Craniosacral Therapy for Migraines

Migraines remain one of the most prevalent and puzzling conditions in the medical community today. Many doctors use "migraine" as a catch-all phrase to classify intense head pain. But as anyone who suffers true migraines will tell you, it's so much more than that. The key to long-term success is relieving the underlying cause of the migraine in addition to releasing the pain.

Few structures in the human body have as much influence over its ability to function properly as the brain and spinal cord that make up the central nervous system.

And few systems have as much impact on the brain and spinal cord as the membranes and fluids that surround and protect them which are collectively called the craniosacral system.

Nearly 30 years ago I developed a set of gentle techniques to release restrictions in the craniosacral system, which can then free the central nervous system and enable it to perform at peak capacity. I devised this approach -- called CranioSacral Therapy -- after years of research at Michigan State University.

As Professor of Biomechanics in Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine from 1975 through 1983, I led an interdisciplinary team of researchers to test the existence and influence of the craniosacral system.

Together we conducted experiments, many of them published, that scientifically explained the function of the craniosacral system for the first time. We also demonstrated in numerous research studies how the light-touch therapy I named CranioSacral Therapy could be used to evaluate and treat malfunctions involving the brain and spinal cord.

How CranioSacral Therapy is Performed

CranioSacral Therapy is performed on a fully clothed body, and a session can last anywhere from 45 minutes to more than an hour. Using light touch, generally no more than the weight of a nickel, the practitioner monitors the rhythm of the fluid pulsing through the craniosacral system to detect potential restrictions and imbalance.

The therapist then uses delicate manual techniques to release those problem areas and relieve undue pressure on the brain and spinal cord. The result is a central nervous system free of restrictions, and a body that's able to return to its greatest levels of performance.

CranioSacral Therapy and Migraine

CranioSacral Therapy has been used to relieve a variety of sensory and/or motor neurological dysfunctions. In addition to headaches, neck and back pain, it's been used on jaw dysfunction, chronic fatigue, muscle coordination difficulties, depression, eye problems, hyperactivity, central nervous system disorders and many other conditions.

With migraines, of course, there can be multiple causes. Virtually anything that interferes with the autonomic nervous control of the blood vessels in the head can result in migraine. In general, CranioSacral Therapy does a very good job of normalizing autonomic nervous activity. It effectively mobilizes the membrane system within the head to take pressure off either the nerve that is controlling the blood vessel, or the blood vessel that may be causing the headache. It is also an effective stress reducer, which makes it particularly effective with migraines since they're often precipitated or triggered by stress.

Since I started using the method in the 70's, I've seen migraines and other types of headache respond well to CranioSacral Therapy. In my experience, within 5 to 10 sessions you will either know the migraines are responding to the therapy or it will have fully corrected the underlying problem that led to the pain in the first place.

John Upledger, D.O., is president and clinical director of the Upledger Institute, Inc., in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Dedicated to the natural enhancement of health, the Institute offers groundbreaking continuing education programs, clinical research and therapeutic services. Dr. Upledger is a Certified Specialist of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, and Academic Fellow of the British Society of Osteopathy, and a Doctor of Science. He has served on the Alternative Medicine Program Advisory Council for the Office of Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C. In addition, he has authored numerous books on CranioSacral Therapy.

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