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Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

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Saturday, 11 May 2013

Craniosacral therapy and misleading claims in London - most CNHC-registered practitioners don't, some use gently evasive manoeuvres

The CNHC (Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council) regulates alternative healthcare practitioners who've voluntarily signed up to their regulation. They cover things like craniosacral therapy, aromatherapy and reiki and have around 5,000 members.

Members aren't meant to make misleading claims about their treatment (claiming that it can do more than the evidence says it can) and the Nightingale Collaboration is currently running a check to ensure that members' claims match what can be said.

CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice) has a very large list (431 searchable entries) of the different types of marketing claims, each leading to detailed information and case study examples of complaints that have been upheld by ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) who apply the CAP's code to advertising claims.

There is a "Therapies: Cranio-sacral therapy" page which is quite clear on what is and isn't permitted. It seems to be perfectly fine to say that the intervention can promote feelings of well-being but mentioning any medical conditions is a bit of a no-no.

According to that page, the results of a 2010 investigation by the ASA made it clear that craniosacral therapists should not be making any claims about asthma, autism, impotence or stroke (among others). Another investigation in 2011 still found no evidence for claims about asthma or autism but also found no evidence for any benefit for pain, depression, migraine, epilepsy or poor sleep. In short that page provides a list of medical complaints for which there is no evidence that craniosacral therapy can help and which therapists are not permitted to imply their treatments can help, in their marketing material (on or offline).

As far as I'm aware no craniosacral therapist can make these claims, but in particular anyone who's signed up to CNHC should not be making them. The CNHC is very clear that it's members should not be making misleading claims in their advertising. They also have a page explaining what craniosacral therapy is and there are no misleading claims made in that (beyond vague hand-waving but I can live with that).

How do CNHC-registered therapists do when compared against their own registration body's guidelines? Not bad. Most of the ones I've looked at, for craniosacral therapy, do not make any misleading claims. One did, directly on the page, another deferred to a separate page where misleading information is given. I've colour coded these with a sort of traffic light system.

On the CNHC's site there seem to be two registered craniosacral therapists within five miles of Greenwich. One operates from one website, another from three.

Therapist one

Bexley Craniosacral Therapy (

"What conditions have may Craniosacral Therapy help?
Craniosacral therapy is a holistic therapy promoting self-healing, relaxation and tension release for all-round greater well-being so it could be beneficial on many levels - for more information see:"

No misleading claims are made on the page itself, but it points to an information site about craniosacral therapy that has a button marked 'Medical conditions' which leads to a list of medical conditions that "craniosacral therapy can help to alleviate". That list is quite long and includes autism and asthma, also flatulence.

Therapist two

In the Breathing Space (
"For more information on specific conditions Craniosacral Therapy can help please visit the following website : Craniosacral Therapy Information. But do remember that if you are getting any symptoms, the first thing to do is seek medical advice in  case conventional medical attention was required."

There's a whole page on the 'Breathing Space' site full of vague stuff about the history of craniosacral therapy but there's hardly anything that would be a worryingly misleading claim. That can be found on the separate linked site though, under the same Medical conditions button as before.

There's also a leaflet on the site ( that vaguely references babies' problems with crying and sleeping but does so in a way that doesn't quite make misleading health claims.

Stepping Stones Greenwich (
The site also includes psychic and angel readings etc.
Worryingly this page includes a bit of a shopping list of health conditions including stroke and cerebral palsy. That list just shouldn't be there.

Mycenae House (
No misleading health claims are made at all here, there is a reference in the events listing above to the time / day when Craniosacral Therapy is available and it links to the 'In the Breathing Space' website.

I also had a look for craniosacral therapists within five miles of Camden and found two therapists, again one with one website and one with three.

Therapist three

Natural Equilibrium (
The site is listed on the results page twice but the page itself is a placeholder - site coming soon, so no misleading claims at all, hooray.

CHAIM (Centre for Complementary Health and Integrated Medicine) (
No misleading claims here. Interestingly at the top there are three 'anchors' which, when clicked, will take you to a particular section within that page. The ones for 'when is it available' and 'fees and consultation' both work though the one for 'what can it treat?' goes nowhere, so presumably that section of the page has been removed.

Therapist four

Harmony for Health (
Fairly vague stuff, I am not bothered by "It can also help with resolving emotional trauma".

I searched for Charing Cross and it brought up three of the therapists already mentioned plus another one.

Therapist five

Howard Evans (
No misleading claims there at all.

That seems to cover CNHC registered craniosacral therapists within 20 miles of London who have a website. Overall, it's pretty good - not that many misleading claims.

I'm not at all impressed though, with the Craniosacral Therapy Association who have two PDF articles implying that CST can help with autism.

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