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Other Names:

Approche Craniosacrale, Cranial Therapy, Craniosacral, Craniosacral Approach, Craniosacral Bodywork, Craniosacral Rhythm, Craniosacral System, Craniosacral Treatment, Craniosacrale Thérapie, CST, Ostéopathie Crânienne, Rythme Craniosacral, Syst&...
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Craniosacral therapy is a form of massage therapy that focuses on the skull and the spine. It was developed by an American osteopath, Dr. John Upledger. Today craniosacral therapy is used by massage therapists, chiropractors, naturopathy practitioners, and others. However, there are no consistent educational or practice standards for craniosacral therapy, and it is not a licensed or regulated practice in North America.

Craniosacral therapy is used for a variety of painful conditions including headache, migraine, temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), back pain, neck pain, general pain, fibromyalgia, and “slipped disks” in the spine. It is also used for stress, fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), spinal cord injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), depression, dizziness (vertigo), autism, learning disabilities, and other conditions.

How does it work?

Craniosacral therapy is a form of massage therapy focusing on the skull and spine. Practitioners of craniosacral therapy believe that the bones of the skull are movable or that they can be manipulated in a way that treats a variety of medical conditions. Some practitioners believe that they can touch the head and become attuned to the patient's rhythm. They believe this connection results in improved energy flow, removal of energy blockages, or improved flow of cerebrospinal fluid for the patient.

However, bones of the skull are not movable and cannot be manipulated by touch. There is no reliable scientific evidence to support craniosacral therapy.

CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY Uses & Effectiveness What is this?

Insufficient Evidence for:

  • Headache.
  • Migraine.
  • Pain.
  • Stress.
  • Fatigue.
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome.
  • Back pain.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
  • Spinal cord injury.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Depression.
  • “Slipped disks” in the spine.
  • Dizziness (vertigo).
  • Neck pain.
  • Autism.
  • Learning disabilities.
  • Fibromyalgia.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of craniosacral therapy for these uses.


There isn’t enough information to know if craniosacral therapy is safe. It has not been scientifically studied.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of craniosacral therapy during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Brain injury: There are reports that craniosacral therapy might make symptoms of traumatic brain injury worse. Some people with brain injury have reported that craniosacral therapy worsened their head pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heartbeat, psychiatric disturbances, and other symptoms.

CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY Interactions What is this?

We currently have no information for CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY Interactions

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Conditions of Use and Important Information: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2009.

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