Tad Wanveer: on glia and a return visit

Posted on 3rd April 2020
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We are delighted to be welcoming Tad Wanveer, author of the book Brain Stars, Glia Illuminating Craniosacral Therapy, back to the UK soon to present CST Touching The Brain 1 and 2 courses.

Tad worked closely with Dr. Upledger, mainly while he was a staff therapist at the Upledger clinic serving as head of the intensive therapy program, clinician, co-director of the clinic, and illustrator of various work published by Dr. Upledger, such as Cell Talk. The time spent in discussion with and working with Dr. Upledger in the clinical setting has been profound and pivotal in Tad’s understanding of the human body, the application of CranioSacral Therapy (CST), and the use of glial cell research within a CST context. 

We asked Tad to share with us a few reminders of what glial cells do, why they are important, and how our understanding of glia has grown over the last few years.

Please, remind us why we should be excited about working with glial cells?

Glial cells are major regulators of nervous system development, structure, function, and healing. I think understanding glia expands our awareness of nervous system function, and this expansion increases the effectiveness of our clinical practice

How has our understanding of glial cells grown in recent years?

Originally, nervous system function was based solely upon understanding the form and function of nerve cells. Glial cell research has revealed the critical partnership of nerve cells with glial cells and with the environment in which they function.

What do glial cells do in the central nervous system?

Glial cells are the primary regulators of the central nervous system environment. Neurons are dependent upon glia for their health, wellbeing, and ability to function. A breakdown in glial function leads to a failure in neural function, which eventually leads to neuropathology.

As craniosacral therapists our goal is to enhance the form and function of the nervous system, firstly by enhancing its connective tissue container. As we go deeper it is essential that we understand the role of glial cells and how we can build a therapeutic interface from outside the central nervous system. 

What do the courses cover?

The first course focuses on glia of the central nervous system (CNS); cerebrospinal fluid production and flow; glia regulation of CNS development; four primary ways in which the CNS communicates, three of which are through glia; healing of the CNS; and CNS specialized immune/inflammatory response. In the second course, we focus primarily on peripheral nervous system glia, the eye, retinal glial cells, motor system glia, the stress response, autonomic nervous system glia, sensory system glia, and glia in our gut called enteric glia. 

Glial cell information is a rapidly-growing field. Is the information easily understood and used in one’s clinical practice?

I take my lead from Dr. Upledger, who considered himself a simplifier of information. As he explained to me, he simplified information to “get the information into my hands,” which he said meant he could use the information most effectively to help people feel better. I have always taken his explanation as my guiding light. In the two courses, glial cell information is simplified with a focus on our hands-on experience and the usefulness of the work in our clinical practice.

What difference will this learning make to our clients?

Understanding glial cells deepens our understanding of the self-corrective process, and this, I believe, enhances our CST-work and client response to therapy.

How did you get interested in glial cells?

It began when I was working on the Upledger Intensive Programme in 2004. I noticed that people with long-standing complex issues would consistently see improvement and I began to wonder if there is a biomechanical route that links our hands to the deepest areas of the central nervous system. This question took me on a route of enquiry that has lasted ever since.

Any final words of advice for CST practitioners?

My interest in glia began with a simple question. My advice is this -- if any whisper of a question comes into your consciousness, look at it and follow wherever it takes you. Dr. Upledger listened deeply to these sorts of questions, especially the far away murmuring of a question. It was through his ability to listen and then to follow up with exploration, thought, simplification, experience, and sharing that he gifted us his profound work. 

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