Sydney Craniosacral Centre
What would your Tinder profile say? Your 3 brains
Which Nervous System Gear are you in
When Stress takes hold - Stress effects & it clinical applications
Chronic Fatigue - You can't sleep your way out of it
Tinnitus - The brain is not at rest
Psychoneuroimmunology - Your thoughts influence your health
What to Expect during and after Treatment
The Paradigm Shift - The Cranio Touch
When Trauma Strikes
What and Why Fascia is so Fasci(a)eating?
More than our Physical Body
What would your Tinder profile say? Your 3 brains
Which Nervous System Gear are you in
When Stress takes hold - Stress effects & it clinical applications
Chronic Fatigue - You can't sleep your way out of it
Tinnitus - The brain is not at rest
Psychoneuroimmunology - Your thoughts influence your health
What to Expect during and after Treatment
The Paradigm Shift - The Cranio Touch
When Trauma Strikes
What and Why Fascia is so Fasci(a)eating?
More than our Physical Body
Whiplash is often referred to as a pure soft tissue (ligaments and muscles) injury in the neck. It is caused by a sudden very strong bending and/or hyperextension of the head, causing a painful cervical spine, tension in the neck and shoulders and can also impact the ligaments of the joints in the jaw. In a worst-case scenario, there can also be damage to the intervertebral discs and/or compression of cervical nerve roots.
Whiplash is most often caused by a car accident but also can happen through a sporting accident, like boxing, karate, diving and rugby or as a result of a physical trauma. In all cases, the head is violently thrown forward, backward or sideways in two different directions. Pain could be immediate but pain can also happen after a delay of several hours or even days.
The diagnosis of Whiplash varies from person to person. Whiplash sufferers often have numerous complaints and can have long periods of pain that may not seem in proportion to the sustained physical injury. It may also not heal in the standard 6-8 weeks that is usually given for soft tissue injuries. However, if we look at the components of whiplash and not only view it as a soft tissue injury, it makes perfect sense why this can be the case. This calls for a treatment model that not only incorporates the soft tissue of the physical body but also the craniosacral system of the physical body plus the mental and emotional body and this is exactly the strength of Craniosacral Therapy.
Let me break it down:
Whiplash not only comprises soft tissue injuries that result in headaches, neck pain and stiffness but the lack of control of the head with all the sensory organs and messages to the brain during the impact can also generate neurological complaints that can range from dizziness or vertigo, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, balance difficulties to concentration and memory problems. It can even trigger emotional symptoms like depression, irritability or anxiety as the shock to the nervous system can linger for months. A disturbance in the entire craniosacral system is often possible due to increased tension of the dura matter (the outermost toughest membrane/fascia which envelopes the brain and spinal cord). Disturbances in the Central Nervous System (CNS) – brain and spinal cord – can relay many different symptoms like a chain reaction that cannot be explained by soft tissue injury alone. Pains that occur can also be of a psychosomatic nature and can fluctuate and worsen with life and emotional stress. The force of the injury can also cause minor traumatic brain injury with post-concussion syndrome, which leads to cognitive symptoms as well as balance and often visual complaints.
Victims of major accidents and/or trauma that result in whiplash may also experience disassociation or freezing at the time of the incident. This is used as an intelligent defensive self-protective mechanism where the sensory and motor overload in the body and the brain was too great to handle all at once. If these physiological states do not come to a natural end with a successful resolution or discharge, it can lead to PTSD or PTSI where the unconscious survival brain – the brain stem – see my blog our 3 brains – may be tricked into thinking that the threat is still present with all its physiological consequences and storage of the autonomic motor and sensory experiences.
My own Whiplash was caused by a direct physical Trauma where my head was forcibly thrown sideways at a high and quick speed. I experienced all of above symptoms, from the physical to the neurological to the anxiety and the dissociation with a time delay from the original incident. Initially I was put in a neck brace, had all the medical tests but my symptoms did not heal nor could be explained or addressed in the current model alone. When the Neurologist suggested Occipital Nerve block injections, I thought: "hmm let's not".
Whiplash is not always straight forward and the road to recovery can be slow and unpredictable, with periods of worsening, particularly if there is Trauma involved. This is because (traumatic) memories can be stored in our body and these memories are linked to the arousal circuitry within the amygdala (Limbic System -pls see my blog on the brain). Any head movement can perpetuate symptoms that is similar to the trauma. I found this out the hard way when on my road to recovery I sledged hard and fast down a long snowy Mountain with the usual bumps only to find that all my symptoms had worsened the next day. Not only did those movements perpetuate my symptoms but my sacrum had transmitted the forces up to my neck and head that was only just recovering. I continued addressing my physical, mental and traumatic part with CST and eventually saw all my complaints completely disappear.
The reason why CST works well for Whiplash is because it has a great effect on the autonomics and linked spinal cord segments. After a whiplash the sutures between bones can be compressed, which creates restrictions that impede the motion of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CST will free these cranial immobility’s and enhance fluid exchange throughout the body and brain. CST also addresses myofascial pain and any emotional effects that may serve as contributing factors to chronic neck pain or shoulder pain and CST has a great ability to reduce stress and anxiety.
CST provides a holistic approach, bringing together all elements, reducing physical discomfort as well as emotional shock and trauma, as it truly integrates Mind, Body and Spirit.
In my own practice I treated a 56 years old lady who had a Quad bike accident and was diagnosed with whiplash. She also suffered from inexplicably fatigue. She has been referred by her doctor for a course of 9 sessions of CST (NB: this was overseas where Craniosacral Therapy is very much part of the medical model). Case history revealed she had another Whiplash injury 4 years ago due to another accident. First examination reveals a weakening in the cranial system rhythm around neck and shoulder area and an increased tension in the whole craniosacral system and attached fascia. Particularly her right shoulder and neck area reveal inertial patterns with big swirling movements around the place of impact where the incoming force of the collision is retained. In the first few sessions the focus is on bringing the central nervous system to rest, working on the general tension around the craniosacral system and the hyper tonus around the cranial base in particular, so fascia can gently unwind, trapped nerves freed and the self-healing capacity of the body stimulated. The client experienced a sharp increase in pain during the session that immediately disappeared when the session was finished. This increase in pain seemed to be related to the old whiplash injury she had sustained and was re-triggered by the new impact. As her system is clearing up the old and new debris she feels very tired, experiences intermittent pain and not capable of doing much but just relaxing. When the immediate fragility of her system has disappeared and she is starting to experience improvement of her symptoms, the focus of the later part of the sessions are more on myofascial release particularly in the muscles of the neck region and the trapezius muscle in the right shoulder.
During one of our sessions the clients literally experiences a structural and emotional release at the same time by sensing and hearing a “plop” inside her body – she can’t really describe it but says “it just felt like something disappeared from my neck, like taking the plug out of the bath”. When she gets off the table she feels no pain, no restrictions in head and neck movements and says she actually feels radiant and full of energy. When she comes back for the last couple of prescribed sessions, she indicates she is actually already better but would like to finish her prescribed treatments as she has seen improvements in many “unrelated” areas as well like her digestion, sleep patterns and overall mood.
This case study and many more conditions and case studies will be more detailed in my upcoming book: Integrative Healing through Craniosacral Therapy.
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Myofascial Release - SchleuderTrauma - Roland Kastner at Future Health Cranial Institute Zurich Switzerland
Our 3 Brains
We have 3 parts to our brain that allows us to go from being to doing to thinking. The 3 part approach was first described by neuro-scientist Paul Maclean and is known as the Triune brain which are like little sub-modalities with their own ingredients in the one big brain modality. They evolved differently throughout the human evolution and they each have their own unique capabilities.
We will look at these 3 brain sub-modalities as a tree structure: the roots, the trunk and its branches to break down a relative complex structure so we can understand ourselves and our health a bit better. Craniosacral Therapy is one of the top therapies in regulating these brain functions for conditions like Concussion, Meningitis, Parkinson, Trauma, Whiplash, Tinnitus, Chronic Pain or Migraines or as I had in Sydney a One-Punch Victim coming out of a coma. Craniosacral is also equally a great therapy in understanding the functions of our unconscious and subconscious brain in relation to our behaviours and hence in taking control of our own health.
1. The Reptilian brain – The Brain stem – Freeze Response – Being - Am I safe?
In human evolution the Reptilian brain is the oldest and most primitive part of our brain, forming the seat of our subconscious mind. It forms the roots of the tree, essential and responsible for housekeeping and ensuring our survival. The Reptilian brain controls our body’s vital functions such as heart rate, breathing and body temperature. It is called the Reptilian brain as it functions very much like a reptile. Imagine a lizard: reacting very instinctively as it is lying there with little demands and needs of life: it eats, metabolises, protects itself when under attack and procreates also known as the 4 F’s: Feeding, Fighting, Fleeing and well… Reproduction.
If the reptilian brain had a Tinder profile it would read: I am the instinctive one. I manage basic involuntary functions like breathing, heart rate, digestion, circulation, swallowing and sneezing and breeding. I am guided by my instincts and not really good at controlling my instincts. My main aim is survival. I respond to danger by freezing. I don’t have the capacity for conscious decision-making. My environment is small as I register any kind of danger. I have no feelings or mental process, I am mostly on auto-pilot. I constantly react to triggers with a preprogrammed set of responses. My behaviours are largely unconscious and automatic. I am highly resistant to change and tend to live in survival mode.
2. Limbic System – Emotional Brain – Fight or Flight – Subconscious – Doing - Am I loved?
As evolution continued the limbic brain was the second brain to emerge in the first mammals and is therefore otherwise known as the mammalian brain. The mammalian brain forms the trunk of the tree. Steady and fed by its roots. Mammals have a need for social organisation, looking after their young ones, being in a tribe in order to raise their chances for survival as you can see with say elephants. The mammalian brain serves to add a layer of control to the automatic responses of the reptilian brain, by linking emotions with behaviours.
The Limbic System is involved with emotions, memory formation and long-term memory; it connects events with feelings. The Limbic System is our Emotional brain, it is the grand central station for our hormones. The Limbic system interprets our sensory experiences and can have a strong influence on our behaviour, often unconsciously. A smell, a taste, a sight can trigger a whole heap of responses in the body especially if they are linked with a not so pleasant past memories. The Limbic System has feelings and emotions and it warns you, through the Amygdala. The Amygdala is an almond shaped cluster of neurons deep inside the limbic system as it senses danger and rings your internal alarm bells prompting your body to release adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol. This triggers our fight or flight response and was designed to protect you from specific brief danger like being chased by that tiger (see blog Stress Responses).
If the mammalian brain had a Tinder profile it would read: I am the emotional one. I can express emotions, anger and love, I look for physical touch, I take care of my offspring. I respond to danger by fight or flight. I regulate your internal chemical order by releasing hormones. I learn efficiently fast when fear is involved. I store your emotional memories and I can react volatile based on past stored experiences. I operate mainly on a subconscious level so you may not always be aware what I am feeling.
3. Neocortex – Thinking Brain – Communication – Conscious – Thinking
The neocortex is the newest part of our brain and sits like a walnut on top of our heads, comprising roughly about 80% of our brain’s volume. It is the branches of our tree, capable to die off or to renew and grow through neuroplasticity, creating new neural pathways. The Neocortex is highly specialised and is the seat of our conscious awareness. As you are reading this you are using your neocortex and because of our neocortex we can use logic, speak and write.The Neocortex is also our most civilized part of our brain, it keeps us on the right track even if we just sometimes want to fight, scream, run or thump our boss or partner for that matter.
The Neocortex Tinder profile would read: I am the thinking one. I am good at complex logic, reasoning, thinking and planning. I am social competent. My answer to danger is not to fight or flight but to communicate, that is my strength. I find learning fun – I love to learn and I make new neural synaptic connections when I do, always able to evolve. I can control my instincts and I can reflect on my feelings and emotions. I can make decisions and I can plan ahead. I am the conscious one.
Three brains in one – the Craniosacral way.
Craniosacral Therapy is one of the top therapies in regulating these brain functions as it works and regulates the three parts of the brain. For instance, when making contact with the Reptilian brain stem at the top of your spinal cord we can sense high oscillating tissue or tissue tremors. There can be shock response, a freeze response, a misalignment or restrictions both on a cranium, fluid or tissue level. Craniosacral holds allow those restrictions, tremors, bone or fluid imbalances to be addressed and craniosacral addresses cranial nerves so the body has a chance to come back in a state of balance and release any fluctuations, disturbances or restrictions there may be.
For the Limbic Emotional brain, Craniosacral can have amazing effects on a purely physical level, in terms of reducing the fight or flight response and calming the amygdala, important for all sorts of condition and symptoms and in particular for Trauma, Chronic Pain, Post Traumatic Stress and Tinnitus suffers.
One of the great benefits of working with the Neocortex in Craniosacral is that we not only work with all the neural tissues and physical structures that lie underneath but here one can drop out of the high thinking states of Gamma and Beta brain waves into Alpha and Theta brain waves– dimming the light switcher in the thinking brain, allowing for neural integration and a deeper state of awareness. Here the subconscious mind can come up into the conscious mind and people will often say: “had some random thoughts coming up and haven’t thought about this in a long time but…………….” That is your portal in your conscious mind where you can begin to process things consciously that your body has done for your subconsciously.
The various brain holds are essential for many different kinds of symptoms from Concussion to Meningitis to Trauma to Tinnitus to Chronic Pain and really anything big or small. I have had great results with Concussion, Meningitis, Parkinson, Chronic Fatigue and Trauma please see my independent Google Reviews.
Over the years that I have been practicing I find more and more that the biggest obstacle to healing is the mind itself. If the mind gets out of the way and people allow themselves to drop their controlling thinking guard (Neocortex:)), magic happens, possibilities are infinite and the road to integral healing truly begins. In which brain state do you mostly live in, what would your Tinder profile say?
Note: this blog is the third and last part of an ongoing series into our Health through: 1. our stress pathways, 2. our Nervous System and 3. our brain in relation to symptoms, illness and disease and how Craniosacral Therapy addresses the main causes of symptoms and illness. The blogs are partly an extract of my upcoming – long in the making:) - book – Integrative Healing through Craniosacral Therapy.
Want to be kept up to date? Know more? Please like my facebook page: The Sydney Craniosacral Therapy Centre or follow me on Instagram: craniosacralsydney.
Our Nervous System pretty much rules our life, as it is the conductor to the inner orchestra of our body. I believe there is largely untapped potential in understanding how the NS works in relation to health issues and trauma and our current prescription pad based medicine. The Autonomic Nervous System. (ANS) regulates important functions of the body such as circulation, respiration, digestion and reproduction and a wide range of symptoms, illnesses and conditions can pop up if our nervous system is not functioning optimally.
Lets take a deeper look into the Nervous System, what it is made up of and how it operates.
The Nervous system is largely made up of our Central Nervous System (CNS) - Brain and Spinal Cord) and our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). This ANS holds an important key into our overall health. This blog will cover the ANS in more detail and the powerful benefits of Craniosacral Therapy to the ANS. (A seperate blog will be dedicated to the Vagus Nerve and the newer model of our ANS)
The ANS regulates all our involuntary processes like our breathing, heartbeat and digestion and regulates the activity of our organs, glands and (smooth) muscles. Imagine we had to think about breathing and digestion all day long, we would not get anything done so the autonomic nervous system does it for us. Our ANS also plays a major role in regulating our stressors, emotions and physiological processes to ensure our survival and safety.
The ANS consists of 2 gears: the Sympathetic and the Parasympathetic gear. The ANS comes on in response to any perceived stress, danger, fear or joy and can jolts us into action, fast and almost instantaneous, interestingly enough, long before we are able to process it in our minds. Ideally, during a typical day the ANS swings back and forth between the 2 in a balanced way, like a see saw, when one goes up, the other one comes down. It does this automatically without us having to consciously think about it as the body is always seeking to be in a homeostatic balance, in a tensionless state. For instance if you are hot, the body will start to sweat to cool you down. These 2 gears determine subconsciously a great part of how we think, feel and behave.
The Sympathetic Nervous System - SNS
The Sympathetic gear is the accelerator, energy expenditure, in our body. It gets us ready for action and is responsible for our flight and flight response, whether that threat is real or imagined. The nerve centers responsible for this Sympathetic branch lie as thick cables on either side of the spinal cord as they send nerve impulses all through the body and form an integral part of the craniosacral system.
The Parasympathetic Nervous System - PNS
The PNS is the brake and is responsible for our rest and digest or repair and regulation. As it activates the relaxation response it is telling the body that the threat has passed and that there is no need to be on alert anymore. It is here that your food gets digested, your hair and nails grow, your cells repair and your wounds heal and we depend on this gear for a good nights sleep.
The two nerve centers of the Parasympathetic branch can be found in the brain stem (cranium) and the tailbone (sacrum) and are sometimes called the cranial-sacral division. These two centers are very important in CST as they hold the cranial and sacral nerves and provide access to the whole Cranialsacral system. The PNS Cranial Nerves innervate various glands and organs. The most important nerve here is the Vagus Nerve (Cranial Nerve X). The Vagus Nerve is also called the Wanderer as it’s nerve fibers travel through our heart, lungs, stomach, liver, kidneys and intestines. The Vagus Nerve acts to inhibit the fight and flight, and this one nerve regulates 75% of our rest and digest. Contacting and working with the Vagus Nerve can be a big component in Craniosacral Therapy. The PNS Sacral Nerves here are also significant as they supply the lower large intestines and the organs of reproduction and elimination.
Lets have a look at the influence of the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic on our organs and associated health risks to get a deeper understanding.
More and more people live in a constant state of high, red alert, keeping the nervous system permanently activated on the higher Sympathetic side and thus preventing the body from natural repair, regeneration and maintenance. Ask yourself at any time during the day: how at ease am I in this moment? How is my breathing, is it shallow or deep? Do I feel any tension in my body? Am I wired? Am I anxious? Where are my thoughts? This will give you a baseline snapshot of where you are. Over time, repeated activation of the Sympathetic stress response inevitable takes a toll on the body, manifesting in different kind of symptoms or illnesses.
So it really goes without saying that it makes 100% sense to have an optimally functioning nervous system, as it controls many processes in our body on a subconscious level. We often think that we are in control of our thoughts and actions but in reality the subconscious mind runs the show for over 92% and our autonomic nervous system holds that power.
One of the strong and unique features of CST is that it influences the ANS directly. Cranio is associated with a decreased sympathetic activity and an increased parasympathetic activity. This is one of the strong features Craniosacral therapy is recognized for and CST is definitely one of the best therapies I know for addressing and calming the nervous system on a conscious and subconscious level as it encourages deep states of relaxation, influences the neural pathways, recalibrates the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic branch of the nervous system and as a result allows the body to reorganise any deeper long-standing conditions.
Craniosacral also produces a greater sense of bodily awareness, opening up the world of the ANS to conscious perception, as it moves your focus into your body. People are often surprised what may come up as the body starts to express itself through tissue unwinding, fluid flow, cellular memory and the inner power that moves us.
With more chronic and complex illnesses experienced Craniosacral practitioners may aim to assist in creating new more helpful resources and patterns. Taming the wild horses so to speak by creating new experiences, new thoughts, new neural chemical connections, which will directly reflect how we think, feel, behave and ultimately will reflect our overall health.
This all leads to a decrease of our 3 biological stress pathways (previous blog) and a drastic reduction in physiological stress: i.e. less muscle tension, less pain, increase of energy, less anxiety, lower heart rate and blood pressure, better digestion etc. It truly embodies conventional medicine ethics of “First, do no harm”, yet Craniosacral Therapy is unfortunately only on a handful of doctors radars. In a truly integrative functional medical model, craniosacral should be at the forefront. In Switzerland where I trained, Craniosacral Therapy is one of the first points of call for clients and doctors and it is entirely recognised by the government and all health insurances. CST works with the source of the symptom and really the only side effect CST has is better health: physically, mentally and emotionally (please see my clients testimonials).
So here is my Prescription Pad for a healthy Autonomic Nervous System & Good Health.
Note: this blog is part of an ongoing series into our Health through: 1. our stress pathways, 2. our NS and 3. our brain (next blog) in relation to symptoms, illness and disease and how Craniosacral Therapy addresses the main causes of symptoms and illness. The blogs are partly an extract of my upcoming book – Integrative Healing through Craniosacral Therapy.
Want to be kept up to date? Know more? Please like my facebook page: The Sydney Craniosacral Therapy Centre or follow me on Instagram: craniosacralsydney.
Stress is considered to be one of the most important causes of many physical and emotional symptoms and lying at the very root of pain, illness and disease. It has been stated that 75% (I have also read 95% in the literature) of the people visiting their GP go for stress related symptoms but in clinical symptoms, stress and the close relationship it has with the autonomic nervous system is often overlooked. We may not be aware of the true impact of stress as it can produce a wide variety of symptoms but looking at how we respond to stress through our biological Stress Pathways might make things more clear and how beneficial Craniosacral Therapy really can be as a first port of call or preventative step as I believe there is a large untapped potential in truly understanding how Stress leads to various symptoms, illnesses and conditions and therefore approaching health issues in a new way.
The Chemistry of Stress
Stress and the related bodily and psychological responses have strong primal and biological roots. It acted as an intelligent survival mechanism in our evolution by enabling the early hunters to react quickly to life-threatening situations. Threats at that time were more of a physical nature and the stress response for these early humans was either to fight or flight from the attacker/predator, to avoid becoming someone else’s lunch. Today our stressors are more mental and emotional but the body is biologically programmed to react in the exact same way. The brain cannot make the distinction whether the threat is real or if the threat lives in our minds. Many times there is no real physical stress but we are under our own mental and emotional stress: worrying about our job, paying the bills, relationship issues, deadlines, conflict, intense responsibility, our relationship with the world, with ourselves, social media, or if you live in Sydney, house price affordability. Our body, our brain will react by stimulating a bodily response and produce numerous chemical changes that alter our normal physiological state and will start to surface as pain, inflammation, viruses or bacterial infections as it leaves the body more susceptible. Thoughts and beliefs directly influence our stress levels and there is a strong correlation with our health, as the mind influences the body.
The body has three biological stress pathways.
The Stress Pathways
Pathway nr 1: Contraction of our connective tissue (fascia) also known as muscle
guarding or emotional bracing.
In our early hunting days, muscle and connective tissue contraction served as an intelligent survival mechanism in response to any physical danger. For example, when our ancestors were bitten by an animal, muscles and connective tissue would contract so that the bite would not be able to penetrate that deeply, guarding against injury and leading to a higher chance of survival. Today, as we encounter stress, we tense and contract our body for long periods, which causes hyperacidity in the tissues, compression in bodily fluid and stiff muscles. When this stress is sustained it becomes fertile ground for chronic muscle or joint pain, inflammation, stiffening of joints, tendonitis, fibromyalgia, frozen shoulder, headaches, migraines and/or the start of more progressive problems like arthritis.
Pathway nr 2: the Autonomic Nervous System
The second way we can respond to stresses and daily strains is by releasing hormones in the form of adrenaline and activating our sympathetic autonomic “fight or flight” nervous system (SNS).
Typical SNS “petal to the metal” stress responses are:
This liquid adrenaline hit is great for a specific purpose and for a short duration but when chronic and long-term, it sits in our tissues and alters our chemical make-up and physiological responses on a more permanent basis. This often happens unnoticed as we get used to being so wired that it feels normal and we have dialed our internal thermostat right up and rewired our brain. This is fertile ground for anxiety to set in, sleeping disorders, shallow breathing, heart problems, blood pressure problems and as adrenaline alters acid secretion in the digestive tract it can lead to digestive problems, spastic bowel and/or comprised gut action.
Pathway nr 3: Immune System – Activation of inflammatory responses
When stress is perceived, the pituitary gland inside the brain, responds by increasing hormones, which will act like an alarm system to the rest of your body. This alarm tells your adrenal glands to release a flood of stress hormones into your body like cortisol and cholesterol, alerting the immune system to spring into action.
In our evolutionary days, the bodies original stress response to being hunted, was to provide higher doses of cortisol to inhibit any potential inflammation. In danger the body prepares itself and releases cortisol beforehand as a precaution to reduce any potential inflammation from the wounds, as cortisol suppresses your immune system. The body can also produce cholesterol as a precautionary measure when injured, which acts like a form of sticky glue to close any potential wounds, again enhancing our chances to survive. These are intelligent preservation mechanisms of the body but with prolonged stress this will start to have an influence on the effectiveness of the immune system and can lead to infections, inflammation and immune-mediated diseases like allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, lupus but also to an increased sensitivity of pain receptors, which changes the brain receptors and can lead to things like chronic pain and fibromyalgia.
These stress pathways can react all 3 simultaneously and ideally they should raise and fall like a healthy wave during a typical day. However these days we have chronic stress and it seems we are always being chased by that Tiger. Often people have no idea how tense or stressed they really are on a daily basis. When there is no down time for repair and regeneration and the body gets stuck on the higher activated side, it will adversely affect our tissues, our immune system and nervous system, leaving us vulnerable and unable to fight of any viruses, inflammation or cancer cells. As chronic stress rewires our brain by dialling our internal thermostat up, it can lock in any increases of adrenaline, norepinephrine and/or cortisol on a more permanent basis, so it starts to feel normal. It is only when clients start to shift back into a healthy wave that they realise how far off kilter they really were. In Chronic Fatigue, Chronic Pain, Inflammations, Glandular Fever, Rheumatoid arthritis, IBS, Autoimmune diseases, Asthma, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Sleep disorders, Depression and many other complex and chronic illnesses this deregulation of the 3 biological Stress pathways responses, lie as the source behind these physical issues.
Stress response memory
An other interesting fact about stress is, that if an intense, long–term or a more traumatic stress response has not been properly released and processed through the physical body and nervous system through a body-based therapy like craniosacral, it remains in the body and becomes a traumatic memory that can lie dormant in the body for years. When a next perhaps similar kind of stressful event happens, the stored memory can resurface and we seem to fly of the handle a bit quicker or we are puzzlingly a lot more frazzled than usual, as the body, the nervous system remembers and will respond from the past. It is the stress response to that memory that keeps it in the body.
How Craniosacral Therapy can help and its benefits
The body’s response to stress underlies many symptoms and illnesses, in some cases the stresses are chronic and hidden and have been accumulated over a life time. Cranio looks at causes, the why and works with the body as a whole integrated system. One of the powerful benefits of CST is that it is a proven & natural effective modality to shift out of chronic stress, to lower the dominant sympathetic nervous system and move into a space where the body can reconnect with its innate intelligence, processing the stress response and return into balance. When we support our nervous system to come into a greater place of balance we fundamentally also have a better chance of enhancing our immune system, endocrine system and our cardio-vascular system. This is one of the strong features Craniosacral therapy is recognized for and CST is definitely one of the best therapies I know for addressing and calming the nervous system on a conscious and subconscious level as it encourages deep states of relaxation, influences the neural pathways, recalibrates the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic branch of the nervous system and as a result allows the body to reorganise any deeper long-standing conditions.
Wouldn’t it be great if conventional medicine would include this natural way of addressing the body’s own resources for healing instead of prescription pad medicine and we could work together as One integrated client focussed approach, this is what true integrative mind body medicine, in my opinion should be all about. My clients often come to me after the medical world can not find a clear cause or they have been given a diagnosis but various tests, prescription pills and even operations have not brought much resolution and in some cases even made it worse, this can vary from spinal operations, various other surgeries, migraines, neuritis, vertigo, Meniere's disease, tinnitus, sleeping problems, digestive problems, glandular fever, chronic fatigue etc etc etc etc. My hands feel stress effects and restrictions on a daily basis in my clients bodies and brains on oa a tissue level, fluid level and nerve level. It is great when Science catches up and are now starting to look and - for them that all important - measure how stress rewires the brain and it's harmful effects. Professor Vaughan Masefield from the Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne is for instance studying how blood pressure is effected by stress and "how chronic stress significantly rewires the brain and that blood pressure can remain stuck at that high level due to stress". Who knows one day they might even prescribe Craniosacral therapy:).
Every ill seems to have a pill, but chemical pills only function to suppress a symptom and can lead to potential and harmful side-effects whilst other symptoms can start popping up as the actual root cause was not addressed and the stress response, needing an outlet, starts to spread. Craniosacral lifts the deep imprints of stress out of the nervous system by addressing the 3 biological Stress Pathways. Its subtle touch really does belie its power.
Note: This article is a simplified extract from my upcoming book: Healing through Craniosacral Therapy. For up to date information on my book and much more: Like my Facebook page below: The Sydney Craniosacral Therapy Centre and/or follow me on Instagram: CraniosacralSydney.
What is TMJ?
TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint, which connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bones of the skull.
The TM joint is one of the most used joints in the body, we use it at least 2000 times a day when we speak, chew, swallow, yawn, kiss or snore and it has a biting power of 70 kg. A variety of cranial nerves synchronise all of the above activities and it is because of its physiology that this complex structure acts differently than other joints in the body. The TM joint and the powerful muscles attached to it are directly linked to the central nervous system and the whole craniosacral system.
For a long time TMJ was considered to be a dental problem but it is now widely regarded as a multifactorial condition. Wearing a splint can provide relief for TMJ symptoms like headaches and protect the teeth but it does not address any underlying causes. In addressing TMJ issues, clenching, grinding, whiplash, slips and falls, braces, stress, trauma, emotional factors, structural imbalances and integration of all structures – upper jaw, lower jaw, surrounding muscles, temporal bones and cranium needs to be taken into account, including whole body strains.
A few specialists have now upgraded the name from TMJ to the Cranio Mandibular joint and some are working with cranially trained osteopaths and craniosacral therapist to achieve whole body integration. (Dr. Wojciech Tarnowski).
TMJ Syndrome or TMJD - Temporomandibular joint Disorder – can range from mildly annoying to a highly debilitating condition which can manifest itself not only in the classic symptoms of jaw and facial pain, but also in:
TMJ dysfunction can be caused by a derangement of the actual disk or arthritis but what is often not addressed effectively, is that many persistent issues and jaw problems arise as a result of stress, manifesting for example as teeth grinding, muscle spasm or as a variety of other forms of TMJ Syndrome. TMJ syndrome is usually a symptom not a cause. 90% of cases are not primary temporomandibular joint disturbances ((Upledger, 1987, Beyond the Dura). They are usually a result of craniosacral system dysfunction: temporal bone, hard palate, intra-oral imbalances, fascial restrictions and/or due to stress factors like poor posture or emotional tension.
How Does Cranio Treat TMJ?
Cranio addresses the whole person not just a body part, i.e. Cranio looks at the interconnected of the systems in the body. The TMJ’s have many interrelationships with the whole body, so treating TMJ issues may involve work on other parts of the body as well. Practically this means that Cranio releases and integrates all surrounding structures: upper and lower jaw, the jaw (masseter) muscle, temporal bones, upper cervical (neck) vertebrae and the whole cranium. Cranio looks at postural imbalances like hip problems or forward head posture but also addresses craniosacral imbalances in other areas that may have ricochet up to the TMJ’s. Stress and emotional states do play a big role in TMJ issues and here Cranio addresses the emotional states first as it causes a deregulation in the nervous system and no amount of mechanical treatment will otherwise completely resolve the problem.
Four easy things you can do at home to start alleviating TMJ issues:
Depending on the cause of your TMJ disorder, different self-care strategies work really well.
Some random facts that might just make you win that Trivia Quiz one day:
Because of the jaw’s unique physiology, it’s important to treat the root cause of your pain as soon as possible. As a practitioner what I love about treating TMJ patients is that clients respond really well. Some find immediate relief if acute and some find gradual overall relief if more chronic with regular and consistent treatment. “Craniosacral Therapy has the potential for being the most effective holistic therapy of all for TMJ by restoring homeostasis”. (Dr. Wojciech Tarnowski - Dentist).
Here are some comments clients have texted me after their appointment.
“Thank you Dorine. Amelia felt amazingly relaxed and released after last session”. (Amelia - 9 years old)
“Today was amazing, thank you so much. I can almost get two knuckles in! Feeling very positive about this and looking fwd to seeing our progress. Thanks again”. (DM)
“Thank you very much for yesterday. I am feeling a lot better today! My muscles in my jaw/cheeks are a lot more relaxed, my neck feels less tense and I have had minimal headaches today”. (JF)
Thomas Attalee D.O., R.C.S.T (2016)– Face to face with the face
Dr Upledger, J. (1987) – Beyond the Dura
Dr. Wojciech Tarnowski – The biomechanics of Dentistry – Fulcrum – issue 65 - 2015
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Life Lesson number 9: have a Craniosacral treatment.
A translated extract from an article featured in a prominent Dutch newspaper with Hollands leading neurologist.
Lesson 1: You can’t keep burying your emotions
“I was working as an intern in a hospital when I noticed that for months I had become angrier, more anxious and depressed. I had actually deeply buried those emotions since the death of my father when I was 12. It had become my survival strategy but now the panic, sadness and anger kept resurfacing. My rock bottom came when I recognized the face of my father in one of my Senior Doctors, I wanted to kiss him. I was so happy to see him. At that moment I realised that I could not continue anymore”.
Lesson 2: When a child loses a parent, it determines the rest of your life.
“The death of my father shattered the unity in our household. Everything collapsed. The only way I could deal with this immense sadness was by studying. Knowledge became my safety net. I had wanted to become a Vet but just before the death of my father he had said – “would it not be great if you become a neurologist as well". Had life been different I may have taken a different road but in his absence, I fulfilled his last wish”.
Lesson 3: Remember your dreams
At 15, my mother wanted to send me to a psychiatrist, presumably because she saw how I struggled with my feelings and emotions. I did not want to go, I was FINE. Finally at the age of 28, I did go into therapy, twice a week for 4 years. My psychiatrist made me relive the trauma of my father’s death, she taught me how to cry, she taught me how to laugh and – very importantly – she taught me to remember my dreams. Dreams are the window into your subconscious and they help you to recognise and name your emotions so you can get to know yourself a bit better.
Lesson 4: Mind and body are one
Bizarrely and ironically, half the countries population does some form of Mindfulness. Yet at the same time most people do not want to deal with the fact that physical symptoms have a mental and emotional component. Many patients and Doctors still think that chronic pain or for example fatigue is a just mechanical problem. To me, this is really a redundant approach. We are not just our body or just our mind: it is One. It is my mission as a Doctor to make this clear, in particular to people that have complaints that don’t fit into our current medical way of thinking. Their symptoms are real but they are just misunderstood. I see how unhappy they are, whilst their body could be working fine. These cases fascinate me as a Doctor, as they are unsolved puzzles and I won’t rest until somebody is satisfied.
Lesson 5: A misunderstood symptom is also a real symptom
Just because you can’t find a plausible cause for a symptom doesn’t make the complaint less real. With 20% of new patients a GP will not find a clear cause for a physical complaint. The majority recovers within a couple of week by themselves. But with some patients, even after extensive medical tests, research and treatment, the problems keep persisting. In the medical field this is known as “Idiopathic Somatic Complaints”.
Like for instance a 55 year old smoking working women – recently divorced and has been suffering for a few months from fatigue and headaches. One day she wakes up and finds that she can’t lift her right arm at all. Doctors can’t find a medical reason. You don’t have to be an Einstein to understand that her personal situation probably plays an important role. However that does not make the complaint less real. She really can no longer lift her arm. The connection between body and mind allows to your experience your symptom. Sometimes there is a medical reason and sometimes there is not. Many people find that hard to accept. Only when you approach body, mind, emotions and individual life circumstances as One, then you can really do something about unexplained medical symptoms.
Lesson 6: Name and claim happiness, before its too late
I had been having headaches for 6 months and I noticed that I started to talk more nasally. If a patient had come to me with those complaints, I would have sent him or her straight for an MRI, but I ignored it. I knew like no one else how awful the outcome could be and buried my head in the sand. When I finally did have it checked out I was diagnosed with cancer, a tumor above the hard palate in my mouth. I was 39 with a wife and young children. The tears kept coming. I did not work for a year and the treatment did leave me with quite a few residual effects and symptoms. I did not become a different person but it taught me how important it is to treasure the happy times and moments.
Lesson 7: Go under Hypnoses
Once a week a hypnotherapist comes to the hospital for our patients who have medically unexplained physical symptoms. Around 500.000 Dutch people suffer from irritable bowel syndrome: tummy aches, bloated, constipated or diarrhea without a clear medical cause. The brain and intestines are in constant communication with one another, without you being aware of it. One can’t instantly regulate the inner works of the intestines, nor the heart or blood pressure for that matter but under hypnoses you can. Whilst you are completely relaxed, imagine your tummy is soft and healthy. You can positively influence the intestines this way. I am convinced that many people with medically unexplained symptoms but also with understood symptoms could benefit from it immensely.
Lesson 8: Exercise!
There is nothing better for body and mind than to exercise. If I don’t exercise every day I get aches and pain, I don’t sleep as well and become grumpy. So I cycle to work every day and on my days off I run. Top athletes know, like no other people, how mind and body are one.
Online:https://www.trouw.nl/samenleving/de-levenslessen-van-neuroloog-emile-keuter-een-onbegrepen-klacht-is-ook-echt - 11 June 2017
Chronic Fatigue – You can’t sleep your way out of it
“Nobody realises that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal".
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a complex condition with a vast range of symptoms involving the immune, endocrine, gastro-intestinal system and brain. The root cause of CFS often includes several factors simultaneously like:
CFS is marked by a multitude of physical symptoms. For example: Muscular pain, jaw and throat pain, extreme fatigue and exhaustion, restless sleep, headaches, insomnia, depression, poor bowel movement, sensory hypersensitivity, intolerance to exercise, emotionally helpless and feeling wired yet tired at the same time. Currently there is no known medial cure for CFS, however sufferers can find great relief in complementaries therapies.
Craniosacral is a great complementary therapy for CFS, as it brings the body into a healing state and out of its CFS characteristic dominant state of sympathetic overdrive. Getting the body out of overreactive responses will allow the body to self-correct, find homeostasis and to reset its physiology so it can regulate and perform the correct immunological and neurological functions.
On Vimeo there is a great video by 2 Doctors called: "Chronic Fatigue - cutting through the B.S". Dr Martin Rutherford does an excellent job describing what happens in the body when the fight-flight response in the brain is stuck in the ON position in relation to CFS. "The stress signalling patterns in the brain changes your neurochemistry and disrupts your physiology". He also explains that "if you don't address this sympathetic dominance first, other treatments will fail because this hole needs to be plugged first". "This is a key procedure that produces successful results". And this is exactly what Craniosacral Therapy does, it plugs that hole so to speak.
Craniosacral therapy is one of the best, if not The best therapy to get people out of chronic fight or flight sympathetic dominance, changing the brain's stress signalling patterns, and therefore it's neurochemistry, "plugging that hole" and as a domino effect, changing one's physiological state. Here is how I address CFS in my six step approach:
1. Working with the physiological state of a person.
During a typical day human beings swing back and forth in their nervous system from activated “sympathetic” mode to the recovery “parasympathetic mode”. The physiological state of someone with chronic fatigue is very different than a non-chronic fatigue person. A chronic fatigue body lives in a physiologically stressed and emergency mode ALL the time. One way to look at this is that relatively healthy people start their day with a full fuel tank that has been replenished during the night and starts to run low as the day progresses. CFS sufferers start their day on a virtually empty tank, where they need to keep their foot down on the accelerator, burning fuel and living off the fumes left in the tank. Sufferers are not able to fill up their tank, as they have to expend many extra critical physical resources and energy on a day-to-day basis just to be, that their body is just not able to go back and access the critical “rest and digest” healing recovery state. In essence a CFS person is not able to regulate their output and as the body gets pushed, it has to use more and more activated sympathetic nervous system energy from the reserve tank, whilst in the meantime, the dashboard starts flashing and beeping with warning signs. Rest, unfortunately is not refreshing as the body remains in survival mode, which leaves sufferers tired but wired.
Cranio is a great therapy for switching the body out of emergency mode and into a healing state so it can click into that recovery mode. Here the body can start to self-correct and self-regulate in order to perform the correct immunological and neurological functions, changing the physiological state.
2. Cranio works directly with the nervous system as a way to improve health
Chronic Fatigue people are often operating from a subtle perception of threat in their environment. This can happen subconsciously as it may be linked to something in the past for example, not feeling safe, feeling rejected or abandoned, in other words when one of our three primal survival needs were not met on a consistent basis. You may not even be fully conscious of this but your brain and body are. We essentially live with a 200 million year old part in our brain – called our reptilian brain - which is not there to make us happy but to protect us and to make us safe at all cost. This part of the brain reacts in a nano-second through our senses and has put itself into action long before it reaches our consciousness. Settling the nervous system is a top priority for Chronic Fatigue people as the body’s response to stress underlies many of the symptoms. Cranio works with the nervous system stress and survival responses to these stressors, reducing adrenaline and normalising cortisol output, allowing for the body to come out of overactivation and back into balance.
3. Working with Brain Plasticity to improve health
Chronic Fatigue people are often primed to be more sensitive to stress and sensory triggers. Cranio aims to alter the neural pathways that contribute to this sensitivity through hands on treatment and also by incorporating body awareness exercises so sufferers can track body sensations more effectively, recognise triggers more easily and change the input. I personally also incorporate neuro-associative exercises and emotionally focused techniques to let go of any old patterns and to activate new neural pathways. Healing old patterns and creating new and more effective patterns form an integral part of my treatment plan.
It is very important for CFS to go at their own pace, not to trigger any flare-ups or setbacks. Craniosacral therapy is by nature client led. We go as fast as the slowest part is able to let go in an effective and gentle manner. With the client we look at resourcing and creating more effective coping strategies. Pacing will allow a client to know when to rest and when to build up strength and activity as chronic fatigue people have a natural tendency to push beyond their energy levels.
5. Cranio works with Trauma
For many Chronic Fatigue people a traumatic incident triggered the onset of the disease causing shock in the body. Trauma can cause an overwhelming expenditure of energy in a person’s body. When this is ongoing and the nervous system recognises that the amount of energy/hyperarousal is too high, it has one last card to play and that is to apply a very powerful brake, which leads to parasympathetic shock and immobility. CF people are living on an empty fuel tank with one foot down on the accelerator causing hyperarousal, whilst simultaneously the other foot is down on the brake causing an overwhelming helplessness. Cranio works with trauma and in particular with the effects and survival patterns that are left and imprinted in the body. The important part is and this is what Cranio does so well as a body therapy: the nervous system will only recognise that danger has passed when the mobilised energy has been discharged on a bodily level. You can talk all you want but you if don't discharge that high primal energy on a bodily level it will keep on circulating in your body.
6. Cranio works with Physical pain
CFS people often have various aches, pain and inflammation in their body. Back pain, shoulder, arms, face, jaw and headaches are all part of the syndrome. Cranio address this through soft tissue release and unwinding techniques, improving the physical and physiological state of the body’s internal environment and reducing pain. Cranio allows for the body to switch out of the fight or flight/freeze response and to move into the rest and repair mode. This breaks the circuitry of exaggerated nerve signaling and allows the immune and nervous system to reset itself so it can start working in an improved and enhanced capacity. Cranio deals with the root causes, not just the symptoms, leading to improved health and wellness.
Factsheet online http://sacfs.asn.au/about/general_info/fact_sheet.htm
Virtual Medical Centre https://www.myvmc.com/diseases/chronic-fatigue-syndrome
https://vimeo.com/227497273 - Chronic Fatigue - cutting through the B.S on Vimeo - Dr Martin Rutherford
Waking the tiger - Peter A. Levine (1997)
Kientalerhof (Switzerland): International School of Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy. Class Notes (2010). Teacher: Friedrich Wolf
When my favorite Cranio teacher – think Eckhart Tolle meets the Dalai Lama – told me that the brain was malleable, pliable and that it has a tremendous capacity to heal and grow, I thought “really”? “Aren’t we born with a brain that is static and am I not defined by the genes that I am blessed with”? Nope, it turned out it is called neuroplasticity and refers to the brains ability to create new neural pathways.
My teacher went on to say that we are all driven by the needs that we have. In order to meet those needs our brain has developed a preference to do things, as we have used it in a certain way for 20, 30 or 40 years and it was really a matter of rewiring it. Retraining that muscle – like in the Gym – as the brain is in a constant state of flux and adapts itself based on the input we give it. Neuroplasticity can break old unsustainable habits by making new thoughts, patterns and ultimately new and more productive habits. As with everything, it is a matter of practice and repetition, the more you do something, the more your brain responds to support that activity and embeds it in your nervous system.
We were shown a video where brain synapses were being pruned away as a pattern of thought or behavior was literally unlearned and we saw how new brain synapses were created, primed and strengthened by retraining, by learning a new skill or habit. As the saying goes in neuroscience: “ what fires together, wires together” in other words: what you put your attention on, grows.
That same night, all of us students had to put it to the test and do something positive that we had never done before, observing how it felt in our body and in our mind and repeating the behavior, as we were literally going to create new neural connections and synapses ourselves. Our teacher sent us off with the words: ”Hug the unknown, we suffer from expectations”.“You may just have an incredible experience you always wanted but never had before”.
I decided to step out of my comfort zone, approaching and chatting to people I would normally never dare to approach as I, well lets just say for the better part of my life, I was very good at hiding myself away. So I did. I took the first step on that path, doing something new, creating and hard wiring new neural connections and in doing, with repetition over the following years, changed my brain chemistry.
Recently I had the pleasure of quite unexpectedly experiencing neuroplasticity again. Ever done those Louise Hay type of affirmation cards, where you find yourself standing in front of the mirror having to say a quote like “I am beautiful” for 24 times? But really sarcastically thinking “yeah right” “not really feeling this one”?
Well, whilst meeting Mrs. V from Mrs. V Society for the first time, she showed me her personally developed V shift affirmation cards. The instructions were: Shuffle the cards, pick a random card, read the affirmation on the card and add your own “first come to mind” sentence to the word to complete the sentence. The card I randomly picked said “I am Grateful because:” and a sentence immediately popped into my mind.
And there it was, as I was adding my OWN sentence, my own reason and emotion to complete the affirmation, for the first time I could actually feel being grateful. I could feel that despite all the good, bad and very ugly, I felt really grateful for all that had come my way.
As I was doing that, scientifically speaking, I was probably changing my internal chemical environment, creating happy hormones by boosting my Serotonin levels. All I know is that for the remainder of that day, it left me with a smile on my face, a warm feeling and with a deep sense of achievement and gratitude. Neuroplasticity at its simplest and neuroplasticity at its best.
The words of my Cranio teacher popped back into my mind and how right he had been: The brain is an organ that develops itself based on how its used and its experiences. It is an organ that is (re)programmable, whilst this is necessary for our survival, our growth, our development and ultimately our health.
Tinnitus is an internal noise or a hyperactivity in the central auditory system normally experienced as a ringing noise in the ears. It comes from within the person. In some cases it is temporary and goes away over time. Unfortunately for others the ringing noise can be constant and impacting their daily life. Tinnitus can be experienced in one or both ears. It can make different sounds and can vary in intensity. Tinnitus can be brought on by many different causes including dental trauma, loud music, TMJ (jaw problems), long-term work stress, trauma or anxiety. Tinnitus is much more widespread than generally known with around 25% of Americans and around 17 to 20 % of Australians, suffering from it.
Tinnitus is considered a Nervous disorder but has eluded medical treatment and scientific understanding so far. Initially, sufferers consult an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist, audiologist and/or a neurologist, in the majority of cases (80%) no known cause is found. If nothing specific is found, then perhaps initially medication is prescribed but thankfully more and more mindfulness meditation as a complementary therapy. Sufferers are often told by their doctors that not much can be done, to shift their focus, unscramble that picture, mask the sound and at best the brain will adapt and learn to live with it. However if we view Tinnitus not so much as a "hearing/ear" problem but a nervous system problem and a whole body reaction, we might be a step closer in bringing relief to Tinnitus sufferers. This calls for a treatment model that not only incorporates the whole physical body and the Craniosacral system of the physical body but also the mental and emotional body and this is exactly the strength of Craniosacral Therapy.
Craniosacral Therapy views Tinnitus as a signal where the adrenal flight and fight response seems to be manifested through the auditory system as noise in the ears, leaving a certain hyper vigilance, keeping the brain active. This leaves your system so sensitive that you actually hear your own internal noises like eg nerve impulses, structural movement and/or fluid movement, as well as the external noises. In my personal Craniosacral practice, Tinnitus clients, describe their ringing as: cicadas, kettle boiling, a high pitched dog whistle, the pinging of a microwave, humming of a fridge or as a high frequency. Often, but not always clients symptoms appeared in or around a major event in their life, as a one-off or related to an echo of past difficult experiences. In all circumstances I usually find, that whatever the trigger was for the tinnitus to occur, it usually is the last overwhelm of previous layering challenges to the clients long suffering system, that breaks the so called donkey's back.
Our brain continually scans our inner and outer world for threats. When any treats are detected the stress response automatically fires up. As you go through life the brain acquires expectations based on your experience and in particular negative one’s. When situations occur that are even remotely similar, the brain automatically applies its expectations to them, if it expects pain or loss or even just the treat of these, it pulses fear signals, creating hyper vigilance, keeping the brain active (Buddha's Brain-2009). Most of the time these seems to happen subconsciously as people are not aware of how their bodies respond in their day to day life, to stress or threats and how this can manifest as ringing in the brain.
A new study at the University of Illinois (July 2017) seems to validate this. Using functional MRI, this new study found that tinnitus is in the hearer's head - in the brain. They found that chronic tinnitus is associated with changes in certain networks in the brain. A tinnitus patients brain seems to be not truly at rest even when they are resting, as the brain stays more alert. This could also explain why sufferers feel tired more often.
I personally view Tinnitus more as a Syndrome than a condition as the whole central nervous system is on high alert and tinnitus is just one of the many side effects of this whole body reaction. Some clients may have a slight hearing loss but not all clients with hearing loss have tinnitus, some clients have neck and shoulder problems and then again some have TMJ issues but the common denominator seems to be (unconscious) anxious and/or stressful times and patterns lodged in the body. Some people may be cognitively aware off of this, some totally unaware and in all cases it is not been dealt with on a bodily level. I find looking at our evolutionary biological stress pathways and the structures involved around Tinnitus very insightful. Let me break it down: (Please view My blogs on Stress, TMJ and our 3 Brains for more in-depth background information on our biological pathways).
The strength of Craniosacral Therapy is that it addresses all of the above: working structurally around the auditory tube structures, the cranial nerves and can provide help in resting the brain, the meninges (brain tissue) and working on TMJ's, neck and shoulders.
UK based Julian Cowan Hill is an ex-Tinnitus sufferer. He found his cure in Craniosacral Therapy and has since become a CS practitioner himself. He has written a book about Tinnitus “From tyrant to friend" which I personally recommend. Handy practical little book, packed with information and a Wellbeing Matrix with levels and exercises to go through. He also has You Tube videos that people find helpful. Simon Baker (an ex DJ with hearing damage) is also an ex Tinnitus sufferer and has written many articles that people may find helpful and has also become a CST practitioner himself. A link to one of his articles: https://djmag.com/content/hearing-damage-djs-guide-preventing-tinnitus
My personal 5 step approach in treating Tinnitus:
Tinnitus treatments are about regular treatments rather than a one quick fix. It is a gradual process, as it is about regulating and rewiring the nervous system and brain, learning to switch off the whole central nervous system. Grooves and patterns are often hardwired and they take time to change and integrate, to build a new road. My advice would be that if you do suffer from Tinnitus, try Cranio earlier at the onset of your symptoms. Cranio is one of the best therapies around for settling the nervous system, treating TMJ, resting the brain and cranial nerves and clearing any unprocessed shock, becoming less hyperactive and if applicable uncovering any unconscious emotional conflict. My clients that develop the best results are the ones that don't expect to be just fixed but are prepared to put in the work as well by adopting a multi-disciplinary approach and new life style regimen through diet, meditation, exercise and most of all introspective work. For some clients, the ringing in the ear becomes less intrusive and they don’t focus on it anymore, some clients find the noise has backed off and even forget about it and some clients make a full recovery. As Julian Cowan Hill says: "The state of your nervous system is very changeable and reversible, as the nervous system is a fluid, constantly altering state of balance, when the right conditions come along it changes". He should know, he cured his Tinnitus after 16 years of suffering.
Tinnitus: From Tyrant to friend - how to let go of the ringing in your ears - Julian Cowan Hill - 2010
Tinnitus: Ringing in the Brain | Josef Rauschecker | TEDx (online - youtube)
Living with Tinnitus - sbs life - online www.sbs.com.au - the sound that comes from nowhere.
www.Neurosciencenews.com/tinnitus-attention-7378 (online) University of Illinois - "ringing in ears keeps brain more at attention and less at rest".
Buddha’s brain: the practical neuroscience of happiness, love and wisdom. Hanson, Rick 2009.
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