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Dusty's Place
P.O. Box 827
Shingle Springs, CA 95682
Tel: (530) 672-2473

Cranial Sacral Therapy

Also referred to as “CST

Dusty was introduced to Cranial Sacral Therapy early on in the progression of scleroderma. Suffering from TMJ syndrome and Fibromyalgia, she feels that she benefited from the experience. Dusty worked with Dr. Dennis Hertenstein, a Cranial Sacral practitioner and international instructor of the work located in Santa Rosa, California.

Craniosacral therapy is a holistic healing practice that uses very light touching to balance the craniosacral system in the body, which includes the bones, nerves, fluids, and connective tissues of the cranium and spinal area.

According to Dr. John Upledger,[1] craniosacral therapy is ideally suited for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, headaches, chronic middle ear infection, pain, and general health maintenance. It is recommended for autism, fibromyalgia, heart disease, osteoarthritis, pneumonia, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic sinus infections, and gastroenteritis (inflammation of the lining of the stomach or small intestine). It is also used with other therapies to treat chronic fatigue syndrome, back pain, and menstrual irregularity. In addition, other craniosacral practitioners have reported benefits for eye dysfunction, dyslexia, depression, motor coordination difficulties, temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD), hyperactivity, colic, asthma in babies, floppy baby syndrome, whiplash, cerebral palsy, certain birth defects, and other central nervous system disorders. [2]

Craniosacral therapy developed from the work of an American osteopath, Dr William Sutherland in the early 1900s. He discovered intrinsic movements of the bones in the head and his further research revealed different rhythms in the body. He inferred, from further observation, and later went on to demonstrate to his satisfaction, that these movements are inextricably linked with mental and emotional health and that restriction of these movements corresponds to a reduction of the natural capacity to self-heal. [3]

What Causes a Dysfunctional Cranial-Sacral (CS) System?

Dysfunction may occur with head, neck, back, or more global somatic trauma, leaving scar tissue and/or traumatic tissue/neurological memory. Emotional shock and trauma may also contribute to, or be contained within, these events. This may restrict the CS system's ability to respond freely to its inherent rhythm. Damage can also be caused by a traumatic birth, extensive dental work, a bite imbalance, or chronic bruxing. [4]

The skulls jigsaw puzzle-like system of moveable bones give upon impact which may, momentarily or permanently, alter skull function and leave distortional movement patterns.


Boxer shown before the fight.

Same boxer at the moment of impact.


A typical craniosacral therapy session is performed with the client fully clothed, in a supine position, and usually lasts about one hour. In the Upledger method of craniosacral therapy, a ten-step protocol serves as a general guideline, which includes (1) analyzing the base (existing) cranial rhythm, (2) creating a still point in that rhythm at the base of the skull, (3) rocking the sacrum, (4) lengthening the spine in the lumbar-sacral region, (5) addressing the pelvic, respiratory and thoracic diaphragms, (6) releasing the hyoid bone in the throat, and (7-10) addressing each one of the cranial bones. The practitioner may use discretion in using which steps are suitable for each client, and may or may not follow them in sequential order, with time restraints and the extent of trauma being factors.

The therapist places their hands lightly on the patient's body, tuning in to the patient by ‘listening’ with their hands or, in Sutherland's words, "with thinking fingers". A practitioner's feeling of being in tune with a patient is described as entrainment.

 Patients often report a sense of deep relaxation during and after the treatment session, and may feel light-headed. This is popularly associated with increases in endorphins, but research shows the effects may actually be brought about by the endocannabinoid system.

There are few reports of adverse side effects from CST treatment. In one study of craniosacral manipulation in patients with traumatic brain syndrome, the incidence of adverse effects from treatment was 5%. [5]

A web site with a good “Frequently Asked Questions” page for Craniosacral Therapy and documented research on the subject, http://www.craniosacral.co.uk/index.html

For more information about Dr. Dennis Hertenstein www.crainalworkshops.com

[1] www.upledger.com

[2] http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Cranial-sacral+therapy

[3] www.craniosacral.co.uk

[4] www.cranialworkshops.com

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craniosacral_therapy#Craniosacral_treatment

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