Your immune system plays a key role in keeping you healthy. It safeguards your body against infections and diseases by blocking pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and parasites from entering and wreaking havoc in your body.
But what if your immune system turns on you and begins attacking your body instead? This is the reality of those who have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.
The Basics of Autoimmune Disease
A properly functioning immune system would be able to tell the difference between invaders and your body’s cells. An autoimmune disease, however, causes your immune system to mistake healthy body cells as foreign ones. Thus, it attacks your body by producing proteins called ‘autoantibodies’ that impair the body’s tissues.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences notes that there are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases that stem from an interplay of genetics and environment. Some of the most common ones are type 1 diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Celiac disease. Typically, medication is prescribed to help ease the painful symptoms of an autoimmune disease. From oral medication to injections the kind of medicine depends on the condition. There’s still no cure for them, but their reaction on the immune system can be managed with immunosuppressants — medications that weaken the immune system’s activity.
Researchers still cannot pinpoint a clear reason as to what causes an autoimmune disease to develop. What’s more, Parsley Health reports that a worrying 20 million Americans currently have some form of autoimmune disease — but most don’t even know. Unexplained rashes, body aches, fatigue, and hair loss are just some subtle but common signs you may be suffering from an autoimmune disease. If these are symptoms you experience, it would be best to consult with a medical professional to check the condition of your immune system.
Reflexology’s Role in Treating Them
Tracing its roots as far back as ancient China and Egypt, the art of reflexology is a form of therapy where pressure is applied to the hands, feet, and outer ears. Reflexology has healing effects like providing deep relaxation, decreasing body pain, and strengthening nerve stimulation, which was previously shared on the Academy’s post ‘The Real Benefits of Reflexology’. So, how can reflexology help aid those with autoimmune diseases?
Living with an autoimmune disease can be extremely stressful, as the bodies of those diagnosed will most likely be attacked by their own immune system for the rest of their lives. Fortunately, a study published in the Journal of Education and Health Promotion found that anxiety, depression, and stress in women with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disorder, significantly decreased thanks to reflexology treatments. This is because its relaxation techniques have the ability to release muscle pain, which has severe implications on both a person’s physical and mental health.
More than just a massage, the pressure applied to the body part touched by a reflexologist can reach different body systems, such as the digestive system, the endocrine system, the nervous system, and the circulatory system. This, in turn, can help bring balance to an immune system that’s not functioning properly. By stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system that helps calms down high-energy functions in the body, reflexology lowers the amount of stress-inducing hormones while helping the body harmonize and relax.
Although autoimmune diseases are complex conditions, the simple power of touch can make all the difference for the pain they cause.