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Cranial osteopathy: its fate seems clear

DOI: 10.1186/1746-1340-14-10

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This treatment regime lacks a biologically plausible mechanism, shows no diagnostic reliability, and offers little hope that any direct clinical effect will ever be shown. In spite of almost uniformly negative research findings, "cranial" methods remain popular with many practitioners and patients.Until outcome studies show that these techniques produce a direct and positive clinical effect, they should be dropped from all academic curricula; insurance companies should stop paying for them; and patients should invest their time, money, and health elsewhere."Truth is great, certainly, but considering her greatness, it is curious what a long time she is apt to take about prevailing." – TH Huxley, 1894 [[1](p218)]With all I've learned in recent years about human credulity, it remains difficult for me to fathom how little influence fact sometimes has over behavior. For example, 21st century science-based medicine is forced to cope with numerous unfalsifiable (or already falsified) claims from practitioners of the euphemistically labeled "complementary" or "alternative" medical arts, many with names familiar to all: homeopathy, therapeutic touch, reflexology, aromatherapy, magnet therapy...and on, and on, and on. A form of health care of particular interest to readers of this journal which can fairly be labeled "alternative," is cranial osteopathy [2-4]/craniosacral therapy [5]. According to the original biological model [2-4], intrinsic rhythmic movements of the brain (independent of respiratory and cardiovascular rhythms) cause rhythmic fluctuations of cerebrospinal fluid and specific relational changes among dural membranes, cranial bones, and the sacrum. Practitioners believe they can palpably monitor and modify parameters of this mechanism (or a similar mechanism, for example reference [5]) to a patient's health advantage.Here, focusing on cranial osteopathy, is a cautionary tale inspired by the recent collision of a prescientific, medical reverie with reality in so


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