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School Reflexology Los Angeles | American Academy of Reflexology
Bill Flocco

Documented History of Foot, Hand and Ear Reflexology

Reflexology was discovered
In the 20th Century by three Medical Doctors.

Hundreds of books have been written about Reflexology and thousands of web sites on the Internet refer to Reflexology. Yet, there are common misconceptions about the origins of Reflexology, where and when Reflexology was first discovered. What follows is the Documented History of Reflexology.

History of Hand Reflexology and Foot Reflexology

1917 William Fitzgerald, M.D., USA, in his book, Zone Therapy, postulated the theory of 10 wide vertical zones running the entire length of the body, every part of the body being in one or more of the zones. He is frequently called the father of reflexology.

1924 Joe Shelby Riley, M.D., USA, in his book, Zone Reflex, suggested, for the first time in recorded history, the existence of horizontal zones going across the body, in an orderly arrangement. He also made the first detailed drawings of reflexes or pressure points on the feet and hands, that suggested a shape of the human body, with the tips of the fingers and toes corresponding to the head, progressing downward, with the heel of the feet and hands corresponding to the lower parts of the body. In his book, Dr. Riley included an illustration of the outer ear with just a few pressure points. The full reflex map of the body on the outer ear had not yet been discovered.

1938 Eunice Ingham, a physical therapist working in Dr. Riley’s office in Florida, wrote the first layperson’s book on Foot Reflexology, Stories The Feet Can Tell, and popularized classes in Foot Reflexology across America. Her work was then continued by her nephew, Dwight Byers.

1975 Mildred Carter wrote and published the first book on Hand Reflexology, Hand Reflexology: Key to Perfect Health

1982 Bill Flocco established and popularized beginning and advanced classroom instruction in Hand Reflexology

History Reflex Maps on Sides of Brain

1935 Willard Penfield, M.D., USA, a neurosurgeon, documented two reflex maps of the human body on the cerebral cortex (the outer covering of the brain) from near the temple to the top of the brain. (All medical doctors have to study this reflex map in their classes on neurophysiology. Each reflex map is called a homunculus, meaning little man).

History – Ear Reflexology

1957 Paul Nogier, M.D., France, also a neurosurgeon, documented for the first time in recorded history a complete reflex map of the human body located on the outer ear. Doctor Nogier is the father of Auriculotherapy, the medical approach of diagnosing and treating illnesses with medical implements. Auriculotherapy is the medical approach to working with the reflex map of the body on the outer ear, where Licensed Medical Practitioners can legally diagnose, prescribe, and use implements to treat specific illnesses.

1959 Nanjing (Nanking) Army Ear Acupuncture Research Team, China, verified Dr. Nogier’s ear reflex map and went on to discover a similar yet different ear reflex map.

1972 Paul Nogier, M.D., published the first book on Auriculotherapy, Treatise of Auriculotherapy. In French.

1982 Bill Flocco coined the term Ear Reflexology. He had seen Auriculotherapy Charts in Medical Doctor’s, Chiropractor’s, and Acupuncturist’s offices. These medical professionals were licensed to do Auriculotherapy, where they could legally diagnose, prescribe, and use implements to treat specific illnesses.

Flocco reasoned, that since working with fingers and thumbs on the reflex maps of the body on the feet is called Foot Reflexology, and using touch on the reflex map of the body on the hands is called Hand Reflexology, then working with fingers and thumbs on the reflex map of the human body on the outer ears should be called Ear Reflexology.

I Heard Reflexology Discovered in Asia?

Acupressure/Acupuncture was discovered in the Asia. Foot Reflexology and Hand Reflexology were first discovered by Drs. Fitzgerald and Riley in the USA. Ear Reflexology was first discovered by Dr. Paul Nogier in France, all during the 20th Century.

Some Say Reflexology Was Discovered in Egypt?

An Egyptian pictograph showing someone working on someone else’s finger and toe is a clear indication that something of significance was happening to one finger and one toe. In the May 1997 issue of the International Council of Reflexologists Newsletter, starting on page eleven, it is documented that six Egyptologists (leading authorities in Egyptian Pictogrophy) clearly stated that the Pictograph depicted the prelude to surgery… not Reflexology.

Reflexology was discovered
In the 20th Century by three Medical Doctors.

Drs. Fitzgerald and Riley from the mid 1920’s onward taught about the reflex maps, at first mostly on the hands, then later mostly on the feet. In the 1930’s, Eunice Ingham who worked as a physical therapist in Dr. Riley’s office in Florida, taught the reflex map on the feet, mainly to lay people across America. At first she called it compression massage, later to call it Reflexology. By the 1950s Eunice Ingham was printing the word “Reflexology” on Certificates given to her students. Before 1960, Reflexologists had never heard of or seen a Pictograph of a finger and a toe being worked on. The map of the body on the outer ear was discovered in 1957 by Dr. Nogier, in Lyon, France.

How Did Misinformation About Reflexology in Egypt Start?

Here is how the inaccurate information came about. In 1960, a man from Southern California, during a vacation in Egypt, came upon a book with a colorful pictograph of two people, one touching a toe, the other touching a finger of two other people. An arm pit and knee are also being touched. This person came back to the USA, and, without asking specialists in Egyptology about what the picture really meant, exclaimed that the picture was the beginning of Reflexology.

Foot and Hand Reflexology had been practiced in the West for over 30 years before the pictograph of touching a finger and toe was ever seen in the West.

For Reflexology to achieve the respect it deserves, one of the steps in that direction is to correct all of the misinformation that is out there and for everyone to use the Documented Validated History – that Reflexology was discovered in the 20th Century by three Medical Doctors, Drs. FitzGerald & Riley USA, and Dr. Nogier in France.