How the CranioSacral System Adds Zest to Life

The circulation of fluids in our body is crucial for survival. Not only blood sustains us but also cerebrospinal fluid which is the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) provides more than just shock absorption for the central nervous system. The CSF cleanses and irrigates the brain keeping it solvent which optimizes function within the delicate structures comprising our central nervous system (CNS). The CNS underlies every other system in our body. Optimizing brain function dramatically impacts life and addresses myriad concerns. CranioSacral therapy is a way of doing just that.

After many years of research, osteopathic physician Dr. John Upledger learned that everyone has a craniosacral system that moves rhythmically for as long as we live. The system could be felt with the hands and practitioners could discern information about the craniosacral system on various other systems in the body by assessing where the body wasn’t moving with the gentle coaxing of the craniosacral pulse.

What is the CranioSacral System?

The system is made up of the meninges or watertight membranes lining the inside of the skull and spinal column, the cerebrospinal fluid contained within the membranes, and the tissues and structures within the membranes that produce, regulate and control the fluid input and outflow in the system. Dr. Upledger calls it a semi-closed hydraulic system which uses CSF as the hydraulic component, and “the choroid system within the brain ventricles as the fluid input component and it uses the arachnoid system as its fluid outflow component.”

Why does CranioSacral Therapy Work?

The reason this system exercises such a powerful influence on the whole body is because the brain and spinal cord are contained within it as well as the pituitary and pineal glands. Both the brain and spinal cord comprise the central nervous system and the craniosacral system is the environmental milieu within which the CNS exists and develops. Through the influence on the pituitary and pineal gland the craniosacral system also improves endocrine function and hormone production.

Describe the CranioSacral Rhythmic Pulse

The outermost meninges is the watertight membrane known as the dura mater and it lines the inside of the skull. Through his research at Michigan State University, Dr. Upledger discovered that the skull bones are in “continual, minute motion in order to accomodate the constant fluid pressure changes that are going on within the membrane boundary of this semi-closed hydraulic system.” If skull bones lose their ability to accomodate these changing pressures the system can become restricted and symptoms may occur.

Experience the Power of a Gentle Touch

CranioSacral therapists learn about the membranes and their location attachments inside of the skull bones and near the top and bottom of the spinal column and to other openings that allow passage for major nerves targeting end organs throughout the body. Therapists discern restricted movement in the system that can inhibit optimal function and they apply gentle techniques to restore normal movement in these areas. Nervous system and endocrine function improves due to enhanced fluid movement in the environmental milieu within which these tissues exist and develop

Maintain an Open Mind

Dr. Upledger named this the CranioSacral system due to accessing it through the bones of the cranium, upper neck and sacrum. The volume of CSF inside the watertight membrane must be accommodated so that inordinate pressure is not transferred to the brain and spinal cord which exist within the craniosacral system and are extremely delicate. The way the dural membranes accommodate the fluid changes is that the dural tube inside the spinal column moves up and down within the spinal canal about an inch in either direction. The head bones widen and narrow in response to the changing fluid pressures. Therapists follow these inherent physiological motions to help the body move into its usual pathways in case of restrictions in the normal movements.

Who Needs CranioSacral Therapy?

CranioSacral therapy (CST) is done with gentle touch using about the weight of a nickle. Clients lay fully clothed on the massage table facing up and therapists begin applying gentle palpatory techniques to assess the system and monitor its function releasing any restrictions they find along the way. CST can correct a wide range of problems related to central nervous system dysfunction such as psychological problems, hyperactivity, learning disabilities, autism, seizures, and even promises hope for Alzheimers and dementia. Migraine headaches, TIA’s (mini strokes), concussion, visual disturbances, sleep disturbances, sinus troubles, temporal mandibular joint and teeth clenching are also possible reasons for seeking treatment with CST. Intractable back pain from the sacrum to the cranium responds favorably to the gentle realignment of nerves within the system.

Last summer you did a couple of cranial sacral sessions with me. They were amazing. I was experiencing neck issues. There was a lot of changing/shifting that happened. But you said there was an area deep inside of my head on the left side that you couldn’t move.

In January I was diagnosed with a benign meningialoma (tumor) in the left side of my brain. I have thought a lot since my surgery about your treatment and what you may have sensed…I wanted you to know what you may have been sensing last year.” V.H., California

Optimize your Intel


Schedule a Craniosacral therapy session with Upledger certified CranioSacral therapist Nancy by calling 760-379-1587 or emailing her at and visit her studio at 160 Ivey Lane, Bodfish Ca 93205

Upledger John,Your Inner Physician and You, 1997 North Atlantic Books