Hi. I’m Dr. Barry Gillespie. I practice in the King of Prussia Medical Center in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, in the United States of America. Today I’m going to discuss pediatric asthma.
Dr. Barry Gillespie Recounts His Experiences with Pediatric Asthma During His Time As a Periodontist and Fledgling Years of Gillespie Approach–Craniosacral Fascial Therapy
The asthma work started in the summer of 1980, and what happened what was, in my practice on Cape Cod, I was a periodontist, at the time, and I did TMJ and saw people and children with headaches. I was seeing this boy, Jimmy, who had a headache and it was around the fifth visit, and his mother came in. I said, “How’s Jimmy doing?” She said he’s doing great. She said that not only are his headaches gone but that his sinuses are opening up, his earaches are gone and his asthma’s going.
Well, I could see in my TMJ work that how the sinuses could be opened up and how the earaches could be gone because of the TMJ in the jaw and the face. But asthma, I couldn’t see that, and we really didn’t study asthma too much in school. We kind of bypassed that. To be honest, I really blew it off to saying that, “Well, just nothing really happened there, and I just got lucky,” and something like that. But what I did was in the next group of children that were coming in, not only did I ask them if they had headaches, I would ask them if they had earaches or asthma or sinus problems or allergies or ADHD, and I went through a lot of different conditions.
In the clinical research, I was looking at children specifically for asthma, and when I was doing that, their earaches got better, the ADHD went away and a lot of great things were happening. But I was pretty much focused on asthma. At that time, of course, there was no internet, so I had to go into the medical libraries, use the hospital libraries. I went up to Boston, I read books, I got all the journals, the asthma journals. I was trying to educate myself about the anatomy and the histology and the physiology of the respiratory system. I was trying to connect that to what was happening clinically.
Dr. Barry Gillespie Discovers That Pediatric Asthma Symptoms Improve As the Body’s Fascia Releases
Basically, the fascia of the system, which we’ll talk about a little bit later, was starting to release and open up. As the body started to open up, the body could heal, and the child could breathe better.
So it was the kind of situation where, if you came into a visit, the asthma just didn’t go away like that. It went away over a series of visits. As the respiratory tissues were loosened, the child could breathe better, and the parents or the doctor usually tailed off the medication. Most of the children didn’t need medication after that. So the bottom line is that we found out that I believe that asthma is a disease of tightness. The respiratory system is tight. If we can help loosen that system, loosen the respiratory system, most children respond pretty well.
Healing Your Child was a book inspired by my son. We were watching the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996, and a swimmer came on, and the swimmer had asthma, and my son turned to me and said, “Well, why doesn’t the swimmer go to you?” I said, “Well, they don’t know about it.” He said: “Well, why don’t you write a book? You’ve got to write a book about it.” So I spent three years writing Heal Your Child, and we talked about asthma, earaches and headaches, and all the conditions that we got into in childhood. We feel, bottom line, is that there are structural issues where the children are tight and twisted, and once we start to loosen them up, there are a lot of health conditions that can get better.
We also found that it may be involved with cognitive issues, like being able to focus, being able to concentrate, being able to think well, being well to do in school, to do your math. Everything had to be loose, everything had to be free around the brain.
The Craniosacral Fascial System Involves the Expansion and Contraction of the Brain with Corresponding Sacrum Movement As Well As Fascial Tissue Throughout the Body
About 20 years ago, I felt there was a craniosacral fascial system, and I’ll describe that system a little bit. The craniosacral aspect is where the brain has to slowly expand and slowly contract. It’s this expansion and contraction over a period of seconds we call the brain as “breathing.” At the same time, the sacrum is the tailbone, and that’s gently flexing and gently extending in sync with the brain motion. Usually, with children who are having difficulty, there’s a lot of tightness around their head, and if this is their brain, there’s really little or no expansion and contraction.
As we start to treat, after the first visit, the brain will slowly start to expand and slowly start to contract. After the second and third visits, the brain will just open up a little bit more, and, eventually when we’re done, the brain will fully expand, hopefully to 100 seconds and it will fully contract to hopefully 100 seconds, where this total brain cycle—the expansion and contraction—is around 200 seconds.
Also, the fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds every muscle cell. It goes into every organ, it goes into every bone, it goes around the blood vessels, it goes around the nerves, it goes up into the eyes, it goes into the teeth, it goes from head to toe, finger to finger. It allows us to be upright. It allows us tensegrity, it allows that our organs can sit up, that they’re all not flopping down, it allows us to stand up so that we’re not like Jell-O. We have this fascial web that just holds us in place against gravity. Unfortunately, if this web gets tight, it may cause problems around a specific area.
In Pediatric Asthma Cases, the Respiratory System May Be Tight and Eased with Gillespie Approach–Craniosacral Fascial Therapy
In asthma, we believe that the respiratory system can get tight. The respiratory system is a system that I’m referring to that involves the nasal area, the nasal pharynx down into the throat, down around the larynx, down into the trachea, down to the tracheobronchial tree, down into the left and right lungs, and also into the diaphragm. This is, classically, the respiratory system. In children with asthma, there is tightness, and there might be tightness in one particular area, multiple areas or the whole thing may be tight so that the child has difficulty breathing and can’t take a breath.
Asthma is not a bacterial infection, it is not a viral infection—nobody really knows. But what I believe, what I’ve seen over 35 years, it strongly is indicated as a disease of tightness. This fascial system, this craniosacral fascial system, gets tight. Once we start to help the body free it up, the child can start to breathe better, they need less medication, and their doctor says there are improvements. Over a series of visits, the goal is to restore normal health and just restore normal breathing so the child doesn’t have asthma anymore and the child doesn’t need medication. That is the ultimate goal.
Gillespie Approach–Craniosacral Fascial Therapy May Offer Tremendous Health Benefits to Newborns, Helping These Children Avoid Suffering from a Range of Health Conditions
The newborn work is very exciting. I remember I was working on a newborn maybe around 2009. An associate of mine was invited to a hospital of birth, and we wanted to be there right when the baby was born. But as soon as the baby was born, the baby had a breathing problem, the baby had a lung problem, and the baby was taken to the NICU. So we waited two days, got a call from the parents, and we’re out at the NICU. She and I are working on the baby, and I’m holding the baby, and I’m holding the lungs, and I’ve got my eyes closed, and I’m feeling this 2-day old baby, and I’m thinking to myself: “If I didn’t know any better, this is the same strain that I see in 9-year-old kids who have asthma. It’s the same pattern here.”
We worked with this infant for a number of visits, and we felt that it had cleared. So we feel that there may be a strong correlation between birth trauma, trauma that happens in utero, during labor, during delivery and the health of the child. Whether that child has chronic headaches, whether that child has asthma, whether that child has earaches, whether that child has cognitive issues. We feel that, with many children that we see, the root of their problem started at birth through birth trauma, and no one really noticed. The child grew up with earaches, allergy problems and started to get breathing problems and bronchitis, and then they have asthma, and it’s just a progression of being tight. So it’s interesting how we started with the young children with asthma at 8, 9, 10 years old, and we feel that it’s a very strong possibility we can prevent it at birth if birth trauma is causing that tightness in the respiratory system.
Gillespie Approach–Craniosacral Fascial Therapy Is Needed As the Pediatric Asthma Incidence Rate Soars
When I first started working with asthma children, in 1980, I mean, it was rare that anybody under 4 was diagnosed with asthma. Now, in 2015, 35 years later, we have children that come in, and they’re diagnosed with asthma, and they’re 6 months old or they’re 4 months old—their doctor said they have asthma. So we feel we can trace it all the way back to possible birth trauma.
In summary, with asthma, we feel that it’s a disease of tightness. If there’s a lot of pressure, a lot of tightness in the respiratory system, whether it’d be in the nose, the nasal pharynx through the throat, larynx, trachea bronchial tree, lungs, diaphragm. With any tightness in this area and a strain in there, that system can’t function that well. When the pressure is slowly relieved over a number of visits, and the asthma starts to clear out. It’s a pretty strong indication that it sure looks like it’s a disease of tightness. So we’re excited about the future, we’re interested in basic science research, we’d love to have hospital studies, we’d love to have people come along and say: “Yeah, you’re right, it is tightness. We had clinical studies. We looked at it in the laboratory.” We need some collaboration, so I’m very excited about the future.