A brand name medication for migraine headaches has just been found to increase the risk for birth defects in babies born to pregnant mothers who are taking it.
The Food and Drug Administration have said new data shows the drug, sold generically and as Johnson & Johnson’s Topamax, can cause cleft lips or cleft palate deformities.
FDA’s Russell Katz, who heads the agency’s Division of Neurology Products, said doctors should think carefully before prescribing the drug to women and that “alternative medications that have a lower risk of birth defects should be considered.”
One wonders whether, in that case, Mr Katz, has considered the myriad of alternative therapies which may be able to help those who suffer from migraines?
One of those is cranio-sacral therapy (sometimes referred to as craniosacral or cranial osteopathy) and it is an alternative form of medicine which is often also used as a complementary medicine to other therapies, such as massage and chiropractics.
What is cranio-sacral therapy?
Cranio-sacral therapy was developed by an American osteopath, named Dr. William Sutherland, in the early 1900s. Whilst studying osteopathy, it struck him that the bones in our skulls were actually able to move and that these movements were directly related to our physical, mental and emotional health.
It was believed that when these bones are restricted in their movement, it affects our body’s natural ability for self-healing and in turn can lead to deeper problems both physically and mentally.
Cranio-sacral therapy is performed on a person who is fully clothed and usually lying down, face up. The therapy will last about an hour and begins with the therapist gently placing their hands on the body in an attempt to ‘tune in’ to the body and its workings and to analyse the cranial rhythm.
The therapist will then attempt to change the cranial rhythm, usually resulting in a feeling of deep relaxation. Further sessions are usually advised, during which the relaxation will occur again, in addition to the release of tension which extends beyond the therapy session.
Is cranio-sacral therapy an effective form of therapy?
There are a number of criticisms with regard to the effectiveness of cranio-sacral therapy, which dispute the background theory of the therapy and also the practice of the therapy.
These criticisms include the fact that there is no scientific evidence for the existence of ‘cranial bone movement’ as stated by Dr. Sutherland. There is also no evidence to suggest that the body has a ‘cranial rhythm’ and that this is in any way related to disease and our general health.
However, anecdotal evidence is in its favour and so it may just be a case of something working for which science has yet to find out why. In any case, there are generally no side effects with cranio-sacral therapy; only a very small proportion of people ever experience any.
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