“Evidence Based Medicine” (E.B.M.) is all the rage. Many would say if your treatment technique isn’t Evidence Based, don’t bother, save your money, the guy’s probably a quack. From a clinical standpoint, I live in both worlds: the black and white, Evidenced Based one, where you can measure the effects of your intervention and prove your worth, and the grey world of “something’s happening, just not sure exactly what it is”. With the medical field trending towards E.B.M. many grey areas of therapy which may be extremely beneficial are being slowly squeezed out. Case and point: Cranio-Sacral Therapy (C.S.T.) My disclaimer is that although I utilize cranial techniques, I am not a CST therapist, nor do I plan on becoming one.
If you look at the research and the scientific validity of the claims made by Cranial therapists’, there is absolutely no evidence that supports the claims made. The research that is cited by those in support of CST therapy are of very poor design and do not stand up to the rigors of the scientific method of research. Many in the scientific world think CST is a complete sham, a snow job, right up there with snake oil.
For those who do not know what CST is, “CranioSacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle, hands-on approach that releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and dysfunction and improve whole-body health and performance. Using a soft touch which is generally no greater than 5 grams – about the weight of a nickel – practitioners release restrictions in the soft tissues that surround the central nervous system. CST is increasingly used as a preventive health measure for its ability to bolster resistance to disease, and it’s effective for a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction.”
Yet a Google search reveals many training institutes, classes all over the world, and lists of certified practitioners. Many people who have had cranial work done (myself included) report the benefits of this work. What gives? This is where things get muddy.
Bring in the Indian barber. If you have never been to India, I suggest you go just to get the “haircut experience” (Oh, the food and that Taj Mahal thing is ok too). It shouldn’t even be called a “haircut”, but rather a “follicle shortening cranial experience”. First, the (kind of clean) hot towel over your face to warm the follicles and prepare them for the dance that is to follow. As you start to fall into your trance, the old school, straight razor shave commences (those with trust issues, skip the shave). You now have the choice of a quick tea break before you actually get the haircut, just scissors, comb, and clippers. The next wave of bliss comes in the form of a hot oil facial and scalp massage that flows down into a neck massage and finishes with a quick, neck pop that would make most Chiropractors beam with pride. I stood up off his chair completely relaxed, in a better mood, better looking, more neck flexibility, ( I did smell a bit weird), and I swear taller. So did something happen during the “Follicle Shortening Cranial Experience”, hell yeah, and No, it wasn’t evidence based, but I sure felt a whole better.
So maybe the cranial therapist isn’t moving cranial bones or anything else they claim, but “something” is happening that can make you feel much better. It could be as simple as giving our stressed out nervous system a “time-out”.