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Cranial Sacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle and potent hands-on therapeutic modality that blends well with the Healing Energy point of view and sees the person as a total being. It demystifies and provides an explanation for many observed but unexplained physiological phenomena and clinical syndromes.
CST is a method for detecting and releasing restrictions in the cranial sacral system: the brain and spinal cord. Correcting these imbalances can help alleviate a full range of sensory, motor or neurological dysfunctions. CST also assists the body's self correcting mechanisms and it plays a vital role in maintaining the environment in which the central nervous system functions.
The concept of the cranial sacral motion is also known as the cranial rhythmic impulse. This is a felt motion that can be palpated most readily on the head, but experienced clinicians are able to palpate the cranial sacral motion anywhere on the body. Valuable diagnostic information can be obtained quickly by palpating the cranial sacral motion for rate, amplitude, symmetry and quality.
Origins of Cranial Sacral Therapy
The first written reference to the movement of the spinal nerves and its importance in life, clarity, and "bringing quiet to the heart" is found in a 4,000-year-old text from China. Craniosacral work was referred to as "the art of listening." Bone setters in the Middle Ages also sensed the subtle movements of the body. They used these movements to help reset fractures and dislocations and to treat headaches.
In the early 1900s, the research of Dr. William Sutherland, an American osteopathic physician, detailed the movement of the cranium and pelvis. Before his research it was believed that the cranium was a solid immovable mass. Sutherland reported that the skull is actually made up of 22 separate and movable bones that are connected by layers of tissue. He called his work Cranial Osteopathy. Nephi Cotton, an American chiropractor and contemporary of Sutherland, called this approach Craniology. The graduates of these two disciplines have refined and enhanced these original approaches and renamed their work as Sacro-Occipital technique, Cranial Movement Therapy, or Craniosacral Therapy.
Dr. John Upledger, an osteopathic physician, and others at the Department of Biomechanics at Michigan State University, College of Osteopathic Medicine learned of Sutherland's research and developed it further. He researched the clinical observations of various osteopathic physicians. This research provided the basis for Upledger's work that he named Craniosacral Therapy.
What to expect with Cranial Sacral Therapy?
The craniosacral system is the cranium, spine, and sacrum that are connected by a continuous membrane of connective tissue deep inside the body, called the dura mater. The dura mater also encompenses the brain and the central nervous system. Sutherland noticed that cerebral spinal fluid rises and falls within the compartment of the dura mata. He called this movement the primary respiratory impulse; today it is known as the Craniosacral Rhythm (CSR) or the Cranial Wave.
Craniosacral therapists can most easily feel the CSR in the body by lightly touching the base of the skull or the sacrum. During a session, they feel for disturbances in the rate, amplitude, symmetry, and quality of flow of the CSR. A therapist uses very gentle touch to balance the flow of the CSR. Once the cerebrospinal fluid moves freely, the body's natural healing responses can function.
A craniosacral session generally lasts 30-90 minutes. The client remains fully clothed and lays down on a massage table while the therapist gently assesses the flow of the CSR. Although Upledger describes several techniques which may be used in a craniosacral therapy session, usually the first technique used is energy cyst release. "This technique is a hands-on method of releasing foreign or disruptive energies from the patient's body. Energy cysts may cause the disruption of the tissues and organs were they are located." The therapist feels these cysts in the client's body and gently releases the blockage of energy.
Sutherland also wrote about a second practice called direction of energy. In this technique the therapist uses his hands to pass energy from one of his hands, through the patient, into the other hand. With this technique, the redirected energy can flow more freely in a productive pattern throughout the body.
Although this gentle therapy is extremely safe in most cases, Cranial Sacral Therapy is not recommended in cases of acute systemic infections, recent skull fracture, intracranial hemorrhage or aneurysm, or herniation of the medulla oblongata (brain stem). In these conditions other therapies may be used.
More than 40 scientific papers have been published that document the various effects of Craniosacral therapy. There are also many authoritative textbooks on this therapy. The most notable scientific papers include Viola M. Fryman's work documenting the successful treatment of 1,250 newborn children with birth defects. Edna Lay and Stephen Blood showed the effects on TMD, and John Wood documented results with psychiatric disorders. Many dentists have found craniosacral therapy to be an effective adjunct to orthodontic work, yet the conventional medical community has not endorsed these techniques.
Dr. John Upledger has been featured in Time Magazine as well as on CNN. He has authored many books on the subject and continues to teach CranioSacral Therapy today. Dr. Upledger has been nominated as an 'Innovators Time 100' with Time Magazine. Click here to review Dr. Upledger's article, A New Kind Of Pulse written by John Greenwald.
Benefits of Cranial Sacral Therapy
While the subtle manipulations engage the cranio sacral system, they also stimulate the functioning of the immune and parasympathetic nervous systems. It is shown that when these actions are accomplished, the results may benefit those experiencing:
For those readers who want more information about Cranial Sacral Therapy it is highly suggested that you read and study the work of John E. Upledger, D.O.
Cranial Sacral Resources
A New Kind Of Pulse
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