A core concept of CST is described as the inherent motility of the CSF.4 This motility is based on the interactions between the cranial volume of arterial and capillary blood and the CSF. Another core concept of CST is the theory of mobility of the cranial bones. Depending on the expert source, cranial suture fusion occurs anywhere from early adolescence to middle age.5,6

The skilled CST practitioner places fingertips along the sutures of the parietal bones and focuses on the subtle pressure variances. By exerting soft touch, the provider “balances” the pulsing and shifting along these areas.

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In two literature reviews, seven studies focusing on CST met inclusion criteria; only six of those were actual randomized, controlled trials.2,7

Both sets of reviewers noted an overall poor quality to the studies due to flawed design, low numbers of participants, lack of blinding, and other statistical impairments.

In one double-blinded study of 84 patients with fibromyalgia, the participants were randomized to either two CST sessions per week for 25 weeks or two weekly sham ultrasound sessions per week for 25 weeks.8

Outcomes measured were anxiety, pain, sleep quality, depression, and quality of life at 6 and 12 months. At 6 months, significant improvements in most areas were seen in the experimental group compared with the control group, with only improvement in sleep quality remaining at 12 months.

In a colic study, scientists examined 28 infants with the condition who had been randomized to either one 30-minute session of CST weekly for 4 weeks or no treatment.9 The CST infants exhibited a 63% reduction in crying compared with 23% among the untreated infants, and an 11% improvement in sleep duration compared with 2% among the untreated infants.

In an evidence review designed to assess CST as a treatment for autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorder, the researchers ultimately found “insufficient evidence and a lack of consensus to make a recommendation on using [CST] to improve the behavior of children with autism and sensory processing disorder.”10

Anecdotal reviews of the use of CST for conditions such as cancer have shown potential for improving relaxation and rest in some patients.1