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Acupuncture & the Craniosacral System

The craniosacral system (CSS) is an important energetic system for maintaining balance, homeostasis, and healing since it relates to various dynamics in the nervous system, spinal cord, and brain. In TCM and meridian theory, it relates to the DU, UB, KI, and LV and the circulation and transformation of qi, blood, and essence. 

Acupuncture Treatment in Yin Tang

Acupuncture can be used to regulate cranial nerves and the craniosacral system. The effects of this can be very relaxing and therapeutic, much like craniosacral therapy.


In using acupuncture to regulate the craniosacral system we can work with points on the face, head, and ears to affect the cranial nerves, and points on the legs and feet to regulate the sacral nerves. This head to toe approach has profound implications in treating a wide variety of disorders including headaches, migraines, stress, depression, anxiety, heart disease, kidney disease, gastrointestinal problems, epilepsy, addictions, rheumatoid arthritis, and more. 

Advances in acupuncture research and vagal nerve stimulation provide a basis for understanding how acupuncture can regulate the cranial nerves, autonomic nervous system, and spinal nerve pathways. 

Acupuncture & the Cranial Nerves

Acupuncture and the trigeminal nerve, the three zones of the trigeminal nerve

The cranial nerves provide sensation and muscular movement to the head, face, ears, tongue, throat, and eyes. When acupuncture is administered on the head and face it will have a direct effect on various cranial nerves.


Since the cranial nerves have a connection to the brain, pons, and medulla, they can provide a unique therapeutic response when acupuncture is administered in the face, ears, and head. This has broad implications for treating not only conditions of the head and face, but also for internal disorders and general pain patterns. 

The trigeminal nerve is particularly necessary to understand as an acupuncturist because it is involved in a variety of conditions like headaches, migraines, trigeminal neuralgia, and more. Knowing how to best address disorders of the trigeminal nerve is essential for avoiding adverse needle reactions and getting better clinical results. 

The Anatomy and Physiology of the Craniosacral System


There are several core components of the CSS including the cranial nerves and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). According to TCM qi and blood may be transformed into essence which is a foundation for the marrow and brain. Physiologically, CSF is made from the plasma/blood within the ventricles of the brain. Cerebrospinal fluid is similar to essence in Chinese medicine as it is circulates through the spine and brain, and both CSF and essence have nutritive, circulatory, and immunological functions. 


The theory of craniosacral therapy describes how the circulation of CSF can be affected by the placement of the cranial bones, and CST uses gentle touch, pressure, and holds for therapeutic results. Additionally, many of the effects of CST can be understood in terms of the autonomic nervous systems, and specifically, its ability to induce deeply peaceful states via the parasympathetic nervous system. 


Acupuncture can also regulate the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and points on the head, face, ears, legs, and feet are especially useful for regulating both the ANS and CSS. Understanding the neurology of the ANS, CSS, and cranial nerves can give acupuncturists many insights into developing treatment protocols, and knowing how the ANS and CSS respond to acupuncture provides a basis for the therapeutic effects.

The Facial Nerve & Acupuncture

The facial nerve is the 7th (VII) cranial nerve and it innervates the muscles of the face for movement and facial expressions. It also goes to the tongue and is involved with tearing.  

It is important to consider this nerve when treating Bells palsy and bruxism. As the facial nerve controls the muscles of the face, disorders involving the muscles of the face need to be treated with the facial nerve in mind. 

facial nerve and Bells palsy
The Vagus Nerve and the Autonomic Nervous System
Vagus Nerve and Acupuncture

The vagus nerve is the tenth cranial nerve and has a direct effect on many important systems of the body via the autonomic nervous system. Through the vagus nerve many systems of the body can be regulated. In addition to acupuncture, the vagus nerve can be modulated through breathing techniques, manual therapies, and electrical stimulation. 

The vagus nerve regulates the heart, lungs, GI system, reproductive organs, bladder, colon, and other organs and glands. Knowing how to affect the vagus nerve with acupuncture is essential for the treatment of many common disorders. 

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Acupuncture & the Craniosacral System

This course will give you direct methods to work with the craniosacral system via acupuncture points on the head, face, ears, sacrum, and body. 

Whether you're at a beginner, intermediate, or advanced level, this course will give you the tools and knowledge to improve your clinical skills. The course includes: 


  • In depth coverage of points for the craniosacral system

  • A 50 page PDF file

  • 5 hours of video files

  • Discussion of facial points, ear points, treatment strategies, and more

  • Email support 

Approved by the NCCAOM for 7 PDA's / Continuing Eduction Units
Acupuncture and fascia online classes
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