Trisoma® - Craniosacral Therapy

Cranial Bones When people think of circulation, the cardiovascular (blood) system usually comes to mind. However humans also have two other important circulatory systems: lymphatic, and craniosacral. Craniosacral Therapy is a type of bodywork that uses subtle palpation and intuitive "listening" to detect the movement and restrictions in the cerebrospinal fluid and various related structures to facilitate well-being. It is an excellent modality for clients who are limited by medications or physical conditions from receiving deep manual tissue work. Clients remain clothed, and no oil is used.

The craniosacral (or cranial-sacral) system is composed of the, cranium (skull), meninges, vertebrae (spine), cerebrospinal fluid and all the structures related to the production, reabsorption and containment of cerebrospinal fluid. According to the Ohio State University Medical Center[1], the craniosacral system has a rhythmic motion, normally between 6 to 12 cycles per minute, which helps propel cerebral spinal fluid throughout the central nervous system between the center of the brain, around the brain, down the spine to the sacrum. The 20 plus bones that comprise the skull and face fit together in such a way as to allow minute movement throughout life. This movement and relationship between the bones of the skull are essential to maintaining the normal pumping action of cerebral spinal fluid. A normally functioning cranial-sacral system is essential to a healthy central nervous system. Because the nervous system affects all other body systems, manipulation of the cranial-sacral system can influence all parts of the body. Choroid Plexus

Cerebrospinal fluid has many putative roles including mechanical protection of the brain, facilitation of pulsatile cerebral blood flow, distribution of peptides, hormones, neuroendocrine factors (now implicated in obesity) and other nutrients and essentials substances to cells of the body, and in turn wash away waste products. Cardiovascular dynamics are also affected by CSF pressure, as the flow of blood must be tightly regulated within the brain to assure consistent brain oxygenation.

Approximately 500 ml (over half a quart) of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is produced every day in the choroid plexus of the brain, and it circulates through the brain, through the spinal cord to the sacrum. CSF has a pulse, or variance in rate of flow, of its own, distinct from that of the heartbeat or the breath.

This pulse is said to be felt anywhere on the body by a sensitive practitioner, but most palpation is done on the head and sacrum. The touch used is very light and gentle, but because we are working with the fluid that facilitates constant nourishment, including chemicals which promote Alzheimer's Disease, and communication within the nervous system, Craniosacral Therapy may yield profound unwinding as if unraveling a tangled knot. This unwinding and releasing may be felt as a relief on both physical and emotional levels. Some postulate that a human Life Force (a.k.a. breath of life, or Qi) is the main fixture in healing and is transported via the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to all the tissues of the body. Thus, this fluid is involved in the healing of all of the major organs and organ systems of the body. Brain Membranes

When disorders of CSF flow occur, they may therefore impact not only CSF movement, but also the intracranial blood flow, with subsequent neuronal and glial vulnerabilities. The venous system is also important in this equation. Infants and patients shunted as small children may have particularly unexpected relationships between pressure and ventricular size, possibly due in part to venous pressure dynamics. This may have significant treatment implications but the underlying pathophysiology needs to be further explored.

CSF connections with the lymphatic system have been demonstrated in several mammalian systems. Preliminary data suggest that these CSF-lymph connections form around the time that the CSF secretory capacity of the choroid plexus is developing (in utero). There may be some relationship between CSF disorders, including hydrocephalus and impaired CSF lymphatic transport. Spine

Andrew Taylor Still, born in Virginia in 1828, engineer and army surgeon during the American Civil War, became dispirited with the medical shortcomings of his day, and is credited with promoting what is now called Osteopathy. In the 1930's William Sutherland, American osteopath, was credited as first researching Cranial Osteopathy and Primary Respiratory Impulse (PRI) , and discovered that the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal chord flowed in a rhythmic cycle. In the last century, John E. Upledger coined the term Craniosacral Therapy, and he, Milne and others theorized that adult cranial bones do, in fact, move slightly at the sutures. More recent evidence supports such theory of cranial bone mobility. Just as it is still taught that the vermiform appendix is a useless vestigial organ, (although many agree that it is rich in infection-fighting lymphoid cells, and Leonardo Da Vinci described its function as a relief valve, and newer theories state that it lubricates the ileocecal valve,) the cranial bones do not completely fuse, but allow minute movement and flow.

These osteopaths developed refined techniques for very subtle and gentle manual facilitation of the skull and sacrum which have been shown to affect structural positions that affect these fluid fluctuations. Paul studied with Paul Brown of the Milne Institute, which is continuing to develop this therapy. The following are other explanations of this modality which is now accepted by health insurance in several countries in Europe for various, including idiopathic, conditions.
Recent research indicates that the nervous system communicates in other way than just nerve impulses. It is theorized that environmental factors, such as electromagnetic fields, fluorescent lights, cell phones, ultrasound and stress may be seriously affecting our nervous system health. In fact, US Patents have been granted for controlling brain activity with microwaves and ultrasound. When trauma or disease prevent someone from receiving other types of bodywork, this modality may be ideal. Although Paul has a technical background, he does not claim to know what happens in a particular C-S Therapy session; no quantum mechanics or tachyons are claimed, as some other practitioners have stated.

U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health published a 2004 study that tested orthopedic versus craniosacral treatment for tennis elbow. In this study it was possible to successfully treat the chronic Epicondylopathia humeri radialis with an osteopathic approach. A significant difference to an orthopedic treatment could not be proved. [3]

Although medical schools have long taught that the cranial sutures are fixed after childhood, Cranio : the journal of craniomandibular practice, reported in 1992 that: " Craniosacral therapy supports that light forces applied to the skull may be transmitted to the dura membrane having a therapeutic effect to the cranial system. This study examines the changes in elongation of falx cerebri during the application of some of the craniosacral therapy techniques to the skull of an embalmed cadaver. The study demonstrates that the relative elongation of the falx cerebri changes as follows: for the frontal lift, 1.44 mm; for the parietal lift, 1.08 mm; for the sphenobasilar compression, -0.33 mm; for the sphenobasilar decompression, 0.28 mm; and for the ear pull, inconclusive results. The present study offers validation for the scientific basis of craniosacral therapy and the contention for cranial suture mobility." [3]

The Journal of Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology reported in 2003 that "There is mounting evidence that a significant portion of cerebrospinal fluid drainage is associated with transport along cranial and spinal nerves with absorption taking place into lymphatic vessels external to the central nervous system... linking the subarachnoid compartment with extracranial lymphatics. [4]

Additionally it should be noted that there was a study refuting the effects of cranial manipulation on CSF pressure and movement between sutures, however this study involved machinery compressing the skulls of anesthetized rabbits. [5]
  • Choroid plexus appears in 6th week gestation, and assumes its adult appearance by the 20th week of gestation. Choroid Plexus Cysts are believed to derive from folding of the neuroepithelium with subsequent accumulation of CSF and debris. Most are asymptomatic; almost all resolve spontaneously by the 26th-28th weeks gestation, and only rarely do they cause obstructive symptoms (and those cysts are large: 2-8cm!)

"Because we don't understand the brain very well we're constantly tempted to use the latest technology as a model for trying to understand it. In my childhood we were always assured that the brain was a telephone switchboard. (What else could it be?) And I was amused to see that Sherrington, the great British neuroscientist, thought that the brain worked like a telegraph system. Freud often compared the brain to hydraulic and electromagnetic systems. Leibniz compared it to a mill, and now, obviously, the metaphor is the digital computer." -John R. Searle, philosophy professor (1932- )

If it works, do it. If you try to understand everything, you will make yourself crazy. - Jean-Louis (osteopath) to Paul on 2006 May 31.

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