What and Why?
Of all tissues, your brain and spinal cord are the best defended. Their structure is so completely committed to their highly specialized functions that they are slow to repair themselves and rely on being cushioned from harmful vibration and jolts by their shock-absorbing suspension.
This is provided by the bath of fluid in which they float, loosely anchored by a web of undergrowth to the tough water-proof lining of your skull and spinal bones, which form a hard flexible casing. This protects you better than several pairs of woollen socks inside an over-sized reinforced Wellington boot, an arrangement which makes it very hard to damage your feet.
But your brain is much more vulnerable, and needs all the protection it can get. Its complex pulsatile electronic activity is easily unsettled by blows far too light to tear, bruise or inflame its flesh. This happens any time you bang your head or fall on your spine heavily enough to be dazed or see ’stars’. It can make you more irritable, disoriented, forgetful, and easily fatigued for several hours, without producing any structural damage your doctor can demonstrate.
And there is one kind of subtle damage doctors do not yet recognize, which can cause serious postural problems and stubborn headaches, for decades afterwards if it is not adequately treated.
Your head bones are not rigidly locked together but hinged like a piano lid, so that they can move very slightly on each other. The movement of each joint disturbs all the others, so that your skull bones do not move independently but as a whole. The result is that your skull can either elongate from front to back and get narrower, or shorten and get wider. This enables your skull shape to pulsate very slightly, from one extreme to the other and back, six times each minute. From their origin in your skull, these pulsations ripple gently down your spine and through your limbs, where you can see them for yourself if you look for them.
These movements hinge internally on a stout fold in the tough lining of your skull, which hangs across it from side to side like a tight curtain. But it is strong enough to behave more like a girder, bracing the fixed axis around which these changes of shape occur — rather like the pivot of a see-saw. How these pulsatile movements originate is unknown. We suspect that they arise ultimately from your primal adaptive system as a medium by which you can influence the whole of your body at once. If so, they probably act like the carrier wave used in radio. You can modulate them to broadcast instinctive, wilful control and coordination of your posture and movement throughout your body.
Injuries too slight to fracture bones or bruise your brain can jam these movements and frustrate their function. If these speculations are correct, this can have much more profound long-term effects on health than grosser physical damage. Since concussion is the general disruption to brain function that accompanies such structural injuries, the term should now be extended to include these more common, subtle and debilitating functional effects.
What can I do?
Advice to maintain and maximise your health
1. Rest: Relax your routine after a heavy blow to your head or spine, to give yourself latitude for restful recovery. You may not need it, but will prolong your debility if you leave yourself no room for the rest you require. It will vary from a few hours to a few days, depending on the weight of the blow.
2. Natural Medicines: Homoeopathic Arnica 30 can be taken every half hour at first, then less frequently. Bach Rescue Remedy is an alternative, two drops in half a glass of water sipped and savoured every few minutes. Either will help you overcome the inital shock.
3. Reduce swelling: A cold damp cloth pressed firmly over any tender lump for twenty minutes will limit the swelling; refresh the cloth every minute or so. Then apply Arnica Ointment 10% if your skin is unbroken, otherwise neat Witch Hazel (Hamamelis) extract.
4. Redirect circulation: After a hot bath, wrap a cold damp cloth tightly around your body from your ribs to your pelvis, pinning it at short intervals to make it fit closely. Wear a woollen sweater over it. This will alter the balance of your circulation and nervous energy, effectively diverting blood from your head to your abdomen and relieving congestive headache or irritability. Wear it for two hours, or go to bed in it. Elderflower or lime blossom (linden) tea reinforce the effect.
5. Supplementation: The weariness and lack of concentration that lasts for days deserves a special diet for cleansing supplemented generously with Brewer’s Yeast, Vitamin C and home-made Lemon Barley Water recipe. The recipes for Egg Nog and Honey Cider Vinegar are occasional alternatives to make up as a hot beverage. The remedies for stress apply, notably supplements of Ginseng and Vitamin B15.
6. Practitioners: For any stubborn pain or disorientation which seems to stem from a past injury to skull or spine — including difficult forceps or breech delivery, or extreme skull moulding at birth- It is worth seeing a Cranial Osteopath. They will have a basic osteopathic qualification with additional postgraduate training in this speciality. The examination and treatment are very gentle and aim to identify strain or limitation of your cranial pulsations and to manipulate them back to normal. Go with a companion who can drive you home, in case you are temporarily disoriented and confused by sudden correction of faulty movements you were accustomed to. Several treatments may be required.