Cranial Base Compression

Volume: 9
Issue: 3
March 15, 2014
Cranial Base Compression

Dear Colleagues:

This month I plan to discuss a “hidden” interference field – a difficult one to find and even more difficult one to treat using conventional neural therapy techniques (procaine injections or energetic treatments).To avoid misunderstanding, I want to be clear about my definition of interference field: I am proposing “a focus of nervous system irritation with the potential to create significant pathophysiological effects”. (This definition is slightly different from the one used in my book where the “focus” is one of “electrophysiological instability”.)  I am making this change for three reasons:  

  1. “Electrophysiological instability” has largely been a theoretical concept based on procaine’s membrane-stabilizing effect.
  2. Somatic dysfunction, as outlined in my book (page 25) acts very much as  interference fields do and also responds to procaine injections, but does not have electrophysiological instability in the sense that a scar or tooth interference field does.
  3. Physicians using autonomic response testing know that interference fields can be found “off the body” and treated successfully using energetic devices such as the Tenscam.  

This last phenomenon brings up the possibility that interference fields may not be mediated by the nervous system alone. See Volume 7, No 11 (2012) of my newsletter archive for a discussion of this.

So where can this hidden interference field be found?  Actually there is more than one possibility, but today I will describe one that has been recognized in osteopathy for many years, i.e. a cranial base compression.   Cranial base compression is a somatic dysfunction of the cranial base, usually resulting from head trauma.  This concept will likely be foreign to those who do not recognize that the skull is a moving structure and that disturbance of this innate capacity for movement can have serious consequences.  The cranial base is in close proximity to the brain stem, mid brain and pituitary gland and has important cranial nerves passing through it.  In addition, kinesiological reflexes connect skull posture and movement with the rest of the body, so that cranial somatic dysfunction can disturb mechanics anywhere in the body.  Detection of cranial somatic dysfunction and its manual treatment is the art of cranial osteopathy.   (Craniosacral therapy is a simpler variant.) 

From the neural therapist’s point of view, cranial base compression is a common cause of blocked autonomic regulation.

Unfortunately cranial osteopathy is a skill requiring a considerable investment of effort and time to master.  Yet cranial base compression is not rare and may have effects that defeat the best efforts of the most skilled neural therapists.  My advice until recently is that all patients with musculoskeletal and other problems beginning after a significant head injury (even many years before) should be referred for assessment to a cranial osteopath or skilled craniosacral therapist.

Recently I have learned of an alternative method, demonstrated to those attending the Mid-winter neural therapy retreat by David Watson MD of Vancouver, British Columbia. His technique derives from Applied Kinesiology but is not part of traditional Applied Kinesiology training. He was taught this by Don Grant DC of Burnaby, BC who learned it from “an old-time osteopath”. 

Here is Dr. Watson’s description:

With the patient lying supine on an examining table, the physician tests the strength of the hip abductors and shoulder adductors.  If weakness is found in all 4 extremities, the patient most likely has a cranial somatic dysfunction.  When testing the upper limbs the elbows must be kept straight. When testing the hip abductors a good deal of force may be needed to detect weakness. (Under normal circumstances it should not be possible to overpower the hip abductors.)    

To confirm somatic dysfunction involving the sphenoid, the patient places his or her 2nd and 3rd fingertips on the mastoid and the 4th and 5th fingers of the same hand on the wing of the sphenoid (anterior temple). Either side will do.  This should make the hip adductors go strong.  If so, cranial base compression is likely present. If the hip adductors do not go strong, somatic dysfunction is probably present elsewhere, (but searching for other sources is beyond the scope of this description).

To treat cranial base compression, the physician stands at the head of the table placing his or her thenar eminences on the patient’s wings of the sphenoid and his or her 2nd and 3rd fingers on the mastoid processes.  The sphenoid and mastoid processes are then slowly spread apart using a fair amount of force.  The sphenoids go up and the mastoids go down. The treatment is complete when a “melting away” release is felt.  The hip abductors are then retested for strength.  If the strength of the hip abductors is restored, treatment has been successful.

Dr Watson warns that other cranial somatic dysfunctions can also cause weakness of the extremities in a similar way and that they require other treatment approaches.  However this cranial somatic dysfunction is one of the more common and has the greatest impact on the musculoskeletal system and the patient’s health.

My experience is that the “crown of thorns” technique is not a substitute for manual treatment of cranial somatic dysfunction, although it may provide some benefit and can even be used as an adjunct to cranial manipulation.  I believe that the technique shown us by Dr Watson is a significant contribution to the methods that the neural therapist has available for optimizing function of the autonomic nervous system. 

Contact NAANT

Tell Us How We Can Help


Connecting you to the world of neural therapy and professionals in the practice

Enjoy Membership




Choose Your $100 Membership

We offer three $100 Basic Memberships

Student / Resident

$ 100 per year
  • Reduced Cost
  • NOT Included in Our Provider Search Directory
  • Upgradeable


$ 100 per year
  • Same Benefits as a Regular Member
  • For Healthcare Providers Outside the US, Canada and Mexico


$ 100 per year
  • NOT Included in Our Provider Search Directory
  • Open to all retired practitioners