Philosophy of Osteopathy
Andrew Taylor Still, D.O.




    When we reason for causes we must begin with facts, and hold them constantly in line for action, and use, all the time.  It would be good advice never to enter a contest without your saber is of the purest steel of reason.  By such only can you cut your way to the magazine of truth.

    As we line up to learn something of the cause of fever, we are met by heat, a living fact.  Does that put the machinery of your mind in motion?  If not, what will arouse your mental energy?  You see that heat is not like cold.  It is not a horse with eyes, head, neck, body, limbs and tail; but it is as much of a being as the horse; it is a being of heat.  If cause made the horse, and cause made the heat, why not devote all energy in seeking for cause in all disturbances of life?


    Who says heat is not a union of the human gases with oxygen and other substances as they pass out of the excretory system.  By what force do parts of the engine of life move?  If by the motor power of electricity, how fast must the heart or life current run to ignite the gasolene of the body and set a person on fire and burn to fever heat?

    If we know anything of the laws of electricity, we must know velocity modulates its temperature.  Thus heat and cold are the effect.

    If we understand anatomy as we should, we know man is the greatest engine ever produced, complete in form, an electromagnet, a motor, and would be incomplete if it could not burn its own gases.

    When man is said to have fever, he is only on "fire," to burn out the deadly gases, which a perverted, dirty, abnormal, laboratory, has allowed to accumulate by friction of the journals of his body, or in the supply of vital fluids.  We are only complete when normal in all parts, -- a true compass points to the normal only.

    When reasoning on the fever subject would it not be strictly in line to suppose that the lowest perceptible grade of fever requires a less additional physical energy to remove some foreign body from the person, that at first would naturally show a very light effect upon the human system, which would be the effect of itchy


    Let us stop and reason.  Might this effect (itching) not come from obstructed gases that flow through and from the skin?  If gas should be detained in the system by the excretory ducts the substance closing the porous system would cause irritation of nerves, and increase the heart's action to such degree that the temperature is raised to fever heat, by the velocity with which electricity is brought into action.  Electricity being the force that is naturally required to contract muscles and force gases from the body.

    Let us advance higher in the scale of foreign bodies until we arrive to the condition of steam, which is more dense than gas.  Would it not take more force to discharge it?  By the same rule of reasoning we find water to be much thicker as an element than either gas or steam.

    Then we have lymph as another element, albumen, fibrin, with all the elements found in arterial and venous blood, all of which forces required to circulate, pass through and out of the system, must be increased to suit.  Therefore we are brought to this conclusion, that the different degrees of temperature do mark the density of the fluids with which the motor engine has to contend.

    If gas produces an itching sensation, would it not be reasonable to suppose that the consistence of lymph would cause elevations on the skin, such as nettle-rash.

    If this method of reasoning sustains us thus far, why not argue that albumen obstructed while in the system of the fascia would require a much greater force to put it through the skin.  The excretions of the body would cause a much greater heat to even throw the albumen as far as the cuticle.

    If a greater, with a greater velocity, why not grant to this as cause of the disturbance of motor energy equal to measles.  Let us add to this albumen a quantity of fibrin, have we not cause to expect the energy hereby required to be equal to that nerve and blood energy found in smallpox?

    If this be true, have we not a foundation in truth on which to base our conclusions?  That the difference in forces manifested is the resistance offered by the difference in the consistence of devitalized fluids which the nerves and fibers of the fascia labor to excrete.


    By close observation the philosopher who is hunting to acquaint himself with the laws of cause and effect, finds upon his voyages as an explorer, that nature as cause does construct for wise purposes; and shows as much wisdom in the construction and preparation of all bodies, beings and worlds, as the workings of those beings show when in action.

    As life, the highest known principle sent forth by nature to vivify, construct and govern all beings, it is expected to be the indweller and operator, and one of the greatest perceivable and universal laws of nature.  And when it becomes necessary to break the friendly relation between life and matter, nature closes up the channels of supply.

    It may begin its work near the heart, at the origin of the greatest blood vessels, or do its work at any point.  It may begin its closing process at the extremities of the veins or anywhere where exhausted vital fluids may enter for return to the heart for renewal by union with new material.

    As nature is never satisfied with incompleteness in anything, all interferences from whatsoever cause are sufficient for nature to call a halt and begin the work of excavation by bringing the necessary fluids, already prepared in the chemical laboratory, to dissolve and wash away all obstructing deposits previous to beginning the work of reconstruction, which is to repair all injured parts of the machinery if disabled by atmospheric cause, poisons, or otherwise.

    When nature renovates it is never satisfied to leave any obstruction in any part of the body.  All the powers of its battery force are brought in line to do duty, and never stop short of completeness which ends in perfection.  All seasons of the year come and go, and we see year in and out the perpetual processes of construction of one class of bodies, and the passing away of others.

    Vegetation builds forests, and cold builds mountains of ice to be dissolved and sent into the ocean to purify the water, and keep the brines from drying to powder, as salt.


    All the processes of earth-life, must be kept in perpetual motion to cultivate and be kept in healthy condition, or the world would wither and die, and go to the tombs of space, to join the funeral procession of other dead worlds.  Thus you see all nature comes and goes by the fiat of wisely adjusted laws.


    Read all the authors from Aeculapius to this date, and all combined leave the inquirers without a single fact as to the cause or causes of fever.

    One says fever may come from too much carbon.  Another says chemical defects may be the cause.

    I would like to agree with some of the good men of our date or the ancient theorists if I could, but they, both dead and alive, are a blank except the tons of paper they have covered all over with conjectures, and closed out by the words "Perhaps so's and howevers" spoken in all tongues and languages on earth.

    All have explored for centuries for the cause of fevers, and on return from their multiple voyages say, we hope some day to find the cause.  We have killed many dogs experimenting, but have failed to find the cause of fever.


    To think of fever, we think of animal heat.  By habit we want to know how great the heat is.  We measure by a yard stick till we find we have 1000 1020, 1040, to 1060 at this point we stop as we find too many yards of red calico to suit the size of the purse of life.  Which we think cannot consume more than 106 yards of heat.  We begin to ask for the substances that are more powerful than fire.  We try all known fire compounds and fail.  The fire department had done faithful work, and all it could bring to bear on the fire.  It had put on hose and steam, knocked shingles off and windows out, but not until the fire had ruined the house with all its inside and outside usefulness and beauties.  Another and another house gets on fire and burns just as the first did.  All are content to see the ruins and say it is the will of the Lord; never thinking for a moment that it was with the aid of the heart that the brain burned up the body.

    Of what use is a knowledge of anatomy to man if he overlooks cause and effect in the results obtained by the machinery that anatomy should teach?  He finds each part connected to all others with the wisdom that has given a set of plans and specifications that are without a flaw or omission.  The body generates its own heat and modulates to suit climate and season.  It can generate through its electro-motor system far beyond the kindly normal, to the highest known fever heat, and is capable of modulations far above or below normal.  A knowledge of Osteopathy will prepare you to bring the system under the rulings of the physical laws of life.  Fever is electric heat only.


(Med.) The science of the signs or symptoms of disease.


    The doctrine of symptoms; that part of the science of medicine which treats of the symptoms of disease.  Semeiology.

    These definitions are from Webster's International Dictionary, considered by all English speaking people as a standard authority.  Both words are chosen names to represent that system of guess work, which is now and has been used as a method of ascertaining what disease is or might be.  It is supposed to be the best method known to date to classify or name diseases, after which guessing begins in earnest. What kinds of poisons, how much and how often to use them, and guess how much good or how much harm is being done to the sick person.

    To illustrate more forcibly, to the mind of the reader that such system though honored by age is only worthy the name of guess work, as shown by the following standard authority on fevers:


    "Fever is a condition in which there are present the phenomena of rise of temperature, quickened circulation, marked tissue change, and disordered secretions.

    "The primary cause of the fever phenomena is still a mooted (discussed and debated) question, and is either a disorder of the sympathetic nervous system giving rise to disturbances of the vaso-motor filaments, or a derangement of the nerve centers located adjacent to the corpus striatum, which have been found, by experiment, to govern the processes of heat production, distribution, and dissipation.

    "Rise of temperature is the pre-eminent feature of all fevers, and can only be positively determined by the use of the clinical thermometer.  The term feverishness is used when the temperature ranges from 990 to 1000 fahr.; slight fever if 1000 or 1010; moderate, 1020 or 1030; high if 1040 or 1050 and intense if it exceed the latter.  The term hyperpyrexia is used when the temperature shows a tendency to remain at 1060 fahr. and above.

    "Quickened circulation is the rule in fevers, the frequency usually maintaining a fair ratio with the increase of the temperature.  A rise of one degree fahr. is usually attended with an increase of eight to ten beats of the pulse per minute.

    "The following table gives a fair comparison between temperature and pulse: --

A temperture of 980 F. corresponds to a pulse of 60
A temperture of 990 F. corresponds to a pulse of 70
A temperture of 1000 F. corresponds to a pulse of 80 
A temperture of 1010 F. corresponds to a pulse of 90
A temperture of 1020 F. corresponds to a pulse of 100
A temperture of 1030 F. corresponds to a pulse of 110
A temperture of 1040 F. corresponds to a pulse of 120
A temperture of 1050 F. corresponds to a pulse of 130
A temperture of 1060 F. corresponds to a pulse of 140

    "The tissue waste is marked in proportion to the severity and duration of the febrile phenomena, being slight or (nil) in febricula, and excessive in typhoid fever.

    "The disordered secretions are manifested by the deficiency in the salivary, gastric, intestinal, and nephritic secretions, the tongue being furred, the mouth clammy, and there occurring anorexia, thirst, constipation, and scanty, high-colored acid urine." [* What has the student gained by reading the above definition of this standard author and representative of present medical attainment but a labored effort to explain what he does not know.]


    Fevers are effects only.  The cause may be far from mental conclusions.  If we have a house with one bell, and ten wires each fastened to a door running to the center, all having wire connection and so arranged that to pull any one wire will set the bell in motion, and without an indicator you cannot tell which wire is disturbed, producing the effect or ringing of the bell at the center.  An electrician would know at once the cause, but to discriminate and locate the wire disturbed is the study.

    Before a bell can be heard from any door, the general battery must be charged.  Thus you see but one source of supply.  To better illustrate - we will take a house with eight rooms, and all supplied by one battery -- one is a reception room, one a parlor, one a sitting room, one bed room, one cloak room, one dining room, one. a kitchen, and one a basement room, all having wires and bells running to one bell in the clerk's office, which has an indicator for each room by numbers on its face.  If the machinery is in good order he can call and answer correctly all the time and never make a mistake.  But should he ring to call the cook and her bell keep on ringing and she and clerk could not stop it, and they summon an electrician, what would you think if he began at the parlor bell to adjust a trouble of the kitchen bell?  Surely you would not have him treat the parlor bell first, because you know the cook could only answer by the effect, or rattling of the office bell.  Hers is cause, sound at office, effect.  Now to apply this illustration, we will say a system of bells and connecting wires run to all parts or rooms of the body, from the battery of power or the brain, conveyed by the strings of wires or nerves, that are put up and run to all active or vital parts of the body.  Thus arranged we see how blood is driven to any part of the system, by the power that is sent over the nerves from the brain to the spinal cord, and from there to all nerves of each and all divisions of the body.  Then your blood that has done its work in constructing parts or all of the system, entering veins to be returned to the heart for renewal.  Each vein, great and small, has nerves with them as servants of power, to force blood back to heart through the different sets of tubes known as veins, and made to suit the duties they have to perform in the process of life.  As it travels to the heart with blood too thick to suit the lungs, the great system of lymphatics pour in water to suit demands, preparatory to entering the lungs to be purified and renewed.  Thus you see nature has amply prepared all the machinery and power to prepare material and construct all parts, and when in normal condition the mind and wisdom of God is satisfied that the machine will go on and build and run according to the plan and specification.  If this be true as nature proves at every point and principle, what can man do farther than plumb, line up, and trust to nature to get results desired, "life and health?" Can we add or suggest any improvement?  If not, what is left for us to do is to keep bells, batteries and wires in normal place and trust to normal law as given by nature.


    But few questions remain to be asked by the philosophical navigator when he sets sail to go to the cause of flux.  Would he go to blood supply?  Certainly, there must be supply previous to deposit.  Reason would cause us to combine the fact that blood must be in perpetual motion from and to the heart during life, and that law is the fiat of all nature which is indispensable and absolute.  Blood must not stop its motion nor be allowed to unduly deposit, as the heart's action is perpetual in motion.  The work is complete of the heart if it delivers blood into the exploring arteries.  Each division must to do its part fully as a normal heart does, or can in the greatest measure of health; and a normally formed heart is just as much interested in the blood that is running constantly for repairs and additions, as the whole system is on the arteries for supply.  Thus you must have perfection in shape first, and from it to all parts as far as an artery reaches.  All hindrances must be kept away from the arteries great and small.  Health permits of no stopping of blood in either the vein or artery.  If an artery cannot unload its contents a strain follows, and as an artery must have room to deposit its supplies it proceeds to build other vessels adjacent to the points of obstruction.


    Some are builded to enormous sizes.  We call them aneurisms or accommodation chambers, builded by nature's constructing ability of the arteries as deposits for blood.  The artery should pass farther on, thus you by reason must know an obstruction has limited the flow of blood, and the tumor is only an effect, and obstruction is the cause of all abnormal deposits, either from vein or artery.  Unobstructed blood cannot form a tumor, nor allow inharmony to dwell in an y part of the system.  Flux is an effect, blood supply and circulation both at variation from normal.  An artery finds veins of bowels irritated and contracted to such degree that arterial blood cannot enter veins with cargo of blood at all, and deposits its blood at terminal points in mucous membrane of bowels and when membrane fails to hold all blood so delivered, then the first blood which dies of asphyxia finds an outlet into the bowels to be carried off and out by peristaltic actions.  Thus you have a continuous deposit and discharge for arterial blood until death stops the supply.