Craniosacal therapy is dangerous

Craniosacral therapy is a special form of physiotherapy, more precisely osteopathy. Osteopathy is an independent system of manipulations of bones, joints and soft tissues that do not intervene in the body (non-invasive).

The term "craniosacral" has nothing to do with the word "sacral" in the sense of "holy". Rather, the word is derived from the Greek term "craníon" (skull) and the Latin term "os sacrum" (sacrum).

Craniosacral Therapy is said to have been developed in the 1940s by the American chiropractor William Garner Sutherland. According to other sources, however, it is older and goes back to an osteopath named Andrew Taylor Still or was only developed later by a certain John Upledger.

With this healing method, the therapist tries to influence the supposedly felt rhythmic - and in the case of a disorder, non-rhythmic - pulses of the cerebral and spinal fluid (liquor) through specific pressure on the skull and lower spine.

Also (supposed) misalignments or inelasticities of the skull, vertebrae and pelvic bones should be "corrected" in this way.

In general, craniosacral therapy is about "tension equalization in the skull", which supposedly not only "improves the motivation and performance of the brain", but also and especially in "emotional stress and its sequelae" should lead to an improvement.

According to craniosacral therapists, the same applies to psychosomatic clinical pictures, post-traumatic and post-operative problems and disorders of the central nervous system.

A panacea for followers

Among devout supporters, the procedure is even regarded as a "panacea", which is said to be helpful not least in the case of scoliosis (curvature of the spine), allergies and acute as well as chronic pain conditions.

Quite a few practitioners are convinced that, similar to the laying on of hands in Reiki, divine healing power flows through their hands.

However, there is no serious evidence for such claims. Regardless of the scientific language used in the relevant literature, craniosacral therapy - also known as the CS technique, craniosacral ostheopathy or under the American term craniosacral integration (CSI) - is not scientifically secured by anything.

Not without risk

Especially in the hands of insufficiently qualified practitioners, all interventions on bones, joints, muscles or internal organs are even associated with not inconsiderable risks.

Especially when manipulating the skull or spine, the risk is completely incalculable - no matter how verbose the treatments are as "non-invasive", "gentle" or "gentle".

Craniosacral manipulation of the skull and spine must therefore be viewed as costly and at the same time dangerous nonsense.

Special warnings must be given against pushing and pulling on the skull and spine of newborns that is not medically indicated or justified.

Treatment of learning disabilities and dyslexia

In a craniosacral therapy practical manual it is mentioned that "the still very flexible cranial sutures and cranial bones of the newborn can overlap during the birth process in the case of the parietal bones", which leads to a "narrowing" of arteries, veins and nerves of the brain colic and allergies (!) resulting from it.

A craniosacral treatment with manual correction of the parietal bones is therefore urgently indicated for every newborn "in order to prevent undesirable developments". As the Association of Osteopaths in Germany emphasizes, the skulls of newborns can be treated "very well because the bones are still very soft and in some cases still have to grow together."

Supporters of the treatment method also recommend craniosacral therapy for older children: Concentration and learning disorders, language problems and dyslexia (!) Are often caused by "compression and misalignment of the skull bones", which can be remedied by craniosacral therapy in a few hours of treatment.

Craniosacral therapy should therefore also be particularly suitable for speech therapy practice. Treatment is the method of choice even for coming to terms with early childhood (or other) psychological trauma.

But there is no serious evidence for these claims either.

By the way, a complete training in craniosacral therapy has to be completed in two days, more serious institutes take four days. Even distance learning courses by post can be found on offer. Costs: from 250 euros.

Please add the warning that you (or your child) should in principle only undergo physiotherapy or osteopathic treatment if this is prescribed by a doctor and carried out by a suitably qualified specialist. And treatments of the skull or spine generally require a prior X-ray examination of the areas concerned.

Colin Goldner is a clinical psychologist. He has been critically examining alternative healing methods for several years.