I am a practitioner of Reiki and Craniosacral therapy, helping fatigue (e.g. M.E.), chronic (and otherwise) pain, immune system issues, insomnia, anxiety, stress, injuries, trauma, grief, depression, fibromyalgia, and other conditions. I believe that self help and taking control of your own recovery or condition management can be extremely important and to this end will post tips and useful information. More information on Craniosacral Therapy can be found on the Association Website here.
Can Reiki or Craniosacral therapy help fatigue and pain? Plus tip on stimulating your own vagus nerve - Updated 28th Nov 2020
Sometimes people ask me if Reiki or Craniosacral Therapy will help their particular condition, so today I wanted to address, 'Can Reiki or Craniosacral therapy help with fatigue and pain?' The short answer to this is yes and this has been backed up by research which I have summarised or signposted at the end of this article.
Part of the reason is covered by my previous article below on resourcing and pacing, as they improve or work with the body's resilience. Both therapies help the body to relax and so allow the body's healing mechanisms to work more effectively.
In conditions involving chronic pain, nerves can be stuck on 'pain on' with too many nerve gateways open. This results in pain signals being sent continuously and the body becoming extra efficient at sending that signal, with parts of the brain changing to facilitate this. Techniques in Craniosacral Therapy can be used in order to close these gateways and allow the nerves and brain responses to begin normallizing.
The body's nervous system can be divided into two categories, the sympathetic and parasympathetic.
The entire sympathetic nervous system can be activated during moments of stress in the fight or flight response, as your body is readied to take action from some sort of threat. The adrenal gland pumps out epinephrine, along with other neural or hormonal responses. The heart beats faster, muscles and lungs are readied, even the eyes and hairs on the skin can be primed. Localised over-stressing of muscles or organs, chronic stress, depression and anxiety can result if this system is stimulated too much of the time or if the 'winding down' parasympathetic nervous system is not functioning correctly.
So the parasympathetic nervous system is important in winding down after a stressful event and reactivating the digestive system. This system primarily consistents of the vagus nerve and the spinal lumbar nerves. The vagus nerve (shown in the image above) is sometimes called the wanderer and visits much of the body de-activating the fight or flight response and bringing relaxation when stimulated. The vagus nerve can be intentionally stimulated during a Craniosacral Therapy treatment or you can stimulate your own vagus nerve by placing one hand at the top back of your neck and one at the front, top of the chest (as the vagus nerve visits these two places). A high tech option to stimulate the vagus nerve was developed in 2013/2014 in order to fight depression and anxiety by a team of neuroscientists, doctors, ultrasound and computer software scientists, see the depression alliance.
We can also suffer from referred pain when something goes wrong in an area of the spine and this is causing pain elsewhere in the body, so addressing the area in the spine where the pain originates can bring relief. Lastly there can be too much unhelpful inflammation, which can beimproved by reducing the 'activation' involved.
Reiki treatments don't normally relate to anatomy but usually focus on fairly abstract intentions like 'for the greatest good' for the client, to remove blockages, smooth energy lines, build energy or to work on a particular issue for the client. I would conjecture that as Reiki treatments can reduce pain, similar effects maybe occurring within Reiki treatments.
Reiki research can be found through the Reiki Research Centre website :-
'The results from this large-scale multisite effectiveness trial suggest that a single session of Reiki improves multiple variables related to physical and psychological health.'
Various articles on Craniosacral Therapy research can be accessed from the Craniosacral Therapy Association Website including studies on fibromyalgia, lower back pain, neck pain, quality of life, migraine and the following studies on general pain...
In relating to chronic pain, a systematic review in 2019 suggested “significant and robust effects of CST on pain and function, which are not exclusively explainable by placebo responses or effects due to non-specific treatment mechanisms”.
Relating to general pain, a systematic review (2012) found that “pain and quality of life/general well-being can be improved by the use of craniosacral therapy”.
Pacing and Resourcing - 21st Jan 2020
As a practitioner of Reiki and Craniosacral therapy, helping fatigue (e.g. M.E.), insomnia, anxiety, stress, injuries, trauma, grief, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic (and otherwise) pain and many other conditions, I find that pacing can be an extremely valuable tool and within that resourcing.
The graphs below show a person's activation due to stress over a day. The person in graph 2 has been able to recover somewhat after each stressful event so that the peak stress of the day is much lower and they are likely to have a much better night’s sleep and calmer day tomorrow. There are things we can do to improve our ability to recover from stressful events such as Meditation, Craniosacral Therapy and Reiki. Just taking a moment after each event can also be really helpful, perhaps focus on your breathing or do a little resourcing (at its most simplistic this is thinking of something that makes you feel good- it can be a place, sound, smell).
The graphs describe the stress for a certain day although a similar effect can be seen with the build up of pain over a day. For this the events would involve occurrences that bring on pain and resourcing can also be used to help calm it down again afterwards.