Energy, Presence and Three Decades of Nursing: Kathy Fennelly’s Healing Touch Therapy Brings It All to the Table

by Gisele Rinaldi Siebold and Karen G. Meshkov

cs_kathyfennelly_1016Kathy Fennelly has worked in medical settings her entire professional life. As a registered nurse for 30 years, she has worked in emergency rooms, cancer wards, surgical units, neurological and cardiac intensive care units, home health care and rehabilitation centers. In each setting, Fennelly’s motivation was the same: the profoundly intimate experience of supporting patients through their healing journey. After a second career in pharmaceuticals, Fennelly ultimately decided to return to patient care. This time, she extended her professional skillset to include the practice known as Healing Touch.

Healing Touch is a non-invasive energy healing technique that was founded and developed in 1989 by Janet Mentgen, a nurse who observed the positive effect of energetic touch with her patients. Involving 30 different hand techniques, it is now recognized by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, endorsed by the American Holistic Nurses Association and is nationally accredited with the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a complementary therapy at hospitals, cancer centers, nursing homes and hospices across the country.

While Healing Touch is not a substitute for medical attention, examination, diagnosis or treatment, it is safe for all ages when used as a stand-alone wellness practice or as a non-invasive approach that integrates seamlessly with a conventional medical regimen. The practice is particularly supportive to cancer and hospice care—studies have shown it is effective for decreasing stress and anxiety, staving off depression, reducing pain and boosting mental clarity, all of which strengthen the immune system, speeding up surgical recovery and shortening hospital stays.

Fennelly, who offers her services to cancer patients and their caregivers at the Bryn Mawr Cancer Center as well as in her office, assisted living facilities, private homes, hospitals and outpatient facilities, explains that the power of Healing Touch is both parts science and spirit. A host of statistically significant data in peer reviewed medical journals leaves little scientific doubt that the practice creates the release of endorphins and oxytocin, and that those messengers positively impact the body’s healing mechanisms. Yet, it is the psycho-spiritual dimension of the work that inspires Fennelly most: “I focus on the heart, allowing feelings of compassion and unconditional love to inspire the intention in the client to move energy through. They are really healing themselves, and I am just helping them.”

“We have a subtle energy field, or biofield, that surrounds us, and energy centers within our body supporting us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually,” describes Fennelly. “The concept of this energy, often called chi or prana, is well-known in Eastern medical traditions. If this energy field becomes stagnant and/or congested, the energy is compromised and affects our entire well-being.”

During a session, Fennelly centers herself, becoming quiet, focused and relaxed, and sets the intention for the highest good, to be a conduit or facilitator for healing. The patient can be sitting or lying down. Using specific hand techniques, Fennelly works within a person’s energy system while lightly touching the body, stroking the skin or even working above the body to elicit the relaxation response. The movement toward healing in the client always comes from within the client. By restoring and providing balance and harmony, she bears witness to the beauty of clients transforming themselves because of the body’s innate ability to heal. While the most common recipients of the technique are cancer, surgical and fibromyalgia patients, the process can be beneficial to anyone experiencing distress in a clinical medical setting or suffering from an ongoing medical condition.

“We all carry energetic imprints from cultural beliefs or upbringing that we have to figure out how to release. With Healing Touch, the act of being present in the moment allows people to let go and release those energetic imprints,” explains Fennelly. “People share their story, and through story, we connect––we share, we learn, we live and, ultimately, we heal.”

Fennelly will offer Healing Touch at Empowered Light Holistic Expo, October 28 and 29, at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, in Oaks; Fennelly is an Approved Wellness Provider for Unite For HER (UFH), participating in Breast Cancer Wellness Days. Visit for more details.

For more information, call 610-698-8643, email or visit Locations: 1062 E. Lancaster Ave., Ste. 13-A, Bryn Mawr and 516 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown. October 2016.

Gisele Rinaldi Siebold is a contributing writer to Natural Awakenings. Connect with her at

Karen G. Meshkov is the Publisher and Director of Advertising Partnerships for Natural Awakenings of Bucks and Montgomery Counties. Connect with her at

DaCrema Botanicals to Participate in Awaken Healing Expo 2016

Drops.fwDaCrema Botanicals will participate in the fourth annual Awaken Healing Expo, from 10 a.m. on November 5 until 6 p.m. on November 6, at Williamson Banquet & Event Center, in Horsham. Their topical cannabidiol CBD products will be available for purchase, and they will be on-site to answer any questions about CBD and the benefits of using CBD products.

In the fall of 2015, DaCrema Botanicals, headquartered locally in Plymouth Meeting, was formed by Mitchell Ebert and Joe DaCrema, with the mission of making the highest-quality CBD products: natural, safe, with superior therapeutic value and without the side effects of industrial pharmaceuticals. The CBD used in DaCrema Botanicals products is derived from contaminant-free, GMO-free and pesticide-free agricultural hemp seeds harvested in Eastern Europe.

The hemp health movement is on the rise, as more and more people are using hemp products for relief from a variety of health conditions, including antibiotic-resistant infections, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety attacks, diabetes, muscle spasms, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and chronic pain.

DaCrema’s most popular product is the topical salve, a healing balm that supports relief from muscle, joint and nerve pain, and accelerates skin and wound healing. The highly concentrated CBD drops are also popular for people seeking a holistic option for stress and anxiety.eb_dacrema-salve_1016

The Awaken Healing Expo, organized by Greg Campisi, founder of the Awaken Center for Human Evolution, is a weekend-long event that brings together vendors, healers and practitioners from a variety of modalities to provide group healing sessions, presentations, readings, activities
and more.

Location: 500 Blair Mill Rd., Horsham. For more information, call 267-261-3843, email or visit and

October 2016.

Becoming Your Best Self This Fall at Green Street Luxuries


Feng Shui Studios, in partnership with Green Street Luxuries spa and GSL Organics skin care line, presents “Becoming,” a self-empowerment workshop, from 7 to 9:30 p.m., on October 26. The workshop will be interactive and discussion-based.

“If you can dream it, you can be it, if you have the right tools,” says Jana Schneider, owner of Feng Shui Studios. Schneider is a feng shui consultant, theta healer, yoga instructor and holistic counselor. “I help students learn how to manifest their desires by connecting to the universal energy source within.”

Feng shui is an ancient Chinese practice of harmonizing one’s physical setting to support health and happiness. ThetaHealing is an alternative healing technique that allows for immediate, positive changes to a person’s emotional, mental, spiritual or physical reality.

“At Green Street Luxuries, no matter the reason you walk in our door, you have to leave better than the way you came in. That includes our carefully selected workshops and classes that will show and teach you ways to improve your life,” says Candy Pack, Green Street Luxuries founder, owner and master healer.

Cost: $25, includes admission, handouts, worksheets and refreshments. Location: 617 W. Main St., Lansdale. Register online (suggested) at For more information, call 267-879-1554.

October 2016.

Inner Light Holistic Expo in Pottstown

lotus-goodConnect with holistic and spiritual vendors from all over the East Coast at the sixth annual Inner Light Holistic Expo, being held at the Coventry Mall, in Pottstown. The expo will run November 12 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and November 13 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is no cost to attend this community-based event. Over 100 vendors are expected, including reflexologists, psychic readers, aura photographers, reiki practitioners, chiropractors and massage therapists, as well as organic products such as candles and soaps.

Expo organizer Cristina Leeson, who owns Inner Light Holistic Center, in Gilbertsville, says the focus is on the energy of spiritual community that has been created at the expo since the beginning. “Our vendors come back every year and are so caring and committed to our expo. They show their passion of their gifts and share so freely, making it a very loving event,” she says.

Free lectures will be offered all weekend, with topics such as essential oils, meditation, spiritual and intuitive development, chiropractic care and healthy herbs. “People are hungry for knowledge and are seeking more spiritual and holistic avenues. It’s time to put our focus back on ourselves and what we feel resonates with what our spirit craves. We have the answers within,” Leeson says. Attendees are encouraged to try something new and connect with others that are interested in spiritual and holistic growth. “In these modern days of technology, we find ourselves more and more separated from each other. It is my mission to show just how many of these caring and compassionate people are out there, empowering our community and the world,” says Leeson.

Natural Awakenings of Bucks & Montgomery County is the official media sponsor of this year’s festival. “The mission of our publication is to support and promote the holistic health practitioners in our area, and to spread their good work to the increasing numbers of local people that are embracing a holistic lifestyle. Cristina’s expo is an incredible opportunity to do that in a concentrated way,” says Publisher and Director of Advertising Partnerships, Karen G. Meshkov. In reference to the wide range of vendors that will be at the event, she offers, “Their success is our success—we are interdependent, and together, we are Making the Awakening here in BuxMont.”

Location: Coventry Mall, 351 W. Schuylkill Rd., Pottstown. For more information, call 610-413-8191, email or visit

October 2016.

Cleanse Programs to Support Body Detoxification

inner-spaInner Spa announces the launch of brand new body cleanse programs, designed to support the elimination of toxic overload in the body. Each program includes products and services to enhance the body’s natural cleansing process. The programs are gentle, easy to follow and facilitated by professional therapists specialized in detoxification. A variety of package options match the needs of those with varying cleansing goals and experience.

  • Day of Detox: Four consecutive services in 3.5 hours to jump-start any cleanse.
  • Fresh Start 7-day Cleanse: Six services in seven days to give the body a fresh start. Good for those with any level of cleansing experience.
  • Time to Renew 14-day Cleanse: Ten services in 14 days. A concentrated way to cleanse for renewal and internal rebalancing. Great for those experienced in cleansing.
  • New You 21-day Cleanse: Sixteen services in 21 days. Great for those committed to making cleansing a part of their wellness lifestyle.

The specific services in each program vary, but may include colon hydrotherapy, far infrared sauna, ion detox foot bath, detoxifying mud bath, massage and/or mineral clay body wrap. Inner Spa will provide a complementary consultation to help individuals determine the appropriate program.

Inner Spa is a holistic, wellness day spa specializing in services that support cleansing and internal wellness. They are one of the few colon hydrotherapy centers in the region certified by the International Association for Colon Hydrotherapy.

Location: 4 Terry Dr., Ste. 12, Newtown. For more information, call 215-968-9000 or visit

October 2016.

Acupuncture, Actually: A Practical Look at Qi and ‘Energy’


Paolo Propato and Grace Rollins, licensed acupuncturists at Bridge Acupuncture, discuss the energetics of acupuncture and what it’s like to work and train in their field of Chinese medicine.

Paolo: What is qi?
Grace: Many people think of qi as “energy”, but I think that’s too materialistic of a translation. Qi is basically a very useful term that sums up complex processes that together create recognizable phenomena in the body. If you try to think of qi as some kind of literal substance or force you’re just going to frustrate people interested in scientific backing; you won’t find a measurable “energy” that corresponds to what people who practice Asian medicine are talking about.

“Qi” for acupuncturists is “weather” as it relates to the body. Weather is electromagnetic and gravitational relationships between elements and molecules; it’s pressure dynamics, thermodynamics, radiation; it’s many processes, all overlapping and influencing each other. We can study it, characterize it and make predictions about it. The same way that we recognize many patterns in weather, we learn how to recognize patterns in qi, so we can influence bodily functions and promote health.

P: What do acupuncture methods actually do?
G: The traditional answer is that they stimulate special points that harmonize qi in the body, thereby promoting proper function and health. Scientifically, stimulating acupuncture points with needles and moxa has been shown to generate complex responses.

Needling causes distortions in chains of connective tissue throughout the body, which link different muscle groups, joints and organs. It also fires nerve endings that light up vastly different areas of the brain and spinal cord. Acupuncture causes an electrical distortion in the body’s electromagnetic field—you’re putting a metal needle into an ionic solution (the body), which immediately creates an electrical polarity. The micro-injury caused by needling and moxa heat is also a very powerful method of stimulating the immune system and cytokines (chemical messengers). Plus, with acupuncture needles you can physically loosen tight muscle and connective tissue to release restrictions and improve blood flow.

I think one of the challenges in studying acupuncture scientifically is that its methods do so much, all at once. One exact mechanism eludes us. That’s why, even though I have a very scientifically oriented mind, I still prefer the traditional Chinese and Japanese pre-scientific theoretical concepts. We still haven’t discovered a better way to describe the complex processes happening here.

P: What makes acupuncture unique compared to other modalities that work with the subtle energy of the body?
G: Acupuncture is old, people! Over 2,500 years old! Moxibustion, the practice of heating acupoints with the ember of dried mugwort, is even older. So even though acupuncture is dealing with complexities that resist the scientific method, it has withstood a very important test with its continued use over such a long period of time.

A good scientist remains open-minded to the things that science doesn’t yet have the tools to measure and explain. That applies to a lot of what happens in healing. But that doesn’t mean you have to be open-minded to everything. Innovation is good. It helps our medicine get better and better, but with a methodology that is mainly observational, you have to be careful not to be led astray.

For this reason, I approach change cautiously, and I gravitate toward Japanese acupuncture, which monitors feedback during the session. We’re always checking diagnostic qualities in the pulse, the abdomen or a symptomatic area for signs that our treatments are having the desired effect. Vetting my methods this way gives me confidence.

P: What are you feeling for before, during and after needling?
G: Patients like to ask me if I can “feel the energy,” and if you think of it like qi, the summation of complex processes, then the answer is absolutely yes. We rely on touch, smell, sight and sound to collect information about the patient—especially touch in Japanese acupuncture. If I have to wear a Band-Aid on just one finger, I feel like I have a hand tied behind my back—it affects what I can feel.

14040778 - acupuncture needles

Before needling, I’m feeling diagnostically for areas of restriction, imbalance and dysfunction in the patient. This might be structural, as in certain muscle groups or vertebral bodies that are too tight, twisted or compressed. Often internal imbalances will also be represented by certain qualities in the pulse, on the tongue or in reflective zones of the abdomen and back. For example, cardiac problems often show up with specific tender points on the upper torso and back.

Next I’m feeling for an appropriate point location; there are traditional anatomical locations as well as certain qualities that identify a “live” point. Depending on the point, it might be a recessed area, a tight spot, a tender spot, thicker skin or connective tissue—qualities that indicate a more effective point. When I insert the needle, there is a feeling I seek that acupuncturists call the “arrival of qi”. To me it’s like a density on the end of the needle, like it’s connected well. Learning to recognize it is part of our craft.

After needling I will re-check the diagnostic signs to see if the acupuncture was successful at balancing the qi. If I did a good job there should be signs of improvement; if not, I might need another point, or a different one, or to add moxa, for example.

I’m also feeling the qi of the person as a whole. This is the intuitive part, synthesizing the input from all of my senses.

P: How do you cultivate the necessary skills?
G: I started studying acupuncture at the same time I started studying Aikido and Zen meditation. Like acupuncture, Aikido trains the various senses of the body to harmonize with another person’s qi. These practices help me to be more centered and attuned to my patients, and to myself.

An invaluable part of my training is a regular apprenticeship with the acupuncture master Kiiko Matsumoto. I spend at least two or three weeks a year shadowing her here and in Japan, taking in practical knowledge as well as the qi of her practice—the complex combination of qualities that allow her to be a dynamic, effective practitioner.

Taking my own health seriously is also a critical way that I stay attuned to the balance of qi in others. I believe in it, I live it! I work on my posture throughout the day and study how to move in a way that’s healthy and efficient. I try to eat in a way that’s balanced ecologically, that doesn’t do me harm and that fills me with vitality. I get outdoors and experience the natural world to help keep those areas of my consciousness and humanity alive. I meditate, do yoga and exercise a lot, and I try to play and have fun. Last but not least, I get regular acupuncture!

Bridge Acupuncture, located at 30 Garden Alley, in Doylestown, is a Legacy Advertising partner of Natural Awakenings of Bucks and Montgomery Counties. To schedule an appointment with Paolo Propato or Grace Rollins, call 215-348-8058 or visit October 2016.

Vibrant Living Festival For People and Their Companion Pets

21657548 - give me five - dog pressing his paw against a woman handSuzanne Walski, doctor of veterinary medicine and owner of Meadowbrook Animal Healing, and Lyn Hicks, who co-created The Room at Meadowbrook with Walski, will host a Vibrant Living Festival for people and their companion pets at The Room at Meadowbrook, in Ottsville, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., on October 8, to celebrate the many ways healthy living can be experienced by people and their furry friends. Leashed, well-behaved dogs are invited to attend with their human companions.

The gathering will bring together many different healing and expressive art practitioners in one space. Classes and workshops will be offered free throughout the day, and healing services will be available for a fee. Offerings include yoga, qigong, women’s health, reflexology and aurasoma with jin shin jyutsu. Animal lectures and demonstrations will include chiropractic, acupuncture, Bach Flower Remedy and nutrition. Healthy snacks, made by a local nutritionist, will be available for purchase. The event will culminate in a sound healing experience. “This is an event where people can learn to take better care of their own health, and also learn how many of the same healing practices can be applied to their pets,” states Walski.

Walski has been serving the Pennsylvania community since 1987. She worked at several animal hospitals before opening Meadowbrook Animal Hospital. In 2000, she added chiropractic care, and in 2005, she became a practitioner of traditional Chinese veterinary medicine acupuncture. As her services evolved, so did the hospital, becoming Meadowbrook Animal Healing. Walski provides holistic healing for pets, including animal reiki, acupuncture, chiropractic, laser therapy, Bach Flower Remedy and individualized nutrition consultations.

Cost: $10/admission. Location: 4089 Durham Rd. (Rte. 412), Ottsville. For more information, call 215-813-4073, email or visit

October 2016

The Path to Harmony: Traditional Chinese Medicine, Music, Reiki and Applied Kinesiology

by Carrie Jackson

musicapothecaryThe work of the Music Apothecary, in Wyndmoor, is the latest design of a healing music system that incorporates various Eastern and Western healing modalities to bring the body’s energetic systems “into phase”. The result can be the resolution of chronic allergies, addictions, food issues and other health-related imbalances.

The music is an energetic music based on the five elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that can target organs, tissues and meridians that are in need of repair. Practitioners Michael Legge and Mariko LaFleur are currently offering one-hour sessions to clients that begin with organ, supplement and food testing through energetic response via applied kinesiology (AK) kits. “Any organs, tissues or meridians that are out of phase will pop up when we test clients energetically through the use of the pendulum. We then use a tool called The Music Prescription Generator that will display which musical treatment will bring coherency back into the unbalanced organ, or into whatever part of the body needs balancing,” says Legge.

blackkiWhen working with patients, Legge and LaFleur combine Jikiden Reiki, a medical reiki designed to target areas of distress, with the Music Apothecary techniques for the greatest energetic impact. “The synergy created through this combined modality is a unique energy medicine that delivers maximum power for bringing the system back into homeostasis,” Legge explains.

Legge and LaFleur are also working with another revolutionary AK kit from Ireland. The Food & Lectin AK Test Kit contains 150 ampoules, or samples, of meats, fish, dairy, grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, drinks and spices. “Many food sensitivities can be traced to the lectins present in these food groups, which can cause digestive irritability and inflammation,” says Legge.

Location: 7703 Elm Ave., Wyndmoor. For more information, call 215-801-6393 or visit October 2016.

Carrie Jackson is a frequent writer for Natural Awakenings. Connect at

Integrative Health Care Introduces Light Therapy

lisarhodesLisa Rhodes, a doctor of podiatric medicine, licensed acupuncturist and owner of Integrative Health Care, in Fountainville, announces a new modality, In Light Wellness Systems. The non-invasive and restorative polychromatic light therapy system is intended for clinical, professional and home use, and has been FDA approved for pain syndrome and peripheral neuropathy, with a variety of settings and combinations that allow application for children and adults.

Rhodes conducts a client consultation and performs an evaluation to determine the inclusion of light therapy sessions in a treatment protocol. In Light Wellness Systems can also be used for facial rejuvenation and anti-aging benefits, and as therapy for infection, depression, anxiety, allergies, auto-immune disease and inflammation. It can support the gastrointestinal tract, as well as the muscular and skeletal systems, and the technology is currently under development for FDA approval for use with traumatic brain injury cases. In addition, the light therapy device provides support for clients suffering from TMJ.

tir_img_4545_adjLight diodes are embedded into pads of different sizes. During a light therapy session, a light-emitting pad is placed directly on the skin, and can be applied underneath clothing. The pad is connected to the machine, and Rhodes sets the wavelength for the desired effect. Session length is between five and 40 minutes.

“I am amazed at the significant and rapid decrease of symptoms and pain relief that clients are receiving,” enthuses Rhodes, who has been using In Light Wellness Systems for four months. “A particular example comes to mind. When a client who received light therapy sessions for TMJ returned to her orthodontist, he was shocked at how much her TMJ had improved,” she explains. “This new modality offers us another powerful tool to help support the wellness journey of our clients.”

Location: 5055 Swamp Rd., Ste. 203, Fountainville. For more information, call 215-230-4600, email or visit

October 2016.

Doylestown Veterinary Hospital Expands with Holistic Pet Care

maribelle-feeling-betterDoylestown Veterinary Hospital announces it is broadening the services provided by the practice to include Holistic Pet Care. Pet owners interested in holistic programs for the care of their pets now have a veterinary practice in the Central Bucks area that offers a variety of traditional and holistic options.

“Doylestown Veterinary Hospital has been integrating holistic modalities like acupuncture and laser therapy with our conventional veterinary practice for some time, and we are excited to be expanding those options even further,” says Dr. Laura Weis, who owns the hospital with her husband, Dr. Randy Weis. “The veterinary hospital has been dedicated to the health of pets since 1972, with a tradition of offering compassionate care through modern medicine and technology.”

Weis’s practice provides homeopathy and nutritional counseling. She explains, “The objective of homeopathy is to trigger the body’s natural defenses so with each step in making the pet healthier, the body gains a greater ability to heal. It’s a gentle approach to wellness that lasts throughout the lifetime of your pet.” The benefits of a homeopathic approach to pet care include an overall increase in health, longer lasting results with fewer in-between treatments, no toxic side effects and reduced healthcare costs over the life of the pet.

On staff, Ddoylestownveterinaryhospitalrs. Ashlea Erk and David MacDonald are certified veterinary acupuncturists. MacDonald also has years of experience working with herbal therapies. They both agree that a fully integrative approach to pet health care enhances patient comfort and offers unique solutions to a variety of medical conditions.

“Offering conventional medicine and holistic therapies allows the medical team to provide highly individualized pet care,” MacDonald explains. “We can work with the pets and their caregivers to choose therapies that accomplish the proper balance for a healthy life or a unique solution to more effective treatment of a chronic illness.”

Location: 380 N. Shady Retreat Rd., Doylestown. For more information or to schedule an appointment for either their conventional or holistic services, call 215-345-6000 or visit

October 2016.

John of God’s Crystal Bed Therapy Traveling to Multiple BuxMont Locations in October


Elaine Berk, therapist, will be offering individual, 90-minute John of God crystal bed healings from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., October 12, at Greenshire Arts Consortium, in Quakertown; October 14, at Kaleidoscope Angels, in Douglassville; and October 19, at Soulutions, in Newtown. Sessions include guidance to set healing intentions, 60 minutes on the crystal bed, high-vibration healing water, energetic support while on the crystal bed, ceremonial music used for release and transformation, and prayers used by John of God at The Casa de Dom Inacio de Loyola, his healing center in Abadiania, Brazil.

The John of God Crystal Healing Bed consists of seven pure, specially selected quartz crystals that are suspended 12 inches above the client. The crystals are lighted through color lenses that are then aligned to correspond to the body’s seven main energy centers, called chakras. Berk explains, “Opening and clearing these energy centers while also cleansing and restoring the biofield or aura—the energetic field surrounding the body—promotes healing, because blockages, imbalances and energetic disturbances can cause or contribute to everything from anxiety and depression to pain and physical illness.” Many people report an enhanced sense of peace, health and well-being; others report emotional and physical guidance, clarity and healing.

João Teixeira de Faria, internationally known as John of God, was in the U.S. in September for healing sessions. Berk is honored to be chosen as one of a select few granted permission to bring his crystal bed therapy to others. She is offering these sessions for those that missed him, those that had the blessing of seeing him and wish to continue their healing, and for those that seek alternative healing therapies and are curious. Berk offers crystal light therapy as part of her extensive array of services for helping clients to resolve their most vexing issues.

Cost: $100. Make an appointment by contacting the location of choice. Greenshire Arts, 3620 Sterner Mill Rd., Quakertown, 215-538-0976. Kaleidoscope Angels, 1056 Old Swede Rd., Douglassville, 610-689-3999. Soulutions, 126 North State St., Newtown, 215-968-9750. Learn more about Elaine Berk at

October 2016.

Cranial Osteopathy: A Medical Approach to Craniosacral Manipulation

by Julia Helstrom

sb_juliahelstromMany people seeking alternatives to modern prescriptions have discovered the benefits of craniosacral therapy (CST). However, what many people don’t know is that CST is an adaptation of osteopathic cranial manipulative medicine (OCMM).

OCMM was first revealed to the osteopathic medical community in the 1930s by William Garner Sutherland, DO. He founded his discovery upon the theory that the central nervous system has its own inherent motion, which drives the movement of the fluid around the brain and spinal cord as well as around the expansion and contraction of the skull. When this system moves freely, our nervous system is able to adapt to our environment and our daily life. However, when there is restriction in this motion, we are met with varying degrees of discomfort: pain in our muscles, chronic ear infections and colic in children, headaches and TMJ, to name a few.

Osteopathic physicians have been trained and tested in diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions, with an emphasis on the musculoskeletal system. During osteopathic medical school, physicians are required to complete 400 hours of specialty training in osteopathic manipulative medicine. Those physicians choosing to continue with specialty training in OCMM begin with a 40-hour introductory course in which they learn to diagnose and treat the head (cranium) and tailbone (sacrum) within their context in the rest of the body.

OCMM is seen as one treatment modality within a comprehensive treatment plan. Each individual’s tissue patterns are as different as their personalities, and hence each treatment will differ to meet the individual’s needs.

Julia Helstrom, DO, is an osteopathic physician and founder of Bucks County Center for Integrative Medicine. For more information about OCMM, visit To learn more about Dr. Helstrom, visit October 2016.