Reflexology: detoxification of chemotherapy

Nicolette Da Costa-Schmidt explains how reflexology may assist in the  detoxification of chemotherapy to help the body cope better in general.

Explaining reflexology

Therapeutic reflexology is defined as an art (because the quality of treatment depends on how skilfully the therapist applies their knowledge) and a science (because it’s based on continued training and study, such as physiology, neurology and traditional Chinese medicine). 

The underlying theory behind reflexology is that there are ‘reflex’ areas and points on the feet, hands and ears that correspond to specific organs, glands and body parts. The aim is to help the body find balance, equilibrium and stimulate its innate healing potential.

Reflexologists use hand, finger and thumb pressure techniques to systematically stimulate the reflex areas. Levels of pressure must always be within the comfort of each patient undergoing treatment. 

These pressure techniques stimulate the central nervous system (CNS) and cause the body to provide endorphins from the brain which naturally brings down stress levels and reduces the sensation of pain. This modality may be extremely beneficial for a person with pain or chronic illness, or when coping with a highly-stressed lifestyle. 

During treatment, the patient may experience sensitivity in certain reflex areas, which may vary from treatment to treatment.

The reflexologist usually completes the treatment by using gentle massage techniques which will leave the patient relaxed and soothed, thus enhancing the body’s capacity to utilise its natural healing potential. The therapist will devise a treatment plan and recommendations based on the individual patient. 


Chemotherapy can cause side effects that challenge patients’ coping ability. Nausea, vomiting and fatigue are the most frequently experienced.

Reflexology may help to flush out toxins from the body, by stimulating the energy flow through the organs that are involved in detoxification. These organs include the liver, kidney, colon, lungs and skin. The benefits of reflexology are innumerable and periodic detoxing is vital if our bodies are to function properly.

Fatigue may develop due to the accumulation of metabolic waste as well as cachexia (weakness and wasting of the body), loss of appetite, fever, sleep disorders and anaemia. 

While the greatest benefit of reflexology is that it provides remarkable relief and relaxation, it has also been found to have positive effects on nausea, vomiting and retching, and fatigue of breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. It’s considered to have potential benefits as it reduced chemotherapy and disease-related symptoms. 

Reflexology can be given during the period of receiving chemo, or after all sessions are complete. Your oncologist’s approval is needed as each patient’s case is individual and if he/she offers advice, the reflexologist needs to abide or adapt treatment accordingly.

Safety and side effects of therapeutic reflexology 

Generally, reflexology appears to be safe and doesn’t cause serious side effects. Because most people feel relaxed after a treatment, you might feel a bit light-headed, your feet may feel tender afterwards, or you can have an emotional response or need to pass urine more often. 

Tell your reflexologist about any after-effects that you have. Note, reflexology can’t be used as a primary procedure intended for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition or disease.

Check with your doctor

Reflexology isn’t contra-indicated for any condition, although caution is to be taken if you have any of the below conditions, so check with your doctor before.

  • A low platelet count, which means you may bruise or bleed more easily.
  • Leukaemia and lymphoma
  • Tumours and metastases
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Broken/fractured bones (in the feet or ankles)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Circulatory problems of the feet
  • Gout/inflammation
  • Foot ulcers, or fungal conditions, such as Athlete’s foot.
  • Thyroid problems
  • Epilepsy
  • Pregnancy (especially the first trimester)  
  • Type 2 diabetes

To find a registered therapeutic reflexologist, visit

Registered therapeutic reflexologist, 
Nicolette Da Costa-Schmidt (Nici Schmidt), 
has a passion for her field of Therapeutic Reflexology and Meridian Therapy. She has been in practice for 15 years and is based in the East Rand, Gauteng. Visit

MEET THE EXPERT – Nicolette Da Costa-Schmidt

Registered therapeutic reflexologist, Nicolette Da Costa-Schmidt (Nici Schmidt), has a passion for her field of Therapeutic Reflexology and Meridian Therapy. She has been in practice for 15 years and is based in the East Rand, Gauteng. Visit