New Body Rhythm Identified due to New Research Capabilities

This article describes some of the basic information in the practice of CranioSacral Therapy, and how new research has proved that the CranioSacral Rhythmic Impulse has been scientifically validated as a third body rhythm.

CranioSacral Therapy is a unique type of Osteopathic Bodywork founded by John E. Upledger, DO (1932-2012). It has been part of holistic touch practices for many years. But there has been controversy and doubt about the practice. Until now, there has not been a definitive way to prove the part of the practice involves palpating and working with the CranioSacral Rhythmic Impulse (CRI). According to Fournier (2023), CranioSacral Therapy is done with a very light touch, and that has the ability to directly impact the overall nervous system of a human body. The light touch helps the client’s body to stay in a parasympathetic state, which fosters rest, digest, and repair of body functions. It also allows the body to release tissue restrictions, affecting the conscious memory and wisdom in each cell. It helps to balance the body, mind, and spirit aspects of the body.

The brain produces cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and its job is to protect, nourish, and cushion the brain and spinal cord. Because the skull is like a bone enclosed container, too much CSF could crush brain tissue. However, the wonderful part of this system includes a drain through the body’s jugular vein. There is a distinct cycle of filling and emptying of the CSF, which through a “pressurestat” model, moves this CSF in about 6-12 cycles per minute in most normal circumstances. This is called the craniosacral rhythm, or CranioSacral Rhythmic Impulse (CRI).

When a CranioSacral Therapist evaluates a client, the CRI can indicate if a client’s system is within healthy expected ranges, or if there are health issues present in that client’s body. Sensitive and highly trained CranioSacral Therapists can also pinpoint the area affected, because the rhythm will be different or absent in that area. A restriction in an area of the body then has the potential to impact the overall wellness of a client. As described by Rasmussen (2023), William G.Sutherland, DO. Dr. Sutherland and Dr. Andrew T. Still were some of the first practitioners to study these mechanisms, and Dr. Still is the founder of Osteopathic Medicine. Some of the key concepts of Dr. Still and validated by Dr. Upledger are found in holistic practices today. They are that the body is a dynamic and functioning unit, its function and structure have definite relationships, and the body tends to work toward homeostasis and balance by its own self-regulating system.

These early pioneers developed therapeutic techniques to correct abnormal cranial bone motions, and in those days, there was a lot of controversy about whether the skull bone joints, called sutures, were either closed, or would allow movement. As a new era of anatomy and morphology evolved, new technology and scientific methods corroborated the biology of sutures and their movements. Some of the controversies have been because the CRI has typically been evaluated only by palpation, which can differ between practitioners. However, this CRI is a body rhythm that is not from blood flow or like breathing rhythms. To help confirm that this rhythm is a true and distinct one, these two scientists developed a machine that was highly sensitive, enough to measure this CRI objectively (Rasmussen & Meulengracht, 2020). They measured the rhythmic movements of the arterial and respiratory mechanisms found in the brain, and then developed a way to objectively measure the presence of the CRI, the nature of its rhythm, and what a normative range of such a rhythm might look like. They also wanted to evaluate whether there were any measurable differences each study participant. The study undeniably proved in scientific terms, that the CRI is what practitioners already knew by their palpations. This distinct and separate third rhythm was different than the arterial and respiratory rhythms in the brain. There was a normative range in a population (n=50), and each individual also had their own dynamic range. This would further establish a basis for clinical and physiological studies of craniosacral function and dysfunction in humans. It also shows that scientists who persist in finding new ways to use objective data for holistic touch or other alternative practices, will influence greater understanding and eliminate some of the controversies of such modalities.

Fournier, R., OTR, CST-D. (2023, July 7). This is How Craniosacral Therapy helps lessen pain. Rasmussen, T. PhD, MSc, CST-D. (2023, February 6).

Brief Description of the Craniosacral System and its History. Rasmussen, T.K., & Meulengracht, K.C. (2020, October 13).

Direct measurement of the rhythmic motions of the human head identifies a third rhythm. Published by Elsevier Ltd. DOI:

Author bio:
Melody Rudolph is a student in the Certified Integrative Mental Health Coach Training Program at Nickerson Institute.  She is a Techniques Certified CranioSacral Therapist® with a long-standing private practice in holistic bodywork and wellness techniques. She has taught CranioSacral Therapy courses, Infant Massage Instruction®, T’ai Chi Chih®, Worksite Wellness, and published articles. She graduated with a BS in Criminal Justice-Human Services and holds Certificates in Substance Abuse Counseling and Domestic Violence Interventions. Based on her clients’ needs, she is changing her practice to emphasize more Mental Health Coaching with a specialization in trauma.

Phone number: 619-794-9002
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