Comparing the effects of auricular seed acupressure and foot reflexology on neonatal abstinence syndrome: A modified double blind clinical trial

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2019 Aug;36:72-76. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2019.06.002. Epub 2019 Jun 8.


Background: The neonates of addicted women are at risk for neonatal abstinence syndrome. This study aimed to compare the effects of auricular seed acupressure and foot reflexology on neonatal abstinence syndrome among the neonates of addicted women.

Methods: Thirty one neonates of addicted women were purposively recruited and randomly allocated through coin flipping to receive either foot reflexology then seed acupressure or seed acupressure then foot reflexology. Interventions were performed in two successive days with a 12-h washout interval. Foot reflexology was applied for 15 min to the first horizontal zone of the sole while seed acupressure was applied for 24 h through attaching acupuncture-specific ear seeds to the posterior surface of the auricle on the SJ 17 acupoint. The symptoms of abstinence syndrome were assessed using Finnegan Neonatal Abstinence Scoring System before and after foot reflexology, and before, 15 min, and 24 h after the onset of the seed acupressure intervention. Symptom assessment was done by a research assistant who was blind to the study intervention.

Findings: The mean score of abstinence symptoms for the foot reflexology intervention significantly reduced from 10.32 ± 2.10 at pretest to 7.87 ± 2.04 at posttest (P < 0.001). Moreover, the mean score of abstinence symptoms for the seed acupressure intervention significantly reduced from 9.70 ± 2.10 to 8.70 ± 1.46 at the first posttest (P = 0.007) and 7.32 ± 1.42 at the second posttest (P < 0.001). The change in the mean score of the foot reflexology intervention was significantly greater than the change in the mean score at the first seed acupressure posttest (P < 0.001) but did not significantly differ from the change in the second seed acupressure posttest (P = 0.880).

Conclusion: Both foot reflexology and auricular seed acupressure has significant effects on abstinence symptoms. Of course, 15-min seed acupressure is less effective than 15-min foot reflexology, while 24-h seed acupressure is as effective as 15-min foot reflexology in alleviating abstinence symptoms.

Keywords: Auricular acupuncture; Foot reflexology; Neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupressure*
  • Auriculotherapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Foot / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Massage*
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome / therapy*