Craniosacral Therapy

Craniosacral Therapy (CST) was pioneered and developed by osteopathic physician John Upledger, DO following extensive scientific studies from 1975 to 1983 at Michigan State University, where he served as a clinical researcher and Professor of Biomechanics. Dr. Upledger, DO then started the Upledger Institute to further his passion and share it with other practitioners. CST is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of a physiological body system called the craniosacral system—comprised of the cranial bones, cerebrospinal fluid and the membranes. The membranes surround the brain and spinal cord like a wetsuit and the cranial bones sit on top. The system works together to pump CSF throughout the system.


CST is a very calm and relaxing therapy, children can read, listen to music, watch TV or play with their toys during a session. The practitioner will feel for the CST rhythm by placing their hands on the cranial bones using a soft touch generally no greater than five grams, or about the weight of a nickel, restrictions are released in the craniosacral system to improve the functioning of the central nervous system. The CST rhythm is the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pumping from the head down through the spine. The CSF is produced within the brain itself and contracts at a normal rate of 6 to 12 cycles per minute, creating the rhythm.


The proper pumping of the CSF is important for our body, its functions include:

  • Removing waste and toxins from cerebral metabolism

  • Protecting the brain & spinal cord

  • Supplying nutrients to the nervous system


A person properly trained in the technique with a background in treating children should perform CST on your child; there is a very high level of finesse that comes with working on children. CST treatment is aimed at the membranes and helping improve flow and exchange of fluids, it is not necessarily about realigning the cranial bones although in cases such as plagiocephaly can help tremendously.

How can CST help children?

  • Removes waste and toxins from cerebral metabolism- many children today are having trouble detoxifying and this aids in that process.

  • Supplying nutrients to the nervous system

  • Releases tension in the body

  • Balances the Nervous System

The nervous system imbalance is the key to why this helps so many children. The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) has branches, the sympathetic (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic (resting) both of which affect our bodies greatly. Most parents will describe their child’s behavior as “ramped up” or “they cannot seem to relax” and this may be why. The sympathetic nervous system is in “overdrive” and CST may help balance it out, thereby decreasing that “overdrive” feeling.

Symptoms a child may experience with ANS dysfunction include:

  • Abnormal sweating

  • Anxiety

  • Bed-wetting

  • Constipation and/or diarrhea

  • Dark/light intolerance

  • Detoxification issues

  • Difficulty potty training

  • Emotional instability

  • Feeding problems

  • Hyperactivity

  • Inattention

  • Nausea

  • Poor social skills

  • Sensory processing problems

  • Sleep problems

  • Tics

  • Vomiting

Frequently asked questions

How can CST help Autism?

According to Dr. John Upledger DO, autism is related in part to a loss of flexibility and probable inflammation of the membrane layers surrounding the brain. According to Johns Hopkins studies there are increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, neurological activation and inflammatory changes in the CSF of children with autism. These children also have restrictive forces on the brain tissue that cause strain to the

different brain structures, the osteopathic model states dysfunction follows. When the restrictions are removed the brain tissue can flush toxins and inflammation out of the brain tissue. This detoxification naturally elevates biochemical processing, increasing the functioning of neurological pathways. The Upledger Institute posted a video on their website about a child with Autism, here is the link for your viewing.

How does CST help with emotions or physical trauma?

During birth, the cranial bones can become “stuck” or restricted creating tension on the brain and related nerves. When the membranes in the craniosacral system have tension it can keep the body from functioning appropriately, leading to an imbalance in the nervous system and possible symptoms/complaints such include colic, constipation, acid reflux, nursing problems, sleeping difficulties, ear infections, and much more. There are also patients that have had to deal with trauma at some point in their lives, both emotional and physical. The body can in turn retain the emotional imprint from the trauma leading to some residual effects. These effects sometimes present themselves as physical ailments. CST can help children rid their bodies of these patterns using SomatoEmotional Release (SER) techniques. SER is a therapeutic process that uses and expands on the principles of CST to help rid the mind and body of the residual effects of trauma. SER offers applications designed to enhance results using CST and other complementary therapies. Through SER, the patient does not need to analyze the problem to release it, and the patient can therefore be treated with privacy.

How can children get CST restrictions?

This can go all the way back to their birth, so depending on your child history we may find many reasons for the restrictions. Some of the more common reasons are:

  • Breech
  • Cesarean
  • Childhood falls
  • Difficult labor
  • Forceps delivery
  • Infections/Illness
  • Multiples (twins, triplets)
  • Self-injurious behaviors
  • Stress to nervous system
  • Surgery
  • Trauma
  • Vacuum extraction
  • Sports/gymnastics/cheerleading/dance

Is there an age minimum or maximum for CST?

We see kids from a few days old to adulthood. After an evaluation I suggest CST for those kids that are good candidates.

How long is therapy typically?

This varies depending on age, previous trauma and developmental needs. I usually see them for 30-minute appointments twice weekly for a period of time then once weekly until the restrictions have been removed, average care is about 12 weeks if done consistently. After the initial care I see them once monthly or when they are sick to help with drainage, have growth spurts or falls to keep things moving correctly. I always tell parents this is a short-term therapy for a long-term result.

By complementing the body’s natural healing processes, CST is increasingly used as a preventive health measure and in conjunction with your primary care for its ability to bolster resistance to disease and is effective for a wide range of problems associated with pain and nervous system dysfunction, including:

  • Acid Reflux


  • Allergies

  • Autism

  • Birth Trauma

  • Breast-feeding Challenges

  • Chronic Fatigue

  • Chronic Neck and Back Pain

  • Colic

  • Constipation

  • Developmental Delays

  • Digestive Problems

  • Down Syndrome

  • Ear Infections

  • Emotional Difficulties

  • Failure to Thrive

  • Head-banging

  • Migraine Headaches

  • Physical/Emotional Abuse

  • Plagiocephaly & Brachycephaly

  • Pregnancy

  • Restricted Movement

  • Scoliosis

  • Seizures

  • Stress & Tension-Related Problems

  • Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)

  • Torticollis

  • Traumatic Brain & Spinal Cord Injuries

  • Much more

One of the reasons parents bring their children to see Dr. Brooks, DC, MSN, CACCP, BCIP, RN is due to physical trauma from an injury of some sort. The spinal misalignments that may occur at the same time of the injury will not necessarily result in immediate pain or symptoms. In addition to physical stress, parents should be aware that emotional and chemical stress affect the child’s nervous system and may also warrant a spinal check-up. Regular chiropractic checkups can identify potential spinal dysfunction resulting from these stresses and chiropractic adjustments may help to enhance future function and well-being.


Please read the research on the benefits of Craniosacral Therapy for children here.



You may want to consult with your primary care provider and discuss these factors.