CSTA Research 2019 update

A number of studies have been published worldwide demonstrating how clients have benefited from receiving Craniosacral Therapy treatments. This page summarises those studies including one carried out by a CSTA member at the Warwick University Medical School. It also includes a brief summary of CSTA’s current research strategy.

CSTA decided 3 years ago to fund one of its members though a series of 3 research degrees (Masters by Research, MPhil and PhD) to underpin its research strategy. The member selected, Nicola Brough, submitted her Masters thesis – a summary of which was published in the autumn 2012 edition of Fulcrum – during the summer, this has now been published in a peer reviewed journal:

Exploring clients’ experiences of craniosacral therapy: A qualitative study (2012)

European Journal of Integrative Medicine, Volume 5, Issue 6, December 2013, Page 575

Her work included 3 clients suffering acquired brain injury.
The examiners (including her external examiner) were so impressed by the quality of the thesis, that she was awarded an MPhil degree (Masters of Philosophy), a stage higher than the research degree for which she submitted her thesis. The excellence of Nicola’s work was subsequently demonstrated by the recent award of a Chancellor’s scholarship providing substantial funding for her PhD which will also continue to be sponsored by CSTA.

Nicola’s research shows that the outcome measures required for CST need to capture aspects of the whole person to be effective, including body, mind and spirit. There is currently no such outcome measure: hence the decision for CSTA to fund the designing, testing and validation of a CST specific measure as its core research strategy. This involves Nicola undertaking a PhD funded by CSTA at the Warwick Medical School, Warwick University, starting in the autumn.

The thesis is available to members in the Research section, under “Guidance”, in the Members Area with a link enabling members to quote from it. Members interested in either carrying out their own research or collaborating with other organisations to do so need not wait for this instrument to become available. Advice on setting up such projects is in the Research section, under “Guidance”, in the Members Area.

Research References

Members have identified a number of studies that, taken together, provide a glimpse of how effective craniosacral therapy and cranial osteopathy can be.

Children and CST

Amiel-Tison C, Soyez-Papiernik E. Cranial osteopathy as a complementary treatment of postural plagiocephaly. Archives de Pédiatrie. 2008;15 Suppl 1;S24-30.

Cozzolino V, La Mola E, Ciardelli F, et al. Impact of OMT on reducing length of stay in a population of pre-term infants. International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine.2010;13(3):119

Duncan B, McDonough-Means S, Worden K, Schnyer R, Andrews J, Meaney FJ. Effectiveness of osteopathy in the cranial field and myofascial release versus acupuncture as complementary treatment for children with spastic cerebral palsy: a pilot study. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2008;108:559–570

Gillespie BR. Case study in paediatric asthma: the corrective aspect of craniosacral fascial therapy. Explore (NY). 2008;4:48-51.

Gillespie BR. Case study in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: the corrective aspect of craniosacral fascial therapy. Explore (NY). 2009;5:296-8

Hayden C, Mullinger B. A preliminary assessment of the impact of cranial osteopathy for the relief of infantile colic. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.2006;12:83-90.

Kotzampaltiris PV, Chou KJ, Wall SP, Crain EF. The cranial rhythmic impulse and excessive crying of infancy. J Alt Comp Med. 2009;15:341–345

Lim KW. Infantile colic: A critical appraisal of the literature from an osteopathic perspective. International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine. 2006;9:94-102.

Lucassen PLBJ, Assendelft WJJ, van Eijk JThM, et al. Systematic review of the occurrence of infantile colic in the community. Archives of Disease in Childhood.2001;84:398-403

Lucassen P. Colic in infants. Clinical Evidence. 2010;02:309 Madeline LA, Elster AD. Suture closure in the human chondrocranium: CT assessment. Radiology. 1995 ;196:747-756

Mills MV, Henley CE, Barnes LL, et al. The use of osteopathic manipulative treatment as adjuvant therapy in children with recurrent acute otitis media. Archives of Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine. 2003:157(9):861-6.

Sergueef N, Nelson KE, Glonek T. Palpatory diagnosis of plagiocephaly. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 2006;12(2):101-10.

Steele KM, Viola J, Burns E et al. Brief report of a clinical trial on the duration of middle ear effusion in young children using a standardised osteopathic manipulative medicine protocol. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. 2010;110(5):278-84

Wahl RA, Aldous MB, Worden KA et al. Echinacea purpurea and osteopathic manipulative treatment in children with recurrent otitis media: a randomised controlled trial. BMC Complementary Medicine. 2008;8:56

Wyatt K, Edwards V, Franck L, et al. Cranial osteopathy for children with cerebral palsy: a randomised controlled trial. Archives of Disease in Childhood. 2011 Jun;96(6):505-12. Epub 2011 Feb 24.

Vandenplas Y, Denayer E, Vandenbossche T, et al. Osteopathy may decrease obstructive apnea in infants: a pilot study. Osteopathic Medicine in Primary care.

Vohra S, Johnston BC, Cramer K, et al. Adverse events associated with pediatric spinal manipulation: a systematic review. Pediatrics. 2007;119(1):e275-83.

CST Technique

Christine DC. Temporal bone misalginment and motion asymmetry as a cause of vertigo: the craniosacral model. Alter Ther Health Med. 2009;15:38–42

Degenhardt BF, Kuchera ML. Osteopathic evaluation and manipulative treatment in reducing the morbidity of otitis media: a pilot study. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. 2006;106(6):327-324.

Drengler KE, King HH. Interexaminer reliability of palpatory diagnosis of the cranium. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. 1998;98:387

Gard G. An investigation into the regulation of intra-cranial pressure and its influence upon the surrounding cranial bones. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2009;13:246–251

Green C et al. A systematic review of craniosacral therapy: biological plausibility, assessment reliability and clinical effectiveness. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 1999; 7(4):201-7)

Hanten WP, Dawson DD, Iwata M, et al. Craniosacral rhythm: reliability and relationships with cardiac and respiratory rates. Journal of Orthopaedics and Sports Physical Therapy. 1998;27;213-218

Hartman SE. Cranial osteopathy: its fate seems clear. Chiropractic & Osteopathy. 2006, 14:10 , 2006

Hartman SE, Norton JM. Interexaminer reliability and cranial osteopathy. The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine. 2002;6(1):23-34

Melsen B. Time and mode of closure of the spheno-occipital synchondrosis determined on human autopsy material. Acta Anatomica. 1972;83:112-118

Upledger JE. The reproducibility of craniosacral examination findings: a statistical analysis. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. 1977;76:890-899. 2008;2:8.

Nelson KE, Sergueef N, Lipinski CM, et al. Cranial rhythmic impulse related to the Traube-Hering-Mayer oscillation: comparing laser-Doppler flowmetry and palpation.Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. 2001. Mar;101(3):163-73.

Norton JM. A challenge to the concept of craniosacral interaction. American Academy of Osteopathy Journal. 1996;6(4):15-21

Okomoto K, It J, Tokiguchi S, et al. High-resolution CT findings in the development of the sphenooccipital synchondrosis. American Journal of Neuroradiology.1996;17:117-120

Pick MG (1994) A preliminary single case magnetic resonance imaging investigation into maxillary frontal-parietal manipulation and its short term effect upon the intracranial structures of an adult human brain. J Manipulative Physil Ther 17: 168-73

Rogers JS, Witt PL, Gross MT, et al. Simultaneous palpation of the craniosacral rate at the head and feet: intrarater and interrater reliability and rate comparisons.Physical Therapy. 1998;78:1175-1185

Sahni D, Jit I, Neelam A, et al. Time of fusion of the basisphenoid with the basilar part of the occipital bone in northwest Indian subjects. Forensic Science International. 1998;98:41-45

Sergueef N, Nelson KE, Glonek T. The effect of cranial manipulation on the Traube-Hering-Mayer oscillation as measured by laser-Doppler flowmetry. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 2002;8(6):74-6

Moran RW, Gibbons P. Intraexaminer and interexaminer reliability for palpation of the cranial rhythmic impulse at the head and sacrum. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 2001;24(3):183-90.

Moskalenko IuE, Vainshtein GB, Riabchikova NA, et al. Interhemisphere asymmetry of the CSF dynamics and biomechanical properties of the skull. Ross Fiziol Zh Im I M Sechenova. 2010;96(10):1005-13.

Nelson KE, Sergueef N, Glonek T. Recording the rate of the cranial rhythmic impulse. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. 2006;106(6):332

Wirth-Patullo V, Hayes KW. Interrater reliability of craniosacral rate measurements and their relationship with subjects’ and examiners’ heart and respiratory measurements. Physical Therapy. 1994;74:909-920-.

Effectiveness of CST

Arnadottir TS, Sigurdardottir AK, Is craniosacral therapy effective for migraine? Tested with HIT-6 Questionnaire, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice (2012),dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2012.09.003
B Isbell and S Carroll (2007) The effectiveness of craniosacral treatment Fulcrum issue 41: 2-5. Also docs.craniosacral.co.uk/12

Curtis P, Gaylord SA, Fauort KR, Coble R, Suchindran C, Coeytaux RR, et al. (2011), Credibility of low-strength static magnet therapy as an attention control intervention for a randomized controlled study of craniosacral therapy for migraine headaches. J Altern Complement Med. 17:711e21.

Harrison RE, Page J Multipractitioner Upledger Craniosacral Therapy: Descriptive outcome study 2007 – 2008. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.Volume 17. Issue 1 2011: 13 – 17.

Heidermarie Haller, Holger Cramer, Romy Lauche et al (2013) Craniosacral Therapy in Chronic Neck Pain: a randomised sham-controlled trial.www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/study/NCT01526447

Jäkel A, von Hauenschild P. A systematic review to evaluate the clinical benefits of craniosacral therapy. Complement Ther Med (2012),dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2012.07.009

Licciardone JC, Gamber R, Cardarelli K. Patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes associated with osteopathic manipulative treatment. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2002;102:13–21

Licciardone JC, Herron KM. Characteristics, satisfaction and perceptions of patients receiving ambulatory healthcare from osteopathic physicians: a comparative national survey. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2001;101:374–386

CST and Neurology

Castro-Sanchez A.M, Guillermo A Matara´ n-Pen˜ arrocha, Labraca N.A, Quesada-Rubio J.M, Granero-Molina J Moreno-Lorenzo C. A randomized controlled trial investigating the effects of craniosacral therapy on pain and heart rate variability in fibromyalgia patients. Clinical Rehabilitation. 2011; 25: 25–35

Gardner L. A., Hart L.K., & Zimmerman, M. B. “Craniosacral Still Point Technique Exploring its Effects in individuals with Dementia”. Journal of Gerontological Nursing. (2008). Vol 34. No. 3

Greenman PE, McPartland JM. Cranial findings and iatrogenesis from craniosacral manipulation in patients with traumatic brain syndrome. J Am Osteopath Assoc.1995; 95(3):182-188.

Lancaster DG, Crow WT. Osteopathic manipulative treatment of a 26 year old woman with Bell’s palsy. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2006;106:285-9

Milnes K, Moran RW. Physiological effects of a CV4 cranial osteopathic technique on autonomic nervous system function: A preliminary investigation. International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine. 2007;10(1):8-17 41

Raviv G, Shefi S, Nizani D, Achiron A Effect of craniosacral therapy on lower urinary tract signs and symptoms in multiple sclerosis. Complement Therapy Clinical Practise. 2009 May;15(2): 72-5.


Leach J. Osteopathic support for a survivor of gastric cancer: A case report. International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine. 2008;11:106-11

Mehi-Madrona L, Kigler B, Silverman S, Lynton H, Merrell W, “The impact of acupuncture and craniosacral therapy interventions on clinical outcomes in adults with asthma”. Explore (NY). 2007 Jan-Feb; 3(1) :28-36 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17234566/.

Mulcahy J, Vaughan B, Boadle J, Klas D, Rickson C, Woodman L. Item development for a questionnaire investigating patient self reported perception, satisfaction and outcomes of a single osteopathy in the cranial field (OCF) treatment. International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine. 2013;16(2):81-98.

Vohra S, Feldman K, Johnston B, et al. Integrating complementary and alternative medicine into academic medical centers: experience and perceptions of nine leading centers in North America. BMC Health Services Research. 2005; 5:78.

Case histories reported by Journalists

This is what is known as anecdotal evidence, being specific to that client and that therapist and as such cannot be generalised to the population as a whole. Such case studies are of value in providing positive evidence and giving a sense of how effective CST treatments can be should larger scale trials be proven to support such effects.

Literature Searching

Below are useful links for literature searching.

National Council for Osteopathic Research – www.brighton.ac.uk/ncor/
PubMed – www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/
The Medical Research Council – www.mrc.ac.uk/Ourresearch/index.htm
The Cochrane Collaboration – Complementary Medicine www2.cochrane.org/reviews/en/subtopics/22.html
Science Direct Database www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/15508307/
If you have any research funding suggestions or any other comments please email the Research Group Chairman at hughstandishharrison@hotmail.com.

CSTA Research Group
Latest Revision: February 2019

In 2017 CSTA member, Nicola Brough, was awarded a PhD from Warwick Medical School, Division of Health Sciences for her research into CST outcomes.

Nicola’s research began with a Masters by Research, funded by the CSTA, for which she was awarded an MPhil for outstanding work. Her thesis, Clients’ Experiences of Craniosacral Therapy: A Qualitative Study (2012), explored 29 participants’ experiences of CST and outcomes they attributed to having had CST. This was the first qualitative study involving CST and the findings have been published in the following paper:-

Brough, N. et al (2015) Perspectives on the effects and mechanisms of craniosacral therapy: A qualitative study of users’ views. European Journal of Integrative Medicine. Volume 7: Issue 2, pg. 172-183

For her PhD Nicola developed and evaluated The 25-item Warwick Holistic Health Questionnaire (“WHHQ”), which assesses changes in the health and wellbeing of people having CST. Identifying outcomes that are important to clients is essential in holistic care. The WHHQ was developed with input from CST users and practitioners, capturing health gains that users attribute to CST. It incorporates holistic statements and represents new concepts in healthcare evaluation, such as self-agency and self-care. The research was funded by a University of Warwick Chancellor’s Scholarship Award and the CSTA.