Craniosacral Therapy and your Brain

craniosacral therapyAt this very moment your head is subtly changing shape in rhythm with your sacrum. 

The Craniosacral system extends from the bones of the skull, face and mouth, which make up the cranium, down to the sacrum which is the flat fused set of bones that makes up part of your pelvis at the base of your spine.  The source of this shape changing motion is the interaction between the membranes and cerebral spinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. This fluid fills and empties the cranial vault creating a widening and narrowing cycle of motion that can be detected, assessed for vitality and symmetry among other things by a skilled manual therapist. 

This vital system influences the development and performance of the brain and spinal cord, an imbalance or restriction in it could potentially cause any number of sensory (changed feeling in your body), motor (movement) or neurological disabilities.  These problems could include chronic pain, eye difficulties, motor-coordination impairments, learning difficulties, sinus problems, sleep disorders, including reduced ability coping with stress.

Craniosacral Therapy a gentle manual therapy skill can give you relief that regular massage, Rolfing and deep tissue bodywork cannot, accessing another part of your body, the central nervous system. While the validity of the cardiovascular and respiratory rhythms is undisputed today, for many decades the existence of those systems was a topic for hot debate among medical communities around the world.  Based on solid research Craniosacral Therapy has been around for more than 3 decades. For this reason the Craniosacral system (still under debate) and Craniosacral therapeutic benefits are not well known in the main stream medical community.

Over the years I have found many cases where the need for Craniosacral Therapy was indicated and the treatment proved successful. I especially have had success with improving focus and clarity of mind, migraine headaches, anxiety and stress reduction, sinus problems and sleeping disorders.  As well post traumatic stress injuries including brain trauma and spinal cord injuries respond well to it.  Concussions can present both a predictable and unique set of symptoms depending on the area of the brain involved.  Giving specific focus to manually releasing and balancing restrictions resulting from the trauma  is highly effective in treating symptoms.  Once pressure is regulated and motion between cranial bones normalized clients report an increased sense of relaxation, improved ability to cope with multiple tasks and daily activities as well as stress reduction and higher performance at work and play.  Temporomandibular (TMJ or jaw joint) pain is dramatically reduced by specific Craniosacral therapeutic techniques.

Besides balancing the bones of the skull, head and face, Craniosacral Therapy can increase an individuals vitality and improve their performance in wellness lifestyle activities like yoga and meditation.  Therapist induced still points illicit deeper breathing and relaxation which in turn brings the body back to balance and harmony including the balancing of hormones. The harmonization of the autonomic nervous system responsible for organ functions, digestion, vision, swallowing etc is enhanced by Craniosacral techniques and combined knowledge of anatomy, physiology, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

Contraindications of Craniosacral Therapy and Still Point Induction: Stillpoint is contraindicated in acute stroke, cerebral aneurysm, or any condition in which changes in cranial fluid pressure would be detrimental. In cases of non-acute brain injury, tumor, or any uncertain condition a CranioSacral Therapist will exercise caution prior to treatment.  In the case of self induced still point induction the same caution must be adhered to and a Registered Therapist or physician consulted.

cranial base

Cranial Base Diagram

Some of the key techniques in Craniosacral Therapy include movements that expand and regulate the motion in what is called the cranial base.  This consists of the sphenoid and occipital bones of the skull.  The connection of these two bones in the center of the cranial vault is where the Pituitary Gland lives.

What does the Pituitary gland do? 

Pituitary Gland
The pituitary gland is a small endocrine system organ that controls a multitude of important functions in the body.  (Credit: SEER Training Modules / U. S. National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute)

 It is divided into an anterior lobe, intermediate lobe and posterior lobe, all of which are involved in hormone production. The pituitary gland is termed the “Master Gland” because it directs other organs and endocrine glands, such as the adrenal glands, to suppress or induce hormone production.


The pituitary gland is involved in several functions of the body including:

  • Growth Hormone Production
  • Production of Hormones That Act on Other Endocrine Glands
  • Production of Hormones That Act on the Muscles and the Kidneys
  • Endocrine Function Regulation
  • Storage of Hormones Produced by the Hypothalamus

These links to the parts of our body that control our most vital health functions such as, eating, breathing, circulation, lymphatic system (immunity), etc.

What does the Pineal Gland Do?

The pineal gland is situated deep within the brain, just below the back of the corpus callosum. The primary function is to secrete Melatonin the hormone responsible for regulating our sleep wake cycles.  This hormone on a larger scale also helps us adapt to seasonal changes.  Based on Pineal gland functions of regulating sleep and seasonal adaptations Craniosacral Therapy is often prescribed for sleep disorders and insomnia.  Try a still point inducer at bedtime. 

What is a still point?

For a good explanation of what a still point is check out this blog post “Stillpoint: A Gentle CranioSacral Intervention” by Kailas, LMT, NCTMB, CST, Cert. Ayu. CranioSacral Therapist and Certified Ayurvedic Clinical Consultant in Los Angeles