Dr. A. T. Still Founder of Osteopathy
M. A. Lane
Whether you are healthy or sick, whether young or old, whether rich or poor, whatever be your profession, station, or reputation, you are interested in the subject of infectious diseases, because all individuals, from the ruler of a nation and the multi-millionaire to the humblest and poorest person in the world, is liable at any moment to fall a victim to one of the diseases that, in the form of microscopic germs, is making ill or is killing some brother man.

The Apostle Paul truly says that no man liveth to himself, no man dieth to himself alone, but all men live and die together, and the millionaire's baby, as well as the millionaire himself, may be killed by the disease germ coming from the mouth of the most lowly and oppressed laborer or laborer's child in his own tenement or factory. To enlarge on these facts is the purpose of the present chapter.

Year after year the good results which follow osteopathic treatment in infectious diseases have attracted increasing attention from the osteopathic profession, and have been so highly favorable that it would certainly seem that this treatment, especially when it is given early in the course of the infection, is in reality a specific for the diseases in question. In a recent number of this magazine we spoke in detail of the remarkable results that follow osteopathic treatment in influenza, popularly called la grippe, or the grip. We have now to dwell further on certain peculiar phases of osteopathy when used for treatment of other or generally infectious diseases, and to lay before the reader certain interesting facts in addition to those written about in that recent number. These facts and their interpretation are valuable as a general contribution to the campaign of education in health and disease that is now being carried on universally by the popular magazines, the newspapers, and thru them by the various state and city health departments of the country, by the social settlements and by organized work in the public schools.

It should be explained that it is not scientifically correct to say that osteopathy is a specific for any particular infection, because that would mean that osteopathy is not a remedy for any other disease but the one in question. What is meant is that osteopathy acts in many infections as an ideal specific would act were such a specific remedy in existence. How far such remedies do exist we shall undertake to show in the present paper, while showing, at the same time, a peculiar and interesting parallel between osteopathy and certain facts in the results of scientific investigation in infectious diseases and natural and acquired immunity to them.

An infectious disease is any disease acquired thru the entrance into the body tissues of certain destructive agents, all of which are living organisms, either of the plant kind or of the animal kind, all of which multiply with great rapidity, once they find lodgement in the body, and all of which are so very minute that they can not be seen excepting in high powers of the microscope. Of these disease-producing organisms there are in the neighborhood of thirty. Some of these "germs" or "micro-organisms" as they are called, in their growth and multiplication secrete substances that are more or less toxic, or poisonous, to the body and destroy the tissues of the bodyon a large scale, if the organism be virulent, on a smaller scale if it be less virulent, or milder. The secretion of some of these organisms, on the other hand, are so mild (innocuous) in the body as to be scarcely worthy of the name toxin, or poison, but these germs are none the less deadly. In fact, the least virulent germs oftentimes are accompanied by the most extensive and deep-seated destruction of body organs and cause the most stubborn diseases, as does the tubercular bacillus.

The destruction is not caused by the germ itself or its toxin but by the attempt of the body to overcome the germ - what pathologists call the reaction of the body against the invading organism. All these germs, virulent and not, are called "pathogenic organisms", whether of the plant kind or the animal kind; pathogenic because they produce disease. In order to understand how osteopathy works in these diseases, it is needful to study a little the germs themselves - or some few types of the germs - and the diseases they cause; to study rather how the body tries to overcome the germs and their toxins.

Micro-organisms, as we have seen, are either plant forms or animal forms. Organisms called bacteria belong to the lowest forms of plant life, and the simplest forms of animal life are called protozoa. Of these low forms of plant and animal life many hundreds of kinds are known, but only a few - say about thirty - are harmful to man. Some few other kinds are harmful to the lower animals and not to man; some of those that are harmful to man are harmless for the lower animals, and some of the pathogenic germs are harmful to man and lower animals both. These varied facts have made it possible for bacteriologists to experiment on animals with germs that are also injurious to man, and artificially to reproduce in animals diseases which are common in man and study the beginnings, the progress and the termination of these diseases (and many other facts) at their leisure and under conditions impossible when the diseases are found in the human body.

Most of the infectious diseases commonly familiar are caused by bacteria - organisms of the plant kingdom; while only a few of the infectious diseases are caused by micro-organisms of the animal kingdom. Smallpox and syphilis are the most common diseases caused by animal organisms. Until very recently, it was believed that typhus fever and scarlet fever were caused by animal organisms, but it has now been shown that the invading organisms in these two diseases are bacteria, a bacillus in both cases. Bacteria are mainly of two kinds - cocci (minute spherical organisms) and bacilli (minute rod-like organisms): There are many different cocci as well as many different bacilli, and only about twenty-five of these produce disease in the human body, the others being harmless.


It is desirable to explain what infectious and contagious diseases are; rather what is sought to be conveyed by these two terms. When we say a disease is infectious we mean it is caused by one of the pathogenic germs that has invaded the body and is growing there. When we say a disease is contagious we mean that the germ causing it is readily and easily passed on from the person infected to other persons. Therefore, it would appear that all contagious diseases are infectious also, but that all infectious diseases are not necessarily contagious. This used to be the general opinion. But in recent years the confusion in this matter of infectious and contagious diseases has been slowly cleared up. All contagious diseases are infectious, but all infectious diseases are also contagious - for some persons. A non-contagious disease is caused by a germ - bacterium or animal organism - that is easily passed around. That is to say if numerous persons in a community are highly susceptible to the particular germ, numerous persons will take the germ in and it will grow in them. But it would seem to be clear that the extent of the infection (contagion in this case) will depend upon two things: first, the susceptibility of numerous persons in the community, and secondly, the method by which the germ is passed around.

Now contagion means contact, but contact can only mean contact with the germ, whether that contact is encompassed by actual touch with the infected person's body (and hence with the germ in that body) or contact apart from the person's body - the germ having been scattered about by the infected person in one or another way.

There is, therefore, in fact, no real distinction between infection and contagion. If all but a few persons in a community are immune to a germ, such a germ may be brought into contact with such persons - they may actually take it in - but it will not grow in their tissues, and the disease cannot be called contagious, in the old meaning of the word. Few persons in the world are susceptible to leprosy. Therefore, this disease, which was regarded as contagious, is now no longer regarded so. Contact with lepers (or with the germ) causes the disease only in an insignificant few. Bacteriologists in recent times have come to believe that all disease-making germs must be passed directly from person to person; that few if any infections - tuberculosis, pneumonia, la grippe and so on - are carried in the air or food. Close proximity to the infected person is believed to be necessary, the germ being coughed or sneezed out and directly taken in by the new victim's nose or mouth. Again germs are transmitted by animals from man to man; by flies, mosquitoes, and perhaps dogs, cats, and directly from rats to fleas, and by fleas to man, as in the bubonic plague; or by lice, as in typhus and relapsing fever. The sleeping sickness is caused by a microscopic animal organism that is conveyed by the bite of an African fly; malaria, as is well known, by a microscopic parasite transmitted from man to man by the bite of the mosquito; also, in a similar manner is yellow fever passed about among men. Scarlet fever is passed to others in the nasal and throat secretion of the patient, and the same is probably true of smallpox. Sneezing and coughing out invisible droplets of germ-laden saliva, and the taking in of these droplets into the nose and mouth of others, while the germs are yet alive, cause most, of the pneumonia and tuberculosis we see around us. Kissing is the indirect cause of we do not know how many cases of pneumonia, tuberculosis, and la grippe. Unclean habits have probably more to do with the passing about of typhoid fever than polluted water supply. As long as men are herded together like cattle in the cities and the other cattle pens of industry (men ignorant of such facts as these) the world will always be threatened with infectious diseases, or remain actual victims of them. The only reason that boils and "blood poisoning" are not as common as hunger is because only a few persons per 100,000 are susceptible to the staphylococcus pyogenes aureus, and to the streptococcus pyogenes - two insignificant invisible plant organisms bacteria - of the lowest and simplest forms of living things.

Another interesting fact about infectious disease is this: Only one kind of germ may be the cause of several different diseases so called, depending upon the location in the body where the germ chances to be growing. Thus colon bacillus may cause abscesses in the bladder, the kidney, or in other parts of the body; pneumococcus may cause bladder disease, pneumonia, or a "cold" and its toxin may cause death from kidney disease; streptococcus pyogenes may cause tonsillitis, and spreading from the tonsil through the blood may produce abscesses all over the body, or may simply stop with the tonsil; the same germ that produces inflammation of the joints (so-called rheumatism), may pass to the heart, grow there, and growing there cause what used to be called rheumatic heart. The germ of syphilis may kill its host by destroying the liver, or the blood vessels, or the kidney, or the brain. Many cases of "Bright's disease" are caused by syphilis, which
likewise may destroy the eyes of the patient if it be growing in the eye. Scores of text books of pathology have been written for the instruction of students and physicians in the details of how all these things - and many more - are accomplished by the germs of disease growing in the body.

When large numbers of persons in a community are highly susceptible to a disease germ, and this disease germ is easily passed around through some agency that is not directly under the control of man by strict quarantine, say an insect such as a fly, or a louse, or a flea, the community is appalled by an epidemic. An epidemic of disease is only some bacterium or animal organism seen at its best from its own point of view-at its worst from our point of view. But epidemics do not do one-thousandth of the damage or death that is done by the germ that takes its toll continuously, day in and day out, without becoming "epidemic" at all. It is these disease germs that are the hardest in reality to fight, because no quarantine is waged against them at all, nor can ever be waged until all men are made intelligent, and the public conscience is raised to the pitch where an injury to any one person in a community is seen to be a danger that threatens all. How can quarantine or law prevent a man from sneezing and coughing in a crowded public place, when his saliva may be, or is, loaded with destructive germs, unknown to himself or others? But such a "quarantine" would be the only one that would safeguard the people from the diseases carried by them, whether knowingly or not, in their own bodies.


One way to wipe out, or at least suspend infectious diseases would be to render the people immune to them, or at any rate render very large numbers of the people immune and thus break up the track along which the germs are carried, because if numerous islands of immunity are thus established the spread of the germs will stop when, in the course of their spread, they chance upon one of the islands ("islands" meaning immune individuals or groups of them). The hope of being able to do this raised its head high when, away back in 1890, Behring, the German bacteriologist, discovered the antitoxin for diphtheria. That was the beginning - the big beginning - of all the work that has been done in immunity to infections. This discovery likewise raised the hope of being able to cure infectious diseases by means of serums and vaccines, and the whole world knows what a fuss has been made by this hope within the past twenty-five years. It also knows how little has been accomplished by the activity of the most acute scientists in the world. Infectious diseases are still with us, and in virtually the same amount as they were previously to 1890, the year when Behring made his discovery. This does not mean that Behring and the other bacteriologists of the world were a parcel of fools. It simply means that all human science has its limitations.


Long before Behring, or any other bacteriologist, worked in this line, Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, the founder of osteopathy, began to treat infections on the principle that the body itself contained the cure, which was virtually the announcement of the theory of immunity; and Still will ultimately be given credit for this original thought in the future history of medicine. In former chapters we have told already how and why the osteopath secures results in the treatment of infectious diseases, and have explained how this treatment is in absolute agreement with the facts of infection and immunity as science understands these things today. Let us now glance at the results of osteopathic treatment of infectious diseases and the results of laboratory experiments by biological experimentalists from a point of view from which can be seen those peculiar and interesting parallelisms mentioned in the first part of this paper.

First and foremost we make no stupid, ignorant or undemonstrable claim when we say that osteopathic treatment quickly stops the growth of many pathogenic germs in the human body, especially when the infection is treated early in its course. The earlier it is given the treatment the better the results. All osteopaths know this to be true. Now this is precisely what Behring found to be the case with his antitoxin treatment for diphtheria, and it is the one important consideration in the application of the antitoxin in human diphtheria. When the powerful and highly diffusible toxins of the diphtheria organism have destroyed beyond repair vital organs of the body, neither antitoxin nor osteopathy can reconstruct them. Neither antitoxin nor osteopathy can restore the dead to life, and in such hopeless cases the patient is virtually dead long before the heart ceases to beat. But if the treatment (whether antitoxin or osteopathy) be given while there are as yet comparatively little toxins in the blood and the tissues, the antibodies that we must assume are made following osteopathic treatment which lowers tissue tension along the spine, caused by the toxins, and thus releases the nerves - these antibodies, we say, quickly neutralize the toxins, just because there is but a small quantity of them as yet present. In other words, it is easier to repel the small advance of an invading army than it is to save the country after a horde of the enemy have ravaged and sacked it and killed half the population.

The lesson to be learned here is simply this, that osteopathic treatment, in all the infections it is known to stop and cure, acts precisely as the antitoxin cure acts in diphtheria.

But this is only the first of the parallelisms we have in mind, and it is the most striking because the antitoxin for diphtheria is the only serum that has given any degree whatever of satisfaction or assurance of results even under the most favorable human conditions.


Antitoxin for diphtheria is made by growing diphtheria germs in bouillon for several weeks, killing the germs, allowing the bacteria to settle to the bottom of the flask, and then using the fluid bouillon (which contains the toxins) for injection in increasing doses into horses, until the serum of the horse is found to be sufficiently antitoxic to the toxin. One unit of antitoxin (according to the classic formula) is as much of the antitoxin as will neutralize 100 doses of the toxin, one of which will kill a 250-gram guinea pig in 96 hours.

Now this principle and procedure have been found to work well enough in diphtheria, and then only in the earlier stages of the disease, before the toxin has killed too much body tissue, but they do not work at all in any other infection. Bacteriologists and immunologists have ransacked the whole world to duplicate the results of diphtheria antitoxin in other infectious diseases (even in alcohol and drug habits) but have everywhere and all of the time failed! Small claims of success in small percentages have been made by the men who have originated some such serums, but not one of such serums has stood up! Serums have been made for all infections, but do you hear much about them? The fact that you do not hear about them is evidence enough, you can be assured, that such serums have not stood the practical tests even in slight degree, the diphtheria serum, the great king of them all, being heard of only in a way not altogether and completely satisfactory even as yet - twenty-eight years after its discovery, and full twenty-four years after its general introduction and use in all the lands of Christendom.

The anti-typhoid vaccine (not serum) now being used as a preventive of typhoid, seems to be giving excellent results, especially as used in the world's armies; but (as is the case with smallpox vaccination) its uses are entirely prophylactic (not curative) and it would be of no service if administered after one had actually contracted typhoid fever.
Let us take the germ that causes lobar pneumonia - the pneumococcus of Fraenkel (who discovered it). Some many - of the best immunologists of Europe and America have tried to make a serum which will neutralize the pneumonia toxin and cause the germs to die out in the tissues, but have failed beyond help. No use. The same attempts have been made with the germ that causes typhoid fever, but today there is no serum for typhoid fever. Serums have been tried for bubonic plague and other infections - virtually for all infections - with much the same issue. The results have all been so shadowy, so uncertain, so very here and there in their character, that any one who has common sense, to say nothing of scientific knowledge, is disposed to shrug the shoulders and fall back into the waiting line. What we want is a serum that will cure in the earliest stages-not a serum that, being given at the natural crisis of the disease "cures" patients that were just about to sit up in bed of their own natural desire and ask for bread and beefsteak! No serums of that kind will ever be talked about for more than long enough to allow the discoverer to state his methods of manufacture and promptly retire, the patient being up and engaged in his daily occupation in the meantime!

But theoretically all these serums should be in use and doing good work right along.

Now is it not strange that just those very diseases which theoretically should fall in the domain of serum cures are the very diseases which have been found to yield to osteopathic treatment when that treatment is administered early in the infection, for no osteopath would claim to have cured pneumonia or typhoid fever, when he had treated that disease just before the natural crisis, when the patient's body cells had succeeded in making the needed amount of antibodies to neutralize the toxins and to cause the germs to die out in the tissues.

Osteopaths are not afraid to collect the vital statistics in cases of pneumonia and typhoid fever which have been treated at the beginning of the invasion. Such statistics are by no means as complete as the osteopathic profession would like them to be, but there are sufficient privately gathered statistics of that kind to warrant the private conviction of numerous osteopaths that pneumonia and typhoid fever yield quickly to the treatment when early given, and the riper and fuller such statistics grow the clearer does the truth become that shines through them - uncertain as all statistics of this kind must inevitably be in favor of or against the conclusions that men (whether advocates or opponents) draw from them.

Our desire was mainly to show that the theory of immunologists runs parallel with the practical results which osteopathy finds in its treatment of infectious diseases. Many diseases which should be curable by serums (or vaccines) and are not, are found to be curable by osteopathic treatment, and osteopaths are ready, and have been ready many years, to submit to control conditions in testing the virtue of osteopathy in such diseases in a public trial, in picked cases, in a public hospital, on even terms with the best and fairest minded gentlemen in the medical profession - could such men be induced for a few days to abandon their prejudices and submit to a practical trial for the establishment of fact.

But while osteopaths at all times have been perfectly willing to submit to such a test of the virtue of their art and science, such a test would and could not be entirely satisfactory, any more than a similar test would be satisfactory in deciding upon the virtue of a serum cure. For such a trial, after all, would only be the application of the statistical method, and this method is at best a most insecure one, whether the interpretation of the results be favorable or the reverse. Long periods of time and a careful keeping of records are essential in determining the utility of any cure, or other biological reaction, unless the reaction be almost invariable; in which case the variations from the rule must be promptly understood and accounted for. The ideal method of testing osteopathy, as well as other reactions in these things, is the laboratory experimental method, when all conditions and facts are directly under the control of the experimenter, and the results, when obtained, can absolutely be reproduced at the will of the operator, such as the time when the infection goes in, the uniformity of the individuals tested, the uniformity of the conditions under which these individuals live at the time of the experiment, and have lived previously to the experiment, the material (that is, the infective material) injected, and the uniformity of the subsequent and experimental treatment and results.

The lower animals alone offer such ideal subjects of experiment, and the results in the use of such animals can be depended upon absolutely as a sure clew to the manner in which the treatment, whatever it is, can be assumed to act in the human body also, if it be possible to apply it. For that reason the osteopathic profession does not assert that laboratory experiments on animals are useless or misleading. This, indeed, was the position which the medical profession took strongly, and fought viciously, when biologists some years ago began to teach that drugs were always harmful to man just because they found in their experiments that drugs were always harmful to the lower animals. The medical doctors turned on these scientific pharmacologists (working in the universities, and distinctly not medical men at all) and fiercely denounced them for their teaching.

"You teach that drugs are harmful to man," the medical men said, "because you find them harmful to animals? But guinea pigs, rabbits, dogs and cats are not men, and you have no right to conclude that because drugs are found to injure guinea pigs and dogs, they are therefore injurious to man, and that they should not be given for the cure of diseases in the human body. You have no business drawing such conclusions. Guinea pigs and rabbits are not human beings, and just because drugs injure guinea pigs and dogs, you should not be allowed to teach that they injure man".

But the biologists had demonstrated, and are still demonstrating, a great fact, just the same, by their experiments on animals with drugs. They are still teaching their conclusions as facts and today the doctor who would use the argument quoted (which was loud in the mouths of all ignorant doctors twenty or even fifteen years ago) would be put down as an old-fogy ignorant mossback to whom no well-informed modern physician of any school would pay the slightest attention. The biologists in the universities of the world (who are not medical men at all - only scientific searchers for the facts, having no ax but the ax of truth to grind) have battered down the drug superstition by those very same experiments on animals, and by these experiments on animals have proved that drugs are always poison not only to animals but to man too. By their use of the guinea pig, the rabbit and the dog they have forced the medical profession to line up anew on the drug question, and every popular article in every popular magazine and newspaper (written by medical doctors today) warns the public against the doctor who gives drugs (with perhaps two or three exceptions) to the human body in the hope of curing disease.
No! Those who say that the osteopathic profession argues against the conclusions of science from experiments on lower animals to man are very unjust to the scientific attitude of that profession. And if, here and there, an osteopath is found who makes such an argument, he is probably under the influence of the old medical idea in that line, and is himself doing an injustice to the high scientific conscience of his own profession, as well as to the conscience and power of the world's best and most conservative scientific thinkers and experimentalists, who seek only the facts as they can be found by the best scientific methods known to men today.

Indeed, so far is the great osteopathic profession from holding any such antiquated and ignorant view, that it has put up out of its own hard and honestly earned money a great sum to endow its Research Institute in Chicago for the very purpose, among others, of using animal experiments to forward our knowledge of the results of osteopathic treatment. And this national Research Institute, supported by the money earned in the treatment of human disease by individual osteopathic practitioners, has, during the four years of its existence, used the lower animals continuously in the experiments which the workers in it have made, and are making, to develop osteopathic treatment and to draw conclusions about the effects of osteopathic treatment in man from the results of experiments made upon the lower animals. And this Institute, in time, should grow and develop, and will, it is sincerely hoped and believed, be for osteopathic science what the general movement of research has been for science in general during the past century, and especially during the past twenty-five years, in which time this very kind of research has forced a re-ordering and a deep and great reform in all opinion and belief concerning disease and its treatment in man and the lower animals.