Cerebrospinal Functional Medicine
Cerebrospinal Functional Medicine (CFM) is a new medical specialty developed by Dr Young Jun Lee. Dr Lee is a Korean Medicine Doctor who was also the first doctor to receive a Ph.D. in Integrative Medicine. Through persistent studies and research over many years he has found that balancing the TMJ (Temporomandibular joint) can recover structural distortions which leads to stablization of nerves. As a result, his findings have led to the formation of a new discipline of medicine which he termed ‘Cerebrospinal Functional Medicine (CFM)’ and he has published a number of materials within the field.
In CFM, it is viewed that many chronic and ‘intractable’ diseases are caused by structural imbalance which leads to problems in the nervous system. Therefore the treatment applied involves correcting structural imbalance thereby recovering the nervous system and functions of organs to normality. Also, the principle within the field recognises that TMJ is the core component in controlling the function and structure of the cerebrospinal column and whole body balance.
The core theory of CFM is ‘through balance of TMJ the whole body balance is regulated’ – meaning that TMJ balance must be achieved in order to realign the upper cervical vertebrae which allows balance of the rest of body structure and stabilization of the nervous system. Based on this theory, many years of research and clinical experience has allowed Dr Lee to develop assertive and reliable methods of diagnosis, tests and treatments as a ‘holistic approach by manipulating the TMJ’. The treatment method, referred to as Functional Cerebrospinal Therapy (FCST) consists of using intraoral appliances to balance the TMJ, realignment of upper cervical vertebrae and the rest of body structure by manipulation.
For years he was ridiculed by other doctors as he emphasised importance of TMJ. However, he has also successfully collaborated with many medical doctors, including neurosurgeons, dentists and alternative medicine professions who have accepted his theory and actively supported him in advancing this new approach to cure diseases. The work is still ongoing and a growing number of people are now recognising the significance of his findings. His seminars and professional courses provided to doctors are also increasing in popularity.
What is FCST(Functional Cerebrospinal Therapy)?
Functional Cerebrospinal Therapy (FCST) is a non-surgical treatment method currently widely applied in South Korea which normalises the nervous, hormonal and other body systems through resolving structural problems, based on CFM principles. It was developed by Dr. Lee who himself was a patient 30 years ago, suffering from paralysis in the left arm. According to Dr Lee, the cranium, spine and pelvis are core parts of our skeletal structures and distortion in any of them can affect related muscles, nervous and hormonal systems which can result in provoking a range of symptoms. FCST is a new form of treatment of 21st century which allows the core structures of our body (including cranium, spine and pelvis which can be classified as 3 points of distortion as well as TMJ) to regain balance thereby recovering normal function of nervous and other systems making it possible to cure chronic and ‘intractable’ diseases.
In order to comprehend the full mechanism, it is important to understand the following concepts which are laid out in the ‘Framework’ drop down menu:
- Importance of balanced body structure
- Importance of TMJ
- Cause of Dystonia
FCST clinic offers various therapies that are effective in relieving Dystonia symptoms. Many Dystonia patients may already be familiar with most of them, such as CranioSacral Therapy, Acupuncture and Positive Thinking. However, the therapy that allows full recovery from Dystonia (includes cervical, focal and other types of Dystonias) that is also unique to the clinic is Functional CerebroSpinal Therapy or FCST for short which was developed by Dr Lee. According to Dr Lee, the reason for this is because the therapy resolves the fundamental cause of Dystonia and other neurological disorders.
So What is FCST?
The therapy essentially resolves the following two structural problems:
- Imbalance of Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) using intraoral balancing appliances. Dr Lee uses 3 different types of balancing appliances (CBA, TBA and OBA). These are different to splints or other intraoral appliances provided from ordinary dentists:
CBA – (Cervical Balancing appliance)
A disposable custom made intraoral balancing appliance (to be worn only once upto 1 hour) which allows balance of TMJ at the optimal freeway space (also referred to as zero point) to the individual according to the cranial and spine structure until deflection* (see ‘Deflections‘). This appliance is worn during Chuna (similar to chiropractic) therapy for alignment of C1 and C2.
TBA and OBA – (TMJ Balancing Appliance) and (Occlusion Balancing Appliance)
Made of elastic material to accommodate for different occlusion and TMJ structure in individuals and is effective in balancing the TMJ throughout day and night. Occlusion balancing appliance (OBA) is for patients who also have problems with occlusion (typically for Class 2 and Class 3 malocclusion). Patients are asked to wear this device for as long as possible for faster treatment. Patients may feel pain as occlusion changes but once the optimal occlusion is achieved teeth will no longer move and cause pain.
2. Distorted upper cervical vertebrae C1 and C2, also known as Atlas and Axis, by using Chuna (similar to chiropractic) manipulation to realign them whilst wearing CBA.
Other therapies at the clinic
Other sub therapies, together with FCST, offered at the clinic help to fasten the recovery process. Ultimately, the whole treatment aims to:
- Rebalance the body structure from TMJ to the pelvis
- Stabilize the nervous system
- Regain mental stability
This section explains how TMJ affects the spine structure and the nervous system. Subsequently, explanation of how FCST is unique in treating TMJ to other treatments available is provided.
i) TMJ and structure
Movement of the TMJ is very closely related to the second cervical vertebra, C2 or also known as Axis. One might think that when the mandible opens and closes, its movement is centered around the condyle in the TMJ itself. However, this is not the case. According to the Quadrant Theorem of Guzay, the axis of rotation of the mandible lies exactly at the odontoid of C2. (The odontoid is the upward, toothlike protuberance from the second vertebra, around which the first vertebra rotates.) When the mandible moves downwards, this generates a pulling force, loosening the muscles around C2. Likewise, when moving up (i.e., when closing the mouth), it generates a pressure, which tightens the muscles around C2. This means that in an occlusion with decreased vertical dimension will aggravate muscle tension around C2 when the mouth is closed. Therefore, it is clear that distortion in TMJ will affect the position of the Axis too.
Of all 24 vertebrae in the spine (7 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar), there is only one vertebra with an odontoid/axis, which is C2. Therefore, the Axis plays a key role in the balance of the entire spine. Together with the TMJ, C2 is the most significant variable affecting the entire spine structure.
So what happens next after subluxation of Axis? The rest of the spine collapses like in the domino effect even affecting position of the cranial bones and pelvis. This is explained by Lovetts reactor relationship.
According to Lovett Reactor relationship, each vertebra is coupled in motion with another vertebra and the pelvis is coupled in motion to the cranium. C1 + L5, C2 + L4 and C3 + L5 automatically move in the same direction (also known as coupling movement). The other vertebrae pairs, for example C4 + L2 move in the opposite direction. Therefore, impact on one vertebra influences other vertebrae in the spine.
Therefore, TMJ distortion causes subluxation of C2 (Axis) which leads to the collapse of the rest of the body structure.
ii) TMJ and nerves
Nine of the 12 cranial nerves are found near the temporal bones from which the mandible is suspended. Particularly, the 5th cranial nerve (also known as trigeminal nerve) innervates the TMJ and are coupled to C1 and C2 (Atlas and Axis). The cranial nerves together control 136 different muscles (or 68 pairs of “dental muscles”) connecting the entire spine. According to Dr Lee, misalignment of TMJ disturbs the trigeminal nerve and it can lead to problems in the rest of the nervous system. Problems in the nervous system may cause abnormal muscle contractions and pain due to central sensitization and wider range of brain plasticity.
Not only this, TMJ distortion which causes subluxation of C1 and C2 can limit the space of foramen magnum (which is an opening at the base of the skull) through which the cerebrospinal fluid circulates. This can negatively impact the body-brain communication and also cause restriction of the jugular foramen, another opening in the base of the skull transmitting veins, arteries, and nerves. Restriction in these openings can mean less efficient brain respiration due to decrease in the cerebrospinal fluid circulation and can also limit proper flow of blood to the brain.
The link below is a demonstration of how subluxation of upper cervical vertebrae restricts the jugular foramen. (Click slideshow in the file)
In conclusion, TMJ is the most important factor which contributes to collapse of spine structure and disruption of the nervous system.
iii) What causes TMJ imbalance?
Many people think that TMD (TMJ Dysfunction) is mostly caused by trauma (i.e. injury) to the jaw. However, there are many other causes of TMD including the following:
- Chewing on one side consistently
- Neglect of missing tooth
- Trauma due to complications of head and neck injury and traffic accident
- Bad oral habits
- Genetic or congenital problems
- Solid foods and chewing gum
- Mental stress
- Teeth grinding (Bruxism)
- Bad habits such as poor posture
When patients first experience TMJ problems, they may feel pain around the jaw area, develop headache or problems chewing. However, once TMD becomes chronic the symptoms are not only concentrated on the facial area but patients start suffering variety of symptoms including pains going down to the neck and back and psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Below is another study carried out where one TMD patient was sent to different specialists and the following were her diagnosis from each of them:
It can be said that TMJ is the only joint in our body which causes such different symptoms between acute and chronic patients. Usually, for other joint related illnesses, the symptoms do not involve much more than pains around the affected joint area. However, studies have found that many chronic TMD sufferers not only experience pains and depression but also indigestion, allergies, chronic fatigue, dry/soar eyes, eczema, difficulties in hearing, loss of coordination, numbness in the limbs and fingers, tinnitus, asthma, cold hands and feet, apnoea, vertigo and many others. This can be explained by the impact TMJ imbalance has on the rest of our body structure and the nervous system as described above.
iv) How can TMJ imbalance be resolved?
There are various dental treatments, surgeries and other practices in both medical field and alternative medicine today but it may be very difficult to find treatments that are effective for all sufferers. So how is FCST different?
Dr Lee’s holistic approach is unique in that he treats TMD taking into account all of the following factors:
- Freeway space* (see below)
- Position of the Cranium, TMJ, Spine and Sacrum
Ultimately, this treatment aims to achieve the optimal balance (left, right, front and back) from top to bottom of our entire body. Once this optimal balance is achieved in the entire body and patients no longer experience Deflections it is viewed that patients do not require further treatment.
* Freeway space
A freeway space is the space that exists between the upper and lower articulatory members at rest. It is only when we swallow that the teeth make contact in order to create pressure. The space varies from 1-8 mm but most people tolerate a space in the 2-3 mm region. According to Dr Lee, even 1/10 of a mm defect in the freeway space can distort the TMJ (and therefore causing problems with the nervous system). A splint made of hard material, although custom made, does not allow flexibility when there are muscular and/or structural changes in the individuals as a result of wearing the device, making it difficult to settle at the precise freeway space. Therefore, his intraoral balancing appliances are designed to fix this flaw. During treatments he uses special thin sheets of paper for optimal balance (sometimes referred to as zero point).