Monday, September 20, 2010

Craniosacral Therapy

Having started medical school over 4 years ago, I have had plenty of time to appreciate the necessity of utilizing energetic medicine with patients. Most of us go to the doctor and talk about our physical ailments, are given a prescription and sent on our merry way. Some of us are lucky to have doctors that recognize the emotional body, yet their tools for addressing it are usually limited to medications.

So how would a student who aspires to be a naturopathic doctor prepare to help patients balance a mental, emotional, physical and spiritual body? Energetic medicine. Energetic medicine can be veeerrryyy vague. Some forms include: Reiki, crystal therapy, color and music therapy, Emotional Freedom Technique, Feng Shui, etc. You may have heard of some of these modalities, and they are all great. I use many forms of energetic medicine myself, but my favorite by a long shot is Craniosacral Therapy.

What is Craniosacral Therapy?

The body, like all forms of creation, has rhythm. The sun, moon and planets, the seasons, music, our hormones... all have rhythm. Our body's physical structure has rhythm as well. Our bones, including the bones of the cranium, are constantly moving. Though the cranial bones are fused with sutures, a craniosacral therapist can palpate very subtle movements. Over 100 years ago, an osteopath named Dr. William Sutherland discovered that these rhythms were in direct connection with the rest of the rhythms of the body, and the "core" in particular. The "core" is t the center of our being, including but not limited to cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the central nervous system (CNS) and surrounding tissues.

The intention of craniosacral therapy is to facilitate the "Breath of Life," the patterns from which our energetic body form due to physical, mental or emotional stress, trauma or toxicity. A craniosacral therapist simply lays his or her hands on the patient as they lay still and fully clothed. By monitoring the movements of the CSF, tissues and bones, the therapist is able to identify "energetic cysts" or "obstructions to cure" in the body. Through intention, the body is encouraged to heal thyself, clear blockages and re-sync its natural rhythms. No force or manipulation is used in this practice.

A skilled craniosacral therapist can even extend his or her palpatory skills to the energetic patterns formed by the mental and emotional body. Energetic centers such as the chakras are easily assessed and may be balanced. Some therapists have some shamanic training, helpful for spiritual attunement and harmonizing. But nothing is forced on a patient. The entire session is a process of addressing what the patient's body presents. As the Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America says, "The practitioner's deep and clear quality of presence can become a reflective mirror for the patient and an invaluable cue for their potential for change."

This technique is also very safe and wonderful for children as they correct themselves very easily. Children, like animals, have a very strong vitality, where they can overcome physical and energetic dis-ease much stronger than adults. Craniosacral is also wonderful for pregnant women, helping to align the "core" of the fetus and mother. This can be very helpful for preparing for a healthy birth.

Some ailments that I've seen craniosacral therapy work wonders for:

  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Migraines
  • Autism
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Head injuries
  • Spinal misalignments, nerve impingements
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents
  • Neuro-endocrine imbalances
  • Sleep apnea
  • TMJ, dental problems
  • Trauma of all kinds: birth trauma, emotional trauma, PTSD, loss/grief, surgery, etc

Many patients appreciate having a hands-on approach to their health. The session is very relaxing and can be more efficient if the patient falls asleep. I've never had a patient that found that to be a problem. Most sessions are about 45 minutes, though it can be used for just seconds. Do not expect one session to address and correct everything. We are complex beings with many deep-seeded "misalignments." Craniosacral therapy's effects just BEGIN in office, and their effects continue to work days later. Therapists suggest setting appointments once a month to even once a week depending on how acute the condition is, or how much progress you made.


Craniosacral therapy is a wonderful tool to address the WHOLE body. Doctors need to address mental, emotional, and spiritual bodies in addition to the physical body. After all, we want to find the cause of a patient's ailment...and what if that cause is not physically related?

Wanna get trained?

Another tool for the medical box.