Cranio Sacral Therapy
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Craniosacral Therapy is a gentle touch therapy used to relieve restrictions of the craniosacral system. This system includes the skull, meningeal membranes and cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). During a treatment the patient lies on their back, fully clothed. The Craniosacral practitioner then applies gentle manual pressure to the bones of the skull and the spine, gently restoring the normal function of the craniosacral system. The patient often experiences a state of deep relaxation as they receive the treatment. Craniosacral therapy is used to treat migraine headaches, chronic pain, TMJ, stress, chronic pain, boost the immune system, and improve overall health.
Craniosacral therapy was developed by an Osteopathic physician named William Sutherland in the early 1900s and then further expanded in the mid 1970s and early 1980s by John Upledger. Sutherland was the first to suggest the theory that the cranial bones moved; through much research he was able to prove that they do move along their sutures, and that restrictions from this movement could cause health problems. He further theorized that the membranes worked as a counter force to this movement. As his research continued he discovered that the sacrum moves in synch with the cranial bones. John Upledger, who was a neurophysiologist and professor at Michigan State University, conducted research on Sutherland's theories throughout the late 1970s to early 1980s. His findings supported both the concept of cranial rhythm and the movement of cranial bones. Both Sutherland and Upledger had their own distinct treatment styles.
Though this therapy continues to achieve wide acceptance as a valuable healing modality, it is not without its critics. Skeptics of Craniosacral therapy claim it is without scientific basis and that published studies in support of Craniosacral therapy were conducted with poor methodology. Those that discredit the work argue that there is a lack of evidence supporting the movement of cranial bones, any link between "cranial rhythm" and overall health, and practitioners being able to detect the cranial rhythm.
In the United States there currently are no licensing or regulations for Craniosacral practitioners. For this reason a Craniosacral therapist may not diagnose medial conditions unless they are also a licensed physician such as an Osteopath (DO), Medical Doctor (MD) or Naturopath (ND). There are a variety of institutes which offer training in Craniosacral therapy. DOs, MDs and dentists can study Sutherland's teaching in Craniosacral therapy at the Cranial Academy, which was established in 1947. The Upledger Institute, established in 1985, also offers courses and certification in Craniosacral therapy.
Author: Christopher Holder, ND
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