Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle treatment working with the body using light touch. CST gently manipulates the bones of the skull and the base of the spine and tailbone in order to treat a range of different conditions, from headaches and ear infections to strokes, spinal cord injuries and cerebral palsy. For decades, various forms of cranial manipulation have been used to improve overall body functioning and today CST is gaining acceptance by health professionals worldwide as a successful treatment modality.

Cranio refers to the cranium, or head, and sacral refers to the base of the spine and tailbone. The craniosacral system is comprised of the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system); the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord; the surrounding meninges (membranes) that enclose the brain, spinal cord and cerebrospinal fluid; and the bones of the spine and skull that house these membranes.

There is a rhythmic motion in the craniosacral system (much like the cardiac rhythm and respiratory rhythm) created by the rise and fall of the cerebrospinal fluid pressure. An increase in this pressure occurs as cerebrospinal fluid filters form the bloodstream and enters the craniosacral system, causing a predictable movement of the cranial bones. The pressure is diminished as the cerebrospinal fluid is reabsorbed into the bloodstream through the inner membranes of the brain, allowing the bones to return to their original position.

The Cranial Therapist monitors this wavelike motion to determine any restriction or dysfunction in the craniosacral system. This subtle rhythm ranges from six to ten cycles per minute and is for the most part unaffected by the heart and respiratory rhythms, except in severe disease states.

A Cranial Therapist is trained to “palpate” or feel with his or her hands, the motion of the craniosacral system as a unified, integrated movement. The touch is extremely gentle and sensitive, and one is able to diagnose the movement of the system as a whole by locating critical points of restriction in the cranium and the base of the spine.

Restrictions that result from injury, inflexibility of the joints the spine and cranium, or dysfunction in other parts of the body, can all cause abnormal motion in the craniosacral system. The abnormal motion leads to stresses in the cranial mechanism that can contribute to dysfunction and poor health, especially in the brain, the spinal cord, and the glands of the head (pituitary and pineal, hence the entire endocrine system). The purpose of craniosacral therapy is to enhance the functioning of these important systems.

Conditions benefited by Craniosacral Therapy

Imbalances in the craniosacral mechanism often begin before birth. Inadequate prenatal nutrition can result in underdevelopment of the facial and jaw bones, which can later impair smooth functioning of the craniosacral system. Difficult delivery, extended periods of engagement (the time the baby’s head is in the birth canal) or the incorrect application of forceps, even suction, can produce severe stresses and distortion to the growing cranial tissues. This consequently can affect the baby’s general health. Many of these stresses to the newborn’s craniosacral system are normally considered untreatable by conventional medicine and often go unnoticed. Left untreated, such stresses can later contribute to a wide range of seemingly unrelated health problems.

Among the range of problems commonly addressed by physicians proficient in cranial osteopathy are paediatric problems such as birth trauma, cerebral palsy, colic, developmental problems and ear infections; somatic pain such as back and neck pain, headache, joint pain syndrome, pleurisy, sciatica, and traumatic injury; systemic problems such as chronic infectious diseases, oedema and fatigue; dental problems such as malocclusion, orthodontic problems, and temporomandibular joint 

(TMJ) syndrome; scoliosis, genitourinary problems; respiratory conditions; neurological syndromes such as Down Syndrome, head trauma, post-concussion syndrome, and seizures; ear, nose and throat problems; digestive disorders.

According to Dr Upledger, Craniosacral Therapy can also provide benefit for numerous health conditions. These include acute systemic infectious conditions (chicken pox, fever, flu, measles), allergies, attention deficit disorder (ADD and ADHD), autism, back and neck pain, Bell’s palsy, cerebral ischemic episodes (small strokes), cerebral palsy, chronic pain syndrome, dyslexia, ear and hearing problems, endocrine imbalances, headache, hypertension, mental retardation, neruromusculoskeletal conditions, post-traumatic stress disorder, premenstrual syndrome, Post Partum depression, seizures and visual problems.

Some of the most successful craniosacral treatments are performed on newborns and infants. At this stage, the cranial bones are primarily cartilage and the membranes are growing and changing very rapidly, so they are very responsive to the gentle corrections of the therapist’s fingers. Newborns can be treated immediately after birth. For many years, Craniosacral Osteopaths have successfully treated infants for common conditions such as earaches, sinus congestion, vomiting, irritability and hyperactivity, using only craniosacral therapy.

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Source: Alternative Medicine – The Definitive Guide – Trivieri & Anderson