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Cranio Sacral Therapy

Andrew Taylor Still (1827-1913) can be called the father of cranial osteopathy. His family members died of meningitis. During his research he found that their death was caused by mercury found in their medicaments. He was the first to state that the body’s structure, operation and functions are interrelated. He also stated that the body contains every element and ability to cure itself and only proper stimulation is needed to achieve this goal. In 1892 he founded the Medical School of Osteopathy.

William Gardle Shutherland, the follower of Still, a Missouri doctor, has developed cranial osteopathy at the beginning of the century. He was the first to state that the cranial bones are moving. He experimented on himself and proved that if he pressed these bones he could have considerable effect on the body. For 30 years he had been studying the movement of the cranial bones. He described that there is rhythmic movement within the central nervous system that affects the cranial bones; and that it can be palpated where these movements are blocked.

John Upledger (died in 2012) graduated in 1950 in Detroit on the Faculty of Osteopathy. In 1971 during a surgical intervention he observed rhythmic movements in every 6-8 minutes. In 1975 PhD studies have proved the existence of this rhythm, and also verified that connective tissue inhibitions can also be detected that are passed to the cranial bones. Upleger has been teaching the techniques of recognizing these inhibitions since the 1980s. In 1995 he also demonstrated that emotional effects can cause tissue aberrations and these can cause such inhibitions. In 1985 he established the Upleger Institute.

The cranio-sacral therapy is a very gentle yet very effective form of treatment that is becoming more and more spread due to its widespread application possibilities and due to its effect on the self-healing mechanisms and the natural defence system of the body. Micromanipulations are one of its traits that are based on the correction of the micro-movements of the cranial bones. By the help of this the therapist can affect other organs, parts and organ systems of the body. The aim of the therapy is to relax the borders and plates of the connective tissue, to correct joint tensions, relax muscles, normalize the brain-spinal fluid flow, to harmonize neural functions and to improve the intracranial circulation.

The anatomical bases of cranio-sacral therapy

The bases of this therapy lay in the cranio-sacral system that beside the circulatory and breathing system creates the 3rd large rhythm of the body. This is a physiological system that exists in all living creatures having brain and spinal cord. The cranio-sacral name comes from the functional unit of the cranium (skull) and the sacrum (sacral bone). The system consists of the connective tissue membrane (dura mater) surrounding and protecting the brain and the spinal cord and the spinal fluid (liquor) produced by and circulating within it. All the nerves of the body are in connection with the dura mater. In this relation – due to physical or psychological traumas – the formed blocks can inhibit the flow of the liquor that results in different disorders. Beside the meninges all the bones are part of this system that are related to the meninges and to the connective tissue interconnected with the meninges. These bones are in constant move and each bone has its own space for movement. When a bone is dislocated from this space or cannot move at all, it means that the flow of the liquor is inhibited. If the balance is disrupted in this system it has adverse effect not only on the brain and the spinal cord but also on the entire body. The cranio-sacral system is in close connection with the nervous system, with the network of the blood vessels, with the lymphatic circulation, the breathing system, the hormonal processes and the bone and muscle system.

The cranio-sacral rhythm

The cranio-sacral system - like the cardiovascular and the breathing system - has its own detectable rhythm. The cranio-sacral rhythm is 6-12 cycles/minute, which varies from person to person, but is stable within a person. Values less than 6 show hypo-function, and values above 12 show hyper-function. The major tasks in the creation of this rhythm are played by the skull and the sacral bone being the two ends of the system. Naturally, all the cranial bones are moving and this movement is constantly spreading in the body through the liquor. This way an experienced therapist can palpate this rhythm anywhere in the body, and thus he/she can identify possible changes in the liquor or he/she can detect any blocks inhibiting its flow, and with very gentle movements he/she can help the natural move of the liquor and the connected soft tissues in order to increase the self-correcting processes of the body, to bring the nervous system into rest and generally improve the health condition of the patient.

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