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An International Life: An Interview with Mary Elizabeth Wakefield
I met Mary Elizabeth Wakefield during her class last summer in Seneca Falls, New York at the Finger Lakes School of Chinese Medicine.
Integrative Medicine for the Underserved: A Seat at the Table
Numerous organizations have risen to the challenge of providing care to medically-underserved populations and here we feature one such group.
Going On-Site With Chiropractic Care
The Foundation for Chiropractic Progress has released a position paper highlighting the financial, clinical and patient-satisfaction benefits of providing chiropractic care at on-site corporate health clinics.
I was sitting in a Pizza Hut in Peoria, Ill., with my friend Reggie, sometime in the spring of my senior year in college, when he started doodling on his paper placemat. In those days, the company had a picture of U.S. on the mats, showing all the locations of the "Huts" in the country.
The Source-Luo Point Combination, Part 2
The Da Cheng includes symptoms for the source-luo points that indicate when to use them for treatment. Yang defines the method as the guest-host (it is one of a variety of acupuncture point combinations called guest-host).
Q&A With the First VA Chiropractic Residents
As you may have read previously, a major step forward for the profession occurred in July 2014 when the Department of Veterans Affairs began piloting a chiropractic residency program at five locations.
Sports Medicine 101: Surgery or No Surgery?
In the world of sports medicine, many careers are saved by surgeries that correct traumatic damage to the body. Muscle tears, ligament damage, fractures, spinal disc herniations, and joint instabilities are a few of the issues frequently addressed with surgical intervention.
Free Yourself From the Pocketbook Practice
Let's take a journey together; there's an important lesson to be learned. Imagine a town or city just like yours.
News in Brief
Investigating the Cellular Impact of Mechanical Force; National Board Seats (Not-So) New Officers at Annual Meeting.
NCCAOM Video Contest
The NCCAOM is excited to announce the launch of the second annual video contest "Because it Works!" 2015.
Marketing with a Microphone
When given an option, it stands to reason that people prefer to do business with those they know, like, and trust.
Meet Cheyenne: Your Future Colleague
Allow me to introduce you to Cheyenne (Chey), the daughter of some of our family's closest friends. We attend and serve at the same church together, and have known each other for many years.
Nomenclature and Classification of Lumbar Disc Pathology: Version 2.0
The Nomenclature and Classification of Lumbar Disc Pathology consensus, published in 2001 by the collaborative efforts of the North American Spine Society, the American Society of Spine Radiology and the American Society of Neuroradiology, has guided radiologists, clinicians and the public for more than a decade.
Key Changes and Updates to the 7th Edition CNT Manual
Acupuncture Today recently interviewed Jennifer Brett, ND, L.Ac. regarding the updates to the CNT manaul.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 3)
A patient with sacroiliac fixation and dysfunction ordinarily demonstrates a noticeable leg-length inequality when placed in the prone position on the adjusting table.
Desert: A Metaphor from the Study of Genetics
In most of the human lives I know about, there are stretches of time which feel stagnant, or worse. We can feel adrift, or wounded and sidelined, and these times don't seem to carry much usefulness while they are unfolding.
Chinese Doctors Poke Holes in Australian Study
A recent Australian clinical trial, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2014 by Rana Hinman, et el., evaluating the effectiveness of both needle and laser acupuncture for chronic knee pain.
The Three Heater Official
This Official, belonging to the element Fire, is responsible for maintaining and regulating the heating system of the body, mind, and spirit. It is named for its function. The trunk is divided into three "burning spaces" or "jiaos."
Treatment of PTSD: An Opportunity for the Practice of Integrated Medicine
PTSD is widespread across America today. Not only do many of our honored men and women in uniform bring it home with them from the war zones they have been active in, but it often follows any life-threatening event people go through when their lives have been in danger.
The Risks I Took
We all take risks when we choose this profession. For some, it is not knowing if you can make a living practicing TCM. For others, it is parental or cultural disapproval.
Creating Relationships at Southwest Symposium
The month of May brought many interesting activities. As I have said in many previous columns this year, this profession is moving in a very exciting direction. Make sure you are getting involved. If you're not, you just might get left behind.
Should You Change an Athlete's Natural Running Form?
Once past the ankle, impact forces travel at about 200 mph into the knee. In addition to allowing the quad to absorb force, bending the knee (E) prevents the hip and pelvis from moving up and down too much (F), which is important for injury prevention and efficiency.
February, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 02
Exploring the Therapeutic Value of CranioSacral Therapy
By John Upledger, DO, OMM
Throughout the course of human history, great discoveries frequently have met with resistance before acceptance. Today, we take for granted that the world is round. Yet people in the 15th century not only believed the world was flat, but that anyone who sailed beyond its limits would vanish off the edge of the earth.
The exploration of the human body has proven no different.While no one questions the value of the cardiovascular and respiratory rhythms in modern medicine, there was a time when their very existence was debated worldwide. Even now, medical approaches to these systems are as varied as medical practitioners themselves.
For more than 30 years, I have been a proponent of using the rhythm of a different body system to evaluate and improve health and well-being. I have dedicated my life to teaching the therapeutic value of the craniosacral system to health care professionals worldwide, physicians and nonphysicians alike. How can many different types of practitioners benefit from understanding one physiological system? And what evidence supports the value of therapy focused on this system? Please allow me to explain.
While the craniosacral system has only been scientifically defined within the last three decades, it has existed since the beginning of time as we know it in every human being and animal possessing a brain and spinal cord. Forming in the womb and functioning until death, it extends from the bones of the skull, face and mouth (the cranium) through a system of fluid hydraulics and membranes to the lower end of the spine (the sacrum). Because the craniosacral system surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord, restrictions in its membranes can directly affect all aspects of central nervous system performance, from motor function to emotions. Fortunately, such problems can be detected and corrected by a skilled therapist using simple methods of palpation.
The History of CranioSacral Therapy
The roots of CranioSacral Therapy date back to the early 1900s, when William Sutherland, DO, was struck by the unusual idea that the bones of the skull were structured to allow for movement. For more than 20 years, he explored this concept, performing makeshift experiments on himself with helmet-like devices designed to impose variable pressures on different parts of his head. His wife then recorded personality changes he displayed in response to different pressure applications.
In the early 1930s, Sutherland published the first article about his work in the Minnesota Osteopathic Journal under a pseudonym. Based on his experiments, he developed a system of examination and treatment for the bones of the skull that today is known as cranial osteopathy. With some patient success, Sutherland organized a small group of osteopaths who studied cranial work with him. Because so little was known about how it worked, and the results at times seemed miraculous, his system acquired an understandably esoteric reputation.
Personally, I knew very little of this history when I observed the rhythmic movement of the craniosacral system firsthand in 1970. I was assisting a surgery on a man named Delbert and had only one job to do: hold the membrane that surrounds the spinal cord still while the surgeon removed a calcium deposit from its surface. As simple as it sounds, I couldn't do it. The membrane kept pulsing at a rate of about eight beats per minute, which didn't correspond to his breathing or heart rate, both of which were being monitored. Delbert made it through surgery, and I discovered that the pulsing motion I witnessed was new to all of the doctors there, not just me. We didn't know it at the time, but what we were seeing was the rhythm of cerebrospinal fluid pumping through the craniosacral system. The system itself hadn't even been named yet.
A few years later, I attended a workshop on cranial osteopathy developed by Dr. Sutherland. The course focused primarily on the bones of the skull and the fact that they weren't fused as doctors had been taught in medical schools, where anatomy was studied using embalmed and calcified cadavers. Instead, Sutherland's material demonstrated that skull bones continue to move throughout life. While this phenomenon has since been widely documented (see references for examples), widespread acceptance has typically been a slower evolution.
So here we were at the seminar, all palpating the motion of the bones, when people started asking about this rhythm they were feeling. That's when I realized I had seen the driving force behind these pulsations during Delbert's surgery. I put that episode together with what I was feeling now with my own hands. They seemed linked, yet no one knew how. That lack of information enticed me to continue developing my palpation skills and experiment with different methods of connecting with the rhythm of the craniosacral system. Yet instead of focusing on the skull bones as Sutherland and other cranial osteopaths had, I was continually drawn to work with the membranes of the system itself.
News of my work spread, and in 1975 the Osteopathic College of Michigan State University invited me to lead the world's first task force to study and verify (or debunk) the mobility of cranial sutures and bones. It was an exhilarating time. For the next five years, I led a team of anatomists, physiologists, biophysicists and bioengineers, all testing the potential for performing therapy on the craniosacral system.
Together we conducted research, much of it published, that formed the basis for the modality I went on to develop and name CranioSacral Therapy. Yet we continued to take a different approach than the osteopaths who came before us. Again, instead of focusing on the bones of the cranium, we were working with the fluids and membranes of the system within the skull and spinal canal. By blazing this new path, we finally were able to explain the function of the craniosacral system. We then went on to demonstrate how it could be used to assess and relieve numerous health problems involving the brain and spinal cord.
How CranioSacral Therapy Is Performed
CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle, noninvasive approach to whole-body health. Generally using about 5 grams of pressure (roughly the weight of a nickel), the practitioner evaluates the craniosacral system by testing for the ease of motion and rhythm of cerebrospinal fluid. Simple manual techniques are then used to release restrictions in fasciae, membranes and any other tissues that influence the craniosacral system.
Experienced clinicians are able to feel the craniosacral motion anywhere on an individual's fully-clothed body. Valuable information can quickly be gained by palpating the rhythm for rate, amplitude, symmetry and quality. Lack of symmetry, for instance, can help localize a pathological problem that might relate to musculoskeletal dysfunctions, inflammatory responses, adhesions, trauma, surgical scars, vascular accidents and many other conditions. As the asymmetry is eliminated and normal symmetrical craniosacral motion is restored, the problem is often resolved or in the process of being resolved.
Consider, too, that fascia is a slightly mobile sheath of connective tissue that runs continuously from head to toe, surrounding every somatic and visceral structure in the body. This fascial system is in constant motion, corresponding to the craniosacral rhythm by both direct connections and common osseous anchorings. With this in mind, it's easy to see how loss of tissue mobility in one area can be used to trace the location of the disease process that caused the original lack of mobility.
Ultimately, CranioSacral Therapy focuses on solving physiological problems at their source by using the individual's inherent self-corrective mechanisms. It has been shown over and over again, in thousands of cases, that it enhances general health, reduces accumulated stress, strengthens central nervous system function and improves resistance to disease.
I encourage you to continue to explore this therapy's potential for improving health, well-being and quality of life. Let your proof be in your results. And if you're faced with skepticism for your efforts, take heart. You might well be ahead of your time.
Click here for previous articles by John Upledger, DO, OMM.
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