Craniosacral therapy was first discovered by Doctor Sutherland when he noticed that the articulations between the sutures of the cranial bones were showing movements as mentioned in Michael Kern’s article entitled Introduction to Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy. Doctor Sutherland’s work was expanded and studied by Doctor Upledger, and he is now the leading craniosacral therapist today. To further understand this therapy, one is required to be familiar with the cranial anatomy.
Our head is protected by the skull, which is composed of several bones joined together at their suture lines (Smeltzer, 2004). These bones are the temporal bones, 2 bones located separately at opposite sides of our skull placed beneath our ears, the frontal bone, 1 bone located beneath our forehead, the parietal bones, another paired bone positioned side by side on top of our head, and the occipital bone which is placed on top of our neck (Smeltzer, 2004).
The bones of the skull fit like a puzzle and the point where the bones meet are called the sutures. These sutures are named accordingly, the coronal suture between the frontal bone and the parietal bone, the sagittal suture in between the two parietal bones, lambdoidal suture placed between the occipital bone and the parietal bone and the squamosal suture positioned in the middle of the temporal bones and the parietal bones (Smeltzer, 2004). There are several tissue layers under the skull to further protect the cerebrum or the brain from damage.
Fibrous connective tissues that cover the brain and the spinal cord are called meninges and they not only provide protection from injury and support, but also nourishment (Smeltzer, 2004). The dura mater, the arachnoid and the pia mater are the layers of the meninges; the dura mater is the gray, outermost layer, the arachnoid which is white in color because of having no blood supply, contains the choroids plexus responsible for the cerebrospinal fluid production, and finally the pia mater, the innermost membrane, is the one that is closest to the brain and covers it into every fold (Smeltzer, 2004).
The cerebrospinal fluid, the colorless fluid circulating the brain and the spinal cord, provides for the adjustment of the intracranial volume, micronutrient transport, protein supply, source of osmolytes for brain volume regulation, reservoir of buffer, immune system, information transfer and drug delivery (Bullock, 2000).
The craniosacral therapist believes that the cerebrospinal fluid that is surrounding the brain and the spinal cord has its own rhythmic pulse, similar to our blood pressure’s pulse, and that disturbances or irregularities in the cerebrospinal fluid’s pulse causes restriction to its flow which is believed to be the cause of poor health and illness, as stated by Cathy Wong in her article entitled Craniosacral therapy. Michael Kern also pointed out that the body’s inherent life force, called the breath of life, is the one responsible for the production of a rhythmic series that is a palpable sensation.
There have been three identified rhythms: the cranial rhythmic impulse the mid-tide and the long-tide. The primary respiratory mechanism encompasses all of the rhythms that govern the body’s life function, as mentioned in Michael Kern’s article. Craniosacral therapy is defined by Laurence Johnston in his article entitled Craniosacral therapy as: “…a gentle hands-on alternative medicine procedure for evaluating and enhancing the functioning of the craniosacral system, a physiological system surrounding the brain and spinal cord. ” This therapeutic approach utilizes the craniosacral therapist as the medium by which the disease will be treated.
The therapist is to apply a pressure of no more than five grams, or about a nickel’s weight, and this will pave way for the release of constraints in the craniosacral system, as mentioned by the The International Alliance of Healthcare Educators in an article named Craniosacral Therapy/SomatoEmotional Release. The therapist will listen to the rhythm produced by softly touching the cranial bones and from here will determine if there are discrepancies in the normal waves or rhythms, as mentioned in the article Craniosacral Therapy by the website ThinkQuest.
This alternative treatment does not immediately cure the patient, but what it will do is to release constraints in the craniosacral system and facilitates the body’s own healing mechanisms to take place also stated in the ThinkQuest article. There are three known approaches to this therapy, which are elaborated in the ThinkQuest article, the sutural approach, the meningeal approach and the reflex approach.
Relieving pressure to increase the mobility of the cranial bones by maneuvering the skull’s sutures is the technique applied by the sutural approach; the meningeal approach follows the belief that restrictions in the meninges is the one responsible for creating instabilities in the rhythm of the craniosacral system, hence hands-on contact with the cranial bones is needed to relieve or possibly release the pressures causing these; and finally, the reflex approach makes the nervous system deactivate stress indicators from the stimulus provided by the nerve endings that sense pain and other unwanted sensations, all stated in the Craniosacral therapy article in the website ThinkQuest. To become a craniosacral therapist, one must undergo introductory craniosacral therapy training. Anybody can enroll in this training, may it be chiropractors, physical therapists, nurses or doctors, even people who are not in the medical field can join.
The Great River Craniosacral Therapy Institute headed by Doctor Ron Wish as seen on his website offers courses on craniosacral therapist wannabes. Dr. Wish offers a three day workshop, seven and one-half hours per day, wherein you will be trained on how to touch softly with technical accuracy and how to listen for the craniosacral rhythm. There are several indications for the craniosacral therapy. Cathy Wong mentions migraine, headaches, chronic neck or back pain, nervous system disorders, scoliosis, chronic fatigue, stress, fibromyalgia, temporomandibular joint syndrome and certain immune disorders, to be the targeted conditions that craniosacral therapy claims to treat.
Thomas Bianco mentions in his article entitled CranioSacral Therapy Celebrate the Healing Power of a Gentle Touch, that craniosacral therapy can treat traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, motor-coordination impairments, and orthopedic problems as an addition to what Cathy Wong already mentioned. Other indications include whiplash, sprains, ankylosing spondylitis, fractures, Muscle tension, Edema, Dyslexia, Autism, Epilepsy, Attention deficit disorder, Auditory and visual deficiencies, Tinnitus, ear infections, vomiting, asthma, sinusitis, emphysema, and influenza, all mentioned in the ThinkQuest’s Craniosacral therapy article. The claims of this therapy is discovering the cause of the condition or illness and achieving symptom relief as stated by Thomas Bianco.
He also says that the number of sessions with the craniosacral therapist, and how long these sessions are will be variable and depended on several factors which include the complexity of the injury or disease process and the patient’s natural immune system. He also adds that the therapy is not only effective but the patients who have experienced this approach have included craniosacral therapy to their personal wellness programs claiming that ever since they have been attending sessions they report having more energy for daily activities, peaceful, continuous sleep and having a hard to beat immune system makes them combat sickness effectively.
There are however, several contraindications to craniosacral therapy; these are mentioned by Joseph Lee in his article entitled Craniosacral Therapy as an increase in intracranial pressure, acute aneurysm, cerebral hemorrhage or other bleeding disorders. Although not a new discovery, craniosacral therapy is being criticized by a lot of medical practitioners, this is because the basis for the therapy itself contradicts what has been scientifically proven for as long as people in the medical field can remember. Dr. Stephen Barrett, as mentioned in the article entitled Craniosacral Therapy by Laurence Johnston, says, “The theory behind craniosacral therapy is erroneous because the bones of the skull fuse during infancy and cerebrospinal fluid does not have a palpable rhythm. ” As many anatomy books would tell us, the sutures close before the child reaches two years old.
However, Doctor Upledger said that this anatomical view may have been due to the study of cadavers by doctors and not live specimen. When a person’s cranial anatomy is looked at when alive, there will be fresh, unpreserved sutures seen and is full of dynamic tissue, nerves, and blood vessels, also stated by Laurence Johnston in his article. Also, Dr. Upledger adds that the neurosurgeons are not observing the craniosacral rhythm because most operations require penetration of the membrane barrier. But it is not always the anatomical standpoint that is followed as in most medical faculties. In some areas of Europe, as researched and printed by Dr.
Rosenfeld’s Guide to Alternative Medicine, they are teaching the students that the skull bones do move even in some way, as mentioned in Laurence Johnston’s article. Craniosacral therapy is rapidly gaining popularity and acceptance in the healthcare system probably because it does not cost as much as the conventional treatments and it has showed great recovery for those who undergone the therapy. But further research is suggested into the function of the craniosacral system to put a rest to the said controversies surrounding the therapy. There have been a lot of alternative treatments that are making their debut on the healthcare system market.
The lines have already been drawn in the medical field between those who believe and would want to support and promote these alternative therapies and those who are presenting opposing facts to the dogmas of these therapies. However, even if there are doctors and medical practitioners against these treatments, the healthcare customers are not afraid of trying them out. Maybe it’s the lack of funding of these patients for the conventional treatment and its expensive cost, or the persistent use of conventional treatment but no progressive positive results and maybe the recommendation of the patient’s doctors or friends to try alternative treatment. I do not see any reason why this treatment should not be sought out by patients.
I believe this treatment poses no harm to the patient as long as the patient does not exhibit any of the known contraindications to the craniosacral therapy and is suffering from any of the indicated illnesses for this therapy. The scientific community is continuously studying and researching facts that could either further strengthen some alternative therapies or weaken their dogmas. In the end, it will still be up to us consumers of healthcare that will decide if we would want to avail of these alternative therapies. With regards to the craniosacral therapy, I am recommending this treatment because I cannot see anything wrong with it and it is a very safe procedure.
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