Whilst in Denmark last year at a European Reflexology Conference I was privileged to attend a Seminar presented by a Danish Reflexologist (Bjorn Larsen) and a Danish Ear Nose and Throat Specialist (Ulf Schonsted-Madsen). In Denmark Reflexology is a much more accepted and respected treatment within Orthodox medicine than it is in the UK.
Reflexology is just as effective when used on children as any adult. Possibly more effective, for two reasons (a) they have had less experience of the trials and tribulations of life and so tend to bring with them less "emotional baggage" and (b) the problems they have tend to be fairly new and therefore have had less chance to do damage to the body as a whole.
Reflexology merely works as another tool with which to address the normal ups and downs of a child's life with regard to health and as with adults aids the natural healing processes of their small bodies. It is also a lovely way to communicate with a child right from the very beginning. One of the techniques Reflexology uses is "holding"... this technique is also used in baby massage. We do it naturally when we take up a baby into our arms but we don't take on board what a useful tool this very simple technique is.
So much so that Ulf Schonsted-Madsen is just as likely to refer his patients to Bjorn Larsen for a few Reflexology treatments BEFORE contemplating surgery for glue ear. The Specialist told us told us that the "number of children with middle ear problems is becoming a greater challenge to society and to the individual family". He also told us that in Denmark parents have more of an "Eastern" approach to health in the sense that it is very important to them that their children remain healthy. They therefore invest more time and finances in maintaining well being not only for themselves but also for their children. Largely because both parents tend to work and so it is important that they are not constantly worrying about taking time off to look after their children.
Ulf Schonsted-Madsen divided what he calls "Ear Children" into 3 distinct groups and I quote : 1. Children with recurring acute middle ear infections 2. Children with chronic liquid in the middle ear 3. Children with a combination of the above Ulf suggests that the acute middle ear infection is "usually caused by weak functioning of the Eustachian tube together with a viral or bacterial infection in the middle ear". This kind of infection tends to create sharp pain typically beginning at night or following a nap. High fever accompanies the pain .
The condition can go either of two ways. (a) it will go away on it's own or (2) the eardrum may rupture. This brings with it, a loss of pain and the fever goes down. However, the child will be likely to have recurrent ear infections. Ulf also told us that "liquid in the middle ear is seen after every middle ear infection but may also occur with weak symptoms caused by a poorly functioning tube". In these cases the child may wake in pain after a few hours sleep and after being walked round the room for a half an hour or so will fall asleep only to wake up again after half an hour or so. HEREIN LIES THE CLUE.
Each time the child lays down the fluid is building up and causing pain whereas when the parent is pacing the floor the fluid levels are dissipating. The third type of middle ear infection is Ulf tells is caused by "permanently weak tube function together with frequent infections to the upper respiratory tract". These problems can sometimes be genetic or sometimes environmentally related. If the child has an immature immune system it can be affected by it's environment and "smoking has proved to be a great instigator". He reminds us too that "nutritional habits" can contribute in a major way. He suggests that though fungi nor milk have actually been shown to be direct contributors, "due to the fact that milk contains too little iron, a diet of mainly milk products can lead to a weakening of the body's immune system".
Ulf Schonsted-Madsen explained the reasons why he sometimes refers his young patients to a Reflexologist and it is simply that orthodox treatment can only offer antibiotics, painkillers or surgery and he accepts that this is an option many parents are no longer choosing. Reflexology is an alternative which he has found to be effective.
The first step is to remember that all complementary and alternative therapies look for a cause rather than treat the symptoms. The fact that in cases of middle ear infections, and in particular glue ear, we are dealing with children makes no difference at all. Why should some children suffer and others not ? I think (and Bjorn Larsen was of the same opinion) that these are just ANOTHER of the body's ALLERGIC responses to something relating to our lifestyles, poor nutrition and/or the dreaded additives and COWS MILK. The staple diet for our babies.
In studies done in Denmark it was shown that by removing milk from the diet 50% of the symptoms of middle ear infections disappeared. !!! And by the way, it is said that an allergic reaction in a very young baby is colic stemming from an underdeveloped digestive system. Yet ANOTHER good to reason to start giving babies massage or Reflexology from the day they are born. These treatments both stimulate to improve all the body's systems to function at its best, increase circulation, improve muscle tone and aid elimination of waste from the colon and kidneys.
Bjorn Larsen also put a different perspective on the issues of allergic reactions. He put it to us that during the process of birth the spine may have become dislocated causing a vertebra to disrupt blood and nerve supply to the digestive system. If this was the case, both the liver and the pancreas might also be compromised which could lead to problems with absorbency of vitamins and minerals.
Or it could be that one of the vertebrae in the neck was pressing on a nerve in the inner ear which could cause problems with hearing. All of these questions can be eliminated by visiting a Chiropractor who with some minor adjustments may be able to rectify the problems. Problems with bedwetting at a later stage can also be addressed through Chiropractor for all the same reasons. Chiropractic is based on the premise that the whole body can be treated through the nervous system which is situated in the spine. Nerve pathways for all the different organs and structures in the body then feeds down throughout the whole of the body. Hence whilst only treating the spine, the effect can be felt in specific areas.
In Denmark, a typical treatment for middle ear infections would be a combination of Chiropractic and Reflexology. It is suggested that if after 5 treatments there is no progress then referral to a traditional Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist would be recommended. If progress is being made, then it is advisable to continue until 8 - 10 treatments of 20 minutes have been completed. Reflexology may still be considered to help strengthen the immune system following orthodox treatment whether it be drug related or surgery. The most difficult cases to treat are children who have had problems over a long period of time. In these cases, the mucous membranes may have become so irritated that polyps have formed. If this is the case, the child should be referred to an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist. During the Seminar, Ulf Schonsted-Madsen set up a piece of equipment to measure levels of fluid build up in the middle ear.
He introduced a two year old boy who he had diagnosed the previous day with an infection in both ears. Measurements were taken and then Bjorn Larsen proceeded to treat the child with Reflexology. The child pulled his foot away as soon as Bjorn touched the Reflex points affecting the ears. Obviously painful. Nevertheless Bjorn managed to treat for no more than 8 minutes. Ulf Schonsted-Madsen then took the measurements of fluid in the ears again and the levels had clearly dropped (after only 8 minutes of Reflexology) !!.
So imagine the results if he had been able to continue for at least 20 minutes ? Once again .. it should be noted what I said at the beginning of this article. Reflexology may be used as a TOOL to help relieve the symptoms instead of drugs or anti-biotics or even surgery. However, in order to stop the problem occurring, it is more important to search out the CAUSE of the problem and the Reflexologist may be able to help you find the answers. If not, he/ she will refer you to another professional, say a Chiropractor or a Nutritionist to help resolve the problems or even refer back to your GP/Ear. Nose, Throat Specialist.
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