The Role of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy in Routine Healthcare: A Review and Patient Experiences
Published : May 30, 2024

Abstract

This review provides an overview of biodynamic craniosacral therapy (BCST) and explores its potential applications in routine healthcare practices. BCST is a holistic, non-invasive approach that aims to facilitate the body’s innate healing processes by addressing craniosacral rhythms and subtle energetic patterns. The article examines the principles, techniques, evidence, and challenges associated with integrating BCST into mainstream healthcare settings.

Introduction

Importance of complementary and integrative therapies in healthcare

Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy is one of the most effective alternative therapies that are available today. The comprehensive analysis conducted by Kalyankar et al. demonstrates the efficacy of alternative therapy in the field of health and medicine [1]. Alternative therapy is a viable choice for treating disorders. These therapies provide as an alternative to conventional medications, providing insight into the diagnosis and treatment of ailments [1]. A diverse range of alternative therapies are utilized to aid in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases. Alternative remedies exhibit a reduced incidence of adverse effects [1]. The term alternative therapy refers to a diverse array of treatments that are typically not offered by conventional medical practitioners [1]. The variability may differ for various disorders. Alternative therapy encompasses various aspects, ranging from dietary choices to physical activity and overall lifestyle. Numerous individuals afflicted with illnesses are seeking alternative medicines for disease management [1]. Physicians assert that most alternative medicines originated from clinical observation or scientific investigation [1]. These therapies encompass a range of practices such as yoga, aromatherapy, massage, hypnosis, biofeedback, herbal remedies, and various more. The primary benefit of these therapies is to address the underlying cause of diseases and health issues, or to complement traditional treatments [1]. Alternative therapies are not only considered safe and effective, but they also provide individuals with a diverse range of health treatments that are not available through conventional methods [1]. Due to the increasing cost of prescription medication and the rising awareness of the risks and adverse effects associated with these treatments, a growing number of consumers are seeking alternate options [1].

 

Brief overview of craniosacral therapy and its evolution into biodynamic craniosacral therapy

Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle, hands-on approach to evaluating and enhancing the functioning of the craniosacral system, which is composed of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord [2]. CST was invented by osteopath William G. Sutherland in the 1930s. Another osteopath, John Upledger, is the leading proponent of craniosacral therapy today [2].

 

Biodynamic craniosacral therapy is a holistic approach to healing where the interconnections of mind, body, and spirit are deeply acknowledged [2]. CST practitioners are able to detect a craniosacral “rhythm” in the cranium, sacrum, cerebrospinal fluid, and the membranes which envelop the craniosacral system. The balance and flow of this rhythm are considered essential to good health, and it is measured by the therapist’s hands. Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy takes a whole-person approach to healing, acknowledging the interconnections of mind, body, and spirit [2].

 

Principle of the Treatment:

In the biodynamic approach of craniosacral work, the subtle rhythms produced in the body are regarded as essential factors of the normal healthy functioning of the body. These rhythms are present in every cell and organ, with some well-appreciated rhythms being respiratory and cardiac. Craniosacral rhythms are studied and balanced in this therapy [2].

 

Methodology of Craniosacral Therapy:

Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of the physiological body system called the craniosacral system, comprised of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. Many different types of treatment modalities exist which deal with subtle energy, including acupuncture, meditation, Reiki, craniosacral therapy, and yoga. All these have specialized methods of dealing with the body and subtle energy and claim improvement to different extents. A study was conducted at the Center for Craniosacral Therapy in Vaishali Pitampura, Delhi, India, to validate the efficacy of craniosacral therapy in the treatment and management of pain, migraine, depression, and anxiety that showed promising results [2].

 

A Comprehensive Healing Approach:

Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy adopts a holistic perspective, addressing the interconnectedness of the mind, body, and spirit in the healing process. It serves as an effective treatment modality for various ailments, fostering optimal conditions for health, promoting vitality, and cultivating a sense of well-being. This therapy is suitable for individuals of all ages, from infants to the elderly, and demonstrates efficacy in both acute and chronic cases [2].

 

Conditions Treatable with Craniosacral Therapy:

By enhancing the body’s innate healing mechanisms, Craniosacral Therapy (CST) is increasingly recognized as a preventive healthcare measure, strengthening the body’s ability to resist disease. It proves beneficial for a diverse range of medical issues associated with pain and dysfunction. Conditions endorsed for treatment by The International Alliance of Healthcare Educators include migraine headaches, depression, anxiety, low back pain, neck pain, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) [2].

 

Integration with psychotherapy: – Craniosacral work tends to be integrated with psychotherapeutic understanding, theory, and practice. There is a variable amount of overlap between individual approaches in these two professions [3].

 

Effects of Craniosacral Therapy: – Summing up the effects of Craniosacral Therapy can be challenging. It’s believed to belong more properly within the Art of Healing than the Science of Medicine. Therefore, the Craniosacral Therapy Association refrains from making claims regarding the evidence base for its effectiveness. Typically, subsequent sessions are scheduled a week to a fortnight apart, with the frequency reducing over time during long-term treatment [3].

 

Relationship with Cranial Osteopathy: – Dr. Upledger coined the term “craniosacral therapy” as he began teaching a wider group of students. This term aimed to differentiate the therapeutic approaches he developed from traditional cranial osteopathy, which was restricted to osteopathically trained practitioners. While both modalities share common roots, differences have emerged over time. Craniosacral therapists often work more directly with the emotional and psychological aspects of disease, distinguishing themselves from traditional cranial osteopaths [3].

 

Michael Shea, Ph.D., provides a comprehensive scope in the first volume of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy. This volume covers a historical overview, an in-depth understanding of biodynamic theory and principles, and the significance of embryological study, including discourse on metabolic fields. Shea’s inclusion of directed meditations facilitates a shift in the practitioner’s perceptual orientation, essential for sensing the therapeutic forces available to deepen an individual’s healing process. Additionally, biodynamic theory is presented within the context of creation mythology [4]. Craniosacral Therapy is described as a non-directive, non-analytical, non-invasive approach, essentially focusing on listening and enabling the body to heal itself. When practiced by a qualified therapist, it is considered a very safe method [4].

 

Contrary to common misconception, Craniosacral Therapy does not solely focus on the head and spine due to its name. Instead, it encompasses the entirety of the mind and body, illustrating its comprehensive approach beyond mere head massage [4].

 

Objectives of the review

  1. To provide a comprehensive overview of biodynamic craniosacral therapy (BCST), including its principles, theoretical foundations, and historical context.
  2. To evaluate the existing evidence on the clinical efficacy of biodynamic craniosacral therapy in treating various health conditions encountered in routine healthcare practice.
  3. To assess the safety profile of biodynamic craniosacral therapy, including the incidence of adverse events and any contraindications for its use in healthcare settings.
  4. To explore patient perspectives and experiences with biodynamic craniosacral therapy, including qualitative insights and patient-reported outcomes.
  5. To discuss the potential applications of biodynamic craniosacral therapy in routine healthcare practice, including its integration into clinical settings and its role in multidisciplinary care teams.
  6. To identify challenges and limitations associated with the use of biodynamic craniosacral therapy in healthcare practice, such as methodological issues in research and practical considerations for implementation.
  7. To highlight areas for future research and investigation, including potential avenues for expanding the evidence base and addressing gaps in knowledge regarding biodynamic craniosacral therapy.
  8. To provide insights and recommendations for healthcare practitioners considering the incorporation of biodynamic craniosacral therapy into their clinical practice, including considerations for patient selection, treatment protocols, and interdisciplinary collaboration.
  9. To contribute to the ongoing discourse on complementary and integrative approaches to healthcare, particularly regarding the role of biodynamic craniosacral therapy in promoting holistic well-being and patient-centered care.

Methodology

Search Strategy:

(Biodynamic craniosacral therapy OR craniosacral osteopathy) AND (routine healthcare OR clinical practice OR integrative medicine) Use MeSH terms and text words to capture relevant literature comprehensively Combine keywords using Boolean operators (AND, OR) to refine search results.

 

Sources of data (e.g., databases, journals, textbooks)

In this review, data were sourced from a variety of scholarly materials obtained through Google Scholar. These materials included peer-reviewed journal articles, review articles, randomized controlled trials (RCTs), and books related to the use of biodynamic craniosacral therapy in routine healthcare practice. The search was conducted using relevant keywords and phrases, and documents were selected based on their relevance to the objectives of the review. The selection process aimed to include a diverse range of perspectives and evidence on the topic, ensuring a comprehensive analysis of the current literature.

 

Selection Criteria

Inclusion Criteria: Studies evaluating the use of biodynamic craniosacral therapy in routine healthcare practice.

 

Study designs: randomized controlled trials, observational studies, qualitative studies. Population: individuals receiving biodynamic craniosacral therapy in healthcare settings. Intervention: use of biodynamic craniosacral therapy as a primary or adjunctive treatment. Outcomes: clinical efficacy, safety, patient experiences, integration into clinical practice. Publication language: English. Publication date: no restriction.

 

Exclusion Criteria: Studies not focused on biodynamic craniosacral therapy or routine healthcare practice. Animal studies, in vitro studies, reviews, editorials, commentaries. Non-English language publications

Principles of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy

Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (Biodynamics) is a unique bodywork practice that focuses on the subtle energies and rhythms within the body. Unlike traditional bodywork practices, Biodynamics emphasizes the internal forces and the concept of the “Breath of Life,” which is the enigmatic vitality that animates us [5]. In Biodynamics, practitioners slow down and tune in to the body’s natural healing mechanisms, allowing its “Inherent Treatment Plan” to unfold. This involves creating a safe and supportive space where clients can relax and settle into a state of coherence. By attentively listening to and following the client’s lead, practitioners encourage the release of tensions and the emergence of profound peace and connection [5]. At the core of Biodynamics lies an appreciation for internal forces that are reminiscent of embryological development. Attention is given to the energetic and physical midlines of the body, which rhythmically re-enact the expression of the life force. This force is fundamental to health and is always present within the system, though sometimes constrained by areas of holding or compression in the body and mind [5]. While these areas of holding are initially seen as manifestations of unresolved traumatic forces, they are recognized as expressions of the ever-present Health within the system. Biodynamic practitioners aim to perceive and resonate with this inherent Potency and Health in the client, supporting the resolution of issues and the fuller expression of vitality [5]. Central to Biodynamics is the acknowledgment of the client’s Intelligence, which holds its own “Inherent Treatment Plan.” Practitioners approach their work with profound respect for this innate intelligence, patiently awaiting its unfolding rather than imposing their own agendas [5].

 

Water constitutes the primary element within the human body, as per the principles of biodynamics. The Three Tissue Anatomies framework delves into distinctions among Cultural Anatomy, Primordial Anatomy, and Cosmic Anatomy. Cultural Anatomy is characterized by narrowness, density, and rigidity, while Primordial Anatomy embodies fluidity, connectivity, and embodiment, and Cosmic Anatomy is subtle, light, and nourishing. This framework underscores the transformative potential inherent in slowing down and entering these distinct states [6]. Isolation and Health underscore the significance of connection and the role of the energetic field in maintaining cellular health. Disease is viewed as stemming from isolation, whereas re-establishing connection through Continuum practices is believed to foster healing [6]. Fluid Strength, Resilience, and Creativity explore the advantages of fluid movement, including enhanced flexibility, strength, and creative adaptability. It posits that embracing fluidity enables individuals to navigate life’s challenges with resilience [6].

 

The article authored by Still A et al. sheds light on the significance of fascia, a previously underestimated tissue, in the body’s structure and function. Fascia, described as a fluid crystalline matrix, serves as the connective tissue that links all parts of the body, functioning as a communication system that facilitates the exchange of signals and information [7]. Several key themes are highlighted, including the importance of fascia’s tensegrity, its capacity to contract independently of muscles, and its abundant nerve supply, which enables it to transmit pain signals and influence the autonomic nervous system. The article underscores that distortions or dehydration within fascia can contribute to various health issues, suggesting that interventions targeting fascia could enhance overall wellness [7].

 

The primary objective of the source is to offer a comprehensive understanding of fascia’s role in the body, emphasizing its potential as a target for therapeutic interventions aimed at promoting health and well-being [7].

 

In his review, Menzam C. explores the remarkable parallels between two somatic practices, Continuum Movement and Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST), both focusing on restoring fluidity within the body to enhance overall well-being. Continuum Movement utilizes breath, sound, and movement to access slower, more fluidic states, while BCST employs gentle touch techniques to engage with the body’s inherent rhythms [8]. The article delves into the three “anatomies” of Continuum, which align with the three “tides” of BCST, demonstrating how both practices facilitate a shift from rigid, ingrained patterns towards states of expanded awareness and heightened resilience. Additionally, the review underscores the significance of a safe and supportive therapeutic relationship in BCST while exploring how Continuum can complement this process by promoting deeper states of relaxation and facilitating self-discovery [8].

Techniques and Practices

Palpation and assessment of craniosacral rhythms

While biodynamic craniosacral therapy is categorized as a bodywork technique rather than a form of psychotherapy, it nonetheless offers significant contributions to the field of psychotherapy. It acknowledges the existence of an underlying “primary respiratory system” or “vital force,” which becomes apparent as imbalances are released. This aspect brings the therapy into a more subtle realm than conventional approaches, emphasizing the interconnectedness of physical and psychological well-being [9]. In the early 1980s, Franklyn Sills introduced a novel approach to craniosacral therapy, termed biodynamic craniosacral therapy. This method centers on the observation and manipulation of the subtle pulsations within the body. Michael Kern (2003) emphasized the therapeutic goal of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy: to address and resolve the trapped forces that underlie and govern [9]. Biodynamic craniosacral therapy involves addressing patterns of disease and fragmentation present in both the body and mind. Practitioners utilize a method of “listening through the hands” to discern the body’s subtle rhythms and identify any patterns of inertia or congestion [10]. Biodynamic Craniosacral therapy and Continuum movement cultivate attunement, somatic communication, and field consciousness, which involve heightened attention to bodily sensations and a resonant, nonlinguistic communication between bodies [10]. Muscles, together with their innervation, are believed to play a crucial role in structural rigidity, which may contribute to dysfunction. Additional research is needed to explore the intricate relationship between muscles and fascia, suggesting that fascia may predominantly respond to stimuli while muscles may play a more active role in causing structural problems. This viewpoint questions established frameworks in structural integration and advocates for further investigation into the involvement of muscles in both dysfunction and its resolution [10].

 

Jones and colleagues have compiled excerpts from “Structural Integration: The Journal of The Rolf Institute®” and related sources, offering a comprehensive overview of Rolfing® Structural Integration (SI). This bodywork therapy concentrates on enhancing structural alignment and movement patterns [11]. The compilation covers various key themes, including the significance of movement and embodiment within SI, the involvement of the nervous system in structural integration, and the therapeutic advantages of SI for conditions such as chronic pain, postural irregularities, and TMJ disorders. Additionally, the source emphasizes ongoing research and advancements in the field, particularly in understanding the scientific rationale behind SI’s effectiveness [11]. By delving into the principles, practices, and research surrounding Rolfing® SI, the source aims to educate readers about its benefits and applications. It also seeks to deepen comprehension of the underlying concepts and scientific evidence supporting this therapeutic approach [11].

 

Gentle touch and subtle manual therapy techniques

A central focus of CST is the Cranial Rhythmic Impulse, a subtle yet significant rhythm believed to reflect the body’s inherent vitality. Practitioners utilize gentle touch and subtle manipulations to detect and address restrictions in this rhythm, promoting overall health and well-being. Additionally, CST integrates principles from embryology, trauma work, and mind-body approaches to offer a comprehensive therapeutic experience [11].

 

Somatic experiencing and dialogue to access and release stored trauma and tension

At the heart of CST lies the Vitalist perspective, which emphasizes the body’s inherent ability to heal itself. This viewpoint underscores the importance of optimal functioning in the body’s fluids, nervous system, and energetic systems. CST aims to facilitate this healing process by releasing restrictions and restoring balance within these systems [11].

 

Somatic experiencing (SE) is a type of body-oriented psychotherapy that helps people access and release stored trauma and tension. It is based on the idea that trauma is not just stored in the mind, but also in the body. SE helps people to become aware of and work with these physical sensations, which can help to reduce the symptoms of trauma and promote healing [11].

 

Importance of practitioner-client rapport and therapeutic relationship

Dialogue is an important part of therapeutic session. The therapist and client talk about the client’s experiences and how they are affecting them. This can help the client to become more aware of their own thoughts and feelings, and to develop a more compassionate understanding of themselves. SE can be an effective treatment for a variety of trauma-related issues, including PTSD, Complex trauma, Anxiety, Depression, Chronic pain, and Somatic symptoms (such as headaches, stomachaches, and muscle pain). It can also be helpful for people who are struggling with other life challenges, such as grief, divorce, or job loss [12].

Evidence Base and Clinical Applications

The following three case reports have been presented in this review that showed significant improvement in patient’s condition after BCST.

Case 1

A 26-year-old male patient presented to my office with complaints of shoulder pain associated with stiffness in the clavicle, neck pain and burning sensation. The patient had a recent history of road traffic accident so he was hospitalized (Figure 1). Patient suffered multiple traumatic injuries along with a trauma to the right shoulder. He had a family history of hypertension (maternal side).

 

Figure 1: – Hospital discharge summary

 

The following observations were noted during BCST sessions: –

Session one 

Due to his accident his spine had become tilted, and the alignment of his shoulders had gone.

The right shoulder was lower than the left shoulder. His neck was tilted to the right side and his right scapula was displaced inferiorly.

Feet hold: The right side was pulled downwards as compared to the left side there was less potency in the system.

Spine thoraco-lumbar hold: There was not much happening here so I resourced him. I asked him to focus on the part of body where he feels health and he said it’s his heart. Then there were releases in the heart and liver and there was lots of activity going on in the sacrum. Later his spine dropped in my hands.

Occiput hold: I could sense his dura and neural midline. I could feel his entire spine to be like a silvery shining wire. There were releases in the corpus callosum, foramen magnum, brainstem, and the sagittal suture. He then responded by sigh, he felt very relaxed and had no thoughts in his mind.

Limbic system: I could sense primary respiration in his cerebellum. Post session the pain stiffness and burning sensation in his shoulder has decreased. His shoulder felt light and the pain in his clavicle had reduced. There was a lot of improvement in the patient immediately after the first session itself as shown in figure 2. The right half of his body which was deviated aligned completely and there was a miraculous improvement. I feel this case is a live example to see how beautifully our body can reorganize itself in just forty minutes. The pain in his right shoulder and neck was reduced. He felt as if he did not have any injury at all and was absolutely all right. Even then fear about accidents reduced a lot.

 

Figure 2: – Shoulder alignment seen after the therapy.

Session two

Feet hold: I could sense lot of tension around the shoulder joint.

Shoulder joint: Initially there was mobility in the heart region then in the kidneys. I could sense blood flow in his descending aorta and iliac arteries and then going to his feet. It was more of the vascular system which I could sense. There were releases in the pectoralis muscle. A good sense of potency was there in his system now. There was relaxation in his lungs and now the breath which was shallow became deep and serene. Patient felt a wave of hot air moving towards his feet.

Thoracic diaphragm– I could sense that there were readjustments going on in the liver and heart. As if there was a central axis to which they were readjusting. There was reorganization in both the hip bones. His left shoulder blade released in my hands then he went into stillness then I could sense his falx, spinal cord, and dura. I could sense the right atria and left atria as well. Patient felt his neck to be free and his stiffness was only twenty percent. He felt that nothing had happened, and he is fine. In the end he could sense a wave ascending to his head and coming down to his feet.

 

Session three

Shoulders: There was cranial rhythmic impulse and then I sensed some opening in his heart and lungs, and he relaxed with a deep breath. Later there were some readjustments in the hip bones and his lumbar spine and the falx. I could sense his spinal cord and I could sense re-organization in his back muscles especially his trapezius and latissimus dorsi. After which his left shoulder jerked, and I could sense a fascial strain. There was a kind of still point after which I sensed space between his shoulders and there was a kind of emptiness. He felt a slight discomfort in his neck. I felt something releasing from his navel. Patient had lots of random thoughts during the session and felt as if he had no injury to his hand. Pain and irritation in the hand decreased, discomfort in his neck was much better. In the end he sensed something moving up and down his body. He felt that his body was light, relaxed and mind calm, and the stiffness is a lot better. He had also started driving the car after five days, which I feel was a significant improvement.

 

Session four

Talus hold: There was stiffness in his right hip joint. I could sense his vascular system, especially his abdominal aorta. There were readjustments in his diaphragm. After which there were readjustments in the thoracic, pelvic diaphragm and then the tentorium cerebelli. Later there were readjustments in all four joints, the hip and shoulder joints. Some releases happened in his chest, falx cerebri and the corpus callosum. Then I could sense all his spinal nerves. Later felt some releases in his thoracic nerves after which both shoulders relaxed. I sensed all his chakras opening from base to top of his skull. It felt very spacious, hollow, dynamic, and energetic. It was the Primal midline then there was stillness. I sensed as if his body became light and there was some kind of expansion. Patient sensed as if waves were rising from his feet towards the head. There were sensations on the top of his head. There were some sensations in his lumbar region and the stiffness in his leg had increased. Post session he felt relaxed and the stiffness in his leg was not there.

Session spacing: There was a gap of three days between each session.

Result

The patient was feeling much better, there was no stiffness in shoulders and neck pain. His fear of accidents had gone, he started driving. His posttraumatic stress had resolved very soon. I feel this is a complete cure as the patient is better mentally as well as physically.

 

Case 2

A 30-year-old male patient visited in March 2017 with complaints of neck pain associated with swelling and restricted mobility for the past few days. The MRI of whole spine showed diffuse posterior bulge of C4-C5 disc with broad based posterocentral and left paracentral protrusion with mild prediscal osteophytes compressing anterior subarachnoid space and indenting left exiting nerve root. Patient’s MRI images showed below mentioned findings shown in figure 3 and 4: –

 

 

Figure 3: – Diffused posterior bulge of C4-5 disc with broad based posterocentral and left paracentral protrusion with mild peridiscal osteophytes compressing anterior subarachnoid space and indenting left exiting nerve root.

 

 

Figure 4: – Reveals diffuse posterior bulge of D3-4 disc & D4-5 disc indenting anterior subarachnoid space. Focal ligamentum flavum hypertrophy is seen at D3-4, D4-5 and D10-11 levels indenting posterior subarachnoid space.  L5-S1disc is dessicated and reveals diffuse posterior bulge with posterior annular tear indenting thecal sac.

Since there was a large disc compressing the spinal cord, the Orthopedic surgeon mentioned if there is any loss of sensation or numbness in the arms then he will have to undergo cervical plate surgery. The patient was prescribed the following medications by an orthopedic surgeon: Tab Etova MR bd, Cap Pan 40 bd and Tab Defcort 6 mg tds. Advised cervical collar Physiotherapy. Patient followed up after five days and was prescribed, Tab Defcort, Tab Pregabalin-M hs Cap Gemcal, Cap Evion od. He was also given vitamin D supplements.

 

Session one

Feet Hold: At the feet there was poor connection between the left and right side of the body potency was poor. I sensed tension in the lower back and neck, so I went to the back.

Sacrum hold: While working on the lower back I felt a lot of tension or tightness in his back. It took some time for me to release his back. Then I gave him the lumbo-sacral hold after which his tissues were more potent. His thoracic region was much better than her lower back. I felt as if he is rocking like a baby in my hands. I felt as if he was light as a bird.

Cervical spine:  I felt as if my hands were melting in the tissues and there was a very deep sense of relaxation.

Shoulder hold: I felt a release happening from the top of head into the brain. I thought maybe it is the surge of the hormones or the Cerebrospinal movement. At the end of the session, he was feeling very sleepy. While I was working on the cervical spine I got a lot of thoughts about the responsibilities. The post session patient felt he had lots of thoughts about his responsibilities. He also felt a deep relaxation in his entire spine and the sessions were very meditative for him. He was even feeling very sleepy at the end of the session. There was still a slight pain in his back but emotionally he was a lot better. Whatever thoughts or feelings the patient was getting, I even got the same thoughts during his session. It’s so interesting to know how much the body can speak to us just by the biodynamic therapeutic touch without uttering any words.

 

Session two

The pain was still there in neck, but the intensity had reduced a lot.

Lumbosacral hold: I didn’t feel much movement initially. I tried to be in my center but nothing much was coming up. But after a couple of minutes, I could feel as if the lumbar vertebra was reorganizing itself, I could feel the bone moving. It was almost three to four times I could feel this was very and I was just amazed.

Thoracic spine: I could feel the tingling in the nerves and then there was a sense of lightness and he started snoring.

Cervical spine: Initially there were no movements but later I felt there was a lot of potency.

Occiput: He had a sense of deep relaxation and was snoring. Patient was feeling relaxed and was snoring throughout the session. Post session the pain in his left leg was much better. I feel the way we work in BCST is just miraculous. It teaches us that just by our subtle touch we can make a bone or any other structure to move and help the body to heal by itself.

 

Session three

Pain in the neck radiating to his left shoulder joint.

Shoulder joint: There was a sense of tension in the brain region, so I went on the brain.

Cerebrum– Initially there was no activity then there were some movements. Later he went into stillness, and I could sense primary respiration in his cerebrum. I could sense that the cerebrum was like fluid and like a sticky substance. I don’t have the exact words for it but was more like semi-liquid glue. It felt like as if being in midtide. I could sense his cerebellum and brain stem. The cerebellum felt to be more triangular as compared to the cerebrum which felt huge and round. The feeling on the brain was very different as compared to the rest of the body. The neurons feel different; it felt very calm, peaceful, and serene here. It’s as if I am sitting by the side of a lake where the water is very still so it was the dynamic stillness. So, this entire session was only on the brain and felt the patient refreshed deeply after the session. It was almost a feeling of being in a long tide.

 

Session four

Talus hold: Sensation as if there is some stress in the heart region.

Initially I could feel only the throbbing in the heart.

Then I could feel a lot of activity (motility) in here each of her heart chambers filling ie the right atria then right ventricle to the left atria ant the left ventricle. Then into the aorta to the lower body. Then there was a kind of settling then again there was activity and I sensed that the lungs and the shoulders were relaxing. Again, there was stillness and then activity there were some sounds below the heart and there were releases from the liver region (Mobility). I could sense the flow of blood from the aorta to the lower limbs and again he went into a very deep stillness. Patient response during the session he sneezed couple of times. Post session he felt as if everything (i.e. the cells in the heart) which was scattered all over the place was now one unit.

 

Session five

Feet hold: There was some tension near the abdomen.

Abdomen: Initially I could sense that there was a lot of activity in the abdominal area and then I could sense some activity around his hip joint. As the session went on, I was able to sink deeper into her abdomen. It was as if things were settling after which I felt a release from the area of the liver region. After which I saw that the patient was in a state of stillness. Then again as the session went ahead, I could feel as if I was feeling his intestines and there was a lot of rumbling and gurgling in the intestines. Then I could see his right leg releasing means turning laterally. Post session the patient said that he felt very relaxed, and he had problems with his hip joint where he felt better now. He felt his abdomen relaxed and empty now. The neck pain swelling, and stiffness had gone.

Session spacing: There was a gap of three days between each session.

Result

The pain swelling and stiffness in neck was not there. He was able to move his neck freely. When he went for a follow up with the orthopedic surgeon, he said there is no more need for surgery. I was extremely happy for the patient. I feel that BCST is such a holistic way of healing since it is not just limited to parts of the body but heals an individual at all levels. It cures an individual in the most gentle, safest, and noninvasive way.

 

Case 3

Eight and half year’s female dog was brought by caretaker who was suffering from tetraplegia for more than six months after a history of fall in April 2023. The dog was advised MRI and spinal tap and aggressive rehabilitation and physiotherapy. She was on multivitamins nerwin forte and tab doxypet.

 

Session one

Limb hold:  There was tension along the cervical spine and the lumbar region. There was no connection between the left and right side of the body. There was tension in her hind legs, also there was poor potency in her system as if everything had slowed down.

Lumbo-sacral hold: Sacrum was initially tight and later softened. I sensed a kind of wave of relaxation going up to her neck region. Then her system went into stillness for some time. I sensed a kind of relaxation in her back and legs but still there was a pulling sensation in her thighs. There was increased potency in the left hind legs. Then I could sense all her spinal nerves reorganizing after a while I felt her spine realigning. There was jerking in her legs and then she felt relaxed and sleepy, After the first session the next day she was able to stand for a few seconds, the owner was just amazed and surprised as it was possible. The only improvement in her after the first session was that now she was at least able to sit. I was happy that BCST gave her the strength to sit in just one session which she was unable to do in the past six months.

 

Session two

The dog’s owner mentioned that she was trembling and sleeping a lot and that made him worry a lot.

Limb hold: I sensed tension along all her limbs. The spine felt relaxed as compared to her previous session. I could sense her falx later there was reorganization at the lumbosacral spine. She went into stillness and later she felt an itching sensation on her body. Later her entire system was in a deep state of relaxation. Later I could sense a kind of pulling sensation in her temporals.

Tentorium Hold: The pull in the temporals settled now and the sacrum which was tight loosened now. The heaviness and pulling sensation were not there. When I was working on her back every time, she turned her neck behind and expressed her love by licking my hands. She was so happy to receive the therapy so every time I had to turn her head forwards and continue the sessions. Finally, I had to hold her head which she liked a lot it. Each time I touched her head she was resourced and felt deep rest.

 

Session three

Limb hold: There was lots of nervous activity along the spine and all over the body. I could sense her front limbs and spine relaxing. There were some readjustments in her pelvis and then her temporals. Then I sensed some waves moving through her thighs and she started scratching her thighs. I could sense some energy moving from the base of spine to the top of the head. I felt her entire spine opening. She looked relaxed but there was a pull in her thighs. Since she had been immobile for the past six months her limbs had become weak and emaciated.

Hip joint. Sensed activity in her pelvic area especially the sacrum the bladder genitals, sacral and the lumbar nerves. Sensed her lumbar nerve relaxing as well as the muscles around that area. Then I felt the opening of spine from sacrum to the head. There was jerking in both the hind legs.

 

Session four

Limb hold: I could sense tension near the throat region, so I went on the throat.

Throat hold: Here there was not much activity after a while I could feel some activity near the heart region.

Heart region: I felt this area to be very tight after some time everything relaxed. Later sensed tension near the abdomen so I went on the abdomen.

Abdomen: There were readjustments in her pelvic and temporal bones. There was jerking in both her legs. Then her system went into deep stillness, and everything was settling it was Dynamic stillness. I could sense her midline and the falx and there was a good sense of potency. The dog now looked relaxed and happy.

 

Session five

Limb hold: I sensed tension along the lumbosacral area. There were some restrictions and tension along the spinal cord near the thoracolumbar region. During the session I felt reorganization in her spinal cord there was more strength and potency now as compared to previous sessions. There were releases in the cauda equina and felt as if all the nerves were reorganizing her lumbar area was much better now. She looked happier and relaxed.

 

Session six 

She was now able to stand but there was some instability in the hind limbs.

Hind limbs hold: I could sense tension along her legs and neck region. There were releases in her lumbar area and after some time sensed her entire body becoming light and hollow then there was stillness, and everything was settling later I sensed some tension along the neck.

Neck hold: There was increased potency and the discomfort in the neck was not there.

 

Session seven

Limb hold: There was some activity in the sacrum which later settled and then there were some readjustments along the lumbar spine. There was good potency in her tissues. There was a good sense of midline and felt as if everything was reorganized around the central axis. There were releases happening between the lumbar and cervical spine. The spinal cord feels healthy now as compared to the previous sessions. With a good sense of potency and free of any kind of restriction.

Lumbar and cervical hold: There was jerking in the hind limbs. After this session she was able to walk better and the instability in the hind limbs had improved tremendously.

 

Session eight

Occiput sacrum hold: There was good sense of potency there was no tension in the spine I felt that she was in a better state of health as compared to previous sessions. Everything was well organized, and her body was in a state of good health. The entire spine was much relaxed, there was no discomfort in her back and legs, her appetite had improved, her energy levels were much better.

Session spacing: There was a gap of three days between each session.

Results

This was the most challenging case in my practice. To see a tetraplegic dog who was unable to walk for the past six months was more than a miracle. Till date she is doing well she is jumping, running, and playing she has healed till the core thanks to BCST. These kinds of cases are an example of the strength and therapeutic powers of BCST.

 

The dog showed significant improvements as shown in figure 5, 6 and 7.

 

Figure 5: – Before Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy

 

Figure 6: – After first session of biodynamic craniosacral therapy.

 

Figure 7: – After 8th session of biodynamic craniosacral therapy

 

Efficacy of Craniosacral Therapy

There is limited research available on the efficacy of Craniosacral Therapy (CST). Most of the research that has been conducted is anecdotal evidence provided by satisfied clients to their family and friends [3]. Some studies have shown that CST may be effective in reducing pain, anxiety, and depression. However, these studies are small and have not been replicated in larger studies. More research is needed to determine the efficacy of CST [2].

 

CST as an Adjuvant Therapy

CST is often used as an adjuvant therapy to conventional medical treatment. This means that it is used in addition to other treatments, such as medication or surgery. CST may help to improve the effectiveness of these treatments and reduce side effects [13]. By investigating the combined application of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy and homeopathy, this study contributes to the growing body of research on integrative approaches to healthcare. By leveraging the synergies between these modalities, practitioners can offer patients a more comprehensive and personalized approach to healing, addressing both physical and energetic aspects of health. As research in this area continues to evolve, the potential benefits of integrating CST and homeopathy in clinical practice become increasingly apparent, offering new avenues for holistic healing and well-being [13].

 

CST and Children

CST has been shown to be helpful in treating a variety of conditions in children, including colic, asthma, and ADD/ADHD. CST may help to improve the child’s overall health and well-being [3].

 

CST and Neurological Conditions

Some studies have shown that CST may be helpful in treating neurological conditions, such as fibromyalgia and migraines. CST may help to reduce pain and improve the patient’s quality of life [14,15,16].

 

CST and Structural Integration

CST is often used in conjunction with structural integration, which is a type of bodywork that focuses on the alignment of the body’s musculoskeletal system. CST and structural integration may help to improve the body’s overall function and reduce pain [17]. CST has small to medium effects on pain intensity, disability, and physical quality of life [17]. BCST has medium to large effects on global improvement [17]. Effects are robust against most risk of bias domains [17]. No serious adverse events were reported [17]. CST seems to be as safe as other conventional or commentary manual treatments [17].

Integration into Routine Healthcare

The National Health Service (NHS) in Poland formally recognized craniosacral therapy (CST) in early 2011. They classified it as a recommended rehabilitation method using the International Classification of Medical Procedures (ICD-9), no. 93.3824. [16]

 

Challenges and Limitations of Using BCST in Routine Healthcare

The integration of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST) into routine healthcare encounters several challenges and limitations, primarily stemming from a lack of robust evidence-based research. This issue is not unique to BCST but is common across many complementary therapies [3].  One of the foremost challenges is the scarcity of rigorous scientific studies validating the effectiveness of BCST. Medical professionals often rely on evidence-based research to guide their treatment choices and recommendations. Without a substantial body of empirical research supporting BCST, healthcare providers may be hesitant to incorporate it into standard practice [3]. Due to the limited research, there is a degree of skepticism among medical professionals about the efficacy of BCST. This skepticism can hinder the acceptance and integration of BCST into conventional medical treatments. Professionals might prefer to use therapies with well-documented outcomes and established mechanisms of action [3].

 

Strategies for collaboration and interdisciplinary care

To provide holistic and comprehensive healthcare, it is essential to incorporate modalities that address not only the physical aspects of the body, but also consider mental affliction. Multiple sources highlight the effectiveness of BCST in addressing mental ailments and its impact on the body and mind. This expertise could be valuable in interdisciplinary settings where patients may be dealing with physical or emotional trauma. BCST practitioners could collaborate with psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals to provide integrated care that addresses the somatic and psychological aspects of trauma [18,19,14].

 

Safety and Ethical Considerations

Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST) emphasizes a gentle, receptive approach, ensuring that the practitioner’s touch is light and responsive to the client’s needs [20]. This approach is particularly important when working with sensitive individuals, such as those with rheumatoid arthritis, connective tissue diseases, osteoporosis, or those who are pregnant [21]. BCST practitioners prioritize creating a space where patients feel safe and heard, which is crucial for those who have experienced trauma or are dealing with sensitive issues. This safe environment can facilitate healing and empower patients to actively participate in their own recovery [22].

 

Key Concepts in Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST)

Yielding

“Yielding” is a central concept in BCST, characterized by an embodied state of awareness where the practitioner maintains a receptive, supportive presence. The primary aspects of yielding include:

  1. Respecting Boundaries: Practitioners should be mindful of the client’s physical and energetic boundaries, ensuring their touch is never forceful or intrusive.
  2. Supporting Fluctuation: Gentle touch is used to enhance the body’s natural fluctuation patterns, encouraging motility in areas that feel restricted.
  3. Trusting the Body’s Intelligence: Practitioners are encouraged to trust the body’s inherent capacity for self-healing, avoiding interventions that might interfere with this process [23].

 

Trauma-Informed Approach

BCST requires a trauma-informed approach, recognizing that individuals who have experienced trauma may need specific considerations. Key precautions include:

  1. Creating a Safe Matrix: Establish a safe, supportive environment where the client feels secure and protected.
  2. Working with Sensitivity: Apply touch with a high degree of sensitivity, respecting the client’s defenses and avoiding any pressure that could be re-traumatizing.

By adhering to guidelines and precautions, BCST practitioners can provide a safe and effective therapeutic environment that supports the client’s healing process [23].

 

Potential for BCST to contribute to a more holistic and patient-centered approach to healthcare

Several sources stress the need for more robust evidence-based research to support the efficacy of BCST. This is a common concern within many complementary therapies. Kern, M has mentioned an ongoing qualitative study sponsored by the Craniosacral Therapy Association (CSTA) to understand client experiences and identify appropriate outcome measures. The CSTA aims to build on this study by designing a quantitative study to explore the effectiveness of CST, but this requires funding [24].

 

Exploring the Psychobiological Aspects

Jane Shaw in her essay explores the intersection of BCST and Jungian thought, proposing that BCST acts as an embodied practice to raise earth consciousness at both individual and collective levels due to its psychoid nature. The author, Jane Shaw, suggests that BCST practice might be a lived experience of Jung’s concept of the psychoid reality, where psyche and matter are one. She argues for the potential benefits of BCST not only for individuals but also for the earth itself, although more research is needed to substantiate this claim [25]. The relevance of mindful embodiment practices, such as BCST, is discussed, highlighting their role in cultivating perceptual and relational capacities that contribute to political consciousness and social movement building [12].

 

Developing Comprehensive Documentation and a Shared Language

Greater emphasis should be placed on the scientific investigation of Rolfing SI within a holistic framework. This highlights the necessity for improved documentation, a centralized repository for gathered evidence, and a shared vocabulary to address the various dimensions of these techniques. The problem lies in investigating outcomes within a holistic paradigm that considers all facets of human existence, while emphasizing the need to develop scientific methodologies that align with this perspective [26].

 

Expanding Understanding of Subtle Rhythms and their Significance

The theoretical knowledge of BCST delves into the concept of “Primary Respiration” and its manifestation as different rhythms within the body. They emphasize the significance of these rhythms for one’s health and overall state of being, indicating that they are expressions of a more profound vital energy. Additional research has the potential to enhance our comprehension of these rhythms, including their physiological and energetic foundations, as well as their connection to health, trauma, and the process of healing [27].

 

Investigating the Energetic Dimension and the Field

Multiple publications analyze the energetic aspect of BCST and its associated practices. Practitioners argue that the bio-electric fields released by cells, organs, and bodies contribute to a greater field that may be perceived and manipulated. Research could investigate the characteristics of these fields, their interconnections, and their influence on health and the process of healing [28]. Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST) has the potential to offer a holistic and patient-centered approach to healing. Multiple sources indicate that this mind-body practice can improve therapeutic interaction, emphasizing the importance of touch. Research indicates that soft touch has a beneficial effect on autonomic regulation, immunological function, and newborn development [28]. These research and development fields are essential for progressing the comprehension, application, and incorporation of BCST within a wider healthcare framework. Further research is necessary to build a more robust body of data, elucidate the mechanisms of action, improve therapeutic techniques, and fully investigate the potential of BCST [29].
BCST, through its soft and thoughtful approach to touch, specifically targets this requirement, potentially cultivating a more profound bond between the patient and practitioner [29].

 

Honoring the “Health in the System”

Every individual possesses inherent health. BCST practitioners believe that this innate state of well-being can be attained by employing gentle touch and attentive observation of the body’s natural cycles. This viewpoint calls for a patient-centric methodology wherein the therapist assumes the role of a facilitator, directing the patient’s individual recovery journey rather than imposing external remedies [29].

 

Integrating the Body and Mind

Therapeutic methods have limitations when it comes to separating the body and mind. BCST, by definition, closes this gap. Practitioners detect fragile rhythms throughout the body, which are thought to mirror the emotional and psychological condition of the individual. This facilitates a comprehensive comprehension of the patient’s encounter, potentially resulting in more efficient and tailored therapy [30]. Establishing a secure and supportive therapy setting is crucial [30].

These sources collectively suggest that BCST can be a valuable tool in promoting a healthcare approach that is:

  • Holistic: Considering the whole person, not just their physical symptoms.
  • Patient-centered: Focused on the individual’s needs and experiences.
  • Empowering: Supporting the patient’s inherent capacity for self-healing.

Further investigation and research into the specific applications and efficacy of BCST in diverse healthcare settings are necessary to fully understand its potential contribution to a more integrated and person-centered healthcare model.

Conclusion

Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy (BCST) offers a holistic, non-invasive approach that complements other healthcare modalities. While more research is needed to strengthen its scientific foundation, existing studies and clinical practices show that BCST can enhance routine healthcare by promoting overall health and well-being. To address research gaps, it is crucial to support ongoing studies and increase their visibility. Raising awareness about BCST’s benefits can shift perceptions and encourage its acceptance in conventional healthcare. Effective communication of research findings will bridge the gap between complementary therapies and mainstream medicine. Additionally, healthcare professionals interested in BCST should receive specific training to ensure effective treatment and improved patient outcomes.

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Acknowledgment

Not applicable

Funding

Not applicable

Author Information

Mitali More BHMS, BCST, MBA. Consulting Homoeopath and Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist, Mumbai.

drmitalimore@gmail.com

Patient consent has been taken.

Conflict of Interest Statement

This review is about an alternative therapy called biodynamic craniosacral therapy. The results of the therapy are based on the patient’s experience and the case reports are written according to BCST guidelines.

Guarantor

Not applicable

Additional Information

Not applicable

DOI

10.5281/zenodo.11393562

Cite this Article

More, M. (2024). The Role of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy in Routine Healthcare: A Review and Patient Experiences. medtigo Journal, 2(2)

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