Reflexology and the Bronchial Tubes

April 2, 2009 by Wendy Coad  
Filed under Articles by Wendy

I don’t know about you, but this season I was hit by a whopping case of bronchitis. It’s happened to quite a few people and it was a wicked strain this year. It made me think about these little tubes that hold our lives so dear.

When was the last time that you noticed the twelve to twenty times per minute, each and every day (and night), you breathe — thanks to your body’s respiratory system.

Oxygen is a vital fuel that goes to every cell in your body. And, your cells needs oxygen supplied regularly each and every minute. In fact if a cell doesn’t get oxygen within about 4 minutes, well… it’s a dead cell.

Your lungs expand and contract, supplying life-sustaining oxygen to your body and removing a waste product called carbon dioxide.

When a person breathes, air comes in through the nose or mouth and then goes into the trachea (windpipe). From there, it passes through the bronchial tubes. These tubes or airways, let air in and out of your lungs, so that you can breathe. There are 2 - one going into each lung.

Bronchial tubes, or bronchi are divided at the end of the windpipe (trachea) to left and right. These main bronchi then branch into progressively smaller airways (bronchioli) ending in microscopic numerous sacks (alveoli). Oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged between air and blood through thin alveoli.

Bronchial tubes are one of the main sites for airway inflammation that leads to bronchoconstriction.

Anatomy of Bronchial tubes

The trachea (windpipe) divides into two main bronchi (also mainstem bronchi), the left and the right, at the level of the sternal angle.

The right main bronchus is wider, shorter, and more vertical than the left main bronchus.

The left main bronchus subdivides into two lobar bronchi while the right main bronchus divides into three.

The lobar bronchi divide into tertiary bronchi. There are ten segments per lung, (but due to anatomic development, several segmental bronchi in the left lung fuse, giving rise to eight).

The segmental bronchi divide into many primary bronchioles which divide into terminal bronchioles, each of which then gives rise to several respiratory bronchioles, which go on to divide into 2 to 11 alveolar ducts. There are 5 or 6 alveolar sacs associated with each alveolar duct

There is hyaline cartilage present in the bronchi, present as irregular rings in the larger bronchi (and not as regular as in the trachea), and as small plates and islands in the smaller bronchi. Smooth muscle is present continuously around the bronchi.

Okay, I’m sure that by now you understand that there are many, many branches of bronchi.

The Role in Disease

Bronchitis is defined as inflammation of the bronchi. There are two main types:

  • Acute bronchitis is usually caused by viral or bacterial infections.

Acute bronchitis is an infection of the bronchia tree. The bronchial tree is made up of the tubes that carry air into your lungs. When these tubes get infected, they swell and mucus (thick fluid) forms inside them. This makes it hard for you to breathe.

The symptoms of acute bronchitis can include:

  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • A cough that may bring up yellow or green mucus
  • Chest congestion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Chronic bronchitis is a form of COPD, usually associated with smoking or long-term exposure to irritants.

Asthma is hyper reactivity of the bronchi with an inflammatory component, often in response to allergens.

What can Reflexology Do?

I think you can easily tell that it’s important to keep your lungs and bronchi in good working order. In fact, your life depends on it.

If you or anyone you know think they have a problem there - asthma or bronchitis, etc. - it’s very important to get the appropriate medical attention.

As with any illness, stress is always a factor. Rest is important and the stress relief that reflexology brings is a wonderful component to any health maintenance regime.

So where are the bronchial reflexes?

The bronchi have a very specific reflex location - bilateral - found on the plantar aspect of the foot between the first and second metatarsal heads.

And, since they’re part of the respiratory reflex system they are well suited to working in a detailed way.

You might have noticed on some people’s feet, there are thin calluses on just that thin space between metatarsal heads one and two.

Of course, you’ll want to detail the reflexes for the whole respiratory system.

Another set of reflexes you’ll likely want to detail is the immune system reflexes.

And, don’t forget the lung - large intestine connection too.

Common Home Remedies for Bronchial Health

  • It’s thought that Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 are very important nutrients to helping to decrease the inflammation in the lungs.
  • Many say that Vitamin C helps the body to fight infection, increase the amount of oxygen and reduce inflammation.
  • Some would tell you to eat salmon 3 times a week and take salmon oil capsules.
  • Careful with this but drinks with caffeine may dilate the bronchial airways.
  • Honey is one of the most common home remedies for soothing the throat and chest.
  • Among fruits, figs have proved very valuable in draining off the phlegm. Common wisdom says that three or four dry figs cleaned thoroughly with warm water and soaked overnight.
  • Lemon is another fruit thought to be beneficial in the treatment of asthma. The juice of one lemon, diluted in a glass of water and taken with meals, might help bring some good results.

As always, there’s so much more I’d like to share with you. I’ll be adding more great reflexology information in future newsletters.

Reflexology and the Digestive System

March 26, 2009 by Wendy Coad  
Filed under Articles by Wendy

digestive_trackBefore I get to the reflexes, I want to talk a little bit about the digestive system as a whole.

The best place to start is with the first step in the digestive process.

Believe it or not, it happens before you even taste your food. Just by smelling the aroma of mom’s homemade cherry pie or thinking about how delicious that salad is going to be, you start salivating - and the digestive process begins, preparing for that first scrumptious bite.

The food we consume is the fuel for our bodies, and its nutrients give our cells the energy and substances they need to operate. But before food can do that, it must be digested into small pieces the body can absorb and use.

About the Digestive System

Our digestive system is a wondrous series of organs and glands that processes food. In order to use the food we eat, our bodies have to break the food down into smaller molecules that it can process; it also has to excrete the waste.

For the most part, our digestive organs (i.e., the stomach and intestines) are tube-like and act as containers for the food as it makes its way through the body. The digestive system is essentially a long, twisting tube that runs from the mouth to the anus, plus a few other organs (i.e., the liver and pancreas).

The Digestive Process (Movement of Food through the System):

I’ll be talking more specifically about each organ of the Digestive system individually in future Reflexology Newsletters, but let me briefly go through the organs involved: The digestive process begins in the mouth.

Food is partly broken down by 2 processes - the mechanical process of chewing and by the chemical action of salivary enzymes (these enzymes are produced by the salivary glands and break down starches into smaller molecules).

On the way to the stomach: the esophagus - After being chewed and swallowed, the food enters the esophagus.

The esophagus is a long tube that runs from the mouth to the stomach. It uses rhythmic, wave-like muscle movements (called peristalsis) to force food from the throat into the stomach.

This muscle movement gives us the ability to eat or drink even when we’re upside-down.

In the stomach - The stomach is a large, sack-like organ that churns the food and bathes it in a very strong acid (gastric acid). Food in the stomach that is partly digested and mixed with stomach acids is called chyme.

In the small intestine - After being in the stomach, food enters the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine. It then enters the jejunum and then the ileum (the final part of the small intestine).

In the small intestine, bile (produced in the liver and stored in the gall bladder), pancreatic enzymes, and other digestive enzymes produced by the inner wall of the small intestine help in the breakdown of food.

In the large intestine - After passing through the small intestine, food passes into the large intestine. In the large intestine, some of the water and electrolytes (chemicals like sodium) are removed from the food. Many microbes (bacteria like Bacteroides, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Escherichia coli, and Klebsiella) in the large intestine help in the digestion process.

The first part of the large intestine is called the cecum (the appendix is connected to the cecum and the ileocecal valve - connects the ileum to the cecum). Food then travels upward in the ascending colon.

The food travels across the abdomen in the transverse colon, goes back down the other side of the body in the descending colon, and then through the sigmoid colon.

The end of the process - Solid waste is then stored in the rectum until it is excreted via the anus.

How is the digestive process controlled?

1. Hormone Regulators

The major hormones that control the functions of the digestive system are produced and released by cells in the mucosa of the stomach and small intestine.

These hormones are released into the blood of the digestive tract, travel back to the heart and through the arteries, and return to the digestive system where they stimulate digestive juices and cause organ movement.

2. Nerve Regulators

Two types of nerves help control the action of the digestive system.

Extrinsic, or outside, nerves come to the digestive organs from the brain or the spinal cord. They release two chemicals, acetylcholine and adrenaline.

Acetylcholine causes the muscle layer of the digestive organs to squeeze with more force and increase the “push” of food and juice through the digestive tract.

The intrinsic, or inside, nerves make up a very dense network embedded in the walls of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon.

The intrinsic nerves are triggered to act when the walls of the hollow organs are stretched by food.

Digestive System Problemsfoot_map_digestivesys

Nearly everyone has a digestive problem at one time or another.

Some conditions, such as indigestion or mild diarrhea, are common; they result in mild discomfort and get better on their own or are easy to treat. Others, such as inflammatory bowel disease, can be long lasting or troublesome.

Keeping Digestion on Track

The kinds and amounts of food a person eats and how the digestive system processes that food play key roles in maintaining good health.

Eating a healthy diet is the best way to prevent common digestive problems.

What can reflexology do?

You can see from the information above, the digestive system is a vital and complex system that involves the whole body - digestive organs, nervous and endocrine systems.

Now we know where the digestive system is in the body - let’s review the location of the reflexes on the feet.

Bilaterally, the digestive system reflexes occupy the area on the plantar surface of the feet, between our reflex landmarks of the diaphragm line and the pelvic line (exceptions are the esophagus and sigmoid colon reflexes).

If you follow the bones - the digestive system reflexes are superficial to the shafts and bases of the metatarsals and all of the bones of the mid-foot (the 3 cuneiforms, navicular and cuboid bones).

And, just as these organs are located on the left or right sides of the body, the reflexes will be found on the corresponding left or right foot. As above, so below.

I’m always on the lookout for changes in tissue texture in the soft arch of the foot. I call it the “belly of the foot” because that’s where the “belly” or digestive reflexes are mostly located.

The mere size of the digestive system reflexes on the feet, proportionately give feet a winning edge for addressing the digestive system there.

But even though the feet the space advantage, the other reflexology areas (hand, face and ears) are better for other reasons - like a deeper relaxation response - so don’t count them out.

If I’m not detailing a specific digestive organ reflex, I keep the techniques general.

Thumb-walking the 5 zones from the pelvic line to the diaphragm line, essentially addresses the digestive system reflexes “en mass” (the sigmoid colon and rectum reflexes dip into the heel on the left foot).

Now, as a reflexologist it’s always a relief to me that we don’t treat, diagnose or prescribe.

But, as we know, everything in the body, all our systems and processes are affected by stress and not in a good way.

I know from the vast amount of research that’s out there now - reflexology can profoundly affect the parasympathetic nervous system and has the greatest potential to reduce stress.

It’s useful to “listen” very carefully to what the feet will tell you here. Any changes in tissue texture found on the arch will add the digestive system to my menu of reflex areas to detail in the session.

And, for self-help, the access we have to the “soft belly” or arch of the foot is such that it’s almost made to rest our hand and scoop into it.

Even a few minutes of general work can make a difference. But, when you detail the specific reflexes research proves that our effectiveness can increase threefold!

Key steps for your digestive health

It’s important to keep in mind that we are what we eat. Choosing the right food and eating in a calming environment is ideal.

These tips will help you maintain better digestive system health:

  • Choose high quality, fresh organic foods - raw foods have their own enzymes which are especially important when your body is healing and may be low on enzymes in general.

  • Chew thoroughly - Digestion of carbohydrates (starches, sugars) starts in your mouth with saliva and enzymes. The enzymes not only help break down your food, they also attack bacteria.

  • Don’t rush when you’re eating - take your time and sit down to eat. It sounds obvious, but a lot of people hurry their meals.

  • If you drink a beverage with your meal make sure it’s room temperature - If you drink ice cold liquid with your food, your body has to heat it first and that takes more time and energy away from the digestive process. Drinking enough water is always a good idea and it will aid all your body’s processes. But drinking it (or any beverage) cold with your meal will slow digestion down. Enough said.

There’s so much I’d like to share with you on this topic, so I’ll be adding more future newsletters.

As Charles T. Copeland once said:

“To eat is human, to digest divine.”

Reflexology - Love the Moment

February 19, 2009 by Wendy Coad  
Filed under Articles by Wendy

I enjoy finding something new each week to bring to you.

I love talking about the practical, the technical, the philosophical, but what I love the most are the moments in reflexology that bring me closer to spirit.

I’m sure you know what I mean - when you realize in the midst of your reflexology session, there’s just a quiet calm.

These are very special moments.

It reminds me of when I was an artist - a painter. I still am, but I say, “I used to be an artist” because I haven’t painted a picture for a while.

I remember my favorite part of that creative process – the part I loved the most was when I became one with the moment. And… all strung together they became hours, making it seem like time both stopped and flew by.

I’m sure that’s what kept me painting for almost 25 years. I’m just as sure I’ll return to it someday, but not because I miss those moments.

Let me explain…

I don’t think about feet much when I’m not working on them, but when I start to work on my client’s feet – it occupies my full attention.

I like to tell my students that there are really many layers to a reflexology session. Two of them are:

1)    The techniques – and we’ve got the best!
2)    The “attention” and “intention” that goes into the session.

When I start my session, I take a moment at the beginning and at the end to” intentionalize” what I want my client to gain from the session.

I usually weave this into the first point I hold– the solar plexus reflex.

Now, we reflexologists know that this is a very intense and powerful reflex point. In fact, I believe that if we could do nothing else, by holding this one point we could help the body in its natural balancing processes… IN A BIG WAY.

So while I’m there for those few seconds, or maybe up to a minute, I let my mind clear and I bring my focus to the table – ATTENTION.

I let my intuition tell me what thoughts to add, if anything, and intend that the reflexology - and safe compassionate touch - is “for my clients highest good” – INTENTION.

Sometimes, a little blessing or a mantra, an image or a sound will emerge and I add it all into the mix.

I’m one of those folks who believe that intention sets up the vibration, or the energy, for the whole session. It can affect us right down to the cellular level…

So, I always want to start from (and, I suggest that you NEVER underestimate the power of) these positive and powerful places – attention and intention.

From the solar plexus point on, the sequence of events that unfolds in a reflexology session are nothing short of miraculous.

Not because anything theatrical is going to happen, but because I will be a witness to the nuances and the changes, the textures and their shifts for the next hour of my life on this planet.

I sometimes think that reflexology, as great a tool as it is, is simply a vehicle for us to be present, fully present… for my client… and, for myself.

It is written into the “stone tablets” of reflexology. BE… PRESENT.

And, what happens when you’re fully present?

It feels to me like I can tap into the whisperings of the universe.

Sometimes I wonder why this occurs – what’s so special about these particular moments? Is it really just the feet? (It happens with the hands, the face and the ears too!)

There’s a level of “conversation” that goes beyond the verbal or even the spoken word. That conversation is a parlay between client and practitioner, indicating that there is support, a deep listening and peaceful rest available.

I find that most clients drink deep from this well.

I think of it as “holding the space for their healing to occur” (or, to continue or, to complete itself…)

This is sacred ground.

As my clients sink deeper and deeper into the layers of relaxation, I sink deeper and deeper into the surface of the skin.

My thumb and finger walking pressures don’t change much, but in my “mind’s eye”, I imagine the layers of tissue that I’m above and making contact with.

Sometimes, I even count the layers… skin, connective tissue, muscle, bone.

As my thumb walks steadily across the surface, every reflex point becomes a world unto itself.

I’ll give you an analogy… from an artist’s perspective.

It’s as if I was walking in a great museum (I like the Guggenheim Museum in New York City), and each reflex point is like a painting.

There’s a slow and steady pace you keep in order to get through all the rooms. Some rooms are covered at a glance, each painting quickly acknowledged and appreciated.

But, some rooms are taken at a much slower pace… and one or 2 paintings simply drawing you in.

There are even places where you stop altogether and just pause… for a moment… or two… struck with awe and wonder at the depth of this point.

Time is suspended.

By being there, by paying attention to what’s before me, I notice that all of the world is in front of me.

I think this quote sums up what I’m saying:

“Love the moment. Flowers grow out of dark moments. Therefore, each moment is vital. It effects the whole. Life is a succession of such moments and to live each, is to succeed.”

– Corita Kent

I’m sure I’ll take up painting again, but for the moment, I’m in no hurry.