Craniosacral therapy

Craniosacral therapy is a type of alternative medicine therapy used for the treatment of neck, back and other chronic pains. It is also believed to provide relief from migraines and mental stress. The basis of this therapy lies in what is called craniosacral system, which trained therapists are able to access by placing their hands on the body of the patient. This enables them to ease the movement of the cranial structures and return them to their normal position, which causes relief from several illnesses. While many studies show that there is little or no scientific backing towards the theory of craniosacral therapy, several people are now adopting this therapy and reporting positive experiences.

Craniosacral therapy was first introduced to the world by a physician named William Sutherland in the year 1898. He called it Craniosacral Osteopathy. Sutherland first conceptualized this form of treatment when he realized from his study of the cranial structure of the skull, that contrary to anatomical beliefs at the time, the bones of the skull could be moved. Though his work was rejected at first by the mainstream profession of osteopathy, Sutherland continued to teach his methods to osteopaths who were willing to learn. His concepts and teachings saw increasing levels of acceptance when in the 1940s this branch of healing began to be offered as a post-graduate course, and led on to the establishment of the Cranial Academy in 1947. Much later in the 1970s, more research was conducted on Sutherland’s theories at Michigan State University by physician John E Upledger and neurophysiologist Ernest W. Retzlaff. This led to the development of Upledger’s own style of treatment and he gave it the name Craniosacral Therapy, which is being widely practiced today.

Practitioners of craniosacral therapy gently place their hands on the patient, primarily in the regions of the spine and the skull. While doing so, it is believed that they are able to distinguish rhythmic movements made by the brain (approximately 10 to 14 cycles per minute). This frequency is not related to the rate at which the heart beats. It is considered that a balance in the flow of these rhythmic movements is vital for health and well-being. By feeling these cranial pulsations with their fingertips and checking for any abnormalities in the rhythm, therapists can make cranial structures of the skull (places where skull bones join) to move without any restriction in a normal fashion. This in turn is said to allow the cerebrospinal fluid to flow normally. When this happens, the root cause of several diseases may be reversed and sometimes, all together removed.

Craniosacral therapy is offered by various kinds of practitioners including chiropractors, dentists, massage therapists and osteopaths. One session typically lasts about one hour. During a typical session of craniosacral therapy, the patient is fully-clothed and lying in a supine position. Upledger’s craniosacral therapy provides certain general guidelines and protocols for therapists to follow. This includes analysis of the existing cranial pulsations after which a still point in the rhythm must be created at the base of the skull. Once this has been established, the therapist must then rock the sacrum gently, following which the spine must be lengthened in the lumbar-sacral region. Each of the cranial bones may then be addressed and any abnormalities corrected. Therapists are free to use their judgment in terms of the sequence of these protocols depending on what is suitable for the patient. Several patients have shared experiences of a deep sense of relaxation during the therapy and after.

Several physicians and osteopaths are skeptical in their opinions of craniosacral therapy. There exists widespread criticism on this form of treatment, mainly due to lack of solid scientific proof. In particular, there is no scientific evidence to prove cranial bone movement even today. In addition, the existence of a cranial rhythm that is so vital to this form of treatment cannot be proved either. It becomes more difficult to prove since this rhythm is only felt by human hands and no instrument exists to quantify these readings or changes. Since cranial rhythm cannot be proven, neither can the fact that it is directly linked as a cause for any kind of disease. Craniosacral therapy has also been connected with psychological aspects of the practitioner as well as the patient and several therapists have claimed that this therapy becomes ineffective for those who do not have faith.

Last updated on Apr 30th, 2010 and filed under Alternative Medicine. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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