Do you carry your backpack on your head? Lifestyle determines face shape & how beautiful and healthy we are.

When I was in Guatemala, deep within the mercado (the market) in Antigua, eating a bowl of delicious food, a beautiful little girl tapped me on the shoulder, carrying a single squash on the top of her head – balanced perfectly with no assistance from her hands.  She asked me “do you want to buy?” and in a flash she took the squash down from her head and offered it to me.

This isn’t the picture of the girl I describe – the girl I met was carrying just ONE squash on top of her head – with no basket, and no hands 🙂

I declined to buy the squash, and she deftly placed the squash back on her head, and literally scampered away, with the squash never in danger of falling off…her hands free and swinging.

‘How amazing!’ – I thought.  I had seen women everywhere in Guatemala carrying impossibly voluminous loads of every thing you can imagine atop their heads.  While carrying these loads, they turn their heads back and forth to look both ways before crossing the street.  They bend down to pick something up — they grab their children’s hands and walk briskly — all while balancing these incredible loads upon their heads!

I thought to myself — this little girl has probably been carrying small loads on her head ever since she could walk!  How wonderful would it be to be able to carry such loads on my own head!  It looks so much more relaxing than carrying a large backpack.

I brought a large basket home with me, and have enjoyed since carrying it on top of my head whenever I get the chance.  I learned from women in Guatemala that when  carrying a particularly heavy load, you can form a bandana-type cloth into a ring, and place it in between your head and the bottom of the basket, to protect the head a little bit from sharp protrusions from a very heavy basket.

In addition to relaxing and efficient, I realized that carrying baskets on top of the head is an incredible way to improve posture, and activate the right factors epigenetically to grow a more balanced body.  The little girls in Guatemala learn to do this from a young age, but it’s not too late to start now, especially if one is experiencing posture challenges and back pain.  We won’t benefit to the same extent that we would have, had we started when we were very young, but there are still benefits to be obtained.

What’s that?  You’ve already grown up so your bones are static?

That’s what I used to think too.  But then I saw pictures of adults whose bones had actually changed shape over the course of their adult lives.  

For example, those who suffer a stroke and become paralyzed on one side of their face — x-rays show changes in the SHAPE of bones on the paralyzed side of the face, over time.

We see the change in the muscles of the face first…but over time, through the lack of collaboration between all things – muscles, nerves, bones, etc, the bones start changing shape as well.

Stephen Hawking’s face is a stark example of bones changing shape throughout adulthood.  I respect Stephen Hawking and am aware that posting his pictures in regards to this topic could be a sensitive issue.  However, I believe this is an important concept – we must become aware of.

BERKELEY, CA – MARCH 13: Physicist Stephen Hawking speaks at Zellerbach Auditorium on the UC Berkeley campus March 13, 2007 in Berkeley, California. Hawking delivered the annual J. Robert Oppenheimer Lecture in Physics to a sold out crowd. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Stephen Hawking

As you can see, there is a very dramatic change in the shape of his entire cranium.  It almost seems as if his cranial shape has somewhat molded to the shape of his wheelchair.

The positions that we find ourselves in at rest and during work and play (in his case, it was a wheelchair, and in the case of Guatemalan women – they are often carrying loads on their heads, causing them to align their posture accordingly), greatly affects the ways  bodies grow, as well as the way cranial nerves function.  In Stephen Hawking’s case, many parts of his body were paralyzed; meaning, many nerves throughout his body weren’t carrying electrical signals from place to place in the body.

Unfortunately, due to the paralysis which resulted from Stephen Hawking’s disease, his cranial distortions increased over time, and although he had somewhat of an overbite when he was young — toward the end of his life, he had an extreme under bite.  This is just one aspect that is easy to identify — an indication that his cranial bones dramatically changed shape.  It is not an absolute indicator.  The potential of losing various teeth in the mouth can also cause the mandible to change its positioning in relationship to the rest of the face, but you can also see in the pictures that the structure – the shapes of his cranial (head and face) bones did change dramatically.

Changes in bone shape/size have also been seen and confirmed in x-rays of those who have other paralyses in their face due to other conditions.

Due to circumstances, Stephen Hawking’s cranial bone shape changed in a direction which made it harder for him to thrive.

Holistic dentistry interventions can activate factors in the body which epigenetically result in a different outcome — one in which the cranial bones grow and develop in a direction and shape which allows the patient to thrive and improve in their health.

Let’s take a look at an example – notice the growth that has been achieved in the female adult maxilla (palate) in the pictures below.

Also notice, it is not just her palate that has changed.  Her ENTIRE FACE SHAPE, as well as her ENTIRE CRANIAL SHAPE, has changed!  That means, the dimensions and shape of her HEAD have changed!  The bones in her face have changed their shape and size and direction, in some aspects.  If you are tempted to attribute the change to a difference in the tilt of the head in the before picture vs. after picture, look more closely.  Measure the distance between the ear and the tip of the nose…measure the length of her jawline…etc.

This whole-cranium change, which has improved the health and function of the patient, was achieved through non-invasive, non-surgical methods, which are employed by some holistic dentists.

When we think of dentists, we think of teeth.

But the change I’m illustrating is occurring in the cranial BONES, not the teeth, right?

So why are these changes being facilitated by a ‘mere’ dentist?

Extraordinary practitioners from every field have begun to recognize that the shape and growth level of faces and the entire cranial structure (the heads) of the people in our western modernized society have begun to drastically change, especially in the last few hundred years.

And these same practitioners have begun to realize that there are methods that can be employed to intervene.

For example, one of these professionals is Steve Y. Park, who is a Otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat) surgeon and medical doctor.

There are many other professionals who have come to this realization as well, from the fields of anesthesiology, myofunctional therapy, to physical therapy, otolaryngology and dentistry.

However, dentists already have a unique skillset which uniquely positions them to employ some methods that have been identified as proper and effective intervention (some of these methods are working inside the oral cavity with various muscles, and making, fitting, and adjusting oral appliances).


While dentists are uniquely positioned to work inside the mouth, they still require additional training in areas such as Otolaryngology, Neurology, etc, or collaboration with a variety of other medical professionals to properly utilize some of these methods within a larger context that honors the body.

While there are MANY MANY factors which influence or ‘de-influence’ the shape and amount of growth in a cranium (a head!) (which includes the face), there are methods that can be employed to re-direct the situation.

Exercises to change tongue position and function and pattern, as is taught in oral myofunctional therapy, can and should be employed, as well as physical therapy exercises – massage techniques done around the tongue and inter-pterygoid muscles.  These two things alone, can have a dramatic effect, especially when the patient is a young child.  Although it is essential to treatment for adults as well, often adults require additional intervention, as the adult body grows at a turtle’s pace in comparison to the exponential growth of children.

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ALF (Advanced Lightwire Functionals) appliance

Some of these additional interventions consist of a variety of appliances used in the mouth – tailored to each patient.  As a result, dentists are the health practitioners best suited at this point to carry this torch forward.

The dentists that have chosen to pick up and carry this torch, must gain an incredible amount of training in medical areas typically NOT associated with dentistry, but which are absolutely necessary to achieve healthy cranial and face shape, and growth level that will allow patients to either avoid issues (if the patient is a child), or to overcome many of their current health issues (if the patient is an adult).

Some of the training dentists must acquire:

  • Osteopathy, particularly Craniopathy / Cranial Sacral Therapy
  • Cranial Nerves
  • Biophysics
  • Biological Engineering
  • BioMechanics
  • Neurology, particularly in regards to how their methods allow the autonomic nervous system to relax and function properly
  • Cranial Nerves (neurology), specifically how it relates to the trigeminal nerve, which innervates many areas of the face and head, including the muscles in the mouth and each tooth!
  • Physiology/ Anatomy
  • Psychology
  • Otolaryngology – commonly known as ENT (ear, nose and throat).  This speciality is what typically encompasses airway disordered breathing, including sleep pauses and even sleep apnea.
  • Chiropractic – gentle force
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Cranial Osteopathy

How much dedication this requires of one of these extraordinary dentists!  They have waiting rooms full of patients for all of the ‘regular’ maladies for which people seek dental help, including cavities, cleanings, etc.  The critical and necessary additional training they need in the areas above must be obtained during off-hours, through traveling and participating in numerous seminars, conferences, professional study and collaborative groups, and so on.

Because this convergence of medical specialties is relatively new (1980s), especially at the level required of a dentist to facilitate truly beneficial and astounding changes and improvements, there aren’t very many dentists who have gained this extensive training and wisdom!  Many people do not understand that these extraordinary dentists even exist!

There are medical doctors and practitioners from every area of medicine that have found their way to this new paradigm of treatment and knowledge, such as Steve Y. Park; however, dentists still have the skillset that is unique among all of these areas of medicine — that skillset is working inside the mouth, and creating oral appliances.  Although these appliances are used inside the mouth, the effects of the appliances reach far beyond the mouth, as the appliance activates epigenetic signals which tell the body to continue expressing the genetic blueprint that could have developed had it not been thwarted by a variety of environmental and lifestyle factors, especially during infancy, childhood, or adolescence.

As epigenetic signals awaken, cranial bone growth is redirected, and the bones begin to change shape and direction, and bring the teeth along with them. This has a cascading effect in the body, affecting airway, oxygenation, cranial nerve health, alignment, muscle balance, posture, and even pelvic growth and shape! (And much much more!)   As you can see in the picture below, the bones of which the mouth is comprised (i.e. maxilla, mandible, and sphenoid), are touching and affecting all of the bones in the entire cranium and the entire face.  See below for a simple example which illustrates this point.


I often use the word ‘cranial’ as well as the word ‘face’, because the word ‘cranial’ or ‘cranium’ itself doesn’t often evoke the image of the face, for many people.

But, the word cranium indeed encompasses the entire head, including the face!


The ceiling of the mouth (maxilla bone) is the FLOOR of the nasal cavity!

If your maxilla bone is high and narrow, it is literally CROWDING your nasal cavity, making it more difficult for you to get enough air through your nose.  Combine this vulnerability with a seasonal allergy, or year-long allergies due to pollen, animals, or dust, and you’ve got a much bigger problem as the tissues within the already impoverished nasal cavity become inflamed, and swell.

If the maxilla had grown/developed in the shape and direction as was intended in our genetic blueprint, there would be much less vulnerability.  The maxilla wouldn’t be crowding the nasal passage.  And in fact, allergies may be reduced entirely.  Why?  When someone has trouble breathing through their nose, they tend to breath through their mouth instead, and the air which is inhaled via the mouth is not filtered as it is when it is inhaled through the nose.  The nasal cavity has at least 4 levels of filtering and tempering, which filters out dust, cools or warms the air as needed, etc.  Less dust and pollen getting through the rest of the body means less allergy!  This is just one example of how cranial distortions affect our health.

To check the status of your own palate, put your thumbs next to each other, and place them inside your mouth, up against the roof of your mouth.  Then freeze your thumbs, and slowly bring them outside the mouth to look at the shape of your own palate!  The fist picture is the shape of MY palate!  The second picture shows what the palate should be.

In medical textbooks, we see pictures of a palate as it was designed to be – not high and narrow, but wide and gently arced.

  • Mandible = lower jaw bone
  • Maxilla = upper jaw bone / palate

At this point, you may be asking ‘if our genetic blueprint has the correct shape, direction and growth level for our cranial bones, including the maxilla, why doesn’t the proper growth occur?’

We know from the discoveries of archaeologists, anthropologists, researchers scientists who test DNA, as well as from pictures of our not-so-distant ancestors, that ALL races and cultures have the genetic blueprint for fully developed cranial and face shapes.

So what interrupts and distorts the expression of our blueprint, resulting in some individuals with ‘shrinking face syndrome’ and some with healthy faces which allows for the full inhalation of oxygen though an unobstructed nasal passage and throat/airway?

This is an area that some extraordinary dentists and other practitioners have been pondering and theorizing about for quite some time.

Weston A. Price is a dentist who first observed a dramatic example of this contrast when he anthropologically documented the lifestyle and photographed the faces of ‘primitive’ cultures all over the world during the 1930s, and compared those lifestyles and craniums to those in nearby groups of those belonging to the same primitive culture, but who had begun to modernize their lifestyle, including diet.

As you can see in the picture below, the individual on the left has proper cranial development, and therefore, a wide, flat palate, wide nostrils, etc, which allows proper room for all of the teeth, many of which you can count across her smile, from left to right.  The individual on the right, however, was part of the same ethnic group, but in a family and/or village who had begun to modernize the diet.  The face is much less wide, and you can only count some teeth across the smile.

I want to reiterate that this discussion is RELATED to beauty, but beauty, is not the focus.  Beauty is merely what occurs when the body and cranium develop in the healthy manner which allows proper oxygenation, proper function of the glands and hormones in the body, etc.  In addition to beauty — joy, positivity — and peace, result.

The pictures above are available for anyone to see in Weston A. Price’s book “Nutrition & Physical Degeneration.”  His book went out of print and was ‘lost’ for several decades before the Weston A. Price Foundation was formed and brought the book back to print.

The main lifestyle difference Weston A. Price observed in healthy people and their less health counterparts was diet selection, particularly the abandonment of foods that have fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), and that also have minerals – particularly phosphorous and calcium.  (Animal and seafood offal and fat, and raw dairy contain the direct sources of these critical fat-soluble vitamins).

He found that the groups that were beginning to modernize their lifestyle and diets ingested 10 times less fat-soluble vitamins, 4 times less calcium, and 3.7 times less phosphorous.  

Further insult occurred in the replacing of animal and seafood offal and fat with sweets, sugars, vegetable fats, etc, and the high-mineral vegetables replaced with canned vegetables, jams, syrups, etc, and the traditionally prepared grains (if the culture ate any) with unfermented and improperly prepared versions.

More recently though, we have discovered additional factors which are thwarting/epigenetically down-regulating our genetic blueprint.  I will feature one of these factors here.  I will write a separate blog post soon reviewing as many factors as I have been able to identify, and once I publish that post, I will link to it here.

Harvard researcher Daniel Lieberman, previously of barefoot-research and running fame, transitioned to studying jaw and cranial growth, and how growth is influenced by things seemingly as unimportant as whether we eat harder or softer foods!   His page of research articles is here:

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His studies show that when pigs eat foods that are literally soft, the pigs’ jaw growth is thwarted: “Dietary consistency and the midline sutures in growing pigs

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This research is interesting, but doesn’t conclusively determine if hard foods are necessarily needed to achieve the full expression of our cranial blueprint.

Some people feel that we are robbing our babies of important developmental experiences by feeding them mushy foods (Baby-Led Weaning).  Others feel that through their successful experience mothering children, that it is irrelevant, and that the most important thing is diet of mothers and fathers pre-conception as well as diet after the baby is born – specifically, it is imperative that the mother, father, and baby following a Weston A. Price diet.

The reason I believe the hardness of foods COULD play a role, is that when adults undergo ALF holistic dentistry programs, the dentist sometimes creates orthotics for the mouth that causes some teeth and therefore the bones in which those teeth are set, to receive more pressure/stimulation that other teeth or areas of the bone.

As I mentioned, I will write a post listing all the factors that encourage or thwart cranial, and therefore whole-body health and development and growth, but for now, I’ll list some general areas:

  1. Nutritional and health status of the father AND mother at least 6 months prior to conception of a fetus, which influences the health of the development and genetic health of the egg or the growth of the sperm.
    1. This includes the cranial health of the mother and father as well, in terms of what this article has been illustrating.
  2. Nutrition mother receives during pregnancy.  Nutrients affect the epigenetic development of the blueprint even during fetal growth.
  3. Toxic exposure mother has during pregnancy.  Toxins interfere with the genetic expression / growth of the fetus in all aspects. – Toxins present in air, water, food, and every material we touch, as our skin is also an absorbing organ.  This includes any pharmaceutical drugs, over-the-counter drugs, anesthesia, or vaccines that the mother is given.
  4. Additional traumas sustained during pregnancy, physical and emotional
  5. Birth traumas, including how the baby exits/enters, as well as if the umbilical cord is cut before all stem cells/blood have traveled from the placenta to the baby.  These factors greatly determine the cranial nerve reflex health status of the baby as well.
  6. Lactation
  7. Modeling of posture and tongue placement/function by the parents
  8. Subjecting the baby to improper positions and improperly-timed activities through unintelligently and misguided designed car seats, baby bouncers, etc.
  9. Nutritional status of foods consumed. Bones need enough oxygen (airway and nasal cavity) as well as the rich vitamins and minerals to reach their full epigenetic potential.
  10. Toxin exposure to the child and growing child
  11. Traumas – both physical and emotional, and how those traumas are addressed, or not
  12. If the cranium has unfortunately been thwarted in its development – Orthodontic trauma – via obsolete practices, such as braces, or even headgear, exacerbates cranial distortions and will cause the cranial distortion patterns to become even more entrenched, rather than freeing them.

The mandible and maxilla (mouth cavity) are the HOUSE

The teeth are the FURNITURE

We need to make sure our house is structured in a way that can safely house furniture over the long term.

We need to make sure the house is structured in a way that provides ENOUGH ROOM for our furniture!

Would you start moving your furniture around before your walls and floor and ceiling were finished?  Nor should we do so with the teeth and the mouth cavity.  This is why braces are ridiculous, obsolete, and destructive.  They are a prime example of medical methods treating the symptoms, and ignoring the root cause.

If a child or adult has cranial distortion, or ‘shrinking face syndrome,’ how do appliances activate the body epigenetically to redirect and re-begin the growth toward a fuller expression of the genetic blueprint?

Appliances, such as the Advanced Lightwire Functionals (ALF), when used by a properly trained holistic dentist and osteopath, apply light force that is at the same time flexible and unobtrusive for the functioning of the tongue.  This light force appears to be an important key in activating and redirecting epigenetic growth.

Many dentists will deny that this can occur – but they should do some reading!  They will see from numerous case studies, such as these two which were published in medical journals, that epigenetic redirection is possible!

A recent book published by Dr. Felix Liao, named “Six-Foot Tiger, Three-Foot Cage,” is an excellent introduction to some of these concepts.

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Part of the reason so many dentists believe it is NOT possible, is because they are still operating within an outdated paradigm regarding the sutures or junctions of the cranial bones.  Because medical professionals have used cadavers for so long to study anatomy, many still believe that the sutures  in between the cranial bones are static, unmovable.  In a cadaver, the sutures ARE static…they ossify after we die!

But when we are alive, the sutures are full of movement and life, being continually rejuvenated with cerebralspinal fluid.  The cerebralspinal fluid not only circulate and rejuvenates cranial sutures, but also the entire body!  Through research done at the University of Michigan, we now know that the cerebralspinal fluid circulates all the way to our fingertips and beyond!

Although it appears that the the sutures can become less maleable as we age, they are NOT static.

When we are born, there are cranial bones which will indeed solidify and fuse together, but not all.

Have you ever seen a newborn with a conehead?

“At birth the cranium consists of a partly ossified vault (the calvarium), formed out of paper-thin membrane, and a partly ossified cranial base, formed out of cartilage.  The cartilage begins to ossify as early as the seventh week after conception, [and] the membrane a week later.”

The posterior fontanel is closed by the end of the first year”

“The anterior [fontenel] is closed by the end of the second [year].”

“Cranial suture genesis begins with the genetically coded sutures shape, which is then personally tailored by posture and movement: motion (and impact trauma) determines the final architecture of the joints.  Until [the baby’s] second year, [their] individual cranial bones remain quite independent in terms of the possibilities for movement, which makes the countless falls of childhood relatively easy for the head to absorb and distribute – the bones jar momentarily, held together and synchronized in their movement by the RTM system.  Sutural interdigitation begins to appear by the end of the second year, and is completed in the fourth year.”

“The frontal (metric) suture does not close until the fourth year.”

The triple-layer architecture of most cranial bones(smooth dense cortical bone on the outside, honeycomb or dipodic bone in the middle, and another layer of cortical bone on the inside) does not become formed until the fourth year.

“The full interlocking and formation of what Sutherland called the “articular gears” is in place by age six.”

“Both the occipital and sphenoidal cephalad portions do not ossify until the seventh to eight year.”

“If the sphenobasiliar joint ossifies, it does so at the same time as the sacrum, between the twentieth and twenty-fifth year.

 – The Heart of Listening’ by Hugh Milne, page 16

Even after the twenty-fifth year, the sutures are still not static.  If they were completely static, there would be very few options regarding treatment.  But because the sutures are NOT static, they can accommodate the change in shape of the bones as they grow and change throughout our lives, as they did for Stephen Hawking.

The cerebralspinal fluid that circulates to the cranial sutures, as well as throughout the entire body, pulse rhythmically, and was observed by various people including a surgeon, who went on to develop what is now known as ‘CranioSacral Therapy’, which can be viewed as a form of Osteopathy.

Many doctors don’t recognize this vital movement and system (cerebralspinal fluids) within the body.

To learn more about this incredible movement within the body, that is taken into primary consideration during ALF cranial-facial treatments by trained holistic dentists, read this amazing paper by John Upledger.

Finally, to illustrate how a simple lifestyle habit can epigenetically influence our entire body, and its growth and shape, let’s go back to the women in Guatemala.

In America, we carry items in backpacks, briefcases, and purses.  No matter how well designed the backpack, it is always a stress on the body, pulling the body out of alignment.  When you carry something on your head, as the women do in Guatemala, your body intuitively aligns itself, to be able to carry the load most efficiently.  Of course, if we have developed cranial distortions, and the cascading distortions throughout our entire body, it may not feel intuitive and we may not know how to align our posture to carry the load efficiently, but, it still might be worth a try.

Proper posture of the tongue, as well as proper posture of the entire body, while at rest, work and play IS a lifestyle element that epigenetically changes our bodies over the course of our life.

If you are hoping to get pregnant and have a healthy child, it is imperative that you assess the status of your own health and the development of your own cranium and face.  Mothers often say that the babies they birth AFTER they themselves obtain holistic dental treatment are incredibly healthier in all aspects than their babies born before they obtained treatment.

If you have any health issues, or if you feel a lack of energy, of if you simply feel anxiety or depression or a lack of strength — anything!  — consider the shape of your cranium and your bite.  There are many ways to assess the health status of your cranial shape and growth thus far, but that will be the subject of a future post.  It is also somewhat difficult to find holistic dentists that are properly trained in order to achieve safe and health results.  If you are interested in pursuing treatment, the ALF Interface Directory is a good place to start to find a holistic dentist.  Make sure that they actively participate in an ALF study group somewhere in the country to ensure that they are a lifelong learner who has access to other professionals to discuss challenging cases.

Maybe we all need to get our baskets on…..literally ON…the top of our heads 🙂  Try it — you might like it!  I think it would be especially great for children to start carrying things on their heads!

Esther Gokhale offers a free video about the activity of carrying loads atop the head.




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