Philosophy of Osteopathy
Andrew Taylor Still, D.O.




    Possibly less is known of the lymphatics than any other division of the life-sustaining machinery of man.  Thus ignorance of that division is equal to a total blank with the operator.  Finer nerves dwell with the lymphatics than even with the eye.  The eye is an organized effect, the lymphatics the cause; in them the spirit of life more abundantly dwells.  No atom can leave the lymphatics in an imperfect state and get a union with any part of the body.  There the atom obtains form and knowledge of how and what to do.  The lymphatics consume more of the finer fluids of the brain than the whole viscera combined.  By nature, coarser substances are necessary to construct the organs that run the blast, and rough forging divisions.  The lymphatics form, finish, temper and send the bricks to the builder with intelligence, that he may construct by adjusting all according to nature's plans and specifications.  Nature makes machinery that can produce just what is necessary, and when united, produces what the most capable minds could exact.

    The lymphatics are closely and universally connected with the spinal cord and all other nerves, long or short, universal or separate, and all drink from the waters of the brain.  By an action of the nerves of the lymphatics, a union of qualities necessary to produce gall, sugar, acids, alkalies, bone, muscle and softer parts, with the thought that elements can be changed, suspended, collected and associated and produce any chemical compound necessary to sustain animal life, wash out, salt, sweeten and preserve the being from decay and death by chemical, electric, atmospheric or climatic conditions.  By this we are admonished in ail our treatment not to wound the lymphatics, as they are undoubtedly the life giving centers and organs.  Thus it behooves us to handle them with wisdom and tenderness, for by and from them a withered limb, organ or any division of the body receives what we call reconstruction, or is builded anew, and without this cautious procedure your patient had better save his life and money by passing you by as a failure, until you are by knowledge qualified to deal with the lymphatics.


    Why not reason on the broad plain of known facts, and give the why he or she has complete prostration.  When all systems are cut off from a chance to move and execute such duties as nature has allotted to them, motor nerves must drive all substances to and sensation must judge the supply and demand.  Nutrition must be in action the time and keep all parts well supplied with power to labor or a failure is sure to appear.  We must ever remember the demands of nature on the lymphatics, liver and kidneys.  They must work all the time or a confusion for lack in their duties will mark a cripple in some function of life over which they preside.


    Dunglinson's scientific definition of the lymphaties is very extensive, comprehensive and right to the point for our use as doctors of Osteopathy.  He describes the lymphatic glands as countless in number, universally distributed all through the human body, containing vitalized water and other fluids necessary to the support of animal life, running parallel with the venous system, and more abundantly there than in other locations of the body, at the same time discharging their contents into the veins while conveying the blood back to the heart from the whole system.  Is it not reasonable to suppose that besides being nutrient centers, that they accumulate and pass water through the whole secretary and excretory systems of the body, in order to reduce nourishment to that degree from thick to thin, that it may easily pass through all tubes, ducts and vessels interested in distribution, as nournishment first, and renovation second, through the excretory ducts.  The question arises whence cometh this water?


    This leads us back to the lungs as one of the great sources of which you have been informed under the head of "Lungs, Gases and Water." With this fountain of life saving water provided by nature to wash away impurities as they accumulate in our bodies, would it not be great stupidity in us to see a human being burn to death by the fires of fever, or die from asphyxia by allowing bad or dead lymph, albumen, or any substance to load down the powers of nature and keep the blood from being washed to normal purity?  If so, let us go deeper into the study of the life-saving powers of the lymphatics.  Do we not find in death that the lymphatics are dark, and in life they are healthy and red?


    What we meet with in all diseases is dead blood, stagnant lymph, and albumen in a semi-vital or dead and decomposing condition all through the lymphatics and other parts of the body, brain, lungs, kidneys, liver and fascia.  The whole system is loaded with a confused mass of blood, that is mixed with much or little unhealthy substances, that should have been kept washed out by lymph.  Stop and view the frog's superficial lymphatic glands; you see all parts move just as regular as the heart does; they are all in motion during life.  For what purpose do they move? if not to carry the fluids to sustain by building up, while the excretory channels receive and pass out all that is of no farther use to the body.  Now we see this great system of supply is the source of construction and purity.  If this be true we must keep them normal all the time or see confused nature in the form of disease, the list through.  Thus we strike at the source of life and death when we go to the lymphatics.

    With this fountain of life-saving water, provided by nature to wash away impurities as they accumulate in our bodies, would it not be great stupidity in us to see a human being burn to death by the fires of fever, or die from asphyxia, by allowing bad or dead lymph, albumen or any substance to load down the powers of nature to keep the blood washed to normal purity?  If so let us go deeper in the study of the life-sustaining powers of
the lymphatics.


    The brain flushes the nerves of the lymphatics first, and more than any other system of the body.  No part is so small or remote that it is not in direct connection with some part or chain of the lymphatics.  The doctor of Osteopathy has much to think about when he consults natural remedies, and how they are supplied and administered, and as disease is the effect of tardy deposits in some or all parts of the body, reason would bring us to hunt a solvent of such deposits, which hinder the natural motion of blood and other fluids in functional works, which are to keep the body pure from any substance that would check vital action.  When we have searched and found that the lymphatics are almost the soul requisite of the body we then must admit that their use is equal to the abundant and universal supply of such glands.  If we think and use a homely word and say that disease is only too much dirt in the wheels of life, then we will see that nature takes this method to wash out the dirt.  As an application, pneumonia is too much dirt in the wheels of the lungs, if so we must wash out; no where can we go to a better place for water than to the lymphatics.  Are they not like a fire company with nozzles in all windows ready to Rush the burning house?


    A student of life must take in all parts, and study their uses and relations to other parts and systems.  We lay much stress on the uses of blood and the powers of the nerves, but have we any evidence that they are of more vital importance than the lymphatics?  If not let us halt at this universal system of irrigation and study its great uses in sustaining animal life.  Where are they situated in the body?  Answer by, where are they not?  No space is so small as to be out of connection with the lymphatics, with their nerves, secretary and excretory ducts.  Thus the system of lymphatics is complete and universal in the whole body.  After beholding the lymphatics distributed along all nerves, blood channels, muscles, glands and all organs of the body, from the brain to the soles of the feet, all loaded to fullness with watery liquids, we certainly can make but one conclusion as to their use, which would be to mingle with and carry out all impurities of the body, by first mixing with such substances and reducing them to that degree of fluids in fineness, that could pass through the smallest tubes of the excretory system, and by that method free the body from all deposits of either solids or fluids, and leave nourishment.


    A question: Why is he too fat and she only skin and bone, while a third is just right?  If one is just right, why not all?  If we get fat by a natural process why not reverse the process and stop at any desirable point in flesh size?  I believe the law of life is simple and natural in both respects if wisely understood.  Have we nerves of motion to carry food to all parts, organs, glands and muscles?  Have we channels to convey to all?  Have we fluids to suit all demands?  Have we brain power equal to all force needed?  Is blood formed sufficiently to fill all demands?  Does that blood contain fat, water, muscle, skin, hair and all kinds to suit each division, organ, and nerve?  If so and blood has builded too much flesh, can it not take that bulk away by returning blood to gas and other fluids?  Can that which has been done be done again?  If yes be the correct answer, then we should hope to return blood, fat, flesh and bone to gas and pass them away while in gaseous condition, and do away with all unnatural size or lack of size.  I believe that it is natural to build and destroy all material form from the lowest animated being to the greatest rolling world.  I believe no world could be constructed without strict obedience to a governing law, which gives size by addition and reduces that size by subtraction. Thus a fat man is builded by great addition, and if desired can be reduced by much subtraction, which is simply a rule of numbers.  We multiply to enlarge, also subtract when we wish a reduction.  Turn your eye for a time to the supply trains of nature.  When the crop is abundant, the lading would be great, and when the seasons do not suit, the crops are short or shorter to no lading at all.  Thus we have the fat man and the lean man.  Is it not reasonable as a conclusion of the most exacting philosophy hat the train of cars that can bring loads of stone, brick and mortar until a great bulk is formed, can also carry away until this bulk disappears in part or all?  This being my conclusion I will say by many years of careful observation of the work of creating bodies and destroying the same, that to add to is the law of giving size, and to subtract from is the law of reduction.  Both are natural, and both can be made practical in the reduction or addition of flesh, when found too great in quantity, or we can add to and give size to the starving muscle through the action of the motor and nutrient system conveyed to, and appropriated from the laboratory in which all bodily substances are formed.  Thus the philosophy is absolute, and the sky is clear to proceed with addition and subtraction of flesh.  I believe I am prepared to say at this time that I understand the nervous system well enough to direct the laboratory of nature and cause it through its skilled arts to unload, or reduce, he who is over-burdened with a superabundance of flesh, and add to the scanty muscle a sufficiency. to give power of comfortable locomotion and other forces, by opening the gate of the supply trains of nutrition.