If more people are battling cancer and living with cancer, then how can their bodies be supported to stay strong, calm, and healthy? One way that patients with a cancer diagnosis can be supported is through a hands-on holistic technique called CranioSacral Therapy. CranioSacral Therapy (CST) is a light touch manual therapy technique that works to balance and facilitate healing in the body, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. CST works on the craniosacral system starting at the cranium (head) and running through to the sacrum (at the tailbone). This system includes the cranial bones, the brain, the spinal cord, the cranial and spinal nerves, and the cerebral spinal fluid that flows through the dural tube surrounding the spinal cord and nourishes the brain. Treatment with CST impacts fluid and blood flow to the brain and body, impacts the Nervous System, and all of the systems of the body (ie. Musculoskeletal, Lymphatic, Respiratory, Endocrine, Urinary, Reproductive).
CranioSacral Therapy can work to calm the Nervous System, which would most likely be on over-drive following a diagnosis of cancer. By calming the Nervous System, it allows the body to function better without operating in a state of high alert, also known as fight-or-flight. When the body operates in fight-or-flight, the entire function of the body is shifted to survival mode. Blood flow is shifted to the major organs, respiratory and heart rates change, fluid flow changes, etc. as the body prepares itself for what is being perceived as danger on a hormonal level. When the body is unable to come out of this state, consciously or unconsciously, it can negatively impact health and function. In order to maintain a healthy immune system that is capable of fighting cancer cells, co-infections, and handling traditional medical treatment for cancer, the nervous system and immune system must operate well. They are essential to healing and wellness.
With a cancer diagnosis, there may be restrictions throughout the body. These can be from posture, positioning, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, pain, and emotional trauma. Holding on to these restrictions puts stress onto the craniosacral system and impacts the entire body. Structurally, there can be bony compression and malalignment, muscular and fascial tightness, and nerve compression. With CST, these structural restrictions are eliminated to improve the body’s ability to function at a systematic level. Cancer pain or pain from traditional cancer treatment can be decreased significantly improving a patient’s quality of life.
With a cancer diagnosis and treatment, there are many emotions that may arise, including fear, sadness, anger, and anxiety. The body can hold on to these feelings and to stress and trauma. The body often compartmentalizes or represses feelings and trauma, which can create a cascade of negativity in the body. Through the hands-on compassionate treatment of CranioSacral Therapy, patients can work on releasing these somatoemotional blockages, which improves the body’s ability to release and rebalance to heal and be well. Removing emotional trauma and improving the emotional and mental well-being impacts the whole body physically and spiritually.
Sleeping and resting are important in helping the body heal from cancer. By calming the Nervous System, eliminating restrictions throughout the body, and releasing somatoemotional blockages, sleep will be improved. Sleep is vital for restoration as the body works hard over night to repair and heal. A well rested body will have a greater ability to battle cancer.
Cancer cells are cells that have been altered or mutated. Dr. John Upledger, an Osteopathic Physician who studied the craniosacral system, treated a multitude of patients in his lifetime, and began The Upledger Institute to educate others about CranioSacral Therapy, believed that through CST a patient can communicate with their body on a cellular level and can make changes to those cells. Through treatment, he worked with patients who had a decrease in tumor size and disappearance of cancer following CST.
Upledger trained CranioSacral Therapists believe in the body’s innate ability to heal and the desire of the body to achieve and maintain homeostasis. In each person, there is an inner wisdom that can assist in the healing process on a structural and cellular level. Through CST, patients battling cancer can work on their physical, emotional, and spiritual selves with hands-on loving care to help facilitate healing, health, and wellness. CranioSacral Therapy improves the body’s immune system, decompresses the nervous system, is beneficial for decreasing pain and discomfort, and complements the body’s natural healing process.
Currently applications are being accepted for Dr. Jacquelyn Hines’ scholarship program, The Susan Villapiano CranioSacral Therapy Cancer Scholarship, providing 6 months of free CranioSacral Therapy treatment for someone battling a cancer diagnosis. Please submit your story to Connectivity Therapy and Holistic Health at firstname.lastname@example.org by March 1, 2017. One individual will be selected by the committee by March 15, 2017.
(Featured in Natural Awakenings, Feb 2017)