Before we got to know about cranial osteopathy, let’s look at the few principles and definition of osteopathy itself.
Osteopathy can be defined as a system of treatment which emphasizes the role of the structure and functions of the human body. It is often considered as a complementary medicine used in prevention and treatment of diseases related to the musculoskeletal system, for example back pain.
Principles of osteopathy
Some of the main principles of osteopathy are:
1. The body is one functional unit.
2. All of the structures and functions are inter-related.
3. The body has the ability to defend, repair, and regulate itself.
4. Disease happens when the normal adaptability is challenged or when the changes overcome the body’s ability to maintain itself.
5. The flow of body fluids plays a big part in keeping human healthy.
6. The nerves control the flow of the body fluids.
Cranial osteopathy uses the same principles and understanding to encourage stress relief throughout the body, especially the head. These techniques are usually used together with diets, counseling, occupational and postural advices. It was said to be suitable for people of all ages and could be used in a number of conditions. It is reported to relief migraine, asthma and even allergies.
An osteopathic college was built in UK as early as 1917. This college is the first osteopathic institution outside of the USA. However, these osteopathic services are not funded by UK’s National Health Service. Several studies in the UK had produced evidence that shows the effectiveness of osteopathic manipulations in managing lower back pain. Even thou osteopathy has a history of almost 100 years now, cranial osteopathy was only introduced in the early of 20th century by an osteopath called William Garner Sutherland. He found out that there was a rhythmic flow of cerebrospinal fluid which surrounds the cranium. Besides protecting the brain, the cerebral spinal fluid supplies the brain with nutrients and at the same time drain out the metabolic waste from it.
A regular pulse of 12 to 15 beats per minute had been discovered by Sutherland and he believes that there would is an imbalance in the body if the pulse rate is disturbed. A cranial osteopath would first hold the patient’s head to feel the rhythmic movement or changes in his or her head and then use gentle manipulations to the cranium, spinal cord and sacral area to restore the balance.
However, the theory of cranial osteopathy is still rejected by most physicians. Research shows that the examiners could not measure the motions reliably. Even thou there are no strong scientific proofs between diseases and osteopathic mechanism, some osteopaths still believe that the healing of the imbalanced cranial rhythm could enhance cerebral spinal fluid flow and metabolic outflow.