CST: Science explanation

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Dr. John Upledger

CranioSacral Therapy was developed by the osteopathic physician Dr. John Upledger beginning in the early 1970s. His early focus was on the connective tissue membrane wrapping the spinal cord (meninges) and brain (dura mater). Thus the name CranioSacral, or Head-Tailbone.

It all started in 1971 when Dr. Upledger was asked to assist in surgery to remove a calcium deposit on the meningeal membrane around a patient’s spinal cord. He had one job: to steady the membrane so the surgeon could scrape off the deposit. The surgeon yelled at him throughout the surgery because he wasn’t keeping the membrane from moving back and forth.

Dr. Upledger started studying this movement and discovered it was normal. The pumping action came from the production and draining of cerebrospinal fluid, which flows beneath the meninges and dura mater. His research also showed that CS fluid moves the bones of the skull because it creates higher pressure when produced and a lower pressure when drained. This movement is very slight but can be felt by trained hands.

Accidents, immobility, dehydration, and emotional trauma can create areas where bits of connective tissue stick together. This can reduce the amount the bones can move, putting pressure on the brain or spinal nerves. Result? Unhappy brain or spinal nerves. CranioSacral Therapy works to unlatch stuck areas and gently return the movement to normal.

That’s the basis of the work: un-latching problems one velcro loop at a time.

We work gently because that’s the best way to get results. Connective tissue (fascia) is like cling wrap in that it’s a little stretchy but mostly not. It doesn’t like being aggressively pushed around but will unhook when gently worked. Gentle work also doesn’t trigger the body’s guarding reflexes.

What would indicate CranioSacral therapy? The cause of your pain doesn’t show up on X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs, and the pain doesn’t respond well to painkillers or aggressive types of therapy. Because guess what? Connective tissue problems don’t appear on X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs, bwaa haa haa!

And here’s another cool scientific fact: our brains have the consistency of custard. If the connective tissue wrapping around our brain gets tight, it squishes our brain, and we develop anxiety or depression.

Bill Nye

Or check this out: the pituitary sits in a little depression (the Turkish saddle) in the sphenoid bone. If stuck connective tissue makes that bone wobble like a car with a bent axle, the pituitary won’t gently rock back and forth the way a normal pituitary does but will whirl around in a circle. It won’t be happy, and the body’s fight-or-flight response will probably kick in…and stay on.

CST works with connective tissue to find out where the stuck spots are and to release them. The brain can fluff back up, the sphenoid can rock gently back and forth, and the pituitary can calm down.

CST is a wonderful way to help reduce anxiety and other problems.  As my old boss, Bill Nye, used to say, “It’s science!”

Published by Amy

If I were to sum up my life in one word, it would be: Unlikely. I started out in science during the Sputnik era when scientists were cool. Ended up in grad school (microbiology) thinking, "wait, this doesn't work for me." Did science and medical reporting for 8 years. Switched to science fiction when I was home with little kids. Sucked at it. Gave it up in 2005 and worked at a granite countertop company for 2 years, running a CNC machine in the back shop with the guys. Got tired of working in an unheated room in the winter while wearing lots of layers, and went to massage school. The classroom didn't have heat in the winter for several months and now half of us were naked as practice bodies. They fixed the heat. I graduated. Started taking craniosacral therapy trainings. Loved it. Now I've been doing it for 13 years. Still love it. I'm a CST-D now, which is the highest level of certification the Upledger Institute gives. Took me 8 years. I can wear the tiara now, but I'm still learning new things all the time.

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