Roger James talks to therapist Tom Greenfield
When Tom Greenfield sees someone with a food sensitivity or food intolerance
for the first time he approaches them with the eyes and mind of a naturopath.
and decide, as with all new clients, whether to approach their problems on a
physical, mental/emotional or nutritional level, or some combination of these.
Not much doubt that diet will enter into his thinking in this kind of case, but,
as a craniosacral therapist, he has other weapons in his armoury besides nutritional
The case of Susan (not her real name) illustrates the complex way in which one’s
physical – and in other cases emotional – state interacts with diet
to produce health or disease. She is a woman who suffered from migraines for
years. When she gave birth in her thirties she noticed a definite worsening of
the intensity and frequency of attacks. Then again at the onset of the menopause
the migraines got worse still. She was getting two attacks a week and eventually
had to give up work. So bad was the associated vomiting that her husband sometimes
had to call a doctor in the night to administer an anti-nausea drug. She was
able to get relief from the pain by taking Imigran (brand name of the drug Sumatriptan)
but sometimes the effect of the drug wore off before the attack ended and if
she was vomiting she could not take the pill.
She went to see Tom Greenfield in the spring of 2003. A blood test showed that
she was blood type O, and on the basis of this he advised a diet free of dairy
products and wheat. She has followed this stringently ever since and it quickly
made a difference. She then looked for the trigger that was sometimes giving
her a migraine soon after meals and it turned out to be onions; the after-meal
attacks stopped altogether although she was sometimes waking up in pain. Tom
decided to recommend that the dietary approach should be supplemented with some
cranial therapy sessions, and Susan agreed to this. She had told him she thought
her neck was misaligned and one elbow joint was troubling her.
What is Cranial Sacral Therapy ?
A word of explanation is necessary here because those therapeutic first cousins,
cranial osteopathy and craniosacral therapy, are even now not very widely known.
Both derive from the work of a 20th Century American osteopath William Sutherland.
He postulated that the system formed by the brain and spinal cord, bathed and
cushioned in cerebro-spinal fluid and in turn surrounded by the dural membrane
lining the inside of the skull and the spine, was in a state of perpetual rhythmic
motion – a rhythm which could be felt by those with trained and sensitive
hands. He further found that by palpating this rhythm, the therapist could feel
restrictions, twists and pulls, and that by working with these he could help
the body to restore itself to health. He also found that the bones of the head,
far from being rigidly fused were capable of subtle movements one against another – a
movement driven by the rhythm already mentioned. Cranial work is used to treat
many conditions, from head and back pain to autism and emotional problems.
Susan had eight treatments between June and October. When I spoke
to her she said these sessions had been ‘absolutely brilliant’.
Her spine had been off centre and this had been corrected.
She remembered involuntary muscle
movements during the treatments, which Tom had explained as being the body
re-aligning itself. She also felt a deep relaxation. At the
time we spoke she had not had
a migraine for two weeks.
From Tom’s perspective, he saw the cranial treatment as helping to improve
Susan’s vitality and hence her general health. Specifically, he worked
on the celiac plexus which is a complex system of interconnected nerves in the
abdomen, operating a bit like an electronic processor, and controlling the gut.
It is, he explained, one of the few parts of the peripheral nervous system that
can ‘think for itself’. He worked too on Susan’s head, and
found that in time the occiput, the bone forming the back of the skull, began
to free itself up.
The relaxation was important too, as he sees most of us in this society being
in a constant state of adrenal stimulation, resulting from over-stimulation
of the sympathetic nervous system. And of course one of the many important
of the autonomic nervous system, of which the sympathetic nerves are a part,
is controlling the working of our digestions.
Was it the diet or the cranial treatment that had made Susan feel so much better?
Tom believes both played their part although other cases of food intolerance
might be better treated by dietary advice alone or cranial work alone. However
the combined approach works well for young children, from those just weaned
up to about 2 or 3 years, who were suffering from childhood eczema. In such
he advises leaving off all dairy products, but there is a tendency for this
to ‘slip’ – over
time the child starts having milk or dairy products again and the eczema returns
but using craniosacral treatment can raise the tolerance threshold.
compression at the base of the cranium, often caused by the head being pushed
down towards the spine during birth, will allow the whole system to function
properly and toxins can be eliminated normally and not through the skin via
Cranio sacral therapy can also help in cases of chronic sinus congestion. It
is a condition Tom often sees in people with blood type A. He says, ‘I
think most mucous membrane ‘catarrhal’ problems are diet-related,
but it can take a long time to clear the backlog, so to speak, through dietary
methods if someone needs to make major changes. Cranial treatment supports a
person’s ability to express their vitality. If the area of weakness appears
to be only nutritional then craniosacral therapy (CST) is not needed. But there
may have been bad eating and nutritional deficiency over many years, and then
CST may speed the process.’
He says his focus in this treatment is the tension in the falx cerebri, the
membrane dividing the two halves of the cerebral cortex, and also the ethmoid
rather small bone which forms part of the orbits of the eyes, the nasal cavity
and the floor of the cranium. To mention which is to make clear that the craniosacral
therapist is always very aware of the body’s structures as he works;
paradoxically, at the same time he is treating the whole person.
Tom regularly uses blood tests to assess the way our genetic make-up is influencing
how we are now. He calls them a window on to the genes. As an example relevant
to those with sinus congestion, a blood test can reveal whether the sufferer
is one of those who secrete blood antigens in their mucus or in the class who
do not. The former have their first line of defence against infection in the
mucus, the latter fight the immune fight further in – in the bloodstream – and
hence are more prone to sinus troubles.
Tom Greenfield practises at the Canterbury Osteopathic Clinic and can be contacted
on 01227 761000.
You can find out about craniosacral therapists in your area by phoning 07000
784 735, writing to the Craniosacral Therapy Association, 27 Old Gloucester
St, London, WC1N 3XX or visiting the website www.craniosacral.co.uk.
A register of naturopaths is kept by the GCRN: www.naturopathy.org.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org; 08707 456984.
Not all naturopaths do the kind of blood typing practised by Tom Greenfield.
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First Published in 2003
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