Philosophy of Osteopathy
Andrew Taylor Still, D.O.
WHERE DISEASE IS SOWN.
Disease is evidently sown as atoms of gas fluids,
or solids. A suitable place is necessary first to deposit the active
principle of life, be that what it may. Then a responsive kind of
nourishment must be obtained by the being to be developed. Thus we
must find in animals that part of the body that can assist by action and
by qualified food to develop the being in foetal life. Reason calls
the mind to the rule of man's gestative life first, and as a basis of thought,
we look at the quickening atom, the coming being, when only by the aid
of a powerful microscope can we see the vital germ. It looks like
an atom of white fibrin or detached particle of fascia. It leaves
one parent as an atom of fascia, and to live and grow, must dwell among
friendly surroundings, and be fed by such food as contains albumen, fibrin
and lymph; also the nerve generating power and qualities, as it then and
there begins to construct a suitable form in which to live and flourish.
And as the fascia is the best suited with nerves, blood, and white corpuscles,
it is but reasonable to look for the part that is composed of the greatest
per cent of fascia, and expect it, the germ, to dwell there for support
AN ILLUSTRATION OF CONCEPTION.
When you follow the germ from father until it has
left his system of fascia, we find it flourishing in the womb, which organ
is almost a complete being of itself. The center, origin, and mother
of all fascias. It there dwells and grows to birth, and appears as
a completed being, a product of the life giving powers of the fascia.
With this foundation established we think we prove
conception, growth, and cause of all diseases to be in the fascia.
As this philosophy has chosen the fascia as a foundation
on which to stand, we hope the reader will chain his patience for a few
minutes on the subject of the fascia, and its relation to vitality.
It stands before the philosopher as one of, if not the deepest living problems
ever brought before the mind of man.
We will ask your attention in the attached effort
to describe the fascia at greater length: It being that principle that
sheathes, permeates, divides and subdivides every portion of all animal
bodies; surrounding and penetrating every muscle and all its fibers --
every artery, and every fiber and principle thereunto belonging, and grows
more wonderful as your eye is turned upon the venous system with its great
company of lymphatics, which supplies the water of life, used to reduce
too heavily thickened blood of the veins, as it approaches the heart on
its journey, to be renewed after purification and thrown back into the
arteries to patrol, nourish and supply from headquarters to the videts
of this great moving army of life, the substance of which we are now speaking.
THE GREATEST PROBLEM.
The fascia is universal in man and equal in self
to all other parts, and stands before the world today the greatest problem,
the most pleasing thought. It carries to the mind of the philosopher
the evidence, absolute, that it is the "material man," and the dwelling
place his of spiritual being. It is the house of God, the dwelling
place of the Infinite so far as man is concerned. It is the fort
which the enemy of life takes by conquest through disease and winds up
the combat and places thereon the black flag of "no quarters." That
enemy is sure to capture all forts known as human beings at some time,
although the engagement may last for many years. Procrastination
of surrender can only be obtained by giving timely support to the supply
of nourishment, with an unobstructed condition, kept up in favor of the
nerves interested in the renewal of the human system, that powerful life
force that is bequeathed to man and all other beings, and acts through
the fascia of man and beast.
A FOUNTAIN OF SUPPLY.
The fascia gives one of, if not the greatest problems
to solve as to the part it takes in life and death. It belts each
muscle, vein, nerve, and all organs of the body. It is almost a network
of nerves, cells and tubes, running to and from it; it is crossed and filled
with, no doubt, millions of nerve centers and fibers to carry on the work
of secreting and excreting fluid vital and destructive. By its action
we live, and by its failure we shrink, or swell, and die. Each muscle
plays its part in active life. Each fiber of all muscles owes its
pliability to that yielding septum-washer, that gives all muscles help
to glide over and around all adjacent muscles and ligaments, without friction
or jar. It not only lubricates the fibers but gives nourishment to
all parts of the body. Its nerves are so abundant that no atom of
flesh fails to get nerve and fluid supply therefrom.
This life is surely too short to solve the uses of
the fascia in animal forms. It penetrates even its own finest fibers
to supply and assist its gliding elasticity. Just a thought of the
completeness and universality in all parts, even though you turn the visions
of your mind to follow the infinitely fine nerves. There you see
the fascia, and in your wonder and surprise, you exclaim, "Omnipresent
in man and all other living beings of the land and sea."
Other great questions come to haunt the mind with
joy and admiration, and we can see all the beauties of life on exhibition
by that great power with which the fascia is endowed. The soul of
man with all the streams of pure living water seems to dwell in the fascia
of his body.
Does it not throw hot shot and shells of thought
into man's famishing chamber of reason; to feel that he has seen by thought
the frame work of life the dwelling place on which life sojourns?
He feels that he can find all disturbing causes of life, the place that
diseases germinate and grow, the seeds of disease and death.
CONNECTION WITH THE SPINAL
As life finds its general nutrient law in the fascia
and its nerves, we must connect them to the great source of supply by a
cord running the length of the spine, by which all nerves are supplied
by the brain. The cord throws out and supplies millions of nerves
by which all organs and parts are supplied with the elements of motion,
all go to and terminate in that great system, the fascia.
As we dip our cups deeper and deeper into the ocean
of thought we feel that the solution of life and health is close to the
field of the telescope of our mental search lights, and soon we will find
the road to health so plainly written that the wayfaring man cannot err
though he be a fool.
GOES WITH AND COVERS
As the student of anatomy explores the subject under
his knife and microscope he easily finds this membrane goes with and covers
all muscles, tendons and fibers, and separates them even to the least fiber.
All organs have a covering of this substance, though they may have names
to suit the organs, surfaces or parts spoken of.
We write much of the universality of the fascia to
impress the reader with the idea that this connecting substance must be
free at all parts to receive and discharge all fluids, if healthy to appropriate
and use in sustaining animal life, and eject all impurities that health
may not be impaired by the dead and poisoning fluids. Thus a knowledge
of the universal extent of the fascia is almost imperative, and is one
of the greatest aids to the person who seeks cause of disease. He
of all men should know more of the fascia, and when disease is local or
general. That the fascia and its nerves demand his attention first,
and on his knowledge of the same, much of his success, and the life of
his patients do depend.
Will the student of Osteopathy stop just a moment
and see his medical contemporary plow the skin with the needle of his hypodermic
syringe. He drives it into and unloads his morphine and other poisonous
drugs under the skin, and into the very center of the nerves of the superficial
fascia. He produces paralysis of all nerves by this method, just
as certainly as if he had put his poison in the cerebellum, but not so
certain to produce instantaneous death as to unload in the brain.
But if he is faithfully ignorant, he will kill just as certainly at one
place as the other, because the poisonous effects can be easily taken to
every fiber of the whole body by the nerves and fibers of the fascia.
When you deal with the fascia you deal and do business
with the branch offices of the brain, and under the general corporation
law, the same as the brain itself, and why not treat it with the same degree
The doctor of medicine does effectual work through
the medium of the fascia. Why not you relax, contract, stimulate
and clean the whole system of all diseases by that willing and sufficient
power to renovate all parts of the system, from deadly compounds that generate
through delay and stagnation of fluids while in the fascia. Our school
is young, but the laws that govern life are as old as the hours of all
ages. We may find much that has never been written nor practiced
before, but all such discoveries are truths born with the birth of eternity.
old as God and as true as life.
The difference between a philosopher and a less powerful
thinker is one observes alone, and depends on his own powers of mind to
arrive at truth. Another lacks self confidence and mental energy.
PROOFS IN CONTAGION.
If disease is so highly attenuated, so etherial,
and penetrable in quality, and multiple in atoms; and a breath of air two
quarts or more taken into the lungs fully charged with contagion, how many
thousand air cells could be impregnated by one single breath? Say
we take a case of measles into a schoolroom of sixty pupils, in a warm
and poorly oxygenized atmosphere all day, would not the living gas thrown
off from active measles enter and irritate the air cells and close the
most irritable cells with the poisonous gas retained for active development
in those womb-like departments in the lungs.
Now you have the seeds in thousands of cells, which
are as vital and well supplied by nerves and blood as the womb itself.
Would not reason see the development of millions more of the vital beings
who get their nourishment from the vitality found in the human fascia,
which comes nearer to the surface in the lungs than in any part of the
system, except it be the womb.
In proof of the certainty of measles being taken
up by the lungs at one breath and caught by the secretions and conveyed
to the universal system of fascia to develop the contagion, I will give
the case of one of my boys who was sick with cold as I supposed; watering
of eyes, cough, fever and headache. He was in the country about eight
miles from home, and on our return stopped to get his books at a small
school house. He ran in, picked up his books that were lying upon
the desk, walked the length of the room which was about forty feet, was
not there over one-half minute and in just nine days forty-two children
broke out with measles. So certain is contagion to be taken up by
the nerves and vitalizing fluids of the fascia.
It seems that all the fascia needs to develop anything
is to have the seed planted in its arms for construction, the work will
be done, labeled, and handed out for inspection by the inspectors of all
STUDY OF NERVES AND FASCIA.
We must remember as we reason on the power of life
which is located in the fascia, that it occupies the whole body, and should
we find a local region that is disordered and wish to, we can relieve that
part through that local plexus of nerves which controls that organ and
division. Thus your attention should be directed to all nerves of
that part. Sensory, to modify sensation, blood must not be let run
to the part by wild motion, its flow must be gentle to suit the demands
of nutrition, otherwise weakness takes the place of strength, then we lose
the benefits of the nerves of nutrition, by which strength of all systems
of force are kept in action during life.
Suppose the nerves that supply the lungs with motion
should stop, the lungs would stop also; suppose they should half stop,
the lungs would surely half stop. Now we must reason, if we succeed
in relieving lungs, that all kinds of nerves are found in them. The
lungs move, thus you find motor; they have feeling, thus the sensory; they
grow by nutrition, (thus the nutrient nerves;) they move by will, or without
it; they have a voluntary and involuntary system; they move in sleep by
the involuntary system.
The blood supply comes under the motor system of
nerves, and delivers at proper places for the convenience of the nerves
of nutrition. The sensory nerves limit the supply of arterial blood
to the quantity necessary, as the construction is going on by each successive
stroke of the heart. They limit the action of the lungs, receive
and expel air in quantities sufficient to keep up purity of the blood,
etc. With this foundation we observe if too great action of the motor
nerves, shows by breathing too often to be normal, we are admonished to
reduce breathing by addressing attention to the sensory nerves of lungs,
in order that the blood may pass through the veins, whose irritability
has refused to receive the blood, farther than arterial terminals.
So soon as sensation is reduced relaxation of nerve fibers of veins tolerates
the passage of venous blood, which is deposited in the spongy portions
of the lungs in such quantities as to overcome the activity of the nerves
of renovation that accompanies the fascia in its process of ejection of
all fluids that have been detained an abnormal time, first in the region
of the fascia, then in the arterial and venous circulation. Thus
you see what must be done. The veins as channels must carry away
all blood as soon as it has deposited its nutrient supplies to the places
for which it is constructed, otherwise, by delay vitality by asphyxia is
lost to the blood which calls a greater force of the arterial pumps to
drive the blood through the parts, ruptures its capillaries and deposits
the blood in the mucous membrane; until nerves of the fascia becomes powerless
by surrounding pressure, which causes through the sensory nerves an irritability
at the heart, which puts in force all its powers of motion.
Webster's definition of tumefaction is to swell by
any fluids or solids being detained abnormally at any place in the body.
The location may be in, or on any part.of the system.
No part is exempt; even the brain, heart, lungs, liver, stomach and bowels,
bladder, kidneys, uterus, lymphatics, glands, nerves, veins, arteries,
skin and all membranes are subject to swellings locally or generally, and
with equal certainty they perish and shrink away. If either condition should
exist death to the parts or all of the body will occur from want of nutrition.
Instance, in lung fever which begins when swelling is established in lymphatics
of lungs, trachea, nostrils, throat and face. At once you see the
pressure on the nerve fibers compressed to such degree that they cannot
operate excretories of lungs, or any part of the pulmonary system.
Veins, suspended by irritation of the nerves, arteries are excited to fever
heat in action with increase of tumefaction. A tumefying condition
undoubtedly marks the beginning of all catarrhal diseases. Its ravages
extend to the diseases of the fall and winter seasons. They are so marked
on examination that the most skeptical cannot dispute or doubt the truth
of this position. In fact he is already committed to a belief that
there is something in the fluids that he must purify by the chemical process
MEDICAL DOCTOR'S TREATMENT.
He looks on, and treats winter diseases with powerful purgatives,
sweats, blisters, hot and cold applications with a view to remove congesting
fluids. He is not very certain which team of medical power he can depend
on. He hitches up many kinds of drugs hoping that that a few of them may
be able to carry the burden. He bridles his horses with opium, loads them
down with purgative powders, and whips them through with castor oil, and for
fear they will not travel fast enough he uses as a spur a delicately formed
instrument known as the hypodermic syringe. He punches and prods until
his horses fall exhausted. Disease and death should give him a large pension
for the assistance he has rendered in their service. All is guess work
whose father and mother are "Tradition and Ignorance." Ignorance of the kind
that is wholly inexcusable to anyone but a medical doctor. An Osteopath
who does not understand the general law of tumefaction of the whole system is
not excusable from the fact that tumefaction, disease and death are so plainly
written on the face of all diseases that the blind need not have eyes to see,
nor the philosopher any brain to enable him to know this foundation is the highest
known truth of all man's intellectual possessions. Thus by the law of
tumefaction, death can and does succumb to its indomintable will. Observations
without record will show any fair minded person that tumefaction does cause
death in the majority of cases. But another power is equally as effective
in destruction of life which is just the reverse of tumefaction. It destroys
by withholding nutrition and all of the fluids; the effect is starvation, shrinkage
and death. Thus you see it is equally certain in results. In the
one case death ensues from an overplus of unappropriated fluids of nutrition,
in the other there is no appropriation to sustain animal life and the patient
dies from starvation. The same law holds good in the parts as well as
in the whole body.