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Host: Welcome to the Lifelong Wellness podcast, where we talk to wellness professionals from around the world to gain their insights into healthier living. I'm your host, Wes Malik. Our guest today is a healthcare cultural integration practitioner and reflexology instructor. She's also a pain relief educator and the author of Reflexology Today: A Family Affair. She is also a media personality, a speaker, a healthcare practice business consultant, and an entrepreneur. Dr. Njideka Olatunde is the creative energy behind Focus On Healing Wellness Institute. She is an accomplished naturopath and a master reflexologist with expertise in the cultural integration of nontraditional healthcare approaches for the mind, body, and emotional wellness. Today she's with us to talk about reflexology. All right, Dr. Njideka, welcome to the Lifelong Wellness podcast. How are you doing today?
Dr. Njideka: I’m doing wonderful, and thank you for having me.
Host: It a pleasure having you on the show because we have a lot of questions. A lot of them are technical because we haven't talked about this subject before. And today we would like to talk to you about what a naturopathic doctor is, what is reflexology, how to heal pain? And more specifically, get into the opioid crisis in the US and around the world as well, which we are very well-versed about. So to begin, you know, the podcast, tell us a little bit about your work. What do you do?
Dr. Njideka: Okay. Basically what I do is I work with people who are interested in relieving pain without using medication. So, in other words, I focus on all of the hands-on therapies, and integrating those as an alternative to using opiates. And I do that basically using reflexology as the foundation to build upon, so practitioners can then put a treatment program together based upon first, relieving a person's pain. And then we move into treatment, rather than putting a treatment plan together in hopes that that relieves pain.
Host: Are we talking about a specific kind of pain, or is it just a general, any kind of pain that you deal with?
Dr. Njideka: We can deal with all types of pain because pain begins in the nervous system. And when the nerve endings are affected, they do what's called ‘vibrating' and when they vibrate, your normal response is feeling pain. So with any type of pain, you want to relieve the pain first, and then we can get to what is causing the pain. Because most of the time, when people come in to see their doctors, the first reason they’re coming is that they're in pain, and so we focus on identifying relieving pain. And what's good about using reflexology as an alternative to relieving pain is you can teach your patients and your client some basic techniques which is what we do, where we talk like that emergency pain relief, basic steps that you can do on your hands and on your feet to relieve pain rather than going taking over-the-counter medication which only numbs the pain. You want to find the cause and so with the reflexology what we're doing is stimulating the body’s nervous system to release what's known as endorphins, which are the body's natural pain relievers. So that way, now we can start setting up the treatment in terms of what actually caused the pain.
Host: Now, I'm starting to understand what reflexology is. You see, I'm a “take two aspirin and call you in the morning” kind of guy. And, you know, if I got a muscle pain, RUB A535 and home medication, that's about it when it comes to pain. But what is…Can you dive deeper into what reflexology is? Is this a science? Is it a method? What is it?
Dr. Njideka: Reflexology is the art and science of working specific reflex points known as nerve endings on the hands, feet, and ear to relax the body, to improve circulation, to reduce and release toxins and impurities from the body as well as relieving stress. So the focal point is the nervous system and the reason why the nervous system, because that's the message center of the body. When I give you a little example. When you were a little boy and you fell down and hurt yourself and you went crying to your parents. What's the first thing one of them would do?
Host: They hold me, right?
Dr. Njideka: They hold you?
Host: Yes. You know, if they hurt my back they'd start rubbing my back or, you know, holding the area where I am hurt and, you know, probably try to distract me. That’s what they do.
Dr. Njideka: And as a little boy that made you feel so much better.
Host: Yes, of course.
Dr. Njideka: But what was going on was a form of reflexology, because what we were doing was activating the nerve endings to that area to start releasing and relieving the pain. So basically, we all do reflexology not understanding how effective it is in pain relief. And when you said distracting you from it, that’s the adult definition of it. So if you are distracted, that means now the healing process can start because I'm not focusing on the pain. The body has freed you up to be able to say, “Well, I’m feeling better. So now let’s look at what's the treatment”. And then we need to also remember that whenever you're in pain, that's always the body giving you a warning that something is wrong. And most of the time we don't pay attention. You know, if it's minor, okay well, but that minor pain is very crucial because the importance of the minor pain is to start getting you to focus that the body part that is asking for help, and so until we understand that pain serves a purpose. And what most people don't understand is, whenever you are diagnosed with an illness, per se, it's always, the result which they say 95% of all illness is the result of stress. But when you start thinking about the stress you’re talking about, something that's outside of your body that you bring inside. And once you bring it inside, it starts causing problems.
Host: So it’s an external thing?
Dr. Njideka: Yes. It’s very external. And the thing about it is, when people are in pain for such a long period of time, they no longer remember what it was like to not ever be in pain. But if you can go back and think about what was that key thing that was happening when the pain started, that is the core of how your body is breaking down and leading you into what can be defined as an illness, because it is all outside the body that we bring in.
Host: But that brings me to a question that might have a very huge answer. How do you relieve your stress? Do you have to pinpoint what actually is causing the stress, like your job or, you know, the mortgage payment or something like that? And then will that stress go away or how do we cure that?
Dr. Njideka: When you…The examples that you gave are examples of what? Something I am thinking about. And when you're thinking about it, you’re going to hold a negative connotation related to it. And what does the mind do? It builds on that. Okay, say the example of a mortgage, okay, which a lot of people are dealing with that right now. I don't have the money. Okay, fine. You don’t have the money. So, what do you do? Worry about something that you have no control over and think of all of the worst things that can possibly happen because I don't have the money to pay the mortgage, instead of focusing on what do I have right now at this moment. But we're going way down the road and not thinking about “the moment”. And so by not focusing on “the moment”, we create kind of havoc for ourselves. And so if we’re going to talk about relieving stress, it's not so much about mentally focusing on how our mind is perceiving that particular problem that really isn't a problem, but we tell ourselves that. And by telling ourselves that it's a problem, that it will not change anything except for cause stress inside your body because you're focusing on, “I’m not able to solve this problem”.
Host: What do you tell your patients to do if they're stressed out? What do you ask them to do to relieve that stress?
Dr. Njideka: The first thing that you need to do is breathe – we don't breathe correctly anyway. But when you take a deep breath, that’s like a cleansing for the whole body. It's like the mind, body, and emotional or spiritual connection. Once you start deep breathing, then the next thing to do is to drink, like you drink water. We have flushing. Work on cleansing your system and little basic things. Deep breathing is important, drinking water to flush the system out, and then quiet time. If you can take a minute to just be quiet, and that's the most difficult thing for anybody to do is to take…If you could try to take 30 minutes of being quiet, turning off everything and just listening to silence, that would be real healing. And those are all the things I tell my clients in terms of, “Look at what you have and work with that”. And if you deal with that, then you move away from all of the daily stress. It’s because when you think about it, like right now we’re in what we call the pandemic, so all day long, 24/7 all you’re hearing is negative and nothing positive. You know, it’s like the doom and gloom. And if you’re focusing on that all the time, then you have serious problems.
Host: Right, that’s true. And usually when it comes to large pandemics like this, this is usually the only thing we can focus on. So, it’s really hard to take our focus away from that because we’re bombarded with news and media. But this quiet time, 30 minutes, sounds like an eternity. You know, sitting quietly and listening to nothing? (laughing) It sounds like a very tall order.
Dr. Njideka: One thing that I want to add to that, the thing is, most people don't know how to listen. We hear words, we don't listen. And so if we don't listen, then we’re not able to learn anything or even help ourselves. That's the crucial part.
Host: Is there a specific way of listening that, you know, you prescribe to?
Dr. Njideka: I just go outside. Listen to the birds. Don't hear anything else going around. Listen to the birds. Listen to nature. Go outside. Now is a good time because we’re in the summer. Go outside and just listen. Pick something and like…One of the things I teach my clients, if you listen to music, pick one instrument and just listen for that. Pick one thing. That’s how you teach yourself to listen.
Host: So paying attention and, you know, focusing your attention on something while listening is a proper way of listening.
Dr. Njideka: Yes.
Host: Which can relieve stress.
Dr. Njideka: Yes.
Host: Now, let's talk more about reflexology.
Dr. Njideka: Okay.
Host: You’re a naturopathic doctor. What is a naturopathic doctor?
Dr. Njideka: Well, a true naturopathic doctor is one that focuses on nature. And the real focus is to be an assistant to the body in its natural healing process. That's really the essence of what it is. You work with the body because the body is designed to heal itself and you may provide, like for example, where I'd use reflexology as an assistant to, because one thing that is certain, no matter what health problem you have, the body cannot heal itself until it’s in a state of rest and relaxation. And the focus of reflexology is getting the body in this state to begin to heal itself. And so, I use that, along with working with people to understand that they need to be a partner with their practitioner. It's not a one-sided job where you just go in, “Okay. Well, Doctor, I have this and you need to do this, this, this…”. It's not like that. You and your practitioner need to be working together on the healing process because the healing can only come from within inside you. The next thing is as a naturopathic practitioner, when my clients come to me, usually, they’re coming to me with a particular health problem. I don't see them in the health problem. What I do see is the body healing itself. And what ways that I need to work with the body to make that a reality for my patients and clients to see and actually feel and experience it.
Host: Reflexology. Is it an exercise? Is it a type of massage? What is it actually? Do you prescribe like a, is it like yoga or something?
Dr. Njideka: Good question. Most people will associate reflexology with massage because actually, what you're actually doing is working the nerve endings that are found on the hands and feet. It's like you are stimulating on…There’s a hands-on, a hands-on practice. And when I say that, say, for example, the body is designed. There’s what we call somatic replication of the body, is actually on the hands and feet. And I'll give an example so you can kind of understand what I'm talking about. So, if you would have right now, look at your hands and visually put your body inside the palm of your hand. So, if you put your body inside the palm of your hand, the head will be in the fingers. And so you work the nerve endings to the head in the fingers. Where the fingers connect to the palm, that's your neck. So you’d be working the nerve endings in the neck. The middle section, a little hot area underneath your fingers, that’s the area of the chest. And underneath that area will be abdominal. Little softer, the abdominal area and under that will be your reproductive and eliminating nerve endings. And so what we do we stimulate those nerve endings.
Dr. Njideka: The best way I can kind of explain is what the reflexologist is looking for will be what we call crystals, which is like a blockage in the nerve ending. And the best example of that, you know, like when your feet hurt, how people say, “I can feel it in my whole body that my feet are hurting”.
Host: Yes. Yes.
Dr. Njideka: And what happened is, that's a blockage in that nerve ending that is connected to a particular organ or systems in the body. And we are reflexing that to remove and release that so then circulation can start flowing. And so that's how the essence of how reflexology works.
Host: Well, that makes sense. It’s the nerve endings in our hands and our feet that you work on. I see. Okay. So, what are the different ways a person can relieve pain medication and become addiction-free? Because a lot of people go to the doctor and they take a pain killer, and they end up taking painkillers again and again and again, and it becomes a lifelong thing. And that's what basically the opioid crisis is, you know, based upon. And it is a, well we call it a crisis. It is a very, very large issue. So what are the ways a person can relieve pain medication and become addiction-free?
Dr. Njideka: Okay, that's where I focus on providing basic training information to healthcare practitioners and non-healthcare practitioners on how to use reflex. Just like I gave you the example, how to stimulate those nerve endings. Say, if you have a headache. Where on your hand should you be working to be about opening up that nerve ending, so then you can start sending circulation. Or if the headache is a result, usually, if the headache is a result of something that's going on in the stomach, how do you combine the different areas on the hands and feet to work for that particular problem in about bringing relief? And so in essence of what we are talking about is the power of touch. Learning how to use the power of touch to assist the body. And we have to keep thinking about assisting the body, because if you have pain, if you hurt yourself and you get pain because you get injured on the job, okay fine. You get your treatment plan together based on that. But then if you keep feeling the pain and then keep taking the medication, now you're moving into something else that's going to be a lot bigger than the original reason that you were seeking relief from pain. And the thing that I think is really important is, with reflexology in particular, children can do it. You can teach your children how to do basic reflexology, which means, and we’re talking from the standpoint. If you are in pain and you taught a child how to do basic reflexology, that’s the first day. Now, you've taught them how to help you and you can even make it a family project. So that’s the beauty of it. It's going back to the basics, understanding how to work with the body rather than against the body.
Host: All right, Dr. Njideka, if I want to start this, how do I go about getting the information. Do I get it from you? Do you have a website or is there a book I can read on this? Where do start?
Dr. Njideka: Well, first of all, there’s lots of information online that focus on reflexology.
Dr. Njideka: And we do a training program for non-practitioners and one that's for practitioners. And the website for that is www.reflexologyeducation.com and it shares both programs. The other thing I want to share with you and I want to leave for your listeners. I put together 121 ways to live pain medication-free. It’s a download and I want your listeners to go, and that way I can give them some insights on the various ways. And that website is www.fohthankyougift.com. And that's for your listeners to give them a starting point on what they can do. There are lots of alternatives and I'm a big advocate of how we can move past medication and look at the resources ourselves to be able to heal. And for those who also may be interested, I have some intro training programs to let you try out, to learn how to do some basics and all that's on the website.
Host: Okay. fohthankyougift.com. And there you can sign up and download the 121 ways for pain relief. That is fantastic. And how do people get in touch with you? Is it the same website?
Dr. Njideka: They can get in touch with me on my website, which is www.reflexologyeducation.com.
Host: Now, that's a good way to, that's a good beginning to, you know, practicing reflexology and getting away from pain medication and the possible addiction that you have, that you can have with pain medication. When you work with your clients, you work with people who have arthritis or have constant pain and, you know, long-term pain instead of maybe just an injury or something. Is there a different type of reflexology for that or do you work differently with people who have long-term issues?
Dr. Njideka: Reflexology, there is a basic for reflexology that's standard whether you’re in chronic pain or whether you have minor pain. The whole focus, because the foundation is based upon stimulating the nerve ending to that particular area that's in pain. The other thing I always like to share… Reflexology is not the cure-all. It works in conjunction with other therapies. And that's what we have to understand is that there is no quick fix because whatever health problem that you have or whatever pain you are experiencing, it did not come overnight. It was a process. And because of the process you also have to have a healing and wellness process. I’ll give you an example.
Dr. Njideka: Several years ago I was involved in a car accident and it was a traumatic car accident where I got rear-ended and the back of the car was all the way up to the front of the car. And so when they took me to the hospital, they kept saying, “You’re going to need pain medication” and I said “No. I don't want pain medication”. What I want is like, you know, X-rays because, you know, to see if there’s any broken bones or anything like that. The reason I did not want pain medication because if I had taken pain medication at that particular time, my body would've been numb. I would have never known what organs and systems were affected by the accident. And see, most people don't understand that. So in dealing with that standpoint, you’re going to be in excruciating pain because at that time my body was in shock. So the pain medication wouldn’t have helped me. And what I'm saying is, that I was able to put together my whole treatment program which consisted of acupuncture, massage therapy, reflexology, and also I dealt with polarity. So, by putting all of those programs together I was able to restore my body back to its natural state. And so to this day, I have never had any back problems as many people have. When they have a car accident, they have back problems for years on top of years. And so what that is like, it’s about you listening to your body and working with your body. And that’s one of the things I work with my clients is educating them on how the body operates. When you understand how your body operates, then you can take back control of your healing process.
Host: Fantastic. That is wonderful. Dr. Njideka, thank you so much for being with us on the Lifelong Wellness podcast today. We learned a lot about reflexology and, you know, how the nervous system works, and how the body works, how to be stress-free as well. And if there's a parting thought you would like to give to our listeners, what would that be?
Dr. Njideka: Well, first of all, once again I'd like to thank you for having me as your guest on your show. And the message that I would leave with your listeners is, when you are visiting with your practitioner, have your practitioner’s attitude. And the relationship with you should be based on client-patient-centered care. And by this, I mean, with the patient-client and practitioners working together in oneness to assist the body in the healing process. Be one with your practitioner. And also, go in there understanding that is only temporary. It’s not a permanent condition and that you have the power to heal yourself.
Host: All right, Dr. Njideka, thank you so much for that wonderful and positive message.
Dr. Njideka: You're welcome.
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