  • “Easiest chart to follow”
  • “Gentle on the hands”
  • “Implement into my practice immediately”
  • “Most requested add-on”

Theories. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. But what are the “four theories”? The Duke advertisement does not say other than to name them. However, it didn’t take long using Google to find out just what these “theories” are. First, there’s structural alignment “theory”:

Structural Alignment Theory is based on the fascial model from Ida Rolf, the creator of Rolfing®. Ida Rolf called the feet the great tattletellers. They let you know where the client is holding their fascial tension. For example, the shape of the medial arch in the feet relates to the alignment of the back and spine. A collapsed arch or swollen inner lower arch, near the heel, generally indicates sacral misalignment .

Rolfing? It gets better and better. Rolfing, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is a form of alternative medicine “bodywork” that is a form of deep massage that is claimed to be useful to cure almost anything. Known formally as Rolfing Structural Integration, it was developed in the 1930s by Ida P. Rolf, a biochemist from New York, after she was diagnosed with spinal arthritis. Rolf believed that the fascia was everything. Fascia is a layer of connective tissue that covers various muscle groups and other connective tissue structures, allowing muscles to move freely in relation to each other. Rolf thought that when an injury occurs, the fascia tightens around the injury, causing chronic pain and discomfort. she thought that using deep tissue massage that she called “structural integration,” she could open the fascia, restoring balance throughout the body. Basically, there’s a germ of truth here, but Rolf drove it right off a cliff. Sure, the fascia can become part of scar tissue after an injury, just like any connective tissue, but Rolf’s disciples took it beyond that, claiming that Rolfing can benefit more than just musculoskeletal problems, but also depression, eating disorders, migraines, asthma, respiratory disorders, and many more.

Next up, zone theory:

Zones have long been the foundational theory for reflexology. The original zones are basically grids on the feet and the body that correspond to each other. It has been found that stimulation in the zones in the foot create effects in the corresponding zones in the body. Integrative Reflexology uses zones that are different from the zones used in most other approaches to reflexology. The drawing here shows the Integrative Reflexology zones on the left, which curve in relationship to the curves of the body. The Integrative reflexology zones are anatomically based and correspond to the four cavities of the body – head & neck, thoracic, abdominal, pelvic.

This is “classic” reflexology, which is based on two ideas, first that specific organs and areas of the body “map” to specific areas on the soles of the feet and palms of the hand and, second, that manipulation of these areas on the palms and soles can cause an effect on the specific organs to which they “map.” Of course, as I’ve pointed out more times than I can remember, there is no physiologic or anatomic basis to support this concept.

Indeed, reflexology was introduced into the US in 1913 by William Fitzgerald, MD, an otolaryngologist who called it “zone therapy.” As noted on Quackwatch, reflexologists claim that foot reflexology can cleanse the body of toxins, increase circulation, assist in weight loss, and improve the health of organs throughout the body and treat earaches, anemia, bedwetting, bronchitis, convulsions in an infant, hemorrhoids, hiccups, deafness, hair loss, emphysema, prostate trouble, heart disease, overactive thyroid gland, kidney stones, liver trouble, rectal prolapse, undescended testicles, intestinal paralysis, cataracts, and hydrocephalus (a condition in which an excess of fluid surrounding the brain can cause pressure that damages the brain). You get the idea. They claim reflexology is good for everything that ails you. Basically, reflexology is a form of foot massage. In that, it has the same value as any other form of massage, to make the patient feel good, but there is no evidence that it has any specific therapeutic effects.

Of course, when you make anatomically ridiculous claims about the “mechanism” of reflexology, all that leaves is the vitalistic:

Meridians are energy pathways through which Chi (life force energy) flows. The major meridians begin or end at the fingers and toes. The connection between meridians and reflexology is an important part of Integrative Reflexology®. The meridians offer another way of stimulating the organs and bringing balance to the whole system – body, mind and spirit. In Integrative Reflexology, the solar plexus reflex point overlaps with the Kidney one meridian point, enhancing the calming effects of each of these points. Each meridian is also related to a season and a variety of qualities – emotion, color, sense, personalty type, foods. Meridian Theory incorporates a holistic approach to Integrative Reflexology that is both informative and functional. It honors the need for balance within ourselves in order to heal.

I guess if Harvard can teach this prescientific vitalistic superstitious nonsense about acupuncture, Duke can teach it about reflexology. Then it can throw together a bunch of woo babble (like technobabble in Star Trek, only with woo) like this as as the “fourth theory” of how reflexology “works”:

Psychoneuroimmunology Theory is based on the connection between the nervous system, the immune system and the emotions. The feet are one place in the body where we can access all three of these systems. This theory shows how an Integrative Reflexology session can simultaneously improve brain chemistry, activate a calming effect in the nervous system and stimulate the lymph system to clear toxins out of our body. Proprioceptors are the nerve endings the feet that are stimulated in an Integrative Reflexology session. They communicate with the brain and body to produce a calming effect. At the same time, congestion in the feet is being broken up and carried away by the lymph system. These physical effects, combined with the deep relaxation effect, combine to bring the body, mind and spirit into a state of being that reduces the stress response and promotes healing.

I have little doubt that Integrative reflexology can produce a calming effect. It is, after all, no more than a pleasant foot massage. As for the rest of that stuff, it’s all a word salad of woo. It means nothing. Of course, there’s “detoxification,” and no quackery would be complete without that.

I forgot to mention that “integrative” reflexology is apparently different from old-fashioned reflexology in that it “integrates” hand and foot reflexology with a number of massage techniques. What that means in practice, I have no idea. I do know that Duke charges $525 for a weekend course.

After having looked at the reflexology nonsense, I wondered what else might be hiding at Duke Integrative Medicine. It didn’t take me long to find it. For instance, you can learn reiki from Duke:

Reiki, a form of energy healing, is an ancient practice that is used to reduce stress, improve health and quality of life, and support physical and emotional healing. Research suggests that using Reiki as a complementary therapy activates the parasympathetic nervous system to heal body and mind via the relaxation response. Reiki is accessible to everyone and is easy to learn. Practitioners use specific hand positions, held for a few minutes on or near the client’s clothed body.

“Energy healing” is, of course, quackery. It postulates a form of “healing energy” whose existence no one has ever demonstrated, much less demonstrated any human’s ability to manipulate it to healing effect. Reiki is, in essence, faith healing that substitutes Eastern mystical religious beliefs in a “universal source” of healing energy for god in Christian faith healing as the source of the healing. And Duke is offering courses in it.

Quackademic medicine marches on.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

84 replies on “What’s more quackademic medicine than Harvard’s acupuncture course? Maybe Duke’s reflexology course!”

Rolfing? From what I’ve heard of it, it sounds mighty painful, and given how there’s no actual scientific evidence that it actually does any good whatsoever, I’ll pass. Maybe I’d rather have a session of ROFLing instead. That such laughably absurd pseudoscience is gaining traction in what should be respected medical schools is definitely no cause for jocularity, however.

As a kid growing up in the great white north, not long enough after the invention of rolfing, the idiomatic meaning of the word was to vomit, where it worked in an all natural way, where the outcome based process that sequentially works through the body to optimally align it in gravity and balance, worked fairly well.

Rolfing is notoriously painful. I’m old enough to remember when it was a huge thing, with a Rolfer on every corner, and the extreme pain was part of the schtick.

Ida Rolf is gone now, and Rolfing has had a number of schisms, with various orgs claiming to be “real” Rolfing. Some of the new methods are less painful, and of course the rivals hold that against them. But the less painful variants are much more common now.

A lady I dated several decades ago described her being suckered into trying Rolfing [in SFrancisco, ca 1975] — she compared it with being thrown down the stairs, repeatedly. Not so much ‘gaining traction’ as ‘putting the client in traction…”

Duke must need “patients” for this. I’ll volunteer. A nice relaxing foot massage sounds great, especially if I don’t have to pay for it.

But as Anonymous Coward says “That such laughably absurd pseudoscience is gaining traction in what should be respected medical schools is definitely no cause for jocularity”.

In fact, it is terrifying. The moment my doctor(s) start recommending this type of thing is when I start parading with a placard denouncing the local medical school. So far, it seems to have avoided the really quacky crap.

If my feet weren’t so ticklish, I’d agree with jkrideau and also volunteer for a free foot massage.

The pendulum has to start swinging the other way soon or we as a civilization are gonna be in a world of hurt.

“If my feet weren’t so ticklish”

There you go. Proof that parts of the foot map to the funny bone.

Take person’s foot in your hands. Do hand-stuff to it. Invent a story to “explain” what you are doing.

Your hand-stuff and your story is only limited by your imagination. Call your story a “theory”.

It sounds so much better. Hope people will buy it.

When I watch local news, the TV stations will have a news preview ticker scroll by on the bottom of the screen. In the last few years these tickers are rife with misspellings and poor grammar–a sad reflection of growing educational illiteracy in America. Seeing this pseudoscience crap being taught in medical schools is a glaring demonstration of the rising science illiteracy in America. I think the Idiocracy is coming sooner than in film.

I don’t think the increased error rate is due to decreased literacy, but to trying to run communication companies with fewer people. This is only a hypothesis to be sure, but I’ve noticed it everywhere.

I’d love to hear from someone who knows what they are talking about. My impression is that these things used to be checked, edited, etc., and now that everyone is trying to run things on the cheap, the work is crap. But I don’t know how to gather evidence one way or the other.

In a world where “alternative facts” are given as much credit as actual facts, and opinions and feelings carry equal or more weight to well researched and accepted science, it is no surprise that this crap carries equal credibility to science based medicine. Anymore it seems like if it agrees with my own preconceived ideas, it must be true regardless of any evidence to the contrary. I despair for our society.

Rectal prolapse? Really? There must be a lot of that in the woo community–caused by so many heads being pushed us so many rectums.

Sorry for crudeness, but I just got off the phone from “Patient Relations” at my regional medical college facility. I had made a complaint about an x-ray tech who told me she does not get flu shots because she is “allergic”. The quotes are becasuse she went on to tell me that she is “allergic” to the mercury and that she doesn’t need the shot anyway because she keeps bees and the “natural” honey she consumes from these bees is filled with substances that keep her healthy and immune. I wanted to know the hospital’s policy and what constitutes proof of “allergy” and what measures such people are required to follow. I got an earful, believe me. The woman was initially in complete agreement, but by the end was telling me that she herself passes on flu shots when possible because she has “had enough of them over the years” and is “a healthy person”, and this one, “after all, a person has the right to decide ultimately, what goes into their body”. I absolutely attacked her and the state of nursing education, to which she offered that she had got the shot at this job, “just to avoid the hassle”. As if that made all her other admissions okay!

I will be receiveing “follow up” from a manger–I can hardly wait

Oh yes, I forgot the one where she reminded me about “religious exemptions”. She had no answer when I asked her which religion it is that has a specific doctrine against vaccination. When I suggested that such exemptions are merely a loophole and need to be tightened, as was recently done in California, she assured me that our regulations were sufficient (her assurance based on what, I have no idea).

Pardon the rant, but this just happened and it’s enough to prolapse the rectum in despair.

It’s interesting you used the word “depressing” because that’s the first thing that came to my mind. Few schools I respect(ed) more than Duke, and it’s hard to imagine a more bullshit pseudoscience that reflexology. Maybe there aren’t gradations of bullshit in pseudoscience, but I’ve always felt a particular level of revulsion for this one.

Looking at the reflexology “map” at the top of the page…the big toe is supposedly related to the brain /head. Hmm. Does that mean if I break my big toe, would I get a concussion? If so, I think I’m going to have to wear steel-toed boots from now on!

If I roll my eyes one more time, I’m going to get dizzy and have to lie down.

I’m looking in vain for anything concerning the legs since my leg bothers me: sure, I’d try it, although acupuncture** didn’t work.
Are we supposed to surmise that since the foot is part of the leg we don’t need any specific therapy for it because it’s ALL GOOD? Or something.

Wouldn’t it better to rub your feet on a natural fibre door mat and get a full-body tune-up all in one shot? I’m sure that some woo-meister somewhere is already selling such a product.

Hilarious ( but featured at a medical school?)

** that someone else paid for

“There’s one born every minute”

If we know the number of these that die every minute we can calculate the trend line. It may be that by 2035 120 out of 100 people will pay for woo.

I was once given by my late woo-prone mother such reflexology slippers. They are PAINFUL to wear. Probably not as bad as a thorough Rolfing, but after a few minutes of walking… /me winces at the memory. Needless to say they hardly got any use.

Duke offers not one, not two, not even three, but four, count them, four different theories for reflexology. What more could anyone want? Glad you asked. If actual poking and prodding massaging of your hands and feet is not enough, they will throw in yet another therapy, one that does not involve any touching at all and you can keep your clothes on!. All of this can be yours for the low, low price of $525.

Billy Mays would be proud.

“At the same time, congestion in the feet is being broken up and carried away by the lymph system.”
I’ve always cleared it up by blowing my toes.

Thank you ORD, for making laugh so loudly, the dog next door barked. I think that probably did all my physical ailments more good than anyone torturing me (also VERY ticklish) by giving me a foot massage.

@Harrison Bolter:

Does that mean if I break my big toe, would I get a concussion?

Does it mean that if my gout returns, my head will explode?

(Certainly feels like it at times. Minus the ibuprofen.)

I have symptoms of a (thankfully non-painful) neuroma in the left foot, right in that eye/ear zone on that reflexology map. Does that mean if I update my eyeglasses prescription, my foot will feel better – or if I get the proper foot massage, I’ll have 20-20 vision?

Have to start at THE SOURCE, where after 10 foot treatments by a qualified practitioner, ( in order to get the volume discount ) if your vision does not approach 20-20, it is your fault as you did not believe enough in the process.

The above is not intended as medical advice blah blah, see your doctor blah blah, preferably a graduate of Duke.

Dear Betty

If you were not a drive by ignoramus, you would know the answer to that. However, just in case you do not understand, see below your second post.

I really don’t know where to start to respond to this article except to say …. “Don’t knock it tell you’ve tried it !”
By the way have you even tried any of these things to see if they work or do you just sit back and judge things from your chair ?
That’s like trying to tell someone the taste of purple that’s how much you would know about the subject !
First of All reflexology does work !
I personally know this for a fact because I fell off a dock in 2006 and broke my neck and literally woke up in a wheel chair ! The specialist “Mr Doctor “ told me I would never walk again without surgery! They wanted to cut my throat !
Oh by the way he said
I might die
I might become a vegetable
I might never speak again
Oh and
I might walk !
I told him to just watch me !
I had been a reflexologist for 20 years before this happened and had seen it work miracles!
To make a long story short I broke my neck June 6 2006 and
went from a wheelchair
To a walker
To a cane
To walking normal
Using only reflexology and prayers!
When I got my cane (after 4 months)
I went dancing !
I only used the cane a month and have had no problems since !
I went back to the same doctor to tell him about my experience and to get X-rays !
He told me if I wasn’t going to have surgery that I didn’t need X-rays and ask me why I would bother him if I wasn’t going to have surgery!
I told him I thought as a doctor he would want to know that Reflexology does work ! He said he didn’t care and if I wasn’t going to have surgery to get out of his office !
That is the mentality of too many People in the medical association!
If they can’t make money on something then they aren’t interested!
I would really like to know who paid you to write this article because it sounds like one more post written by one more uneducated blog writer paid off by the FDA to steer people from finding real help without being mutilated by surgery or getting someone addicted to pain medication!
The next time you write one of your little blogs please at least find out what you are talking about because you could be hurting people that might believe your uneducated nonsense !

Gee a long post that leaves out some essential information, for instance, but not limited to:

Who diagnosed your fractured neck and by what means?

What was the description of that fracture?

When you “literally woke up in a wheel chair” by what means was your neck supported?

Just why would a surgeon have to “cut your throat” to operate on any of your cervical vertebrae?

What is your definition of “uneducated”?

What proof do you have that anyone is paid off by the FDA? Perhaps you could elaborate on what incentive the FDA could possibly have to pay people off.

Betty! That’s quite a story! Coming to with a neck brace is nothing remarkable. Any proper first responder will put the collar on if there’s the least suspicion of a neck injury. It sounds as if you also sustained a concussion, and if you did, how severe was it?
You are short on detail. At what level was the fracture? Was it through and through the bone, and if so were the two parts approximated? Did you have any neurologic deficits, in other words did you still have reflexes, sensation, movement in your extremities? Did you sustain any concurrent injuries? Do you have any permanent deficits?
You told the story, so it’s not intrusive to request more details.

Betty I have some other questions.
Compared to the hands, mouth, tongue, or lips the feet have far fewer sensory and motor connections. Wouldn’t it make more sense that reflexology would work better if done on the hands?
Why don’t these other structures have a greater effect?
What is the best plausible explanation for how reflexology produces the effects you claim for it?
How would it work on someone with a spinal cord transection above the innervation of the feet?
Someone who’s bee practicing reflexology for over twenty years should have solid detailed answers.

In real estate it is location, location, location. I think the new mantra for med school administrators is show me the money, I don’t care where it comes from.

Betty, I am calling BS. If you broke your neck, I am sure you had some type of brace or halo for awhile and you lucked out that during the healing process you didn’t cause more damage.

A year ago I tore a bicep tendon, should I have a pain in my foot?

Richard, her comment makes me think that we aren’t getting all of the information. What does a “broken neck” mean?

My friend was married to a guy who had worked for a phone company for 10 years safely: one day he slipped off a building’s roof ( 2 or 3 storeys) : he had two broken bones in his neck ( IIRC one was C7): he was in a hospital for a few days and had to stay home for 2 weeks or so. The company had him work indoors for a few months I believe. He never had surgery or wore any devices or braces that I know of (I saw him about a week later) He got well but was later re-injured the area when someone bumped into his car in a traffic jam – nothing major. No, he’s not a cat with nine lives.

-btw- I so enjoy reading about your adventures in Thailand. It is a great place and the food is fantastic. You can probably find guides on the internet about Thai architecture and art. I assume that getting the language will take time but there are other facets of culture that you can learn easily. Have fun but watch out for the green curry/

Ross, many c-spine surgeries are done through the front now days. My c-spine surgery i 2000 was from the front. My understanding is that there is less neck and spine structures in the way. However, I may need another c-spine surgery in the future and it go in from the back of the neck.

If Betty woke up in a wheelchair with a broken neck, she was probably at her chiropractor’s office not an ED.

Betty probably needs her big toes checked out, I guess that is where the brain hangs out.

All good, but will see what reply, if any, we get. Thus far her story is narrative assertions without adequate descriptions.

Trusting my old guy memory for a Friday night social, without going too far OT, and since you have been around since ever, how is Chiang Mai?


I have been in San Sai a suburb of Chiang Mai now for about 3 weeks. Temps have been running between mid 80’s to 90’s daytime and 60/70’s at night.

I don’t know if I can afford my water bill, it was about 98 baht ($3). Electric bill was about $35. Food is cheaper and I am learning to eat Thai food (starting mild).

Except for driving on the wrong side of the road and not knowing the area well, I see new stuff everyday.

My 5 month old stepdaughter has now learned to roll over on her own and is getting more vocal all the time.

I am the most relaxed that have been in a long time. Only a few things left to clear up in the US then start some project (one of which is to learn at least some Thai).

That sounds wonderful! I have some friends who spend about half the year in Thailand and are planning to move there. Their Thai is quite good already, but it’s a challenging language; tonal, I believe.

But hey, at least it has an alphabet and not characters!

Quite the change and adjustment. Have never been able to explain the tranquility in the air outside of Bangkok, and even in the city din, there is something over it or in it besides the pollution.

Have also thought that there should be an open thread somewhere, where commenters could vent as with “kissmetoad” in this thread or in general catch up with whatever may be interesting from time to time. For instance, found the puppy saga of Orac a welcome diversion.

Ross, I second that request. We all need to vent about the horrors of woo and related bullshittery.

Par example:
the idiots I survey ( naturalnews, not only try to frighten people away from SBM but also focus upon load-of-crap conspiracies concerning politics and current events ( the school shooting) that just when you think that they can’t display evidence of lower level thinking they come up with ridiculous theories about communist takeovers or drug cartel hegemony- this bent takes up more and more of their air time/ article space. Less woo, more poo!

Mike Adams uses his link empire ( see a recent article McGill – courtesy of Orac) to spread his garbage far and wide. The past 10 days have seen emergency broadcasts and fantasy compilations as we worries about gun confiscation.
Meanwhile, Null pontificates about the current sorry state of education in universities- like he could tell!


ALSO: puppies have been healing to our ravaged souls.

I should go to the local pet supply store to contemplate the orphaned kittehs.

Addendum: If the open thread is granted, please don’t let out Vinu from the purgatory for a minimum of a week after thread creation 🙂


Less woo, more poo!

That’s what I keep hoping for from my cat. May have to switch from Laxatone to mineral oil and a syringe.

I am learning to eat Thai food (starting mild).

What’s the order on curry pastes? Yellow → “Massaman” → Panaeng → green → red? I’ve never had the sour stuff, although the hippy produce store mysteriously carries it instead of yellow. What I really want to try one of these days is this quasi-Thai dish (although there’s plenty of mamesh Thai recipes where that came from).

Betty exemplifies the problem with wooists; they can’t stop using exclamation points!*

I’ve tried acupuncture and it didn’t work. My experience fits in with good research on the subject that finds acupuncture has little to no value beyond placebo effect. I have not tried drinking large amounts of colloidal silver to see if I turn blue, doing bleach enemas for whatever ails me, or foot massage to lose weight. Common sense applies.

*I think Betty’s paid off by Big Exclamation Point! She can’t prove me wrong!

A therapy (acupuncture) has been around for 3,000 years and is nothing more than placebo?
A difficult argument to sustain, will SSRI’s, statins or aluminium based PPI’s still be around? Oh and remember when we put Mercury in everybody’s mouths with amalgam fillings, they just quietly disappeared before Dentists and the amalgam manufacturers were sued into bankruptcy. The constant claims of scientific based or evidence based medicine being irrefutable are fascinating, who pays for this research? Is the pharmaceutical industry really that altruistic or are you all either gullible or just stooges of this industry? So many of you seem so anal I can assume you were toilet-trained at gunpoint.

I sincerely apologize for losing my temper I thought that this was a serious blog writen by a doctor that would be interested in knowing that Reflexology does work !
I understand now …….
it’s a blog to see who will play into insults and scarcasm …. like a game or bullying !
Well you can honestly say to me …….
“Gotcha !”
I am not here to argue
or “One up Anybody!”
I just want to make everything clear!
I did fall and break my neck
I did not have surgery
I was healed by Reflexology in 4 months
I was disrespected by a doctor that told me he didn’t care how I got better if I didn’t want to have surgery !
When I woke up I had a brace on my neck and had to be lifted and placed in a wheelchair!
That is what I meant by “Woke up in a wheelchair!”
And yes I do use a lot of exclamation points because I am very passionate about Reflexology……
Sir …
Wouldn’t you be if it healed you ?
I don’t think you realize how many people you could be hurting by making these remarks !
If I weren’t a strong person and had read this before I broke my neck I might still be in that wheelchair
or worse
I could have been mutilated or died by the hands of that egotistical doctor!
I often wonder how many people that disrespectful doctor could have healed in the last 12 years if he had cared enough to listen instead of letting his ego
or the want of money be a priority!
Again I apologize for getting upset because I sincerely thought you might want to know that Reflexology does work and even if you only helped one person with this knowledge wouldn’t it be worth your trouble?

I sincerely thought you might want to know that Reflexology does work

I cannot see anything in the original post that shows an interest in hearing people’s delusions.


I am glad your comment came through.

Nevertheless , it adds no detail to make make it any clearer or more plausible than your first comment.

There is a procedure to document cases such as yours as a scientific basis for future study. It’s called a case report . Please ask your reflexologist to contact the integrative medicine department at your nearest medical school for help publishing one.

As for this blog, we are all interested in your answers to tthe questions Ross Miles previously asked.

Until then, all those words say no more than”takemy word for it, reflexology works.”

But, I am very glad yournecked healed without further danage.

Thank you !
I do have proof of the broken neck
( X-rays and the doctors diagnoses)
and I would have had more documentation with the X-rays after I was healed if “The Doctor “ wasn’t so arrogant and disrespectful because he didn’t get to do the surgery …after experiencing that I really saw no readon of contacting anyone in the medical field because I was so sickened by his reaction I saw no point ! I apologize but the whole experience made me feel that no one in the medical profession wanted to know that it works . And after seeing this post and reading all the comments I am even more convinced that learning new ways of Healing isn’t the object at all but to laugh and ridicule anyone that tries to show them something that they aren’t familiar with !
Reflexology works !
If someone is truly interested in learning more they are more than welcome to contact me and I will help you help others ……
but engaging in an argument was never my entetion and never will be !


Betty – you want to believe so badly that you do not see the logical fallacy. In different terms. Person “A” says that 75% of a female smokers get lung cancer, with the other 25% being unknown but with several suspects. Person “B” comes along and observes that almost all the smoker cancer patients chew gum, and many of the non smokers do also. Therefore, Person “B” concludes that gum chewing causes lung cancer. In your case it is reflexology. It would seem that whatever your unspecified fracture, would heal by itself with the help of nature. Probably you got lucky, did not need intervention or maybe not as there could be trouble down the road. However we do not know by your continuing inability or refusal to answer more than one commenter here.

Just in case you think that opens the door to again reiterate the bad doctor story, previously I wrote about “not limited to”. You took it upon yourself to return to the same doctor ( specialty unspecified ) specifically to tell him how reflexology cured you, and “to get X-rays !” after having refused intervention and stated no matter the result you would again refuse any treatment. Your response to his refusal to your demanded workup is then name calling, where the doctor made the right ethical call. First you do not know enough as to whether an X-ray is the right imaging modality. Two, your self prescribed workup has to be paid by someone, and I suspect it was not you, so you waste ( steal ) the time and money of someone else. Third, no matter how small the radiation risk, one does not expose a patient with a science based procedure, just for the crusade of the patient who intends to wave it as the proof that the gum does it.

And yes I do use a lot of exclamation points because I am very passionate about Reflexology……

I expect you use a lot of ellipses because you are very passionate about Leaving Things Out……

“integrative” reflexology is apparently different from old-fashioned reflexology in that it “integrates” hand and foot reflexology with a number of massage techniques. What that means in practice, I have no idea.

A larger catchment of suckers.
The word “integrative” here means “stripped of all pretence of theories or rationales for these Modalities (because the rationales are too wildly contradictory)”. Suckers see that word as favourable.

I love word salads ! Did you bring your own dressing ?

What’s the over/under on Fucklesworth?

Wasn’t there some sort of TV game show some years back, where after the contestants had done whatever it was they did the host looked a piece of paper and said words to the effect of the something or other actually said …?

I’ve never looked for such, but I assume there has been research done on patient memories of what they have been told by physicians versus what they actually were told.
“There is some risk that if further damage occurs you may lose you ability to walk” remembered as “You’ll never walk again.”
“If you continue to consume alcohol in such high quantities you’ll further impair your liver and shorten your life” remembered as “If you take one more drink you’ll die.”
“There may be a small bone fragment that should be surgically removed, but we can’t tell for sure from the imaging studies” remembered as “If we don’t cut your throat you’ll be a vegetable.” (for those in the know – do C-spine injuries result in serious cognitive impairment?)
There are plenty of problems with people not understand what they have been told and/or not retaining it very well for any class of information. Toss in some of the ol’ benzo’s, which I’m guessing are not to uncommon following trauma, and I’ll bet the memories get a whole lot worse.

It’s amusing that the layout of the innards (and outards) on the foot maps actually corresponds vaguely to real locations. This is certainly quite contrary to some of the other mystical magical maps. I wonder where one should rub for recurrent laryngeal nerve problems.

“Reflexology finally makes sense!” Apparently they believe that to be a good thing.

“It’s amusing that the layout of the innards (and outards) on the foot maps actually corresponds vaguely to real locations.”

I want my foot mapped to the computer so that I never again have to use a mouse.

I want my foot mapped to the computer so that I never again have to use a mouse.

Heh. I once worked nights at a law firm and was sometimes tasked with transcription, using a Dictaphone. (I pride myself on always correctly identifying James Earl Jones as the “This Is CNN voice.) It’s a maddening task, but foot pedals help a lot. It turns out that they’ve persisted.

While I don’t know specifically about patients’ memory for doctors’ evaluations, there is a huge literature about eyewitness testimony. Despite what people may imagine, your mind’s eye / ear hasn’t a recorder that creates perfect reproductions that resist transformation. In fact, cognitive psychologists have long argued for viewing memory as essentially reconstructive in nature. (.There are lots of general discussions on wikip—- : see eyewitness testimony, Loftus, Bartlett etc)

Memory is affected by beliefs and emotions: suppose a person is frightened about a diagnosis, they may focus upon – and therefore recall better- the portions of what the physician says that fit in with their own belief/ fear and disregard the more encouraging aspects. Or the reverse: only hearing what they want to hear. Often patients with serious conditions are advised to bring someone along to listen or to bring a list of questions/ take notes for accuracy. People may only recall what fits in with their level of understanding, thus sometimes the discussion needs instruction as well.

Of course there is also the possibility of confabulation.

I think most readers of RI are familiar with parents’ accounts of children pre- and post- vaccination: anti-vaccine parents may report new symptoms that closely follow a vaccine whilst videos reveal earlier manifestations of the same prior to the vaccine which do not fit with the parents’ belief system – “vaccines cause symptoms”.

People can report accurately but it is not the rule.

“catchment of suckers”

I like it! I shall add it to the collective nouns section of my collection of vocables, where it will be in the company of “flourish of strumpets”, “anthology of pros” and “jam of tarts” …

“Psychoneuroimmunology Theory is based on the connection between the nervous system, the immune system and the emotions. The feet are one place in the body where we can access all three of these systems.”
I remember that – when I was a kid I stepped on a rusty nail. Nervous system – hurt a lot. Immune system – needed a tetanus shot. Emotions – really ticked off.
Wow! I hit the psychoneurobabble trifecta around 60 years ago.


I had green curry just other night. Having a Thai GF helps with learning to eat Thai food. She is also my guide book to at least northern Thailand, she hates Bangkok.

I get to meet both the farang (ex-pats) and actual Thai people. I live in a gated community that is mainly Thai.

The most common corner store (other than the roadside stalls) is 7 11, there seems to be one every other corner.

We went to a place called Hidden Village, where you can play with elephants, ride horses or walk through the animatronic dinosaur park. I had one of the best cheese burgers I’ve ever had, it came with salad , fries and a drink for 240 baht (about $6). You spend that much at McDonald’s and get the same blah food as the US.

If I may address “Old Rockin Chairs” comment/Question I would like to say that you are exactly right when you asked about the hands being a better location for reflexes than the feet …….. the truth is the hands have the same reflexes as the feet and are easier to get quicker results . A good example is a head ache
or neck /shoulder pain or stomach pain from an ulcer !
If you were to massage (Reflexology)
hold press( acupressure) on the right pressure point you could stop most pain instantly!
There are also reflex points in the ear and tongue ……. actually there are pressure points all over the body that can control relieve pain !
I appreciate the fact that you are willing to discuss this in a respectful and open minded manner ….. because there are so many people in this world that could be helped if phycians were to ask questions and truly be open minded long enough to have a real discussion!
Thank you for your courtesy and respect!

Betty, please get my nom de ‘Net right. It’s Old Rockin’ Dave. In spite of the numbers on my legal documents, I am a very long way from the rocking chair (I don’t even own one.), and the name has personal significance.
Please beware. There is some serious quackery around acupressure. Just go to the Windows Store and look up Dr. Jakob Bargak. His apps are immediately suspect because they are all endorsed with the same names. Sometimes he forgets to change the condition his app has “helped” these probably imaginary people with. “Mrs Mueller” must be one sickly lady, having needed to be cured of more conditions and ailments than one human being could possibly have and then some.
What is more important is what he claims his methods can treat, especially his apps for emergency first aid, menopause, diabetes, allergy, and depression, all of which he claims he can treat for even some of the most dangerous conditions or red-flag symptoms. These include diabetic coma, hypertensive crisis, uterine/menstrual hemorrhage, “breathing difficulty”, insect bite (presumably allergic reactions to), and more TNTC. He claims he has the treatment for many circumstances that can swiftly kill. I have brought this up to Microsoft several times, but I guess they are too big to care about liability suits.
Please evaluate carefully what you use or endorse. The wrong choice can kill you as surely as a gun.

Ross Miles I will be glad to answer any question you may have . The reason I haven’t answered every comment is because they weren’t serious questions but instead we’re sarcastic remarks trying to poke fun rather than have a legitimate discussion .
If you sincerely want to discuss Reflexology and can do it without insults of condiscending remarks please do !
That is the reason I am here .

There is a list above where you have not answered, plus a post I made two minutes before the above by you.

Ross I’m sorry I see no actual question just remarks about why I did what I did and what you think happened or should have happened..,,
if you have a question I will be more than happy to answer !
I am trying to have a open minded conversation not a debate!

From above:

“Who diagnosed your fractured neck and by what means?

What was the description of that fracture?

When you “literally woke up in a wheel chair” by what means was your neck supported?

Just why would a surgeon have to “cut your throat” to operate on any of your cervical vertebrae?

What is your definition of “uneducated”?

What proof do you have that anyone is paid off by the FDA? Perhaps you could elaborate on what incentive the FDA could possibly have to pay people off.”

Those are question marks, not exclamations.

Also note that a discussion is an informal interchange of thoughts, information, while a debate is
a discussion, involving opposing viewpoints. Your view opposes the post of Orac.

Ross Miles …… two doctors in Lake Charles Louisiana Saint Patrick’s Hospital and a doctor in Shreveport Louisiana at LSU diagnosed with 2 sets of X-rays told me my neck was broke and I would never walk again without surgery ! The doctor at LSU is the one that described in detail what he thought he was going to do !
His exact words were I am going to cut your throat ! Then he told me all the things that might happen including that
Apparently they thought the fracture was bad enough to require surgery or all 3 wouldn’t have told me this .
I explained that what I meant by waking up in a wheelchair was …. I woke up with a brace on my neck and placed in a wheelchair and told I had to have surgery or I would be in that chair for the rest of my life !
I am not a surgeon and I have no idea why he thought he had to do that surgery but I did have enough sense to not let him
My definition of uneducated is anyone who tries to judge a therapy that has been used to heal thousands of people without studying and understanding the process
I don’t understand the animosity and condescending attitude of people that are held by society and depended on to be healers .
It seems that instead of wanting more information about how this therapy works so that you could help your patients by using it ….. you want to prove me a liar .
I am telling the truth why would lie?
The only reason I am posting here is to hopefully help someone that you may have as a patient in the future ….
But enough is enough !
Have a Blessed Day !

I understand that there are religious leaders who believe that there is redemption for everybody. In your case, I disagree with them.

All we want is more specifics. No one has called you a liar, but there is a chance that you are mistaken. I’m wondering why a person who suffered an accident and had a suspected broken neck which could result in paralysis would be placed in a wheelchair. Isn’t it standard procedure to immobilize such patients on a backboard? Your diagnosis of a broken neck suggests a number of possibilities, from spinal cord damage resulting in paralysis (did you experience a complete lack of sensation below the neck or waist at any time?) to a bone chip. Perhaps the Doctor meant that the fracture could move enough to endanger your ability to walk, or the fracture could result in paralysis if not stabilized. I’m sorry you believe the Doctors were not sufficiently elaborate in their explanation, but sometimes patients have to ask more questions to get the answers they need. It sounds as if you didn’t get a good reason to have surgery, then dismissed the idea and set off on your own, after what I assume was a lengthy hospitalization. Unfortunately it is impossible for anyone to listen to your brief and incomplete story and learn that this is proof that reflexology works. Alternative medicine believers frequently accuse skeptics of having a closed-mind, but if you think a little bit, you should realizen that in the absence of more evidence, your account doesn’t provide evidence that reflexology cured your condition. In fact, it is your mind that is closed to the many other possibilities, such as the one that you healed naturally, over time. Bone fractures in young people generally heal in a few weeks; modern medicine immobilizes the area to allow healing to proceed while maintaining good alignment. I’m sorry that you consider our natural curiosity and requests for evidence to be offensive, but personal recollection is subject to rather profound inaccuracies, which is why science involves testing for confirmation. I’m not debating you. I’m simply asking for better information, as I would for any unusual claim prior to believing it. Surely you realize that the sincerity of the claim has nothing to do with its veracity.

I will be glad to answer any questions you have Cloudskimmer .
I was sent home in a wheelchair not on a stretcher and was only given two weeks of pain pills and They scheduled the appointment for the doctor at LSU . The first week it happened ….He did X-rays and proceeded to tell me what he was going to do .at that point I could not stand or walk I didn’t even have enough control of my hands to touch my face ! I was totally crippled…. but I was not letting anyone do surgery on me that seem to think I’d probably never walk no matter what …..
I was taken home and yes I was completely bedridden and had to be carried to the bathroom and fed every bite I ate …. I had my daughter call a friend that does reflexology and she came 3 tines within a week ….after a week I had improved enough with the Reflexology that I could control my hands and had strength enough to massage my hands and feet my by myself…… and yes I had major pain at first but I only took pain medication for the first two weeks because I was able to manage the pain with Reflexology ….. I had practiced reflexology for years and helped people overcome major back pains headache and even recover from strokes before this happened to me …….but until this happened to me I really didn’t know the extent of healing that could be accomplished ….. bottom line is after 4 months I was walking and dancing and as far as I am concerned totally healed …

You wrote: “My definition of uneducated is anyone who tries to judge a therapy that has been used to heal thousands of people without studying and understanding the process“
It is ironic that you meant it as a criticism of those who judge reflexology, yet it could as easily be applied to your judgement of the surgeons who, using their experience and recommending a therapy that “has been used to heal thousands of people,” gave you their best opinion on how best to treat your injury. You are certainly uneducated in modern medicine generally, and treatment of neck fractures in particular.

Treatment for neck fractures is not a single method. It depends on the nature and location of the fracture. You say on the one hand that one of the surgeons described in great detail what he was going to do, but all you have to say about it here is “he said he was going to cut my throat,” which is unhelpful in determining precisely what was recommended. We can’t learn what the Doctor really said, because discussing your case with us would be unethical, and we therefore have only your claims, which are extremely vague, so vague that it is impossible to determine what happened in any detail.

Injuries cause bruising, swelling and inflammation, and that pressure probably caused some of your numbness. Function was restored when the swelling was reduced.

While your experience was no doubt unpleasant and had a profound impact on your life, one person getting well after getting reflexology doesn’t prove it worked. If it is the case that reflexology could cure paralysis, we wouldn’t have people in wheelchairs, would we? I hope you won’t try to heal paralyzed patients, since that would be unethical, promising severely injured people something you can’t deliver. And as far as money-grubbing, you do charge for your treatments, right? How is that any different than what Doctors do (except that Doctors are held to professional standards, and generally utilize treatments that have a long history and are well proven.).

What are the limits of reflexology? Can you cure everything? How do you distinguish between people getting better due to the normal healing process and the added effect of pushing on their feet? Hopefully you will stick to treating the worried well and not promise cures to paraplegics.

It would be a good start to a more productive discussion for you to tell us the location and nature of your fracture, because it doesn’t make sense to put an unconscious person with a suspected neck injury in a wheelchair. Were you admitted to a hospital? What treatments did you receive there? Under what conditions did you leave? How were you transported to another facility for a second opinion? I can understand that your memories of this incident are vague, that you didn’t like what the Doctors were telling you, that you refused treatment and then were lucky enough to recover. What I cannot understand is your conviction that reflexology was solely responsible for that recovery.

I’m very sorry that this experience has caused you to believe that reflexology can cure everything, because if you are severely injured or sick, and you try to heal your cancer, ectopic pregnancy, or similar issue with your one-true-cure-for-everything, it may significantly shorten your life. I can only hope that in that case, some good friend or family member will talk you into accepting the treatment that has the only real chance of saving your life.

‘kay. I gots another question for thems whats in the know: Do unconscious persons with severe c-spine injuries get placed in wheelchairs. Seems remarkably whaaaa?? to me.

… but sometimes patients have to ask more questions to get the answers they need.

And from what I’ve seen, often times don’t comprehend the answers they do get. People have an very strong tendency to coerce what they hear into what the words they know and the things they understand.

Now there can be problems extracting info. Trying to get anything useful out of my ophthalmologist is damned near impossible, I suspect in no small part because many of his patients are elderly and don’t know much about eyes other than they fill holes in the head. I’m sure docs quickly learn to catch the signs of comprehension or lack thereof, even when they are willing to answer questions. Blinkeybox must encounter this sort of issue every day.

Betty’s posts also follow the classic pattern of ignoring/downplaying initial treatment by evidence-based physicians, while giving credit to woo received later.

It’s entirely possible that Betty’s recovery without paralysis was due to the neck brace and other care she got in the hospital. But it couldn’t possibly be that in in her mind – instead, reflexology nonsense is cited as the cause of her subsequent improved health.

I’m reminded of another case I recently posted a link to here. A woman (who later founded a woo-enriched firm marketing tube feeding solutions) was dissatisfied with her father’s treatment in the ICU after he fell and suffered a traumatic brain injury (especially since they didn’t let an acupuncturist in to treat him). She decided that his weeks of evidence-based care in the hospital had nothing to do with his coming out of a coma and recovering full function. Nope – it was due to her pushing with her fingers on his “acupuncture points” and brewing up vege-smoothies at home.

Same thing with people who get surgery and other good therapy for cancer – their remissions/cures aren’t due to that, but instead to the woo they practice later.

Betty is in denial. In her mind, it’ll always be the woo that fixed her. Similarly, her jumping into this discussion to accuse Orac of being paid off by the FDA and accusing him of “uneducated nonsense” is in her mind polite dialogue – but others pointing out the defects in her arguments are rude meanies out to ridicule her.

Betty, you have started to give details bit by little, but still not enough to assess what happened. I note that you said you came to in a wheelchair but unless I misread, now you say you went home in a wheelchair.
In any case, your story is anecdotal, but the plural of “anecdote” is not “data”.
If reflexology can do all that you say it can, it would no longer be alternative medicine. It would just be medicine.

So, what happens if you step on a stone? Will your liver suddenly twinge?
And what about people who’s feet have been amputated? Does the magic transfer to their hands?
Or what about people who were born without feet? Where are their magic points?

wow, so many close minded, negative, and bitter quacks calling other people quacks in one place….I can’t stop laughing at you, and your ignorance. Reflexology actually works, and y’all can’t prove that it doesn’t or prove that it does…..y’all just like to argue, and complain about other ideas that you are not interested in accepting. We live in a world where the three biggest money makers are Armaments/weapons, Alcohol/Tobacco, and Pharmaceuticals….it’s no wonder why there is so much misery, and many do not trust doctors any more. Everyone is addicted to the lazy-internet (which it’s contents are 70% pornography), and i’m only here to get the beautiful chart you posted because the practice of Reflexology has been so useful in my life for over 15 years, and I wanted to share it’s wonders with a friend who is open-minded and curious to approaching gentle healing practices. Good luck with your negativity, and bitterness…I hope it serves you in your life, but i don’t need it in mine. Peace, love, and music is my doctor…peace, assholes! Ha Ha Ha!!!!!

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