Torture or Healing?

I’ve been wanting to try reflexology for quite some time.  I finally decided to do it a few days ago.  I had heard it was painful at first and that it could heal all kinds of things.  I don’t know if it heals anything yet but I can attest to the pain!

Reflexology in The Philippines

The process is a little bit science, a little bit magic and a little bit torture.  Jessie even said, “I like to see you in pain.”.  LOL  She even took my picture to document the experience.  We are not married officially but its beginning to feel very married.  It was all in good fun.


I did it part because I wanted to experience the culture of the Philippines.  This happens in other parts of the world but its much more common here than in the USA and probably most other Western Cultures.  In Memphis, where I had lived for the last 25 years if you wanted reflexology you went to the fortune teller.  I don’t think pain is a normal part of reflexology in the west either.  Perhaps others can comment on that.  I don’t have first hand experience, I’ve just had several people from the west tell me it doesn’t hurt.  Trust me on this, here, it hurts!

The torturer, otherwise known as the reflexologist has this wooden device that he pushes into various pressure points.  There is a specific place for the heart and for the thyroid and other organs.  I just remember those too the most as the memory of the pain lingers.

Now its not like going to the dentist without pain meds or anything but it does hurt.  Most of the time it feels quite good.  The reflexologist worked on each foot for 20 to 30 minutes and I told him lets make it 20 minutes. LOL

He doesn’t charge for it but will accept gifts.  He is considered a healer and doesn’t “demand” money for it.

They say this cures everything from appendicitis to heart disease and circulatory issues.  I find that a little hard to believe but we’ll see what happens.  I have a lot of pain in my calves and I can see where this treatment might help with that.  After one session, the pain in my left leg is gone.  The pain in my right leg is still significant.  I take a lot of medications for this one issue, no pain meds other than an NSAID, and it would be great if I could stop taking it.  Time will tell.  We paid him P100 per person as that is what someone suggested.  Maybe it should be a bit more considering how long it takes.

Henry, the reflexologist, is also a plumber, electrician, appliance repair man and probably a carpenter too.  He fixed an electrical outlet for us after he was done with our feet.

What about you, have you experienced reflexology in the Philippines? How about some place else?  Please tell me about your experience.


Read more about my experience with reflexology on Hey Joe! Living in the Philippines!

Post Author: Rusty Ferguson (42 Posts)

Rusty Ferguson is an American Expat living in Bogo, Cebu.

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  1. Milper says

    Hey Rusty, I had my first reflexology session in a far-off village during a volunteer “immersion” school program. The reflexology session was done by trained community health workers, the village manangs. These old women didn’t look as strong your PAF-shirted Henry, but boy, do they bring on the pain. As many of us where being done at the same time, my feelings were alternating from crying out in pain and laughing at the facial contortions of the others around me.

  2. Paul says

    Hi Rusty – I’ve always wondered about reflexology, but skepticism and fear have always defeated any urges to personally investigate and try it. Looking at the chart, I couldn’t tell whether or not there is a spot for those two conditions but if so, any reflexologist would have to work on them first before proceeding to vital organ areas. 😉

  3. says

    Rusty, I tried several times reflexology sessions back in Thailand – and I know the pain you describe! Especially my feet seem to be pretty sensitive, don’t know if they should decide between unbearable tickling or pain. Truly uncomfortable for me. Since then I better stick with the standard foot or back massages, guess I’m just a sissy after all.

    But hey, if it really helps??? 😉

  4. imagine says

    I massage, and give lots of pressure to Melanie’s feet. This gives her great pleasure, and relief. She tells me where to give the pressure, and then begins to belch from ends from the pressure applied….lolololol.

    My greatgrandfather was a healer in the Hawaiian islands in 1900, and then moved to Oakland Ca. My dad claims to have witnessed sickly people go in, and healthy people come out? The mind is a powerful tool in itself. BEST WISHES in finding a way to relieve your discomfort…….i2f……John

  5. queeniebee says

    Hi Rusty, Don’t you think that as with many alternative therapies, having faith and trust in your practitioner will help in healing? A lot of conditions develop over time and take a real block of time and commitment to get a good result. I guess it might be different in Canada and Europe, but in the States, usually these therapies are not covered by a person’s insurance, so people are reluctant to pay out of pocket for any length of time. That’s what’s good about the Philippines is that you can try these therapies and it’s affordable even in the long term.

  6. Ron LaFleur says

    Rusty your story reminds me of a time I broke a couple of toes playing basketball barefoot. We were on Gaines Beach very near Olongapo. This was back when Subic was for Sailors and Marines and it was somewhat different than today. Back to my toes. I was with a very nice young lady that I am sure I met in church or some place similar. She told me she could make my toes feel better. Myself being a somewhat young macho Marine that had already drank more than my quota of the beer cooler told her to go ahead. She began to pull on them, twist them and do all types of things I am sure the Medical Profession does not endorse on my fractures. When she was done she looked up at me, smiled and said now that I have stopped pulling on them don’t they feel better. What could I say. I just smiled, grabbed another beer and limped away to play another day.

  7. Danny says

    Hey Rusty,

    This sounds way painful to me, BUT, if it works, I would be for it. Exactly, what problems will this take care of? I mean it sounds like for yourself, you did it because of pains in your legs?
    Jessie sounds so laugh at your pain, but I understand why she does…its just a little good old “ribbing”, and she sounds like a great sport.

    Take care Rusty, do you see a real witch doctor in your future? lol.
    Danny :)

  8. Boss says

    Never tried reflexology, only used the local witch doctors we have here. Wish they were a little younger, otherwise I would be “sick” all the time lol.

  9. Jason says

    Hi Rusty

    I’ve experienced this in Cebu with wifes family! It felt quite good to feel the pain in one way. I was having some pain issued before seeing them and like magic it just went away. Just continue doing it for some time and put more effort into the right leg. You’ll feel like 20 again no time :)

  10. erik cable says

    For some reason when I wear swim fins my toes cramp up?
    Do you think this reflexoliagie can fix me up rusty?
    spell check me bud

  11. says

    Hey Milper!

    Are you Filipino? Brave?

    I would have liked to order a pretty young thing but I didn’t have that option. :)

    I’d say after a week, it has helped me some. Sure wish it would cure my diabetes but who knows. :) I know people that think it can. I plan to do it again next week.

    When he pushes that thing into my foot, geesh that hurts, I try to take it then it burns and then it feel like a needle in my foot and I move. LOL

  12. says

    I think the leg pain is caused by circulation issues that I have it may also be my muscles are inflamed from lupus. I’ve seen the muscles in my arms become inflamed to the point I could see it. Hurts worse than reflexology too and last a lot longer. Either way, its not that far of a stretch too think it might help that. While he’s doing it, it comes some burning in my leg muscles.

    He worked on everything. He told me when hi hit my heart and thyroid both of which have issues now or in the past. My thyroid went over active then returned to normal. I’m strange. :)

    After a week, I feel certain that the one session did help. I’ll do more. With my legs anyway.

    I say go for it. Its not that bad much of it feels good.

    It is hard to tell much from the diagram. I got it in two pieces and had to scan it and then put it back together with GIMP. You could probably find something more readable on the net. Its for illustration purposes and it came from the source so I wanted to use that.

  13. says


    No problem with tickling for me but Jessie kept laughing at parts of it. I didn’t think she could take it for that reason but she did. Too proud to let on about the pain too. LOL

    I have a lot wrong with me. Mostly a lot of little things. It helps my legs, we’ll see about the rest…. If it really cured everything, people would never die.

    Henry is very serious about what he does. Nice guy.

  14. says

    I think my US insurance would pay if it was in a doctors office but I think you’re going to have to look pretty hard for a doctor to practise it. The only people I could find that did it in the states was a fortune teller. That was an eerie looking place!

    If it works with me, it wont be a placebo effect I’m not looking for cures, looking for a new experience and with luck less pain in my legs. If it can prevent the coming cardiomyopathy that would be great. I think that’s just a bit far fetched. I can’t convince myself to believe something I don’t believe. :) This is one of these things I’d love to be proved wrong about. :)

    Yeah the price is right here. I hope the P100 I gave him is enough, don’t want to pay too little but can’t afford to pay more than I should. Wish he’d just tell me but it goes against what he believes in.

  15. says

    John, I thought it felt more like a screw driver myself.

    So Rebecca does this to you? Not sure I understood.

    Jessie is a big believer too. No one can tell me why the believe though.

  16. says

    Hello Imagine,

    I’m surprised your father was not urged to take up the practise of being a healer as well and you too. I think it is usually something you’re born into, especially if it is along the terms of a “medicine man.”

    Sounds interesting, would love to hear stories about your grandfather.

  17. says


    Jessie and I are a lot alike. When I first got here, I looked at her one night and said “I so deserve you!” We have mannerism that others tend to misunderstand. I think she was being bossy when I said that, I laughed before I said it. I think we understand each other better than just about anyone else would.

    Its not as painful as I thought it might be. I’m ready to do it again. I don’t have a list of what it is suppose to cure but I did see one. I don’t totally dismiss it because of what I’ve seen happen with acupuncture. It seems to based in the same kind of ideas. People having major surgery using only acupuncture comes to mind. And then there is Chi, I’ve seen an old man with stand being pushed by 20 young men, they couldn’t budge him.

    I have some problems with the idea of “faith” in it because of the magical or religious connotations behind it. Though my views on God are considerably different, radically different from most Christians, faith in what to me is basically another religion is a place I just can’t go.

    I’m ready to have my second session but its only been a week, though it seems like two weeks to me. I had to confirm it with Jessie. LOL Hope it fixes my memory and my legs. It seems to be working on my legs already. I hope its not a placebo effect, if so, it will be temporary.

    Thanks for the comment

  18. says

    He used the torture device on you? That felt good? I need to find out what to call that thing. Wooden pointy thing. :) I don’t think that part of it will ever hurt so good. :)

    I’ll get it done again next week, at least that’s the plan.

  19. Jason says

    Yes he used the wodden stick thingy, hahaha. As for pain…I have a high tolerance for pain. Only place I can’t take pain are my teeth…my wife can tell you the story of when she replaced a filling when we meet, hahaha.

  20. says

    If you let your girl put your feeling back in I’d say your pain threshold is high every where. Mine is too, my dentist told me it was. :)

    I plan to have him come back early next week.

    Just walked down the stairs and my legs were so tight it was hard to get down them. Was kind of strange.

    I doubt putting a loose filling back in did you a lot of good dude. LOL

  21. says

    Hey Erik,

    I’d never point out a spelling error. I only do that when someone points out mine. :) Seems like they always foul up when they do that. :)

    I would give it a try. I need another session but I blew my budget (well I think my GF did but hey, that’s life huh?) and I’ll have to wait till next month.

    Its just amazing what P200 can buy here.

    My legs have tightened back up, I believe there is something to this. I’d sure give it a try.

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