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What is CranioSacral Therapy?

The craniosacral system is a physiological system that exists in humans, as well as those animals possessing a brain and spinal cord. When there is an imbalance in the craniosacral system, the brain and spinal cord suffer. These organs are the core of our being. Without them, senses, emotions and motor functions would not work effectively. CranioSacral Therapy is a method of examination and treatment that has been devised to correct problems that affect this system. It works by enhancing and balancing movement of the cerebral-spinal fluid surrounding the spine and brain, as well as the field it creates, and by the exceedingly gentle re-alignment of sacral and cranial bones.

We call it "CranioSacral" because it involves all the bones of the skull, face, and mouth which make up the cranium, and extends by a system of hydraulics and membranes to the lower end of the spine, the sacrum. Trauma or other things that affect the lower end of the spine can have adverse effects on the cranial end of the system. The CranioSacral Therapist assists the  craniosacral system to work efficiently by working with the client, capitalizing on the client's self-corrective physiological tendencies when the hydrolic forces within the system are brought into balance by the removal of obstacles, as initiated by the therapist. Thus the CranioSacral Therapist assists the client's body in overcoming obstacles it was unable to remove, thus empowering and activating the natural self-healing potential inherent in the system.

How Does CranioSacral Therapy Work?

CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle, non-invasive, manipulative technique. Examination is done by testing for movements in various parts of the system. Experienced clinicians are able to palpate the craniosacral motion anywhere on a patient's body, checking for rate, amplitude, symmetry and quality. Especially easy to palpate for the therapist are the cranial bones, sacrum and coccyx because they attach to the membranes that enclose the cerebral spinal fluid. The cerebrospinal fluid is filtered out of the blood in a dynamic feedback loop.  The system acts like a semi-closed hydraulic system in which the amount of fluid forces movement, of both fluid and membrane,  up and down the spinal cord. Low amplitude of the craniosacral rhythm indicates a low level of vitality within the patient; so resistance to disease is low and susceptibility is high. Lack of symmetry of the craniosacral rhythmic motion is used to localize pathological problems. These can be problems of the musculoskeletal system, inflammation, adhesions, trauma, surgical scars, vascular accidents and others. As asymmetry is eliminated and normal physiological motion is restored, the problem is being, or has been, addressed.

Osteopaths William D. Sutherland and John Upledger studied the mobility of the cranial bones and the rhythms of the craniosacral fluid as well as the field it creates. Sutherland developed Cranial Osteopathy long before Osteopaths understood the movements of the cranial bones (American mainstream medicine traditionally believed the cranial bones to be immovable, but European Osteopaths and  doctors have always understood that the cranial bones move after infancy). John Upledger continued Sutherland's research while working for the department of BioMechanics at Michigan State University, wherein by using an inter-disciplinary approach involving anatomists, physiologists, biophysicists, and bioengineers to understand and treat malfunctions of the brain and spinal cord, he developed CranioSacral Therapy to effectively treat problems from chronic pain and lowered vitality to recurrent infections, brain and nervous system dysfunction.

How Does CranioSacral Treatment Affect Us?

CranioSacral Therapy focuses on problem solving. It will enhance general health, improve resistance to disease, improve brain and spinal cord function, reduce accumulated stress, realign the cranial bones, improve lymphatic drainage especially in the head and neck, and treat and tone the entire nervous system. Research has shown it positively effects ear, nose and throat problems, sacral misalignment and related hip imbalance, brain function and organ reserve while enhancing feelings of well-being. People often report feeling calmed, renewed and refreshed. It will often lessen the frequency and severity of migraines and treat concussion syndrome by re-establishing cranial balance and cerebral-spinal fluid rhythm and amplitude. See the Upledger link below to review the many fascinating areas of research in diverse healing using this method over the last 40 years. It offers a wonderful addition to other holistic healing methods using physical, mental and subtle energetic means. 

What Are The Benefits?

Reduces mental and emotional pain

Treats headache and joint pain

Relieves stress, anxiety and depression

Brings a wonderful sense of well-being

Improves immune response and functioning of sinus and ear structures

Reduces the effects of physical and emotional trauma

Eases chronic spinal or facial pain and Tempromandibular Joint pain

Enhances recovery from surgery or physical injury

Eases recovery from addiction

Increases homeostasis, allowing for self-healing

“Each person carries his own doctor inside him. They come to us not knowing that truth. We are at our best when we give the doctor who resides within each patient the chance to go to work.”

-Albert Schweitzer

Suggested Readings

Healing Touch
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