How to Use Reflexology for Migraines

Five Parts:Getting Ready to Do ReflexologyLocating Reflexology Points to Treat MigrainesDoing Self-ReflexologyUnderstanding How Reflexology WorksTracking the Occurrence of Migraines

Migraine headaches have been linked to overwork, stress, drastic changes in weather, and even food allergies. But no matter the cause, they can be debilitating. Reflexology is an ancient healing method in which pressure is applied to points on the hands and feet in order to release energy throughout the body. Reflexology can be used to treat migraines by applying pressure to certain points. You can also use reflexology to reduce other ailments that contribute to migraines, such as stress and allergies.

Part 1
Getting Ready to Do Reflexology

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    Determine your symptoms. The symptoms of migraine headaches can vary by the individual. A person can have one or two symptoms, or she can have a whole host of symptoms all at once. Some of the symptoms of a migraine include:[1]
    • Pounding or throbbing headache
    • Sensitivity to light, noise and odors
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Feeling hot or cold
    • Paleness
    • Fatigue
    • Dizziness
    • Blurred vision
    • Diarrhea
    • Bright, flashing dots, wavy or jagged lines, distorted vision, blind spots, or other visual disturbances
    • Ringing in your ears
    • Smelling strange things
    • Having a funny feeling
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    Decide if you want a self or professional treatment. A professional reflexologist is trained in giving reflexology to address a patient’s particular health concerns. You can also give reflexology treatments to yourself, which can save you money and allow you to do these treatments daily or with short notice.
    • You may want to combine self-treatments with professional treatments to maximize the benefits you’ll achieve.
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    Find a good time to get a treatment. A reflexology treatment doesn’t need to take more than 10 or 20 minutes. But it will be more effective if you are able to relax during the treatment.
    • If you feel a migraine coming on, try some reflexology as soon as possible to reduce the intensity of the headache.
    • For example, it’s better if you’re not in a hurry.[2] If you’re hungry, eat before your treatment. You don’t want to spend the entire treatment thinking about your stomach growling.
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    Create a quiet, relaxing place. Create a tranquil environment for yourself by sitting in a quiet room and turning down the lights. This should be a room where you will not be disturbed while you are giving yourself a reflexology treatment.
    • You might want to put on some calming music as well.
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    Clip your fingernails. Your treatment will be more comfortable if you are not poking your skin with long fingernails. Trim your fingernails before doing a treatment on yourself or on someone else.[3]
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    Get comfortable. Use a comfortable chair or lie down so that you are able to relax. Take some deep breaths so that your body relaxes. Quiet your mind from stressful thoughts.
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    Drink water before you start. Have a small glass of water before beginning the treatment. Some experts believe this will help the treatment be more effective.[4]
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    Have a reflexology chart handy. It can be complicated to remember which part of the hand or foot corresponds to which part of the body in reflexology. Having a chart handy will keep you on track to giving yourself the right treatment.
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    Have some reflexology tools nearby. There are certain tools that can be useful during a reflexology treatment. These include wooden or rubber rollers, wooden balls, and other items. These can be useful in rolling against the bottom of the foot, for example.[5]
    • Reflexology tools can be especially helpful for people whose fingers and hands are not strong enough to push hard on pressure points.

Part 2
Locating Reflexology Points to Treat Migraines

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    Find the Third Eye point. The third eye point is located above the bridge of the nose between the eyebrows. [6] Pressing this point can relieve headaches, as well as eye strain and ulcers.
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    Find the points around the temple. There are a number of points that curve over the ear on both sides of the head. These points must be activated together in order to be effective. They start at the top of the ear, about a finger-width above the ear. These points include:
    • Hairline Curve
    • Valley Lead
    • Celestial Hub
    • Floating White
    • Head Portal Yin
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    Locate the Wind Pool points on your neck. There is a spot behind each ear bone where the neck muscles meet the skull. Pressing these points will relieve migraines, along with low energy, eye fatigue and cold and flu symptoms.[7]
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    Find the point in your foot to treat the temporal area. One spot on your foot will help treat pain that occurs in the temporal area of your head (along the sides or temples of the head). This spot is located between your big toe and your second toe on the inside of your big toe.[8]
    • If you have pain on the right side of your head, you’ll want to use the spot on your left foot. Similarly, use the spot on the right foot to treat pain that centers on the left side of your head.
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    Find the Four Gates points on your hands and feet. The Four Gates points, which include the Tai Chong on the foot and the He Gu on the hand, are commonly used to treat headaches.[9]
    • Tai Chong: This point is located on top of the foot. Locate the webbing between the big toe and the second toe. Then follow the bones of these two toes along the top of your foot. Find where these bones intersect. Then move back toward your toes about one thumb-width. There is a depression here, which is the Tai Chong point.
    • He Gu: This point is located on top of your hand. Find the webbing between your thumb and index finger. Press your thumb and index finger together so that the muscle in between bulges up. This point is located at the top of this muscle bulge.
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    Find the Zu Ling Qi point on top of your foot. Feel for the bones of your pinky toe and next toe. These bones intersect on the top of your foot. The Zu Ling Qi point is just above where these bones meet. There is a depression here.[10]
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    Locate the point to treat facial migraine pain. There is a point on the top of your big toe that can treat pain in your face. The entire top of the big toe, from the base of the toenail to where the toe connects to the foot, is the pressure point area for treating facial migraine pain.[11]

Part 3
Doing Self-Reflexology

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    Start by addressing the most painful part of your migraine. Your migraine may be most intense on one side of your head or across your forehead. Start your self-treatment by applying pressure to the corresponding reflexology point that will address this most painful part.
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    Rub one hand or foot to treat ailments on the opposite side of your head. Pressure points on the left foot or hand can treat conditions that occur on the right side of your body. Energy meridians cross over your neck, which is especially important when you are treating pain above this point (pain in your head). The energy will initiate in one side of your body and it will flow up through your neck to the opposite side of your body.[12]
    • If you only have pain on one side of your head, then you only need to do reflexology on the opposite foot or hand.
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    Use firm pressure on pressure points. When you are accessing the energy points, you need to press hard enough to stimulate the point. You should not feel pain, however.
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    Keep working sensitive areas. Keep in mind that if certain parts of your body need healing, some of the pressure points may be tender or sensitive. If you have a tender spot, keep working this area. Try a more gentle approach but keep some pressure on the spot.[13]
    • Breathe through the sensitivity or discomfort. Use gentle pressure but keep working this point.[14]
    • If the point is painful, then ease up and work on it later.
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    Press and roll your thumb into the point. Use a circular rubbing motion to work the pressure point. Press for about 7 seconds and release the pressure. Then press again for another 7 seconds. [15]
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    Use your thumb to press points on the opposite hand. Find the He Gu point between your thumb and index finger. If your headache pain is on the left side of your head, press this point on your right hand with your left thumb. Keep your right hand still. Relax the rest of your left hand while your thumb rocks back and forth slowly on this point. Each rocking motion should last about 4 seconds.[16]
    • Try 3 sets of five rocking massages on this area of your hand.
    • Try this method every day to help prevent or lessen migraine symptoms.
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    Work both sides of your body. Even though you may have pain only in one side of your head, you should work points on both hands and/or feet. This will ensure that your energy will be balanced throughout your body.[17]
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    Only do reflexology for a maximum of 20-30 minutes. Reflexology can be very powerful and you may experience some negative effects if you have a longer treatment. Reflexology releases toxins from your body, which can manifest in your body as nausea, light-headedness or dizziness. You may experience these if you overdo your treatment.[18]
    • If you are elderly or in delicate health, you should aim for a shorter treatment of about 10 minutes.
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    Drink lots of water afterwards. It is always advisable to drink plenty of water after a reflexology session. It is even more important to do so when you have concentrated on your liver reflex. Extra water will help flush out the liver.
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    Finish up your session with a short rest. Allow yourself to rest quietly when you have finished your session. If possible, try to take a short nap.

Part 4
Understanding How Reflexology Works

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    Use pressure points to relieve pain. Reflexology is the application of pressure to certain points on the hands and feet that correspond to areas of the body. There are a number of theories about how pressure on these points can relieve pain and discomfort. Some experts believe that reflexology disrupts pain messages from the brain and central nervous system.[19] This technique also allows the body to relieve tension, which can reduce pain.
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    Acknowledge that you’re an active participant in your healing. Reflexology doesn’t “heal” your body. Instead, it’s a technique that helps your body repair itself. Energy is moved through the body. [20] Maintaining a positive attitude towards reflexology can help improve your condition as well.
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    Feel the energy move through your body. According to reflexology, energy flows in the body along energy meridians. You may be able to feel this movement of energy as pressure points are activated.
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    Use reflexology to restore balance in the body. Reflexology is useful for bringing the body back into alignment through relaxation and tension release. These things will help relieve the body of excess stress, which can exacerbate physical conditions. [21]
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    Understand the scientific evidence supporting reflexology. Many clinical studies have observed the positive impact that reflexology has on the body. Reflexology has been shown to make a positive contribution to the following:[22]
    • Improvement of symptoms (such as improved kidney functioning)
    • Relaxation for patients (such as reduced anxiety and lowered blood pressure)
    • Reduction in pain (such as osteoarthritis pain and pain from kidney stones)
    • In one study, about two-thirds of patients reported significant migraine relief after undergoing three months of reflexology treatments. Nineteen percent of these patients stopped taking headache medication altogether.[23]
    • Reflexology has also been shown to reduce symptoms associated with cancer treatments, diabetes, post-operative symptoms, and many other medical conditions.

Part 5
Tracking the Occurrence of Migraines

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    Keep a headache journal. Keep track of the activities and other factors that lead up to the time you get a headache. This will help you identify some of the things that might trigger your migraines.[24]
    • Count up the frequency and duration of your migraines. Most migraines last for a few hours. Severe migraines can last for several days. Migraines may happen frequently, such as every few days, or they may happen a couple of times per month. Other people get migraines just once a year.
    • Also track the severity of your headaches. Do you get more severe headaches after you eat chocolate, for example? Do your headaches last longer if you have been really stressed out?
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    Check your emotional stress levels. One of the most common migraine triggers is emotional stress. This might come in the form of anxiety, worry, excitement, and other emotions. When you have these stressful feelings, your muscles may become tenser and your blood vessels may dilate. This can cause more severe migraines.[25]
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    Monitor your caffeine intake. Having too much coffee, chocolate, or other foods that contain caffeine can increase the possibility of getting a migraine.
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    Observe how much you eat certain food preservatives and additives. Many people have sensitivities to certain preservatives and additives used in foods. These include monosodium glutamate (MSG), nitrates (used in preserved meats, for example), alcohol, and aged cheeses.
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    Check the weather. Weather changes, especially when the air pressure changes, can have an effect on a person’s migraine likelihood. When a storm is moving in, for example, you might start to feel tension in your head.
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    Track your menstrual cycle. Women are more likely than men to suffer from migraines. Many women get migraines just before or during their period. Track the occurrence of migraines alongside your menstrual cycle to identify if you are more prone to getting migraines at certain times of the month.
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    Talk to your doctor about other medical conditions. Certain medical ailments may increase the risk for migraines. Some medical conditions that may contribute to migraines include:[26]
    • Asthma
    • Chronic fatigue syndrome
    • Hypertension
    • Stroke
    • Sleep disorder
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    Check with your doctor if you get more serious migraines. Serious migraines, though rare, can affect you more intensely than regular migraines.[27] Some of these might include:
    • Hemiplegic migraine: You may experience temporary paralysis or nerve changes with this headache. You should check with your doctor to make sure this is not a stroke, since some of the symptoms can be similar.
    • Retinal migraine: You may experience loss of vision in one eye and a headache that starts behind your eyes.
    • Basilar artery migraine: You might experience dizziness or confusion and pain in the back of your head. You may also experience vomiting, ringing in the ears, or an inability to speak properly. Experts attribute this type of migraine to hormonal changes.
    • Status migrainosus: This migraine is usually so severe that people end up going to the hospital. This migraine is often caused by certain types of medications.
    • Ophthalmoplegic migraine: You may experience pain in your eye, double vision, droopy eyelid, or muscular paralysis around the eye. This is a very serious condition that requires immediate attention.


  • Specific pressure points work to treat different parts of the body and head. Try out various pressure points to see which ones work best for treating your migraine.[28]
  • Reflexology is most effective when used with other holistic therapies, such as yoga, meditation, and herbal therapies.


  • See your doctor if you have any concerns about your headaches.
  • Many reflexology methods should not be used on pregnant women, as they can help induce labor. Talk with your doctor or midwife before you try reflexology.
  • If you’ve had hand or foot trauma, you may need to avoid reflexology treatments. Talk with your doctor if you have concerns.[29]

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