Sunday, September 19, 2010

Craniosacral Naturopathic Nonsense & the ASA Judgment 2010

here, I cite the five first-page pro-craniosacral therapy [CST] naturopathic hits that google.com yields [see 001., below]; then, I summarize a recent ASA [UK] dismissal of this pseudotherapy [see 002., below]:

001. a 2010-09-19 google.com web search with the parameters >naturopathic craniosacral< results in such top results as:

001.a. Wiener, J.M. (ND Bastyr 1998) of Massachusetts who states in "Additional Services" [vsc 2010-09-19]:

"craniosacral therapy: this hands-on method enhances the craniosacral system, which is comprised of fluids that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. Using a soft touch, this method releases pressure and improves the functions of the central nervous system. This therapy is increasingly used as a preventative measure against disease and a variety of medical problems."

Note: Wiener tells us in her bio., as NDs are apt to do: "[she] received her doctor of naturopathic medicine degree from Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington, one of the country's four medical schools specializing in science based natural medicine and research."

001.b. Skinner, D.A. (ND Bastyr 2002) of California who states in "Craniosacral Therapy" [vsc 2010-09-19]:

"craniosacral therapy gently stimulates the body’s natural healing abilities [...] for decades (since the early 1900’s) various forms of cranial manipulation have been used to treat a range of conditions, from headaches and ear infections to stroke, spinal cord injury and nervous system disorders [...it] encourage[s] and enhance[s] the body’s own self-healing and self-regulating capabilities, even in the most acute pathologies [...it] uses very light touch and is suitable for people of all ages, including babies, children and the elderly, and can be effective in acute or chronic cases [and a host of diseases are listed]."

Note: Skinner's bio. states: "[she is a] licensed naturopathic doctor / certified craniosacral therapist [...] she has further focused her education in craniosacral technique [...and] is a certified craniosacral instructor."  Also of note, the NDs Skinner, who practice together, have stated in "Constitutional Hydrotherapy for Home Application" [vsc 2010-08-06]: "constitutional hydrotherapy [...] the purpose of this treatment is to stimulate a more rapid improvement in health [...] it is tonifying to the digestive system, helps to normalize circulation, soothes the nervous system, and stimulates the eliminative processes and the 'vital force' [which is a figmentation]."

001.c. Shah, S. (ND CCNM) of Canada states in "Craniosacral Therapy" [vsc 2010-09-19]:

"craniosacral (osteopathic) therapy (or cranial therapy) is a gentle non-invasive therapy [...] American osteopathic physician, Dr. William Garner Sutherland, discovered that there was a movement of the bones of the head (cranium) [which are actually FUSED in an adult...] at birth it is possible that some distortion or warping pattern of the cranial bones can result in possible misalignment of the spinal bones.  This misalignment of the spine almost always follows on from the cranial area, to which the spine is joined [...] this discovery and the osteopathic therapeutics to be able to correct this problem has undoubtedly been [a] great contribution to health restoration [...] it is therefore probably one of the most significant advances in healthcare delivery to have taken place in many years."

Note: really!  And we're told on her page "Naturopathic Medicine" [vsc 2010-09-19]: "naturopathic medicine is 'vitalistic' in approach [that is, again, based upon figmentation]."

001.d. Montague, G. (ND ICNHS 1988) states in "Services":

"craniosacral therapy is an extremely gentle and subtle form of hands-on bodywork in which a highly trained practitioner is able to sense the innate rhythmicity of the central nervous system through all the body tissues. This movement is known as the craniosacral rhythmic impulse, and can be felt anywhere on the body, although the head (cranium) and the base of the spine (sacrum) are usually key areas of attention by the practitioner. Because craniosacral therapy is a hands-on approach to energy work, it is a useful method of integrating the hysical/ biomechanical and the energetic/emotional aspects of the whole person."

Note: really!  I love the coding of vitalism / supernaturalism per "energetic" and then its conflation with emotion.  WTF is "hystical" anyway?

001.e. Abrin, T. (ND NCNM) states in "Naturopathic Treatments":

"craniosacral therapy is a gentle bodywork technique [...per] the rhythmic movement of the craniosacral system [...] craniosacral therapy is performed on a person fully clothed. Using a light touch, the practitioner monitors the rhythm of the craniosacral system to detect potential restrictions and imbalances. The practitioner then uses delicate manual techniques to release those problem areas and relieve undue pressure on the brain and spinal cord. Craniosacral therapy can help alleviate a range of illness, pain and dysfunction."

Note: I should add something about my own experience with CST.  In 1999, while in ND school in CT, the school had a 'conference' and CST was part of the workshop set.  So, I'd never heard of it before, and did that workshop, and lay as a patient while someone held my head in their hands and was told what to look for etc.  I came away from that experience with the sinking feeling that I was now in a cult.

002. the National Council Against Health Fraud's "Consumer Health Digest #10-37" (2010-09-16) states:

"[the UK's] ASA Nixes Craniosacral Therapy Claims [complaint reference #125766]: the Advertising Standards Authority has concluded that a Craniosacral Therapy Association (CTA) leaflet was misleading because it contained claims that could not be substantiated [...] craniosacral therapy (also called cranial therapy) is based on the notion that a rhythm exists in the flow of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord and that diseases can be diagnosed by detecting aberrations in this rhythm and corrected by manipulating or lightly touching the skull [...] there is no logical reason why pressing the skull should influence the course of ailments throughout the body [...not-in-evidence] claims included [...that CST] assists the body's natural capacity for self-repair [...] is often beneficial for fragile or acutely painful conditions, as well as during pregnancy, after an operation, accident, fall or injury, and for young babies [...that it] aid[s] people with almost any condition [...that it is] helpful for 40 different conditions [...] the ASA determined that 'a body of robust scientific evidence, such as clinical trials, would be required' [...and that] even if craniosacral therapy could relieve symptoms, the ad could discourage readers from seeking essential treatment for serious medical conditions from a qualified medical practitioner."

Note: ouch!

003. so, there is quite a contrast:

NDs love CST [better to call it CSPT -- craniosacral pseudotherapy] and it lacks any kind of substantive evidence or even that most important kind of initial evidence to even warrent further consideration: plausibility.  

Like so much within naturopathy, that falsely labels itself a "branch of medical science", there simply isn't any substance to the 'science-supported' claim.
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