Cranio-Sacral Therapy (CST) was born out of Osteopathy by Dr William Garner Sutherland in the early 1900’s, who examined the human skull for many years and concluded that the bones of the skull were capable of small movements (counter to the conventional understanding that the bones of the skull fused around the age of 25 and after which could not move). Furthermore, he found this movement occurred in all tissues of the body which he termed primary respiration.
Sutherland went on to find that obstruction of these bones to move freely also caused physical, emotional and cognitive disturbances. He found that the structures and the tissues of the body responded to a fundamental pulse in the cerebrospinal fluid (which bathes the brain and spinal cord). He called this the Breath of Life and surmised that by working with the potency of the Breath of Life, the practitioner could enhance their patient’s well-being and vitality.
An ancient Egyptian papyrus scroll dating to at least 1500 BCE, the Edwin Smith Papyrus, is believed to be the oldest known manuscript on trauma – specifically neurotrauma and recommended remedies for the treatment of skull fractures. The text is also the first to reference the word brain and to mention, what we now refer to as cerebrospinal fluid. It was not until the 18th century that CSF was accepted as being a normal constituent of the human. Before this time many physicians referred to the fluid as pneuma (spirit) or considered it to be a pathological sign. Cerebrospinal fluid flows from the head (cranium) to the base of the spine (sacrum), therefore the therapeutic practice was coined Cranio-Sacral Therapy by Dr John Upledger in the 1970s.