Author Topic: Craniosacral therapy - woo?  (Read 4094 times)

Dildo Argentino

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Craniosacral therapy - woo?
« on: November 13, 2014, 08:25:46 am »
Full disclosure: I've had 4 or 5 sessions with a qualified and certified practitioner. I would not describe it as massage, and it was not limited to the head. The sessions were very soothing, my posture improved and my breath became freer, and I even felt (as I tend to do after a good simple sports massage, or did after Alexander technique and Rolfing) that my eyes grew sharper. After a couple of days, the effects faded. One particularly weird thing: at the last session, she reached into my mouth (with sterile rubber gloves on) and gently manipulated my vomer. A bone I hadn't even known I had. It was an amazingly weird feeling. I'm going again at some point.

I realise that it could all be placebo effect, although I am quite critical, really, and while I have found these three techniques helpful, I have found others to be sometimes honest, sometimes malicious scams.

I have looked at two metastudies, one from 1999, and one from 1012. Both seem to suggest that there is no evidence that this form of treatment works rather than there is evidence that it doesn't work.

The theory behind craniosacral therapy is not particularly wooey. Given that a rhythmic (though daily, rather than more frequent) process of cranial fluid managed to be missed until 2012 (see Nigel's Neuroscience Nook), I think it is possible that the autonomous rhythm, pulsation of the craniospinal fluid that Osborne described is not mythical. I don't know if anyone has conducted studies on the degree of immobility of cranial sutures in living individuals, but I would be very interested to see any such research. If there is one thing I am sure about in this respect, it is that human beings are chaotic systems, i.e. some very tiny changes have massive consequences.

Another thing I am pretty sure about is that the effects of bad posture on the nerves passing through the neck can be massive. So if it improves posture, it could contribute to an increased sense of well-being simply by relieving chronic muscle tension in the neck, even if the autonomous craniosacral pulse turns out to be a myth.

I feel that Muscle Effect Therapy is somewhat similar. Neither of these are that much of a great deal... but sometimes a precise and light touch is necessary and sufficient.

These things resonate with my feeling that health and healing are concepts and activities not entirely within the remit of science, and perhaps they ought not to be, either. Responding to the hidden, unspoken, unspeakable needs of another asking for help has, I feel, an irreducable element of art to it.
Not too keen on rigor, myself - reminds me of mortis

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Re: Craniosacral therapy - woo?
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2014, 10:14:27 am »
Quote
These things resonate with my feeling that health and healing are concepts and activities not entirely within the remit of science, and perhaps they ought not to be, either. Responding to the hidden, unspoken, unspeakable needs of another asking for help has, I feel, an irreducable element of art to it.

The body is a closed-loop biological machine. It differs from a toaster or a pickup truck only in it's complexity and our understanding of it's operations. It is completely describable in scientific terms and, when it's finally described in it's entirety, it will be handed over to engineers and technicians. Art has nothing to do with it, aside from muddying the waters with pseudoscientific gobbledygook.
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Re: Craniosacral therapy - woo?
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2014, 11:50:23 am »
The theory behind craniosacral therapy is not particularly wooey.

Quote from: RationalWiki
Practitioners claim there are small, rhythmic motions of the cranial bones, which they attribute to cerebrospinal fluid pressure, or perhaps arterial pressure. The therapist places their hands on the patient's head and (apparently) tunes into the craniosacral rhythm, the regular flow of the cerebrospinal fluid, allowing cerebrospinal fluid to move through the spine more easily. They then lightly palpate the patient's body and focus on the communicated movements. After this, the theory becomes wildly inconsistent between different authorities and practitioners.

Given that a rhythmic (though daily, rather than more frequent) process of cranial fluid managed to be missed until 2012 (see Nigel's Neuroscience Nook), I think it is possible that the autonomous rhythm, pulsation of the craniospinal fluid that Osborne described is not mythical.

Abstract:
After having outlined the theories of cranial osteopathy (SUTHERLAND, KARNI, UPLEDGER, and, more recently, CLAUZADE and DARRAILLANS), the authors refute the latter point by point. "Primary respiration" is in fact a way of thinking, and the various bones making up the calvaria and base of the skull, which are solidly synostosed in the adult, are clearly incapable of the pretended rhythmic displacements "described" by the osteopaths. Moreover, the C.R.L., like any liquid, is incompressible and mildly pulsatile. Conversely, although the brain clearly shows rhythmic pulsations, which every neuro-surgeon notes every day, the latter are exclusively connected to the vascular system.

Dildo Argentino

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Re: Craniosacral therapy - woo?
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2014, 12:23:12 pm »
Pent: before I respond, what do you mean by closed loop machine?

LMNO: Thanks for those! Will check.
Not too keen on rigor, myself - reminds me of mortis

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Re: Craniosacral therapy - woo?
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2014, 01:20:27 pm »
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I've had 4 or 5 sessions with a qualified and certified practitioner

I swear, you'll know when I've gone totally stark staring evil as I'll open up a fucking certification centre for all kinds of shit like this.

It's got to be up there on the scale of evil, taking money of the uniformed to provide a worthless bit of paper certifying them as the Grand High Preist of whatever trendy bullshit is going. Then sending them forth to fleece others on the back of your "Qualification".


Fuck it, why wait?

I WILL CERTIFY ANYONE AS A OFFICIAL QUALIFIED PRACTITIONER OF WHATEVER BULLSHIT WOO YOU CARE TO NAME. ALL PRICES BEATEN, NO QUESTIONS ASKED. NO ANSWERS GIVEN. NO ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE OF YOUR BULLSHIT WOO REQUIRED, I CAN DEAL WITH ALL OF THAT FOR YOU.

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Re: Craniosacral therapy - woo?
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2014, 02:54:55 pm »
Quote
I've had 4 or 5 sessions with a qualified and certified practitioner

I swear, you'll know when I've gone totally stark staring evil as I'll open up a fucking certification centre for all kinds of shit like this.

It's got to be up there on the scale of evil, taking money of the uniformed to provide a worthless bit of paper certifying them as the Grand High Preist of whatever trendy bullshit is going. Then sending them forth to fleece others on the back of your "Qualification".


Fuck it, why wait?

I WILL CERTIFY ANYONE AS A OFFICIAL QUALIFIED PRACTITIONER OF WHATEVER BULLSHIT WOO YOU CARE TO NAME. ALL PRICES BEATEN, NO QUESTIONS ASKED. NO ANSWERS GIVEN. NO ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE OF YOUR BULLSHIT WOO REQUIRED, I CAN DEAL WITH ALL OF THAT FOR YOU.

Ask about our affiliate scheme.

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Re: Craniosacral therapy - woo?
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2014, 03:32:39 pm »
Both seem to suggest that there is no evidence that this form of treatment works rather than there is evidence that it doesn't work.

Bro, do you even science? What would "evidence that it doesn't work" look like, other than lack of evidence that it does work? WTF??  :lol: :lol: :lol: Please read that sentence again and tell me if you can figure out what's so horribly, horribly wrong with it.

I'm not saying that there are no benefits to craniosacral therapy. I think there are real, physical benefits to almost any kind of positive human touch. Massage is wonderful and beneficial in general.

There is no question that cerebrospinal fluid pulsates. This is known to be true. However, the lack of evidence that touching the head and neck can affect that pulsation is a lack of evidence.

Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


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Re: Craniosacral therapy - woo?
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2014, 03:34:58 pm »
Please do also note that the nightly washing of the brain is not merely something that "managed to be missed", but a discovery that is a product of now having the technology to look inside living brains. Being able to observe living processes is a huge advancement in biomedical research.
Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


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Re: Craniosacral therapy - woo?
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2014, 03:56:32 pm »
You know what? I think I see at least part of the problem here. It's related to the problem that Food Babe has, which is that many people lack a foundation in science, to the extent that it seems like a big, opaque mystery; that new discoveries mean that anything is possible, and that there are absolutes, like "Nitrites above certain intake levels are bad for you, therefore anything that contains nitrogen must be bad for you".

Science, from that perspective, seems like a big nebulous maybe.

But in reality, that is not at all how it works. It is very rare for a new discovery about the world to supplant old discoveries; instead, usually, new discoveries fit into and modify old discoveries, expanding the knowledge base we already have rather than contradicting it. This is why claims that seem to contradict our existing knowledge must be examined carefully and skeptically; as the saying goes, an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary evidence.

For the most part, there are two frontiers in scientific discovery; the macro frontier and the micro frontier. Craniosacral therapy is definitely not on the frontier of discovery at the macro level, as it contradicts our knowledge of the body on that scale. It is possible that it has effects on the micro level (beyond the known chemical benefits of friendly touch) but so far, there is no evidence to support that. If there are specific benefits, it is quite clear that they are not arising from the mechanism proposed by its practitioners, because that mechanism contradicts existing knowledge.

The fact that studies found no evidence that it has an effect makes further research highly unlikely. That's what those kinds of studies are for. The NIH, which is the largest funder of biomedical research in the world, is very interested in researching alternative medicine, and what that takes the form of is studies that first examine a method and look for efficacy. IF EFFICACY IS FOUND, there is then a basis for further research. This is why there is a lot of funded research into meditation, but not into homeopathy.

This is also why certain things remain stuck in the realm of woo, and will likely stay there forever. Because like the old saw goes, you know what doctors call alternative medicine that works?

Medicine.
Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


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Re: Craniosacral therapy - woo?
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2014, 04:03:29 pm »
Both seem to suggest that there is no evidence that this form of treatment works rather than there is evidence that it doesn't work.

And this is why you'll always be a sucker for witchdoctors.

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Re: Craniosacral therapy - woo?
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2014, 04:03:38 pm »
Both seem to suggest that there is no evidence that this form of treatment works rather than there is evidence that it doesn't work.

Bro, do you even science? What would "evidence that it doesn't work" look like, other than lack of evidence that it does work? WTF??  :lol: :lol: :lol: Please read that sentence again and tell me if you can figure out what's so horribly, horribly wrong with it.

I honestly think that Holist would get a lot out of the LessWrong sequences.  Not being sarcastic, I think they would help sharpen up some of his thinking on subjects like this, and help him approach these things in a more systematic and rigourous fashion.  Plus I think the overall topics and style of writing might appeal.

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Re: Craniosacral therapy - woo?
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2014, 04:05:03 pm »
Basically, nobody is going to give a million dollars to a researcher who wants to do additional research into something that previous studies have found no effect for.

It's sort of like someone trying to sell you a car that won't start. A couple of previous buyers brought mechanics around to look under the hood, and both times the mechanics said "there's no engine". Are you going to buy the car on the premise that maybe there really IS an engine? After all, just because the previous two mechanics said there is no engine doesn't mean that there is for sure no engine.
Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


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Re: Craniosacral therapy - woo?
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2014, 04:06:23 pm »
Both seem to suggest that there is no evidence that this form of treatment works rather than there is evidence that it doesn't work.

Bro, do you even science? What would "evidence that it doesn't work" look like, other than lack of evidence that it does work? WTF??  :lol: :lol: :lol: Please read that sentence again and tell me if you can figure out what's so horribly, horribly wrong with it.

I honestly think that Holist would get a lot out of the LessWrong sequences.  Not being sarcastic, I think they would help sharpen up some of his thinking on subjects like this, and help him approach these things in a more systematic and rigourous fashion.  Plus I think the overall topics and style of writing might appeal.

I think that is a very, very good idea.

It might help him with the "lack of evidence for does not equal evidence against" line of reasoning, which is true in some cases and false in others.
Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


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Re: Craniosacral therapy - woo?
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2014, 04:14:28 pm »
It is the difference between "hey, nobody has looked into this, I wonder if there's an effect?" and "people have looked into this in at least a couple of soundly-designed studies and found no effect". That right there gives you the branch point for two possibilities, one of which is "maybe" and the other one of which is "probably not".

I really wish that both statistics and chemistry were taught to all children starting at around age seven or eight. Probability and atomic interactions are a fundamental part of our evolving communication but we aren't usually introduced to them until our ways of thinking are fairly concrete, and I think that's why so many people struggle to understand the very basics that are vital to understanding the world around us.
Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


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Re: Craniosacral therapy - woo?
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2014, 04:30:39 pm »
Pent: before I respond, what do you mean by closed loop machine?

What I was getting at was there's nothing going on in biology beyond the system itself. "Art" has no fucking place in it. It's hard science and any stuff that isn't hard science will be once there's been more research.

I'm a massive fan of the placebo effect, btw, and I'd love to hear of someone keying into that particular psychological feedback mechanism minus the hoodwinking thing but, until they do, it's a massive unpatched exploit for woo peddlars to fill with whatever artistic bullshit they damn well please. This is disingenuous because the effect of crystals and reiki and fucking - insert gobshite here - is limited to the gullible.
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