Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF)
Cerebrospinal Fluid, or CSF for short. Most blog posts that you will read about on my page reference back to the value of cerebrospinal fluid’s vital function in brain health. Our understanding of how cerebrospinal fluid flows throughout the brain, spinal cord, cranium and spine has recently changed with new research identifying what actually drives CSF movement. At this point, you might be wondering how the flow of Cerebrospinal Fluid works. Recent studies have shown that the primary pump responsible for driving the movement of cerebrospinal fluid through the brain and spinal cord tissue is respiration. Or, in other words, breathing in and breathing out.
Illustration showing how CSF moves upwards and venous blood moves towards the heart with inspiration.
Yes, the mechanical system consisting of lungs, pericardium, diaphragm, intercostal muscles and the nerves that control and regulate these structures are at the root of healthy cerebrospinal fluid flow. While we are asleep, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) moves upwards into the skull when one take in a breath (inspires), while at the same time venous blood is pulled down a pressure gradient towards the heart from the large internal jugular veins and vital venous plexuses that drain the brain, brainstem and upper spinal cord. When one breathes out (expiration) cerebrospinal fluid moves out of the head and into the spine, and venous drainage slows.Thus, healthy sleep breathing maintains normal healthy cerebrospinal fluid circulation and movement.
Illustration showing the movement of venous blood upon forced inspiration (light blue arrows).
So important is the proper movement of the cerebral spinal fluid through the brain tissue, that disruption of cerebrospinal fluid flow is associated in study after study as causative of neurodegeneration. Healthy cerebrospinal fluid flow in the brain is now considered neuroprotective, or in other words, favorable to a healthy state of mind and brain.
Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis MS) , and Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) have all been linked to the reduced flow of cerebrospinal fluid through the brain tissue. The primary portal of cerebrospinal fluid flow into and out of the head is through the craniocervical junction. Once again, this vital region of human anatomy, the craniocervical junction jumps centerstage in the presence and treatment of human suffering. The atlas vertebra (the kingpin of the craniocervical junction) is the freely movable, ring-shaped bone centered in the middle of the craniocervical junction, interposing itself between the base of the skull and the top of the spinal column. Maintaining proper positioning of the five atlas joints through transdermal atlas positioning allows the cerebrospinal fluid to flow as designed into and out of the cranial vault with normal respiration. This is why obstructions to breathing can increase the risk of Neurodegenerative diseases. To learn more about our practice improving cerebrospinal fluid flow in the brain, visit this page.