Philosophy of Osteopathy
Andrew Taylor Still, D.O.
EAR WAX AND ITS USES
NATURE MAKES NOTHING IN VAIN.
That nature makes nothing in vain is an established
truth in the minds of all persons whose observation has created such persons
a desire that being my faith for many years I as d myself to try and get
a reason of why nature had made and placed in a person's head so much fine
machinery just to make a little ear wax. If nothing is made in vain,
what is that bitter stuff made for? It is always there, and more
being made all the time. I have read many authors or say so's about
ear wax, and about the best the wise or the unwise have said is that it
would keep bugs and other insects out of our heads. I thought if
that was all that it was made for nature had done a great deal to shoo
off the bugs. The idea that it was made bitter and bad to eat just
to make bugs sick was weak philosophy, if nature never did any useless
work or made anything in vain. At this time I saw the doors all open
and a good chance for the loaded mind to unload and give us other uses
for ear wax than bug food, and to lubricate the auditory nerves with dry
wax. At this time of my desire to know some positive use or object
that nature had in forming so much fine machinery and no use for its products
when made, but to pull out of the head with a hairpin, I reasoned about
so, that this dry hard wax was once in the gaseous or fluid state.
A SUCCESSFUL EXPERIMENT.
When I had about concluded to sit down with the common
herd of doctors and say that wax was wax, a fat boy of two summers was
reported to me to be dying with croup. I began to think more about
the dry wax that is always found in cases of croup, sore throat, tonsilitis,
pneumonia, and all diseases of the lungs, nose and head. On examination
I found the ear wax dried up. So I put a few drops of glycerine,
and after a minute's time a few drops of warm water in the child's head,
and kept a wet rag corked into its ear frequently for twelve hours, and
gave it Osteopathic treatment, at the end of which time all signs of croup
had disappeared. I used the glycerine to soften the wax, which combining
with water formed a harmless soap better qualified for washing the ear,
and retaining the wax in solution than anything I have tried, for it is
my opinion that the ear wax should be kept in a fluid state. When
in that state the absorbent can more readily take it up and use it in the
economy of life in this condition. The same day two ladies came to
my house, sore in lungs, necks tied up, sore throats, fever and headache.
As an experiment, in addition to Osteopathic treatment, I put a few drops
of glycerine in their ears, followed with water to wet and soften the wax
which was dry and hard, to get it back to a fluid state. Both got
better of their sore lungs and throats in a short time, and in twenty-four
hours they were about well, and lungs coughing out phlegm, easily.
From this I think that the cause of croup is simply the result of abnormality
of the cerumen system.
A QUESTION FOR AGES.
As a question of the uses of ear wax has been before
man for ages without an answer being given that passes the line of conjecture,
I think there could be no reason why a few looks through the field glass
of inquiry should not be given in a limited way on that great plane of
fertility, for the minds of our most profound thinkers. As far as
the writer can learn from reading and other methods of inquiry, the power
and use of ear wax has never been known, looked on, or thought of as one
of life's agents for good or bad health. One asks this question:
"Why are you talking about ear wax, the filthy stuff?" In answer I asked,
"What do you know about ear wax?" The answer, "I don't know or care anything
about the dirty stuff."
As my spleen is my organ of mirth, I let it bounce
against my side a few times at such ignorance and gave the wax subject
more study than ever -- I began to read all the books I could find on Anatomy,
Physiology, and Histology to get some knowledge of the machinery that the
wise architect of that greatest of all temples had made to generate wax.
At this time a conviction came to me to be sure of its uses before I gave
an opinion. I find the center of nerve supply of the ears located
at the base of the brain and side of the head, in front of the cerebellum,
just below and near the center of the brain, a little above the foramen
magnum, close to and behind the carotid arteries, deep and superficial,
just above the entry of the spinal cord to the brain. Thus it is
situated directly in communication with all nerves to and from the brain
to every part of the body. Another question, and another came only
to come and go without an answer -- such as how and where is this wax made?
Of what use is it? Why so awful bitter? Has it any living principle
above dry earth? Is it produced in the brain, lymphatics, fascia,
heart, lungs, nerves or where? How much of it would kill a man?
Would it kill at all? What is it made for? Is it used by nerves
as food, or used by lungs, heart, or any organ as an active principle in
the magnetic or electric forces?, So far all authors are silent even to
offer a speculative opinion about how it is made and its uses. So
far we get nothing from the ancient or modern writers, as to its uses or
anything that would cause a man to think that the Creator had any great
design, when he made so wisely constructed and so much machinery and gave
it such prominent place in the center of the brain. By this time
the reader be -gins to mentally ask what does this wax evangelist know
about the wax and its uses? The writer wishes to observe and respect
all nature and never be too hasty. To carefully explore all, and
never leave until he finds the cause and use that nature's hand has placed
in its works, never overlooking small packages as they often contain precious
gems. I am sure no man of brilliant mind can pass this milepost and
not hitch his team and do some precious loading. At this point my
pen will give notice to all anatomists, histologists, chemists and physiologists
that I will give "no sleep nor slumber to their eyes," until I near from
them an answer, yes or no to these questions: For what purpose did God
make ear-wax? Is it food or refuse? If food, what is nourished
by it? and how do you know your position is true and undebatable?
MEANING OF LIFE.
Life means existence; existence means subsistence;
subsistence means something to subsist on, and of the degree of refinement
to suit the being or principle whose function is to do the skilled work
which is found marked on the tressle-board of the wisest of all builders,
whose work is absolutely correct in form and action, and beautiful to behold.
It calls out the admiration of man and God himself, who did say of man,
"Not only good, but very good."
SOME QUESTIONS ASKED.
I consider ear wax one of the most important questions
before the minds of our physiologists. The first and only knowledge
of which substance begins with the observer's eye when he beholds the dry
wax as it is excreted and dropped into the cavities of the ears.
A question arises -- and stands without an answer -- is this substance
which is commonly called ear wax, technically called cerumen, is it dead
or is it alive while in this form and visible? If dead, why, and
how did it lose its life? Why has it not been consumed if once a
living substance? When alive, is it in the gaseous or fluid state?
and when alive, and consumed as nutriment by the system what does it nourish?
is the question for the philosopher's attention, not superficial, but his
deepest thought? Why is it deposited in the center of the brain if
not to impart its vital principle to all nerves interested in life and
nutrition -- both physical and spiritual. Its location, itself, would
indicate its importance. Another thought is that no better place
could be selected to establish and locate a universal supply office for
the laborers of all parts of the whole superstructure. Another question
arises: When we examine a person paralyzed on one side, why do we find
this bread of life in such great quantities on the table and not consumed?
Has not one-half of the brain and the nerves of that whole side, limbs
and all, lost their power of digestion? Is hemiplegia a dyspepsia
of the nerves of nutriment of the brain and organs of that side?
If so we have some foundation on which to build an answer why this wax
is not consumed and is dried up in the ears of the parylytic. The
answer would be that nutrition is suspended.
IN CERTAIN DISEASES, CAUSED BY COLDS.
Let us take croup, diphtheria, scarlet fever, lagrippe,
and all classes of colds -- on to pneumonia. They present about the
same symptoms, differing more in degrees of severity than of place.
All affect the tonsils, nostrils, membraneous air passages, and lungs about
the same way. Croup exceeds by contracting the trachea enough to
impede the passing of air to the lungs; diphtheria has more swelling of
the tonsils, throat and glands of the neck, but all depend upon the same
blood and nerve supply, or a general law of blood beginning with arteries
to and from veins, lymphatics, glands and ducts to supply and take away
all fluids that are of no farther use to the vital and material support.
As all authors have agreed that the brain furnishes the propelling forces
to the. nerves, it would be proper to inquire how the brain is nourished.
If so, we will begin and say the great cerebral system of arteries supply
the brain of which it gives quality of all fluids and electric and magnetic
forces, which must be generated in the brain. Then a question arises,
if the heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, lymphatics, kidneys and all parts
of the body depend upon the brain for power, what do they give in return?
If they give back anything it must be of the kind of the organ from whence
it comes; thus a kidney cannot give liver nor spleen. Each must help
to keep up the universal harmony by furnishing its mite of its own kind.
Suppose lung fever is the effect of lack of renal salts, where would be
a better place to dispatch from to renal organs than the ears to reach
the brain and touch the nerve that connects with the sympathetic ganglion.
CERUMEN IN FLUID STATE.
Suppose we take the cerumen in its fluid state, by
the secretions to the lungs from the ears and see the action of air and
other substances on it, and it on them. We may safely look for a
general action of some kind. If it be magnetic food, we will see
the magnetic power shown in the lungs, and through the whole system, vitalizing
all organs and functions of life. Thus the lymphatics will move to
wash out impurities, and the nutritive nerves will rebuild lost energy.
As but little is known or said of how or where the cerumen is formed, we
will guess it is formed under the skin in the glands of the fascia and
conveyed to the ears by the secretory ducts. Its place and how it
is manufactured is not the question of the greatest importance, but its
disease and health.
WINTER KILLS BABIES.
The writer has much reason to believe he has found
a reliable pointer for the cause of croup, diphtheria, and pneumonia; also
a rational and easy cure that any mother can administer and save the babe
from choking to death in her arms. Having witnessed croup in all
its deadly work for fifty years, and seen the best skill of each year and
generation fail to save, or even give relief, I lost all hope and grew
to believe there was no help and the doctor was only one more witness to
the scene of death and carnage found along the mysterious road that croup
travels to slay the babes of the whole earth. Of later days we have
new and different names for the disease, but alas, it kills the babe just
as it did before it was called diphtheria, la grippe and so on.
SOME ADVICE TO MOTHERS.
I write this more for the mothers than for the critics.
We say to mothers, as you are not Osteopaths, you are perfectly safe in
putting glycerine in a child's ears. It is made from oils and fats.
I believe when the wax is not consumed it clogs up the excretories with
dead matter, thus the irritation of the nerves of throat, neck, lungs and
lymphatics which give cause for the swelling of the tonsils and glands
of the neck. In this book can be found why I see wisdom in treating
for croup from the nerve centers of the brain. So far the uses and
importance of healthy ear wax as a cure for disease has had no attention
that I can find by any author on disease or physiology. I hope time
and attention may lead us to a better knowledge of the cure of diphtheria,
croup, scarlet fever and all diseases of the throat and lungs of children,
and how to cure a greater per cent than has been up to this writing.
My experience up to date with such diseases, when treated as indicated,
has been very encouraging. Though it is but a short time since I
began to treat by this method, it has proven good with the young and old.
As all authors so far seem silent even as to how
or when the wax is formed, we must resort to much careful dissection to
find the relation of the cerumen system to health. To intelligently
acquaint the mother with this treatment who does not understand anatomy
so as to give Osteopathic treatment for croup, diphtheria, and so on, I
will say; take a soft wet cloth and wash the child's neck and rub gently
down from ears to breast and shoulders; keep ears wet, often dropping in
the glycerine. Use glycerine because it will mix with the water and
dissolve the wax, while sweet oil and other oils will not do so.
A CASE IN POINT.
At 2 o'clock p. m. I called to see a babe having
malignant croup in its worst form, and examined its ears to see condition
of wax. I had noticed in consumptives that some cases had great quantities
of dry wax in one or both ears, but to this time had not thought of such
deposits being an evidence of lost or suspended action of the nerves that
cerumen. In this case I found wax dry and very hard, with much swelling
and hardness in region of ears, eustachian tubes and tonsils. I reasoned
that the excretory duct had become clogged, and that by the wax being retained
in ducts and glands an irritation of the nerves of the cervical lymphatics
had caused contraction near head, and produced congestion of the lymphatics,
of the pneumogastric, and cutting off nerves supply from lungs. Believing
this to be very likely I concluded to act on the above line of reasoning
and see if I could give some relief. I did not stop to debate why
the wax was hard and dry, but how to soften the wax was the question of
interest to me then. So I proceeded. I reasoned that soap and
water would be the best treatment to clean the ears, and soften the wax.
At this point to select the best make of soap in the ears was to be desired,
so I took pure glycerine and water, dropped in a few drops and took a small
roll of cloth, made it wet in warm water and pushed it in ears to keep
them wet. In a few minutes I wet and inserted a soft cloth cork in
the child's ears. I twisted the corks around in the ears, each time
to mix the water and the wax to a softened condition, for to keep the wax
wet was the object. In a few minutes I got the wax wet and the child
coughed up phlegm easily, and when the dreaded hour, ten o'clock at night
came, all danger had passed.
OF BRAIN AND OTHER NERVES IN DIGESTION.
If digestion is the effect of organs, fluids and
forces, then the student of nature's law must be governed by well known
truths, such as the location of the brain, connection of the nerves to
other organs, bringing all parts interested in digestion in mental view.
Thus you have a chance to know if one organ has an assisting relation to
any other organ or system or if its products are of general or of special
use. A few questions at this point of inquiry would be in place.
Does the brain give assistance in digestion, and why may we reasonably
suppose so, when digestion does its work normally and has a full, rich
supply of blood? Yet disease enters the system, and begins its work
with general weakness, swelling, wastings, and pain with some, or all the
glands congested and sore, and a plenty of rich blood all the time.
Then are we justified to go to the brain and examine the electric and magnetic
batteries? We know such forces exist but as their location in the
brain is not known farther than the fact of their existence, we do not
know how they are fed, nor from where, so we are fully warranted in seeking
a use for both powers -- magnetic and electric. One says the power
of electricity belongs more to the motor nerves and the magnetic to the
nutrient system; if not they are happily blended and give the results.
Without such forces life and motion could not be sustained. As it
is not my object to write a treatise on general physiology, I will turn
at once to the subject of the relation of life and health as affected by
the abnormal supply and action of ear wax. [* "The secretion of the external
auditory meatus, mixed with the secretion of the neighboring glands or
ceruminous glands, forms the well known ear wax or cerumen. The secretion
in this place contains a reddish pigment of a bitterish sweet taste, the
composition of which has not been investigated." -- American Text-Book
As our investigations are without the assistance of ancient
or modern writers we will have to reason that man is a machine of form and power,
forming its own parts and generating its own powers as it has use for them.
At this time we begin to reason thus, that all powers are invisible and we see
effect only. We know such forces to be abundant in nature, and life is
sustained by them. To find the substances in the body that causes them
to act and how to act, has been the object of my journey as an explorer.
If they give us health when normal action prevails and disease only when abnormal,
then we are admonished to form a more intimate acquaintance with the qualities,
and with all the products, when formed in this great laboratory which compounds
and qualifies each substance to fill its mission of force, construction, purity