Studies in the Osteopathic
Basic Principles: Volume
Louisa Burns, M.S., D.O., D.Sc.O.
THE EXPERIMENTAL DEMONSTRATION OF THE OSTEOPATHIC CENTERS:
THE ABDOMINAL VISCERA—CONTINUED.
Experiments upon Human Subjects.
The experiments upon human subjects verified the results secured in the
experiments upon animals.
first series of experiments upon human subjects were planned to determine
the effect of stimulation, inhibition, and an artificial lesion upon systemic
should be remembered that the experiments upon animals indicated the following
artificial lesion in the splanchnic area causes a dilatation of the intestinal
vessels, a lowering of the systemic blood pressure, a relaxation of the
gastric and intestinal walls, and the accumulation of gas in the stomach
inhibition in the same area produces the same results in less marked degree.
stimulation in the splanchnic area causes increased peristalsis, decreased
caliber of the blood vessels, increased systemic blood pressure, and the
absorption of whatever gas may be present in the stomach and intestines.
stimulation of the tissues near the thirteenth and fourteenth vertebrae
causes a rise of blood pressure and a contraction of the arterioles in
many parts of the body, and an increased heart action, by the effects of
the increased action of the supra-renal capsules.
is needless to say that these experiments could not be repeated upon human
beings. But equivalent results were secured by use of harmless methods.
first series of experiments upon human subjects were devoted to the determination
of the effects of stimulation, inhibition, and the artificial lesion upon
was secured as follows: The hands of the experimenter were placed
under the subject in such a manner that the fingers rested between the
transverse processes of the vertebrae to be affected. In this case
the eighth to the tenth thoracic vertebrae were selected. The fingers
supported the subject during the experiment. The inhibition lasted
for from three to five minutes. The exact time depended upon the
information given by the sense of touch of the experimenter. He was
able to recognize a change in the tension of the tissues when the inhibition
had been effective. (Note A.)
Inhibition Lowers Blood Pressure.
the inhibition was given the blood pressure was again taken. If the
subject were in normal condition, it was invariably found that the inhibition
had decreased the blood pressure. In some instances, the fall in
pressure amounted to fifteen millimeters of mercury. In others, the
fall was less pronounced. An average of the effects observed upon
fifteen subjects showed a decrease of eight millimeters of mercury.
lowered blood pressure was accompanied by a marked feeling of sleepiness
on the part of the subject. This sensation made the elimination of
psychical effects more easy than it might have been. None of the
tests here mentioned were made during sleep, though the subjects often
slept after the experiment was concluded. The nature of the reflexes
during sleep is being studied in connection with investigations into the
physiology of the nervous system. Mental activity was lessened in
every instance of decreased blood pressure.
some instances, the subject, who thought himself normal, was found to suffer
from contracted and hypersensitive muscles in the splanchnic region.
The inhibition of these areas then relaxed the muscles, and often in these
cases the effect of the treatment was to increase the blood pressure.
The mechanics of the procedure are evident. The abnormally contracted
muscles had been exercising an inhibition for some time, and the mechanical
inhibition simply relaxed the muscles and permitted the normal nerve impulses
to be unaffected. The rise of blood pressure indicated a return to
the condition normal to the individual.
artificial lesion was produced in eight cases. Lesions affecting
the tenth thoracic nerves decreased the blood pressure most greatly in
all the subject s examined.
thoracic lesions produced a variable decrease in the blood pressure.
Lesions affecting the twelfth thoracic nerves caused a slight fall of flood
pressure, but we were unable to demonstrate any effect directly referable
to change in the supra-renal activity by this maneuver.
Stimulation of the Splanchnic Centers.
effects of splanchnic stimulation upon the blood pressure were then tested.
About twenty people were subjects for these tests. The experiment
was conducted as in the preceding series. The subject lay quietly
upon the treating table until all pulse changes had ceased. The normal
resting blood pressure was then taken. Stimulating manipulations
were then given in the chosen area. These movements were made by
placing the fingers of either hand, or both, over the tissues between the
transverse processes of the vertebrae subjected to experiment, and then
making quick, forceful vibratory movements. In this work, also, the
sense of touch of the operator is the only test of the efficiency of the
movement during the time it is being given. The stimulating movements
were given for one or two minutes, according to requirements of the case,
as recognized by the occurrence of certain changes in the tissues which
are perceptible to the touch but not easily described. The efficient
stimulation of the tissues caused them to feel somewhat “toned up,” or
“more lively,” as some operators have expressed it.
subject usually is unable to recognize in any exact degree the nature of
the effects being produced. The effects of stimulation near the tenth
thoracic vertebra cause a rise in blood pressure up to twenty millimeters.
The average rise of blood pressure so produced is ten millimeters.
In every case subjected to experiment by a competent operator, some rise
has been observed. Not every operator is able to secure results at
the first effort, however.
of the tissues near the twelfth thoracic vertebra caused a very great rise
in the blood pressure, and also, in almost all of the subjects, a perceptible
whitening of the conjunctivae. The force of the heart beat was increased
also, but not its rate. These effects were, in the light of the experiments
upon animals, referred to an increased secretion of the supra-renals.
The effects of this stimulation were more transient than were the effects
of the stimulation of the other tissues.
manipulations which caused a rise of blood pressure usually caused also
a sense of well being, an increase of mental activity, especially of the
powers of association, and a sense of alertness. This effect was
not very pronounced in some cases, and in a few was not noticeable at all.
It is evident that no weight could be given to an answer to a direct question
along such lines, so the question was given merely as “How does it make
you feel?” or some such question. In many instances the mental effect
was the most conspicuous subjective effect of the stimulation.
of the tissues near the twelfth caused the greatest rise in blood pressure,
and this stimulation often increased the secretion of urine. In the
first experiments, this point was not mentioned, but in later tests, it
was found that this effect was produced in nearly all cases.
of the tissues near the tenth thoracic seemed to increase peristalsis.
This was determined by the sounds heard by the use of the stethoscope.
Persons who were subjected to this experiment afterward spoke of an increased
hunger and thirst. This increased hunger was noticed in some cases
where the subject of the experiment was not quite in a normal condition.
all cases, the effects of the stimulation were annulled by too long application
of the stimulating movements. If the movements were very heavy
and were continued for even five minutes, the symptoms of exhaustion of
the centers appeared, and the effects were similar to those observed after
the production of the artificial lesion.
Superficial Work Inefficient.
movements were efficient only when the deeper tissues were affected.
Superficial manipulations may produce some effects, even stimulation of
the skin alone produced perceptible effects in some cases, but the work
which secured the most conspicuous effect was that applied to the tissues
between the transverse processes of the vertebrae, and which affected the
very articular surfaces of the vertebrae, and, in the thoracic region,
the articular surfaces of the ribs.
A.—In our investigations in the Pacific College laboratories we found the
average blood pressure much lower than is that given in the text books
upon physical diagnosis. This is probably due to the character of
the climate in Los Angeles. Statistics in text books are compiled
in the laboratories of medical and scientific colleges in eastern states,
or those of the middle west, where the climate is subject to sudden and
ferocious changes. Therefore, the blood pressure I kept very much
higher than is needful in this equable climate with its sea-level air pressure.
certain delicacy of touch, acquired only through experience, is essential to
the perception of these tissue changes. This delicacy of perception is
essential to the success of an osteopath, and every student of osteopathy should
begin the education of this touch sense at the very beginning of his course.