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Sometimes referred to as cranial sacral therapy, craniosacral therapy (CST) is a hands-on healing technique.

Craniosacral therapy is often confused with cranial osteopathy, a different procedure that is similar in some ways. Cranial osteopathy is a form of osteopathy where gentle manipulation is applied to the head and spine to stimulate healing, release stress, and enhance health. It is based on the concept that manipulating the bones and tissues of the skull can help improve a variety of health issues, including cancer, cerebral palsy, and asthma.

Since Cranial Osteopathy is a form of osteopathy, it will be covered here as a subcategory of Osteopathy.

Craniosacral therapy is intended to relieve compression in the bones of the head, the sacrum, and the spinal column, through gentle manipulation of the bones in the skull, spine, and pelvis. The procedure is designed to improve the flow of cerebrospinal fluid and balance the tension in the membranes, the idea being that releasing chronic tension patterns and enhancing fluid mobility will enhance the body's natural healing mechanisms.

According to practitioners, CST is a non-invasive therapy that can relieve pain and stress caused by compression, using the application of gentle pressure to the back, neck, and head, to promote overall health and wellness.

CST can be performed by chiropractors, osteopaths, physical therapists, or massage therapists. Depending on the techniques employed by the practitioner and the nature of the problem being treated, from two to ten sessions may be required, along with maintenance sessions.

The concept is that conditions such as stress, tension, and injuries can result in the tightening of the craniosacral tissues, placing a strain on the central nervous system, disrupting normal body functions, and blocking the smooth flow of cerebrospinal fluid. Using their hands, practitioners use light pressure to release stress and tension from the craniosacral system, thereby relieving the associated strain on the central nervous system. Through gentle manipulation of the bones in the skull, spine, and pelvis, blockages to the flow of cerebrospinal fluid are eliminated, restoring the normal flow, and enhancing the body's ability to heal itself.

CST is used to reduce symptoms related to a variety of conditions, including chronic fatigue, headaches, anxiety, and post-thrombotic syndrome. It may also be used to treat depression, asthma, and autism, and has been used to treat back pain, neck pain, jaw disorders, brain and spinal injuries, scoliosis, fibromyalgia, ADD/ADHD, learning disorders, grief, PTSD, and coordination problems.

Because the amount of pressure applied is low, craniosacral therapy is generally considered safe. Under some circumstances, side effects, such as dizziness, nausea, lightheadedness, seeing colors, and diarrhea may occur.

It is common for patients to experience relaxation, relief, or drowsiness after a CST session. Avoiding strenuous exercise for a period of time after a session is often advised.

In some cases, a release of emotions may follow a CST session. Crying and other emotional releases, such as laughter, anger, frustration, and fear are not abnormal. CST practitioners refer to this as a somatic-emotional release, and it is viewed as ridding the mind and body of the residual effects of trauma. Of course, emotional responses will differ widely between individuals.

Following treatment, most practitioners will advise patients to drink a lot of water in order to flush out any toxins that may have been released into the bloodstream.

People with diagnosed aneurysms, severe bleeding disorders, and those with a recent history of head injuries, including skull fractures and cranial bleeding, should probably not use craniosacral therapy.

Skeptics of craniosacral therapy argue that there is no significant evidence of health benefits resulting from craniosacral therapy, and some would refer to it as a pseudoscience, and its practice as quackery.



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