NeuroCranial Restructuring Training Doctors – Article One
UnifiedEnergetics (UE): Having been a patient of yours, I’m delighted to have this opportunity to share your work with our readers. Neural Cranial Restructuring (NeuroCranial Restructuring) represents a remarkable breakthrough in physical medicine and a new paradigm for understanding structural imbalances often contributing to so many conditions, whether psychological, neurological or physiological. Before describing the actual process of NeuroCranial Restructuring, would you describe how this came to be, specifically the evolution of your understanding which gave rise to this new treatment approach?
Dean Howell, ND (DH): Sure. I am a 1982 graduate of Bastyr University in Washington State. I started a private practice in Everett, Washington specializing initially in family medicine with some physical medicine, including bilateral nasal specific technique, spinal manipulation, deep muscle massage, and a number of other skills taking one-third of my time. Despite my extensive physical medicine training, I found that most of my treatments were temporary. I became really frustrated with these poor results, since I had taken the Hippocratic Oath, promising to treat the cause of disease and to treat individual’s pain and suffering, and I was barely keeping my promise. I kept wondering what else I could do to get these people well. At the time, I really loved J.R. Stober’s bilateral nasal specific technique (BNS). It changed my own health state, opening up my breathing passages. I spent three years assisting and watching him work, and then I started using BNS in my private practice. Frustrated with the frequently temporary results, I started modifying his techniques, initially based on my palpation of the patients’ skulls. I would perform BNS until the skulls had symmetrical joint motions, utilizing asymmetrical treatments in order to correct the asymmetry of the skulls. The patients were thrilled; the modifications made a huge difference. But the unhappy Dr. Stober terminated our relationship. After Dr. Stober’s death, I publicly lectured about BNS, and I taught at Bastyr University. For advanced BNS doctor-students, I began teaching my new asymmetrical treatment methods. It wasn’t really BNS anymore because BNS was a symmetrical therapy—J.R. Stober did not believe in asymmetrical treatments because “we won’t know what we’re opening”. Well, I have this tendency, when people say ‘don’t’ (Laughter), I tend to challenge it. (Laughter) I did these asymmetrical treatments, and people got much better than with the original BNS. Metaphorically, I thought that it was like neutralizing a wave in physics. To cancel a wave, you make another wave a half-cycle out of phase with it. So I believed that we had to do the same thing with skulls to correct their asymmetry. When people were asymmetrical, we needed to find the perfect counter pattern to make them symmetrical. I thought about reverse whiplash injuries. I was unable to teach people how to perform the testing with palpation. They couldn’t feel it, or I couldn’t describe it sufficiently. Later, I met the developer of an assessment-treatment technique called Spinal Stressology, which used applied kinesiology to determine where to treat a patient’s spine by comparing the tilt of the seated pelvis with the tilt of the occipital bone when the tested joint was gently pushed. So it was presumed that there was a brain stem response that indicated that the nervous system wanted that vertebra or joint to be changed. While using that technique, I found out that the pelvis position could be determined by physical tests so that the previously required X-rays weren’t necessary. More than a brain stem response, I found that the test revealed a pattern of instability in the whole structure. You see, in Spinal Stressology, I was to push very lightly on a patient because greater pressures would treat the target joint. Then the case wouldn’t progress properly. I tried pushing harder on the indicated joints and found that patients almost fell over. If I pushed on a nearby vertebra, they were able to withstand greater force without difficultly. I realized that the Stressology assessment was really a testing technique to determine the patterns of instability of the body, assessing it joint by joint. It wasn’t applied kinesiology! We could now map the instability of the nervous system with a proprioceptive challenge. I realized that the body displays a hierarchy of nervous system functions. The body’s priority is to protect our brain, so our reflexes and responses display that priority. When treatment is based on the location of pain or joint immobility, it does not necessarily address this hierarchical arrangement. The brain must be safer (more stable), or the treatment will be rejected. So we must improve the pattern of stability while we also improve joint mobility and decrease pain; only then can the body accept it. Similarly, if we improve local joint mobility and decrease pain, and we make the pattern of stability worse, then it will be only a temporary fix, and the body will revert to that older pattern that is more stable. UE: In other words, a painful, immobile joint may actually represent the most ideal, stable position of that joint given a larger pattern of instability. DH: Exactly right. And this was and is the lightning flash for me! It was such a huge thing because once I made that realization, then I had a method to evaluate and assess my therapeutic approach and progression. UE: Would you describe the basic technique or procedure of NeuroCranial Restructuring? DH: My assistant and I together deeply massage our patient for about twenty minutes, working out chronic knots in the muscles, improving asymmetries in the bones and muscles, and improving the energy flow throughout the body. I also perform my version of external cranial manipulation, which resembles old-time craniopathy more than cranial osteopathy or cranial sacral. I’m always trying to push and pull the bones towards symmetry. After I get to the point where I feel the person has maxed out on what benefits we can do with body work, I have them stand up for the proprioceptive testing in order to assess the patterns of instability. The results inform my assistant how to position the patient on the table. We use wedges, pillows, and assistant as well as patient holding to create the appropriate head, neck, arm, hip, leg, and foot positioning. Then the assistant immobilizes as many of the unstable joints that were found as possible. Then I insert a small balloon through the nostril into the throat. I ask the patient to inhale while s/he visualizes moving the targeted cranial joint. I inflate the balloon very briefly until it expands into the throat and then immediately deflate it. The treatment is complete if proprioceptive testing then shows no unstable joints. If some joints prove to still be unstable after treatment (which is very rare), then I retest and design a new treatment in alignment with the results. A second treatment has always been sufficient. UE: I understand you have a specific proprioceptive assessment technique to determine where and how many balloons to use in a given treatment. Would you speak to that a more and especially describe what is actually occurring when the balloons are inflated? DH: With BNS, there were no tests since the treatment was the same endonasal balloon pattern every treatment. In the beginning of NeuroCranial Restructuring, when I treated a patient, I would utilize little body work before inserting a balloon through the nasopharynx and inflating the balloon until it pushed its way into the pharynx. This resembled BNS except for the specific choice of balloon location. I always expected to hear a cracking sound, which indicated that the sphenoid was moving. It was often very painful, with the patients kicking their legs, throwing their arms, yelling, grabbing—all reflex actions apparently because they were being hurt. But actually these reflexes were from the resistance of the sphenoid bone—the resistance to changing its position. None of us genuinely embrace change because the deeper perception of change as a threat is hard-wired into us! The sphenoid stability would trigger the nervous system to resist the changing force of the balloon by dispersing the tension through kicking the legs, etc. So we tried immobilizing as many of the proprioceptive-tested unstable joints as possible, and as a result we discovered that the balloon required much less pressure to inflate. Despite my great strength, I used to squeeze the inflating bulb so hard that I would hyperventilate two or three times a day. Since the inflating bulb is about 20% efficient, the old technique was delivering 20-30 pounds of pressure inside of someone’s head. Now we use much less, in the range of 5 to 15 pounds. pressure. So now I am able to successfully teach small practitioners who have moderate hand strength. Now, because we stabilize the unstable joints, the sphenoid is isolated from the rest of the structure. So it’s easier to move. Next, when we find the correct place to unlock with only a sufficient amount of pressure, then the body gains symmetry because the new stability of the system allows the connective tissue to unwind without the resistance of stabilizing reflexes. It is important that the force not be excessive because a different set of responses is triggered when we use too much force. So it is common for me to have people reporting movements in their structure that will go on anywhere from three to six weeks to two or three months or even longer. The crucial aspect to appropriate treatment, then, is to know which areas of the skull to release, and to position the patient in a fashion that reflexively isolates the sphenoid from the rest of the musculoskeletal system. This is done with proprioceptive testing. As I already mentioned, the testing observes the changes in the tilt of the head with pushes against the vertebrae and joints. Spinal Stressology considered this an applied kinesiology reaction. I disagree. Instead, I have found that it is based on compensation reactions of the body intended to preserve the body’s stability. When the seated pelvis was tilted lower on one side, Spinal Stressology would treat any vertebrae that, when pushed, would trigger the head to tilt inferiorly to that side. With NeuroCranial Restructuring, instead of measuring the pelvis with X-ray while seated, we have physical tests to make the same sort of determination of pelvis instability. Now we can map the reflex reactions of all of the joints by simply pressing against the joint and watching the compensation reaction of the body. When the body sways for a short time and comes to a stop, the occipital bone will not tilt in the direction of pelvis instability. This is a negative test result, and the joint should be left alone. When the body sways for a longer time and has difficulty coming to a stop, the occipital bone will tilt in the direction of pelvis instability. This is a positive test result, and must be corrected by therapy that day if the treatment is to be effective. This gives us a convenient tool for determining where we should treat and, later, determining if treatment has been done satisfactorily. One thing I have been doing the past twelve years is using this simple method to ascertain which treatment techniques work. Unfortunately, I have found that most physical medicine therapies don’t work! UE: As a former patient of yours, I am reminded that I came to see you specifically complaining of ankle pain following two unsuccessful surgeries and a host of other conventional and alternative attempts at treatment. So, in the context of this lightning flash, you really didn’t view my ankle as the ‘problem’, per se, but viewed it within a larger context of instability, and once this larger pattern was corrected, my ankle healed. Would you speak more to this paradigm shift in how you approach physical medicine to really capture the significance of it for the reader? DH: The way I was originally trained to do spinal manipulation was to use static and motion palpation to determine which vertebrae were at fault for the pain. So if, after a person had a whiplash type injury, we did an X-ray, and we found that C-5 was far from the midline relative to the position of the rest of the spine, we said that C-5 was “out.” And that became our pattern of recognition and thinking. We would say that C-5 was a bad bone and that it required correction. So we focused on that “bad bone.” I found that when I corrected this bony abnormality, the vertebra tended over time to go right back to its “out” position. Put it in the midline, and a week or two later the patient would come in and exhibit essentially the same pattern, again and again. C-5 was out, or T-1 was out, or L-5; it didn’t make any different which bone. The point was that the body kept correcting by putting the bone back “out”, because the “out” position was a stable place, even though it caused pain and mobility problems. So the vertebra was really “in” when we looked at it from the larger perspective that included systemic structural stability. I had a horse whisperer tell me that predators believe a once successful method will be successful again. So they keep using that method over and over because it’s bound to work again sometime. Herd animals are just the reverse, trying each thing only once before trying the next alternative until they run out of options and so give up. We’re predators! (Laughter) Just because we can sometimes adjust those vertebrae or other bony parts and have them hold for a while, we’ll do it again and again. I first realized this when I looked at my appointment book and saw that people were booking six months ahead. They knew the treatments were not going to hold, even though I didn’t. It was crushing. I didn’t want to build a practice like that. What we were always doing was addressing the pain and/or the lack of joint mobility instead of addressing the cause of that. With proprioceptive testing, we found that the pattern of stability was worse after this kind of spinal manipulation than it was before. There were more unstable joints after a “good treatment” than there were when the patient was left untreated. It happened again and again. Similarly, if we have a tree that tips after a storm, then it will continue growing crooked toward the light. You can correct the twist of the tree only by changing the entire tree and the ground beneath it. Or prune the tree and start over. So we have chronic muscle tightness or spasm patterns because of our muscular compensation for the lack of support from the skeleton. Then we blame the muscles! We’ll say, wow those muscles are so tight, I just wish they weren’t so tight. But we’re shooting the messenger. The message to us is that the skeleton is not ideal. The muscles have to be tight because of the inherent lack of stability in the way that the structure is aligned. This is why massage-therapy and many other physical modalities, while therapeutic in the broader sense, are not corrective. Most approaches address only the symptoms. Meanwhile, the cause of these problems is that the asymmetrical skeleton is gravitationally unstable in a three-dimensional environment and requires chronic muscular compensation and loss of joint mobility to stabilize it. UE: And you’ve found that instability arises primarily as a consequence to asymmetries in the skull? DH: Yes. Remember the skull weighs anywhere from ten to twenty pounds. The head is like a bowling ball balanced on top of a pool cue. The skull is heavy. The spine is much smaller, much lighter, and underneath the skull, so a lot of our chronic postural patterns in our spine are based on what is required to stabilize the skull. Since we are trying to protect our brain (the top of the hierarchy), we are always consciously and unconsciously trying to protect the skull. Why? Remember, if you cut off your arm, you’re still you; if you cut off your head, you’re not. (Laughter) It’s a really big deal (Laughter). And we’re hard-wired that way. Watch people when they fall. What do they cover up? The number one priority is to protect their head; it’s instinctive. UE: In both conventional and alternative medicine, it seems very little emphasis has been placed on treatment of the cranial bones and joints in the skull. DH: That’s true. We’ve been focused from the top of the neck down into the pelvis for the past 100+ years. The earliest chiropractic licensing laws limited treatment to the spine; so it became the manner of thinking about physical medicine. Chiropractic would teach about how organ function, distant nerve function, and brain function could all be improved with spinal manipulation, etc., so that eventually, by acceptance of this concept, all physical medicine was approached that way in the chiropractic colleges and even in the naturopathic medical schools. For the most part, we were taught that all you could do was work on the spine, and the head was this sacred place that wasn’t touched. (Laughter) However, by the 1930s, the osteopaths following Dr. Sutherland performed cranial therapies. They used the techniques that we’ve since simplified and generalized to create cranial-sacral therapy (CST). CST features light touch techniques focused on improving the patterns of cerebral spinal fluid flow and, thereby hopefully, indirectly changing the position of the bones. So medical training had that kind of beginning in which we really didn’t work on the skull much, and we certainly didn’t make loud osseous manipulations of the skull the way we traditionally did with spines. In other words, we didn’t crack head bones. When BNS first showed up in the 1930s, it was viewed as a specific way to straighten out nasal problems, hence the BNS name: bilateral nasal specific therapy. They knew that when someone had a crooked nose, if they put a balloon through the nostril into the top of the throat, sometimes the nose would straighten. Later, “wild” men, truly independent thinkers like J.R. Stober in the 1950s, started having success treating conditions like Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, autism, and primary brain dysfunctions, as well as sinusitis, chronic migraines, and other headaches. In 1962, Dr. Viola Fryman, D.O. measured the motions of the skull during breathing and chewing by using many small sensors placed across the bones of the head. She proved that all of the joints of the head did move with breathing and chewing. Physiologists found that cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) flow was not created by the blood pressure from the heart beat. Instead, the CSF apparently moved as a consequence of the lengthening and shortening of the spine during respiration. The action of the head bones during breathing triggered it as well; there is a flexion and extension of different parts of the skull when you breathe in and out. What they were really saying, though they didn’t put it in these terms, is that the brain is hydraulic. This is really important, having mammoth implications for many branches of medicine, but is not yet appreciated much. These facts established fifty years ago are still cutting edge ideas! UE: How does speaking of the brain as hydraulic relate to NeuroCranial Restructuring? DH: I love talking about it in this way because now we go into things that most people can understand instead of going into some esoteric map. Once we know that the brain is a hydraulic device, we can go back to all those laws we learned in high school physics because we know we’re dealing with the laws of fluid flow. For instance, if a fluid flows through a restricted area like a pipe, then the fluid will speed up as the pipe gets narrower. In essence, fluid flow patterns are determined by the shape of the vessel. With compression in different control centers in your brain, the fluid may accelerate and flow by too quickly. Increasing stimulation or diminishing it is a function of the fluid flow dynamics. Without delivery of neurotransmitters, nerve stimulation doesn’t occur properly. Once we accept that the brain is hydraulic, we must also accept that the cranial alignment changes fluid flow dynamics, and this changes neurotransmitter delivery. Skull structure affects and partially determines brain function. Optimal brain function, then, can occur only with optimal cranial alignment. In other words, your brain was designed for your ideal self and so requires an ideal structure. You were developed, designed, and nurtured to be perfect, and then life happens. UE: You mean to say, trauma occurs? DH: Exactly. Our ideal brain was designed to fit in an ideal skull, yet most of us have problematic skull shapes, patterns, and misalignments due to trauma. The ideal skull would have had no problems with nutrition, with physical and emotional coordination, with speedy mental acumen, and so forth, but most importantly, it wouldn’t have had any mechanistic or nervous system traumas. For most in vivo little babies, the first trauma is likely related to the emotional things that happen to the mother. After we get past that, past whether karma predetermines or influences the shape of your body, and past the developmental problems that were inherent in the DNA, then it becomes the birth process itself that is traumatic. Whether you had a normal vaginal birth (which squeezed your head) or you were traumatized with a C-section, vacuum assist, or with forceps, these are all trauma events that dramatically shape the skull. We all know that when babies are born they often look like they have a turban on the back of their head or like they have a cone head. Traditional midwifery, going back thousands of years and still practiced in less developed countries, would massage the babies’ heads after they came out. It’s only in the more educated cultures that we don’t do that. (Laughter) Traditional midwives were assisting the release of tensions in the connective tissue inside the skull that had been distorted during the inherently traumatic birth process. Those membranes and all the other connective tissue, collectively called the meninges, coat the inside of the skull and surround the brain. They are designed for the ideal skull, yet the process of birthing “molds” the bones and distorts the connective tissues inside the head. In the ideal skull, there would be very little tension in the connective tissue. But the connective tissue distorts because the bones are not in their ideal position due to trauma. Thus tension is created by this distortion and also by the connective tissue’s subsequent attempt to return to its ideal design. The farther the cranial structure is from that ideal design, the more connective tissue tension there will be. Now we can harness this tension; this is what any cranial-based therapy is seeking to address. All cranial therapies try to open sutures, hoping to utilize the connective tissue tension found inside the skull and throughout the rest of the skeleton to make changes in nervous system function and in skeletal alignment. Whether it’s cranio-sacral, cranial-osteopathy, craniopathy, bilateral nasal specific, or NeuroCranial Restructuring, they all focus on triggering that same kind of relief. Once I realized that the patterns of balance and stability were indicating the places most in need of joint correction, then I was able to test what I had or hadn’t successfully treated with massage, with osseous manipulation, and with the endonasal balloons. By keeping track of this, I compiled the most effective combination of techniques, and that became NeuroCranial Restructuring. Proprioceptive tests are crucial because this is how we check—on a moment to moment basis—that the therapeutic direction in which we’re working is one the body likes. Once I had these realizations, I could not feel comfortable looking at an X-ray and deciding on that basis alone which way to move the bone. UE: Do you still practice abroad? DH: Yes. I have an international practice. I rotate among Seattle, Los Angeles, New York City, and Caracas, Venezuela, as well as occasionally other locations in the US. Many people fly to meet me at these places, and they have nothing else to do besides receiving therapy and staying in a hotel room, so they often spend hours hanging out in the office waiting room. We call this the NeuroCranial Restructuring clubhouse. When patients have more momentous movements, they walk out of the treatment room with temporarily glassy eyes and an unstable step. Usually there are other people present in the waiting room, and everyone starts sharing their experiences. They get into conversations about how wonderful it is to optimize their skeleton and their brain, and that’s where you get some great stories. (Laughter) UE: In addition to doing continued trainings for other healthcare professionals, you’re also looking into research possibilities abroad. DH: That’s right. Unfortunately, most research dollars in the United States go toward profitable research projects linked to expensive machinery, expensive drugs, or nutriceuticals. So, I’ve been going to other countries for research support. I was invited to submit a proposal for Down’s syndrome research in Venezuela because they are so excited about the results we get working with Down’s clients. We have excellent possibilities right now to receive research funding in Venezuela to support my Down’s syndrome project. UE: At first glance, it seems remarkable a physical modality can bring about such progress with Down’s syndrome patients, given Down’s is a genetic condition in origin. DH: Yes, at first glance it seems so, but it’s actually quite simple. With Down’s syndrome, we know that the origin of the condition lies in the Trisomy 21 chromosomal situation. And we’re not going to change that. However, some of the classic abnormalities that Down’s syndrome exhibits are a flat face, little or no nasal bridge, almond-shaped slanted eyes, long tongues, thicker lips, a shuffling walk, duck-feet, straight necks with slumped shoulders, and often the need for thick eye glasses. The adult Down’s syndrome person often has chronic green mucus coming out the nose, hearing aids, and a fat belly. The majority of these problems are due to the cranial/facial abnormality. When the face is too flat, it leads to a distortion of the eye sockets, which makes the eyes appear slanted and almond-shaped as well as compromising vision. The flat face also leads to poor drainage of the sinuses, especially the maxillary and frontal sinuses. When your sinuses are tilted the wrong way, infectious organisms easily reside in the pool of mucus that collects in the sinus cavity. When you have chronic sinusitis, you tend to take antibiotics. Antibiotics often lead to Candida infections, which often lead to food allergies and to obesity in the belly. Chronic sinus infections also lead to recurrent or chronic ear aches, which are usually not well treated with antibiotics, leading to perforated ear drums, eventually leading to hearing aids. So a classic Down’s syndrome adult has eye glasses because of the cranial/facial abnormality, chronic sinus problems because of the chronic cranial/facial abnormality, and ear problems because of the cranial/facial abnormality. The face is flat, so the tongue sticks out too far, making it difficult to speak because the tongue doesn’t have enough room. The flat nasal bridge makes it difficult to breath through the nose, so mouth breathing becomes the pattern, which leads to thicker lips. In conclusion, the cranial facial abnormality is the most easily treated part of the Down’s syndrome condition, and if you treat it at an early age it prevents most of the chronic physical health problems associated with the DS. In addition, the normalization of neck and spine position with NeuroCranial Restructuring brings the shoulders back, straightens the feet, and improves the walk. Astoundingly, these mechanical improvements not only affect physical but also mental functioning for Down’s patients. The improvement in cerebral spinal fluid flow appears to raise IQ by optimizing brain function to whatever extent is possible for Down’s patients. I have many Down’s patients who get remarkable results, but one young girl in particular comes to mind who, after extensive NeuroCranial Restructuring treatment, was not only able to speak more clearly but also to learned Spanish and to attend regular high school, learning at the same rate as the normal students there. We had, of course, not been able to change this young girl’s DNA, but we had maximized what capacities she did have to the extent that she was able to function at the same level as others, which made all the difference in her life and in the lives of those who loved her! UE: While you treat people of all ages, it seems that you especially like to work with young children to ward off the consequences of asymmetries in their structure. DH: That’s true. I love to work with children as early as possible. The youngest was two hours old. My children were worked on when they were small, but I didn’t appreciate how important it was in those days. My grandchildren were worked on within the first day. Because we change the alignment pattern in the skeleton, we change the whole potential for growth in these infants. They end up with bigger brains that superiorly function. Because the brains of babies grow for the first two years, the more you work with them when they’re young, the more you give them the chance to be optimal. Children who don’t have soft spots (open fontanelles), become pinheads (microcephalic) because the cranial vault can only grow only when the fontanelles are open. Only the face and jaw grow later. With NeuroCranial Restructuring, we can keep the fontanelles open so that the brains keep growing. So it’s really wonderful to work on kids when they’re young because we optimize their nervous system potential. We also maintain their symmetry, which results in better posture and more efficient joint and muscle function. They’re stronger, faster, and they can do all physical things better. Their eyes work better, they’re less likely to need eye glasses, and they don’t have sinus or ear problems. These babies have few or no teething symptoms, and colic gets better too. Overall, they’re more balanced, even-tempered, well adjusted, and smarter. I have a ten-year-old grandson who lived at my house the first year of his life. We found that any time he was unusually cranky or crying, I could always find a structural problem. He had ten four-day treatment series in his first year. When the pediatrician gave him his one year well-baby exam, he was so easily able to pass that the doctor decided to try the eighteen-month-old neurological tests as well. He passed all of those too. The question becomes: Is my grandson really a super baby or a normal one? Are all of the kids who don’t test like he does normal or impaired? No one knows, because we haven’t done any of these kinds of assessments before, but I believe that his is the normal functioning, and most children are structurally impaired from uncorrected birth trauma. UE: You’ve been making what seems like a key distinction—that you let the body guide you rather than making an intellectual decision strictly based on diagnostic measurement. DH: That’s right, and this is a very important distinction because the patient’s body knows so much more than I or any other physician can ever know about what that body needs. So instead of forcing a particular treatment pattern on the body, we test the body to find out where it is unstable and where it is and isn’t able to change at this time. By following the patterns of instability and treating to unlock the connective tissue, we see steady, cumulative improvements toward the ideal skeletal structure. Once we get the person to the point where the ideal skeleton is partially present, then the structure doesn’t have to compensate much anymore. It is only then that we have begun to truly correct the systemic problem that led to the instability and pain. And so, as a naturopath who has pledged to treat cause, I can actually fulfill my promise and remain in integrity. UE: How successful were you with physical treatments you used in practice prior to NeuroCranial Restructuring? DH: Maybe 2-3% of the time I had success. I remember hearing a man screaming at my staff, so I went out to my waiting room to see what the heck was going on. He pointed at me and said in a very loud voice, “Will you tell them that you are my doctor?” So I turned to my staff and said, “I am his doctor.” (Laughter) Then I asked him, “What is your name?” (Laughter) I didn’t recognize him. We had to go down to a box in the basement and find his file. I had seen him once, seven years before. I said, “I saw you for one spinal manipulation, so who have you been seeing for the last seven years?” He just turned red and screamed, “You told me to come back to you when I hurt, and now I hurt so I came back. I have told everybody you’re a great doctor!” (Laughter) I was so shocked because it never happened like that, though it was what they told us in medical school. I always had people coming back sooner than that. I treated that guy, and, evidently, the primary cause of his problems was right in those spinal vertebrae that I had manipulated, because he hadn’t needed to see me again for all those years. UE: Would you speak to the diversity of conditions you treat with NeuroCranial Restructuring? DH: Sure. There are many conditions being medically treated that—at the core —have structure as their primary problem. If we view health as a tripod, with lifestyle being one leg, biochemical makeup, electromagnetic fields, and toxicity as a second leg, and physical structure as the third leg, we’ll find that most conditions will tilt more toward one leg of the tripod than another. For instance, when we talk about Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, we talk about something that has to do with individual biochemistry, perhaps also with infection, toxicity, and aggravation by lifestyle. (Yet, some symptoms of Parkinson’s, like tremors and poor balance, and the memory problems associated with Alzheimer’s can be temporarily improved with NeuroCranial Restructuring’s structural work.) When we talk about migraines, we know allergies to coffee and chocolate are both common triggers. Yet in clinical practice, migraines are a condition whose origin I find to be primarily structural. So are double vision, many kinds of balance problems, about half of the tinnitus and insomnia cases I treat, TMJ and TMD, whiplash, hunchback, swayback, scoliosis, sciatica, depression, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, autism, most learning disabilities (like ADD and dyslexia), many ear and vision problems, sinusitis, sleep apnea, many coordination problems, dystonia, and cerebral palsy. And other conditions that are not primarily structural nevertheless respond to a certain extent to NeuroCranial Restructuring, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, organ functioning, relationship difficulties, orthodontic stress, seizures, poor concentration, osteoporosis, arthritis, strokes, and even facial wrinkles because they also have a structural component. All of these things you can actually address by working with the skull shape. For instance, for many conditions in which people take drugs to control the symptoms—especially psychiatric and psychological problems—what they are trying to do with pharmaceuticals is change and control the neurotransmitter levels. In this accepted model, all we think about is how well we manufacture neurotransmitters, but we don’t discuss how well we distribute neurotransmitters. Remember, distribution of neurotransmitters in the CSF is determined by the system’s hydraulics, which is determined by the shape of the skull and skeleton. So, we know that skull shape is the most important part of the skeleton because of its involvement with the nervous system. I started out being concerned with the shape of the spine, and I was unable to lastingly change it directly. But I now find that through optimizing head shape and the atlanto-occipital junction, the spine becomes more symmetrical, and the spinal curves gradually restore. To evaluate a case of scoliosis, first you can draw straight lines (on a photo) through the eyebrows, the cheekbones, the center of the ears, and the base of the skull. If you look at those lines, instead of their being ideal—all parallel to one another and parallel the ground—you’ll see they not only sit at different tilts but are rotated as well. In geometrical terms, as the lines are more skewed, the skeleton becomes more spiral. So the way to correct any of these mechanical problems is to utilize a therapy that restores the structure’s original design. UE: In essence, a healthy, ideal structure is symmetrical in all planes. DH: Yes, and this idealized design is very rare. I’ve been working on my own structure for twenty years, and I am not completely ideal. But I am close enough that I don’t have the deterioration in my joints that most people in my age group do. I never have a back, neck, or headache. And it’s only because I’m giving my engineering the opportunity to function the way it was designed; most people don’t do that. However, we’re not purely interested in mechanistic symmetry. We’re also interested in optimizing our brain and our whole experience of consciousness in a way that positively impacts our thoughts, sensations, and emotions, and specifically how we feel about ourselves and our relationships. These things are also derived partly from our hydraulic functioning. Our physical structure is essential to our mental, emotional, and spiritual functioning. Clients interested in self-improvement derive benefit simply by optimizing their structure, so that physical impediments are no longer obstacles to optimal growth. UE: Would you share some stories about any patients who come to mind and the progress they made with NeuroCranial Restructuring? DH: One of my patients is Elaine de Beauport. She founded the Mead School for Human Development in Greenwich, Connecticut. She has also published a lot of research regarding a three-part model of the brain (the trine brain). Using this model and its corresponding emotions and behaviors, she’s been teaching for years in an effort to help people grow and develop, to really get comfortable with the different parts of the brain and to live life more fully and less like “things just happen to them.” A lot of her work focuses on education techniques to teach kids to deal with the different parts of the brain. The reason she came to me was because students of hers were having breakthroughs in their personal development through NeuroCranial Restructuring. Changes in consciousness were automatically occurring because of the improved fluid flow into the different parts of their brains. For instance, when I treat kids for anger management problems, I don’t try to sedate them with an herb, although I may rarely used homeopathic remedies to initiate change in their emotional patterns. Instead, what I do now is a much more sure thing, a wonderful thing. By changing the shape of their skulls, changing the hydraulics of their brain and thus improving the distribution of neurotransmitters, I can treat the cause of the psychological problem. This is the same for the chronically depressed or those with hyperactivity or learning disabilities. There are people who come to see me complaining of a physical symptom, and at the same time they have difficult personalities. As treatment progresses, they become much easier to be around. One man I treat is a chemistry professor, and he came in because of facial pain. His physicians had removed most of the turbinate bones in his nose during a surgery to treat sinusitis. As a result, that created dry nose syndrome, a condition that around 100,000 people suffer from. We found out was that his face pain was a result of the position of his facial bones, and as we corrected that, he improved. As a sideline, though, he came to see me while he was on medical leave from his college teaching position after developing a granuloma on his vocal folds. After losing the turbinates, he had increased air flow, which led to throat irritation, especially in the winter, leading to the granulomas on his larynx. So here he was, a long-time chemistry professor and a very difficult individual. Prior to his sabbatical, students had petitioned asking that he be removed from the faculty. He felt bad and was not nice. (Laughter) He was a grumpy, mean old man, and he hadn’t changed his chemistry class for many years. He started working with me and also changed his lifestyle. He got better and gradually was able to speak louder. Between dietary changes and NeuroCranial Restructuring, his granulomas dissolved. He went back to teaching college and kept seeing me; about every two months he would come for another four-day series. At the end of his first full year back teaching, he won an award as the most popular faculty member of the year in the science department. (Laughter) He maintains that it was only because of NeuroCranial Restructuring. UE: Thanks for your time, Dr. Howell