Cranial Osteopathy is based on a holistic approach to health. This manual therapy assumes that a healthy body is able to adapt to the stress to which it is subjected, whilst maintaining its balance and harmony. The body thus tends to be self-healing and self-regulating in the face of stress and trauma. However, when stretched, the body is no longer able to correct itself.
In diagnosing and treating structural imbalances, the osteopath can help the patient regain a state of body balance and therefore health. Although best known for its benefits for muscle and joint pain, osteopathy can also be useful in treating a wide variety of functional disorders affecting people of all ages. As part of their training, osteopaths are introduced to several techniques, including the very soft "cranial" approach. Cranial osteopathy is a subtle and refined treatment method. It emphasizes gentle handling to promote the release of tension throughout the body, including the skull. Therapists using this approach are referred to as a "Cranial Osteopaths".
Some osteopaths may specialise in pediatrics, sports injuries or treatment of internal body organs, but cranial osteopathy combines all these application areas. It is a comprehensive therapeutic approach, which is not limited to the treatment of individual symptoms. Therefore, although it has established its reputation on the healing of specific functional disorders, such as colic, its scope of action is much broader.
Cranial Sacral Therapy, also known as Craniosacral Therapy focuses on the natural rhythmic movements of the cerebrospinal fluid, which flows through the body from head to tailbone. If the cerebrospinal fluid is not flowing, there is a restriction in the body, which is most likely caused by physical or emotional trauma. Cranial Sacral Therapy seeks to remove the restrictions from the nervous system, the head and spinal cord. The therapist manually applies light, focused pressure to the restricted areas. This pressure stimulates an electrical signal, known as the Pezio Electrical Effect, which causes the nerves to 'fire', and helps the muscles to relax.
Craniosacral Therapy purports to do more than cure physical ailments. It is reputed to also be a valuable tool in releasing emotional blockages that stem from childhood traumas that affect people into adulthood. Therapists say that negative memories can be stored in the bodies cells, and as the therapist applies pressure to release the restrictions, the cells respond and release these memories naturally. Therapists say they can also cure patients by manipulating the bones in the skull than can relieve pain and other physical ailments.
However, there is much criticism of this therapy. Some scientists discredit it, saying that the skull bones cannot be manipulated in adulthood, as they are solidly fused. They also state that even if the bones could be moved, there is no scientific evidence to support the theory that they could be manipulated to benefit a patients health.
Notwithstanding, there are those who believe that Cranial Sacral Therapy is beneficial in treating conditions such as strokes, cerebral palsy and autism, regardless of scientific proof. Therapists and patients alike state that day to day life can be dramatically improved with the application of this therapy, and research into its benefits continues.