Tinnitus Relief Through Reflexology: Fact Or Fiction?

Hand reflexology

Reflexology is a form of pressure therapy, utilizing reflexology points to address issues within the body. Like many other types of alternative therapies, reflexology has been implicated as a possible intervention for tinnitus relief. From foot reflexology to using reflexology points directly on the ears.

What Is Reflexology?

Reflexology is a type of therapy in which different amounts of pressure are applied to specific points of the body. The feet, hands, head, or ears are used in reflexology to promote healing and relaxation for individuals with an array of medical issues. Reflexology has been used to address issues from sinus pressure to back pain, though the actual efficacy of the practice remains in question.

"Treble Health helped me reduce my tinnitus by about 80%, and now I can live my life again!"
"Treble Health helped me reduce my tinnitus by about 80%, and now I can live my life again!"
– Steve D.
Which Treble Health solution is right for you? Join Steve and thousands more who found relief from tinnitus.

Known as foot reflexology, hand reflexology, or ear reflexology, depending on what area and reflexology points the specialist is working on, reflexology is said to be helpful for areas all over the body, completely unrelated in space or distance to the area being massaged, or having pressure put onto it. Like acupressure and acupuncture, reflexology is based on the idea that different points of the body correspond to different areas of need, and applying pressure can address issues with those individual parts.

Although most reflexology points correspond to acupressure points, some reflexology advocates suggest that the nervous system is actually the source of reflexology efficacy. These advocates suggest that applying pressure can actually promote a calm nervous system and result in relaxation. Reflexology has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and in TCM, it is believed to be a source of balance within the body. Despite its use in different applications, the effects of reflexology have not been identified in long-term studies, and it is not currently recommended as a course of treatment for any one specific condition.

How Reflexology Works

Different nerve endings are associated with points on and under the skin. In reflexology sessions, a reflexologist will use their hands to apply pressure to the area in question. Charts are used to map out the areas in need of being addressed, and reflexologists use those charts to determine how to provide relief, and where to apply pressure.

Woman in a reflexology session

Despite the prevalence of reflexologists, there is currently no evidence that supports the use of the practice as anything more than a traditional massage to improve mood, stress, energy levels, and sleep. Because the body can descend into an anxious or stressed state, relaxation and self care practices can be useful to support health–even in the absence of a dedicated protocol or practice. Massage has been shown to help restore a pre-stressed state and settle back into the “rest and digest” aspect of the nervous system.

What Reflexology May Help With

Although strong evidence is still lacking, the theories surrounding the practice suggest that deep pressure on the feet, ear, and hands can help improve the side effects of conditions related to the immune system. These complaints can be minor, such as a cold or sinus issues, or more substantial, including chronic pain, anxiety, hormonal imbalances, indigestion, arthritis, pain, headaches, earaches, and tinnitus. Although no current bodies of research suggest that things like the adrenal gland and organs are tied energetically or otherwise to points on the arms, hands, and feet, there are those who suggest that the appropriate amount of reflexology work results in significant changes to physical and mental conditions.

Practitioners of this particular branch of TCM have advocated for using certain points to support general wellness and the maintenance of overall health, as well as a source of support for chronic diseases, stroke, musculoskeletal disorders, stress, and more. While it is not currently used to provide relief for any specific medical conditions of the ears or any other areas, some people have used reflexology to cope with symptoms, even if it cannot effectively treat the target issue.

Reflexology And Tinnitus Relief

Woman getting a  neck massage

Tinnitus is a hearing condition that can affect the ear, the nerve systems connecting the ears and areas of the brain responsible for taking in and interpreting sounds. Tinnitus is a condition characterized by phantom sounds, or noises that have been described as ringing, buzzing, hissing, chirping, squealing, and more. These sounds are not attributed to any external factors, and may or may not be measurable by hearing professionals, such as audiologists, and health professionals, such as Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctors.

While there is no known cure for tinnitus, tinnitus treatment is often available by addressing the underlying cause. Tinnitus has the potential to be mild, but can also be described as severe to catastrophic, which often leads to the onset of distress, including depression and anxiety. The ability to manage tinnitus is highly coveted among those with the condition, in order to improve quality of life. Sessions to improve symptoms often require a multi-pronged approach, which can include management and treatment strategies to address the tinnitus itself, and provide tinnitus relief by focusing on the other ways a tinnitus patient can suffer, including mental distress.

Tinnitus can come from different conditions affecting different areas of the body, which means that different reflexology methods have been implicated as potential healing modalities. Because tinnitus often stems from hearing loss of the inner ear, TCM, and reflexology, can be used to address the inner ear. Tinnitus can also be impacted by conditions of the middle and outer ear, frequently caused by disruptions to the brain or auditory cortex not receiving enough sound to adequately interpret what is being taken in.

The cardiovascular system has also been seen as a potential trigger for tinnitus onset, as have damages or injuries to the head and neck. Seeking pain relief from these conditions and applying the healing process to all underlying issues will provide tinnitus patients with the greatest likelihood of experiencing recovery, which is why some tinnitus patients have begun seeking TCM and reflexology as part of their Tinnitus treatment plan.

Ear Reflexology Points

There are different points used in TCM to address the high pitched squeal and ringing associated with tinnitus. Some of the more common points and their corresponding issues on the ears include:

  • Ear apex: migraines, earaches, tinnitus
  • Ear gate: head pain and tinnitus
  • Earlobe: headaches, earaches, tinnitus

There are also points on the hand that have been used to help address issues. The hands are typically utilized in one specific space: the “union valley” between the thumb and forefinger. Applying pressure to this area is said to relieve headaches, nausea, dizziness, and tinnitus.

Head reflexology points pointing to tinnitus relief are small, and the most significant point addressed by practitioners is the curve of the hairline. This point is said to address tinnitus in one or both ears, and soothe the low background noise that has become synonymous with tinnitus onset.

Study Review For Reflexology Treatments

Foot reflexology

Pain relief is the most commonly studied effect of treatment using either foot reflexology or hand reflexology, and the small studies that have been conducted in pain show favorable results. Because the precise mechanisms of action remain unclear, research has largely concluded that treatments are able to have a positive and measurable effect on symptoms, but whether those effects are direct or indirect remains uncertain. Some have argued that the massage aspects of this branch of TCM are the true stars of the show, and that benefits stem from stress reduction.

Study By Kunz & Kunz

A study released by Kunz & Kunz discussed the conclusion of a year-long analysis evaluating over 150 studies across more than 20 countries. This conclusion found that reflexology is 93% effective when it is applied to more than 70 different conditions affecting both physical and mental wellness. What this study evaluated more than others of its kind was the duration and frequency of sessions; when this type of TCM was used consistently and for a prolonged period, patients reported more substantial changes than the control group. Some of the conditions relieved in the study include the following:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Fatigue
  • Tension and tight muscles
  • Feelings of discomfort and unease
  • Poor quality of life
  • Diastolic blood pressure and pulse rate
  • Poor mood status

One important note is the type of study included: many of the studies in the review evaluated efficacy based on personal reports rather than measurable states within the body. Although this does not necessarily mean that reflexology is ineffective, it does impact the verifiable nature of reports.

Is Reflexology Useful For Tinnitus And Phantom Sound?

Used properly, acupressure has been shown to help alleviate symptoms involving the ear and relieve symptoms such as pain, humming, ringing, and other phantom sounds associated with tinnitus. Much of this evidence is anecdotal in nature, however, and does not have robust research to support it. For this reason, it has been posited that reflexology and acupressure are effective at promoting relaxation and self-care practices, which can reduce the stress, anxiety, and depression associated with tinnitus and thereby lead to a reduction in tinnitus symptoms. This can be particularly helpful for anyone whose tinnitus began as a stress response, but is likely to only provide relief rather than an outright cure for anyone whose tinnitus is not entirely stress-based, and for this reason, would be best used in a multi armed approach in conjunction with other treatments such as TRT and CBT. 

Due to the as-yet-untested nature of reflexology and other pressure point based practices, doctors and practitioners typically recommend them as a peripheral or complementary intervention, rather than a primary form of treatment. They are not intended to take the place of medical care, and should be used alongside a more robust tinnitus treatment plan to provide relief from symptoms and the bodily repercussions of stress and anxiety.

To address tinnitus, consider reaching out to an audiologist or other hearing professional for appropriate evaluations and testing. From there, an audiological professional can determine the best course of action for you, including standard tinnitus treatments, and you can determine whether ear reflexology and acupressure are appropriate, healthy practices to promote relaxation, ease suffering, and use in conjunction with the tools provided by a qualified health professional. 

Next Step: Take The Tinnitus Quiz

More To Explore


Treble Health Audiologists Are
Professional Members Of The


Tinnitus Web Class
THIS Wednesday only

A special online event to help you find relief from tinnitus.

Class starts Weds at 8 p.m. EST.

Tinnitus Relief Starts Here

Looking for tinnitus relief? Our specialists are available to help. Schedule your complimentary telehealth consultation today.

By clicking ‘Unlock $700 Off’, you consent to receiving information about Treble products and services via email and accept Treble’s Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.