The nerve cells in your brain have been mapped, microscopically photographed, electrically and chemically categorized, and studied in every possible way by generations of neuroscientists. This research is the basis for much of what we know about brain function.
But we can’t understand the neurons without taking into account their environment. As much as, or even more than, any other cell type, neurons are exquisitely sensitive to their local conditions. Their health, resilience, and integrated function depend upon neighboring cells (the glia) as well as the fluids that bathe the neurons and glia, the cerebrospinal fluid.
Cerebrospinal fluid carries nutrients to these cells and drains toxins away from them. In addition to controlling the chemicals in cerebrospinal fluid, the body also needs a mechanism to regulate its volume and pressure.
Researchers at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis devised a technique to track the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in rodents. They were able to manipulate the pattern of flow and correlate alterations in cerebrospinal fluid flow with developmental brain abnormalities that mimic some of the serious neurodevelopmental diseases seen in humans.
This research gives me greater insight into the possible therapeutic mechanisms of craniosacral harmonics, one of the manual therapy techniques I use. Craniosacral harmonics uses very light, sustained traction of the connective tissues overlying the skull. As I understand it, this method could improve the springiness of the sutural joints between the bones of the skull, and thus allow freer flow of cerebrospinal fluid and better regulation of intracranial pressure. Improvement in brain function would be a natural consequence.
But I’m not running a research laboratory, so there may be some issues I may never come to understand as well as I’d like.