Blye JSWashington State Chiropractic Association Winter Conference |  Feb 2004.  [Washington State Chiropractic Association, Plexus, Dec 2003.]

For over one hundred years, chiropractors have been doing amazing things to improve the health of people.   And we have done it accessing only the bottom 20 per cent of the central nervous system.  80 per cent of the CNS (the brain and brainstem) lies sequestered beneath the 8 bony plates that make up the cranium.  And chiropractors have largely ignored those plates.  Why?

Part of the reason is the erroneous assumption, fostered by the “rigid box” model of the skull in the 1800’s, that these plates don’t move.  This theory was ultimately laid to rest in 1974 when Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathy, using the newly developed tool of cinemaroentgenography, demonstrated x-ray movies of cranial plate movement in live patients.  The rigid skull model is still in vogue in neurology today, despite its now obvious shortcomings.

Part of the reason is that there was no logical basis for most chiropractors to go above Atlas.  After all, dis-ease (in the chiropractic model) is caused by nerve pressure.  Nerve pressure that is caused by subluxations.  Subluxations are misaligned bones or stuck joints (take your pick) that result in nerve impingement.  Where’s the impingement of nerves at brain level?  How far would a cranial bone have to “misalign” to impinge the brain, or a cranial nerve?  Is that even possible?

Much of what we know today of the art of cranial manipulation comes from the field of Osteopathy.  Founded in 1865 by Andrew Still, osteopathy was based on the premise that misaligned bones, particularly the vertebrae, caused interference with the normal fluid dynamics of the healthy body.  By 1930 William O. Sutherland, D.O. had demonstrated that fluid dynamics could be altered at brain level.  He claimed that by manipulating the bones of the skull, he was resolving many serious states of illness in his patients.  Sutherland was a mentor to many of our great technique masters, and fluid dynamics has become an integral part of nearly all cranial techniques (e.g. the cranial – sacral pump mechanism).

A New Model of Dis-ease

The fluid dynamics model of classical osteopathy has held only moderate interest for subluxation – based chiropractors.  Now, however, there is a new model that offers chiropractors a logical reason for going above Atlas:  the Encephalitis/Resistance Model of Dis-ease (E/R Model).


The E/R Model proposes that many states of dis-ease occur as a result of nerve pressure at the brain/brainstem level of the CNS.  Two coinciding phenomena are required for this nerve pressure to occur:  1) chronic regional encephalitis, that is, ongoing brain swelling due to inflammation that may be limited to one or more regions of the brain, and 2) resistance caused by cranial plates that are not moving properly, e.g. subluxated. This subluxation-based model further proposes that the type of disease is related to the location of the cranial resistance and the degree of dis-ease is related to the degree of inflammation (and subsequent swelling) of the brain tissues.  This combination could produce a nearly infinite variety of bodily dysfunctions, including neurological, hormonal, and mental / emotional states.

A New Look At Inflammation

Health is the ability of a living tissue to re-organize itself.  Reorganization allows living things to repair or replace damaged (disorganized) tissue, and also to adapt to changes in the environment.  This may be done quickly and efficiently (with ease) or with relative degrees of impairment (with dis-ease).

The inflammatory process is, by far, the most common mechanism by which the body reorganizes damaged tissue.  It is both a necessary and desirable attribute of health.  Inflammation is characterized by four cardinal signs: rubor, dolor, calor, tumor – redness, pain, heat and swelling.  These are the signs of healing.  They begin immediately following the injury of tissue and continue, gradually dissipating, until the tissue is repaired.  It is important to realize that inflammation is a process:  that is, under normal circumstances, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Occasionally, however, inflammation persists well beyond a reasonable healing period.  Most commonly this occurs when the inflammatory process is “trapped” as within the capsule of a subluxated joint.  We have all seen the reddened, swollen distal joint of a “ten-key” finger.  In many cases, this arthritic finger has lingered for decades.  What you may not know is that, in many cases, this arthritis will disappear (or greatly reduce) if the joint is unlocked with an adjustment.  D.D. Palmer wrote of adjusting subluxated toes to reduce the inflammation of bunions (The Science, Art & Philosophy of Chiropractic – 1910).

The brain, too, inflames when brain tissue is injured.  The result is known as encephalitis, and occasionally as the broader term, encephalopathy.  The classical medical view of encephalitis is that it is an event, and the term is traditionally used to denote inflammation that results in increased Intracranial pressure (ICP) that is sufficient to put the patient at risk of death.  This can occur after serious head trauma, an infection such as meningitis, a severe burn, or exposure to neurotoxins such as lead or mercury.  People who “recover” from this event, in about 60 days, are often left with residual neurological, immunological, and mental / behavioral deficiencies.

In his 1992 book, Vaccination, Social Violence and Criminality, Dr. Harris Coulter made a startling hypothesis:  much of the immunologic and neurologic disorders of children are due to the post-encephalitic effects of vaccinations.  He based that assumption on the remarkable similarities between post-vaccination disorders and those documented following Von Economo’s Encephalitis, a plague that swept through Europe and America in the 1920’s, leaving thousands dead and tens of thousands with permanent disorders.  Dr. Coulter was not the first to blame vaccinations for SIDS, Autism, and Learning Disabilities, but he was the first to describe encephalitis as a probable mechanism, and to extend the relationship to antisocial and criminal behavior.  He referred to this as Post Encephalitis Syndrome.

But what if Post Encephalitis Syndrome isn’t permanent?  What if it isn’t damage?  What if it is, at least partially, nerve pressure?


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