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The "Reflexology Steering Wheel"

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

Reflexology, also called zone therapy, is based on beliefs that each body part is represented on the hands and feet and that pressing on specific areas of the hands or feet can have therapeutic effects in other parts of the body. Proponents claim that the body is divided into ten zones that begin or end in the hands and feet, and that each organ or body part is "represented" on the hands feet. Proponents also claim that abnormalities can be diagnosed by feeling the feet and that pressing each area can stimulate the flow of energy, blood, nutrients, and nerve impulses to the corresponding body zone. The pathways postulated by reflexologists, like the "acupuncture meridians" postulated traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners -- have never been anatomically demonstrated.

The ad below, which came in a mail-order packet, claims that the car's motion stimulates "soothes the key acupuncture points on your hands to help relieve stiffness and cramping . . . relax major muscles . . . end tension and fatigue all over." The accompanying diagram purports to relate various points on the hands to the sinuses, ears, lung, shoulder, solar plexus, gall bladder, adrenals, kidneys, intestines, hip, ascending colon, ileocecal valve, testicles, ovaries, nerves, eyes, pineal gland, pituitary gland, brain stomach, neck, throat, thyroid, pancreas, spine, prostate, uterus, and bladder. It does not explain how the cover's "soft nubby pads at strategic positions on the wheel" can influence any of these organs or make remote parts of the body "feel better." Another part of the ad (not shown) states that the steering wheel cover is "great for arthritic hands!"

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This article was posted on September 16, 1997.