Category: Craniosacral Therapy

Young Caucasian woman facial massage

Craniosacral what?

If you’ve read my youngest daughter Sasha’s story, then you’ve already been introduced to the phrase craniosacral therapy. Until we moved to San Diego, I had never heard of it and I thought I was pretty well-versed in alternative approaches to wellness given my ongoing fascination with the mind, body, spirit connection.

As a quick overview, craniosacral therapy is a form of bodywork that uses gentle touch to manipulate the synarthrodial joints of the cranium. In other words, joints that permit little to no movement. Practitioners of craniosacral therapy may also apply light touches to a patient’s spine and pelvis. Practitioners believe this manipulation regulates the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid found in your brain and spine).

So what does all of this have to do with Sasha? In a nutshell, Sasha spent the first three years of her life with chronic ear infections which eventually led to tubes, RSV, two bouts of pneumonia back-to-back and some crazy mono-like virus that sent us in and out of the hospital twice with 106 degree fevers. Because of all of this, the slightest sinus congestion would turn into an ear infection and the slightest cough would move into her lungs.

While trips to the chiropractor paired with essential oils were doing their job in helping her fight through various illness (along with antibiotics when needed of course), we couldn’t get her immune system to a different place until Melinda came along. When my neighbor told me about Melinda, she promptly said “she’s expensive but worth every penny.” I didn’t know what the price tag was nor did I want to know. I was on my last nerve and would pay anything I could to help get Sasha to a better place.

After patiently waiting for two months to see Melinda, in walked a tall blonde woman in her 60s who looked like she had just come from a cover shoot for Vogue. Chic clothes, chunky jewelry and hip glasses were surrounded by a massage table, Chinese herbs and acupuncture needles. I knew immediately that I was going to love this woman.

After a thorough intake, the treatment began. Melinda applied light touches to Sasha’s head, ears, sinuses, neck, chest, lungs and even the inside of her mouth. She went as low as the abdomen and could tell that Sasha also suffered from constipation. That night, Sasha slept like a rock. Having never been a consistent sleeper before, I knew something had taken effect.

Following the initial appointment, we saw Melinda three more times as she continued to work on Sasha’s areas of need. Through it all, Sasha always laid patiently on the table until one session when Melinda touched the left side of her neck. Instantly, Sasha started to squirm and fuss in a way that I had never witnessed before. Melinda looked up at me and asked if the cord was wrapped around her neck at birth and I shook my head yes.

From there, she asked me to hop on the table with Sasha and lay nose to nose with her. Over the next three minutes while Melinda touched the spot, Sasha let out what I can only describe as a raw, caveman like cry. Tears immediately started rolling down my face as she released what I imagine was years of fear and emotion. A few days later when we were playing at home, Sasha suddenly stopped and said to me, “mommy, I was really scared when the cord was wrapped around my neck.” My whole body became covered in goosebumps as I hugged her tight and told her she was safe.

It’s been close to two months since our last appointment with Melinda and we’ve certainly noticed a difference. Sasha’s had two colds since then but neither one went into her ears or her lungs and she was able to fight them off. Knowing that health is always an ongoing journey, I know we still have a lot of work to do especially when it comes to getting her to take vitamins and supplements. But at least I can breathe a little easier knowing we’re making progress!

With love, lipstick and lavender,

Olivia

 


Different types of non-dairy milk

How to transition a dairy-obsessed toddler away from cow’s milk

As part of Sasha’s journey toward building a stronger immune system, I knew we had to transition her away from her beloved cow’s milk. Now I realize there are varying opinions about dairy, and we’re certainly not a dairy free family. However as I’ve aged, I’ve become more sensitive to dairy products and I’ve given up milk, creamer, yogurt and many cheeses (although I can’t bring myself to completely let go of cheese). Additionally, based on my experiences with Eastern practitioners, I’m more aligned with the theory that our bodies were not meant to drink milk past breastfeeding age nor we were meant to process another species’ milk.

As someone who was still drinking at least three “babas” a day in sippy cups, I can’t describe how traumatic this was for Sasha. When I first raised the idea, she cried so hard I felt like she was going to nominate me for “worst mother of the year.” But two months after making the switch, she promptly told on my mom who had offered her cow’s milk for breakfast. Not only did she rat her out, but she also told my mom that cow’s milk was “not good for her body.”

Here’s what worked for us:

  • Start laying the foundation a few weeks before you make the big switch. Because Sasha tends to get sick on a frequent basis, I wasn’t short on opportunities to start explaining why cow’s milk wasn’t helping her little body fight off viruses and infections or poop regularly (constipation is also an ongoing struggle for Sasha and I’m sure she’s going to be thoroughly embarrassed when she reads this as a teenager). To reinforce my messages to her, I would also bring up the subject during our visits to various practitioners. Eventually she stopped balking less at the idea and started becoming more curious about the change.
  • Let your child choose his/her new “milk.” We planned a special date to our local Whole Foods just to pick out some new “milks” to try. As hard as it was not to grab some additional groceries while we were there, I wanted this trip to feel special and all about Sasha so we only shopped for “milk.” She picked out five different varieties/brands which certainly wasn’t cheap but was definitely worth the investment in her long-term physical and emotional well-being.
  • Throw a taste test party. Continuing to play up this moment as something positive and exciting, we had a taste test party when we got home from the store. The entire family gathered around our kitchen island and watched as Sasha poured and tasted each one of her new “milks.” We cheered her on as she tried almond, coconut, almond-coconut and cashew finally landing on coconut.
  • Reward progress with milestone treats. After the excitement of the taste test died down, we experienced a few more tears that evening (and the following few evenings) at bedtime when reality sunk in. It took her a few days to get used to her new coconut “babas” but I kept telling her how strong she was and how proud we were of her for making good choices. I also let her have a small glass of chocolate almond milk here and there to acknowledge her progress.

Since giving up milk combined with treatments from the craniosacral therapist, regular visits to the chiropractor and regular use of essential oils, we’ve seen a big difference in Sasha’s ability to fight off viruses and bacteria. In the short time we’ve been back at preschool, she’s already moved through three colds without them worsening and moving into her lungs. Certainly there’s a part of me that’s already worried about the heart of cold and flu season since this year was so rough. But I do feel like we’re better prepared this time around and have many more tools to help us pull through the season!

With love, lipstick and lavender,

Olivia

 

 

 


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Sasha’s story: Exploring Eastern Medicine

In the past three years, my youngest daughter Sasha has had more than her fair share of illnesses: chronic ear infections, RSV, two bouts of pneumonia back-to-back and a mono-like virus that sent us to the ER two days in a row with 106 degree fever.

The mono-like virus was straw that broke my already unnerved back. Aside from the incredibly scary fever, Sasha’s tonsils looked as big as golf balls and they were covered in white pus (sorry for the graphic details) plus she was wheezing every time she coughed. After our pediatrician told us there was nothing she could do for her other than busting out her albuterol inhaler, I immediately went home and researched essential oil recipes for fighting viruses. I made two blends with fractioned coconut oil and started alternating them on the bottom of Sasha’s feet four times a day. Mix one: tea tree, lemon and thyme, and mix two: thieves and oregano. Additionally, I applied tea tree to the outside of her glands. Within 24 hours her fever stopped and within three days her tonsils were back to normal and her cough was gone.

About a month after the “mono,” Sasha came down with another virus followed by an ear infection and a nasty cough that seemed to go straight to her lungs.  As I sat in her pediatrician’s office for what felt like the hundredth time, I went from feeling empowered to helpless once again. Like clockwork, she wrote out a prescription for antibiotics, made sure we had enough  albuterol and layered on a steroid called Qvar as a preventive measure. Knowing what a dairy lover Sasha is, I asked the doctor if she thought certain foods such as cow’s milk were contributing to her frequent illnesses. She shrugged her shoulders, shook her head no and told us to check back with her in a month.

Now before I go any further with this story, it’s important to note that I believe Western medicine serves an important purpose and I’m grateful for it. If you haven’t read my introductory post, I vaccinate my kids and give them the flu shot. However, I don’t believe that Western medicine looks at the body holistically. In my experience, there’s never been an investigation into the root cause of Sasha’s illnesses (or any of mine for that matter). To me, it feels like Western medicine begins and ends with treating just the symptoms and it’s hard not to think the drug companies have something to do with that limited approach.

On our way back home from the doctor, I thought about a recent conversation with my friend Brooke who recommended Sasha see a craniosacral therapist. Not even knowing what that meant, I picked up the phone and made an appointment. Unfortunately, there was a two-month wait to get in but I figured that meant this woman must be a miracle worker and hoped for a cancellation! In the meantime, we took the antibiotics, used the albuterol as needed, skipped the Qvar, did our daily essential oil regime and waited patiently.

With love, lipstick and lavender,

Olivia

To read about Sasha’s journey with the craniosacral therapist, click here.