Philosophy of Osteopathy
Andrew Taylor Still, D.O.




    "Let us not forget the assembling of ourselves together." Whether this quotation applies to us or not, as an Osteopath I will venture to say that the honored dead, and the honest living intelligent healers of all schools, and all systems of trying to relieve our race from disease and suffering, so far as I have been able to ascertain, have been forced to guess how to proceed when they enter the "sick room" for want of a philosophical system of procedure.  We have collected together many or few symptoms, named the disease, opened the battle, and on our side have met the enemy and fought bravely all battles very much the same way.  I have spent one-half of a century in the field trying the many methods of attacks; and used the best arms and ammunition to date, and designed to do the greatest good.  For twenty years or more I was content to be governed by the opinions and customs of older and more experienced physicians.  I gave the disease its proper name.  I gave the medicine as taught and practiced, but was not satisfied that the line of procedure was philosophically correct.


    I believe at the present time I am fully prepared to say I can offer you a more rational philosophy of what should be the physician's first object, when called to repair a vessel that has become unseaworthy by accumulated barnacles, and is placed upon the dry dock for restoration to that condition called seaworthy, again.  I believe this philosophy will sustain the strongest minds in the conclusion that our first and wisest step to successfully combat all diseases would be to inhibit first the nerves of the lymphatics, then produce muscular constricture and cause them to unload their diseased contents, and keep them unloading until renovation is absolutely complete; leaving the lymphatics in a purely healthy state, and keep them in this condition at any period of the disease.  I have long since been of the opinion that if we could keep all impurities from accumulating in the lymphatics, and never allow them to become over-loaded, we would have no such diseases as bilious fever, typhoid, mountain fever, malaria, pneumonia, flux, heart disease, brain disease, fits, insanity and on to the whole list of climatic troubles, and the troubles with the of changes of winter and summer.


    I have thought for many years that the lymphatics and cellular system of the fascia, of the brain, the lungs, and the heart throughout the whole system of blood supply, do get filled up with impure and unhealthy fluids, long before any disease makes its appearance, and that the procedure of changes known as fermentation, with its electro-magnetic disturbances, were the cause of at least ninety per cent of the diseases that we labor to relieve by some chemical preparation called drugs.  When I was fully satisfied that we were liable to do more harm than good with such remedies, I began to hunt for more reasonable methods to relieve the system of its poisonous gases and fluids, through the excretory system of the lymphatics and other channels, through which we had hoped to renovate and purify the system.


    For twenty-five years I have tried to balance myself, divert my mind from all previous methods and see if I could not get more directly to the lymphatic system of nerves, and cause the millions of vessels known to exist in the body to begin to unload their contents and continue that action until all impurities were discharged by way of the bowels, lungs, kidneys and porous system.


    At the conclusion of this philosophy I will endeavor to explain just how nature has provided to ward off diseases, by washing out before fermentation should set up in the lymphatics, from being received and retained the length of time, that destructive chemical changes would begin its work of converting elements into gas and discharging them from the system as unsuitable for nutriment.  In order to avoid this calamity we are met with two important thoughts, one of the power of the nerves of the lymphatics to dilate and contract, also that of fascia and muscle, to dilate or constrict with great force when necessary to eject substances from gland, cell, muscle and fascia.  Thus we see a cell loaded to fullness by secretion which it cannot do without; open-mouthed vessels through which it receives this fluid.  Then again the system of cellular sphincters must dilate and contract in order to retain the fluids in those cell-like parts of the body.  Now we are at the point when ready for use in other parts of the system, those sphincters must temporarily give away, that the gland may relax and dilate.  Then the universal principle of constriction throughout the whole body can discharge the contents of the lymphatics of all divisions of the body, which is surely the normal condition.  Let the lymphatics always receive and discharge naturally.  If so we have no substance detained long enough to produce fermentation, fever, sickness and death.

    I think this thought has been presented plainly enough to be fully understood and practiced by the reader, if an Osteopath.