Philosophy of Osteopathy
Andrew Taylor Still, D.O.




    If a thousand kinds of fluids exist in our bodies a thousand uses require their help, or they would not appear.  Thus to know how and why they help in the economy of life is the study of he who acts only when he knows at what places each must appear, and fill the part and use for which it is designed.  If the demand for a substance is absolute its chance to act and answer that call and obey such command must not be hindered while in preparation, nor on its journey to local destination, for by its power all action may depend.  Thus blood, albumen, gall, acids, alkalies, oils, brain fluid and other substances formed by associations while in physiological processes of formation must be on time in place and measured abundantly, that the biogenic
laws of nature can have full power with time to act, and material in abundance and of kinds to suit.  Thus all things else may be in place in ample quantities and fail because the power is withheld and no action for want of brain fluids with its power to vivify all animated nature which have followed any fluid found in the body, and followed it from formation to use and exhaustion step by step until he knows what form a union with one or many kinds.  Thus we can do no more than feed and trust the laws of life as nature gives them to man.

    We must arrange our bodies in such true lines that ample nature can select and associate by its definite measures, weights and choices of kinds, that which can make all fluids needed for our bodily uses, from the crude blood to the active flames of life, as seen when marshalled for the duties of that stands and obey the edicts of the mind of the infinite.


    Blood is an unknown red or black fluid, found inside of the human body, in tubes, channels or tunnels.  What it is, how it is made, and what it does after it leaves the heart in the arteries, before it returns to the heart through the veins, is one of the mysteries of animal life.  It has been tried to be analyzed to know of what it is composed, and when done, we know but little more of what it really is, than we know what sulphur is made of. We know it is a colored fluid, and it is in all parts of the flesh and bone.  We know it builds up heaps of flesh, but how, is the question that leads us to honor the unknowable law of life, by which it does the work of its mysterious construction of all forms found in the parts of man.  In all our efforts to learn what it is, what it is made of, and what enters it as life and gives it the building powers with that intelligence it displays in building, that we see in daily observation, is to us such an incomprehensible wonder, that with the "sacred writers" we are constrained to say, Great is the mystery of "Godliness." I dislike to say we know but very little about the blood, "in fact, nothing at all," but such is the truth under oath.  We cannot make one drop of blood because of our ignorance of the laws of its production.  If we knew what its components were, we would soon build large machinery, make and have blood for sale in quantities to suit the purchaser.  But alas! we cannot with all the combined intelligence of man, make one drop of blood, because we do not know what it is.  Then, as its production is by the skill of a foreigner whose education has grown to suit the work, we must silently sit by and willingly receive the work when handed out for use by the producer.  At this point I will say that an intelligent Osteopath is willing to be governed by the immutable laws of nature, and feel that he is justified to pass the fluid on from place to place and trust results.


    When Harvey solved by his powers of reason a knowledge of the circulation of the blood, he only reached the banks of the river of life.  He saw that the heads and mouths of the rivers of blood begin and end in the heart, to do the mysterious works of constructing man.  Then he went into camp and left this compound for other minds to speculate on, of the how it was made, of what composed, and how it became a medium of life which sustains all beings.  He saw the genius of nature had written its wisdom and will of life, by the red ink of all truth.


    Blood is systematically furnished from the heart to all divisions of our bodies.  When we go any course from the heart we will find one or more arteries leaving heart.  If we go toward the head, we find carotid, cervical and vertebral arteries in pairs, large enough to supply blood abundantly for bone, brain, and muscle.  That blood builds all the brain, all the bone, nerves, muscles, glands, membranes, fascia and skin.  Then we see wisdom just as much in the venous system, as in the arterial.  Thus the arteries supply all demands, and the veins carry away all waste material, with returning blood of veins.  We find building and healthy renovation are united in a perpetual effort to construct and sustain purity.  In these two are the facts and truths of life
and health.  If we go to any other part or organ of the body, we find just the same law of supply, arteries first, then renovation, beginning with the veins.  The rule of artery and vein is universal in all living beings, and the Osteopath must know that, and abide by its rulings, or he will not succeed as a healer.  Place, him in open combat with fevers of winter or summer and he saves, or loses, his patients, just in proportion to his ability to sustain the artery to feed, and the veins to purify by taking away the dead substances before they ferment, in the lymphatics and cellular system.  He shows just the same stupidity and ignorance of support from arteries and purity by the veins when he fails to cure erysipelas, flux, pneumonia, croup, scarlet fever,
diphtheria, measles, mumps, rheumatism, and on to all diseases of climate and seasons.


    It is ignorance and inattention to the arteries to supply and the veins to carry away all deposits before they form tumors in lungs, abdomen or any part of the system.  Thus man's ignorance of how and why the blood renovates and why tumors are formed, has allowed the knife to be found in the belts of so many doctors today.  On this law Osteopathy has successfully stood and cured more than any school of cures, and has sustained all its diplomates financially and otherwise.  I write this article on blood for the student of Osteopathy.  I want him to put nature to a test of its merit, and know if it is a law equal to all demands.  If not, he is very much and seriously limited when he goes into war with diseases.  What is to be understood by "Disease?"  [* DISEASE.  1. "Lack of ease. 2. An alteration in the state of the body, or some of its organs, interrupting or disturbing the performance of the vital functions and causing or threatening pain and weakness; malady; affection; illness; sickness; disease; disorder." -- Webster's International Dictionary.]

    When we use the word "disease," we mean anything that makes an unnatural showing in the body by pain, overgrowth of muscle; gland; organ; physical pain; numbness; heat; cold; or anything that we find not necessary to life and comfort.  I have no wish to rob surgery of its useful claims, and its scientific merits to suffering man and beast.  Such is not my object, but to place the Osteopath's eye of reason on the hunt of the great whys that the knife is useful at all, I am sure it comes often to remove growths and diseased flesh and bone that have gotten so by man's ignorance of a few great truths. lst, If blood is allowed to be taken to a gland or organ, and not taken away in due time the accumulation will become bulky enough to stop the excretory nerves and cause local paralysis; then the nutrient nerves proceed to construct tumors, and on and on until there is no relief but the knife or death.  Had this blood not been conveyed there, it would not be there at all, either in bulk or less quantities.  Had it simply done its work and passed on we could have no material to grow such abnormal beings.  If a tumefaction appears in one side, and not in the other, why so? and why is there no growth in one side the same as the other?  It takes no great effort of mind to see that the veins did not receive and carry off the blood, and a growth was natural, as the condition could not do otherwise and be true to nature.  Thus man's ignorance has made a condition for the knife.  Had he taken the hint and let the blood pass on when its work was done, he would not have to witness the guillotine of death to his patients, whose early pains told him a renal vein or some vessel below the diaphragm was ligated by an impacted colon, or a few ribs pulling and bringing diaphragm down across vena cava and thoracic duct and causing excitement or paralysis of solar plexus, or any other nerves that pass through diaphragm with blood to and from heart
and lungs.


    How to find causes of diseases or where a hindrance is located that stops blood is a great mental worry to the Osteopath when he is called to treat a patient.  The patient tells him "where he hurts," how much "he hurts," how long "he has hurt," how hot or cold he is.  The doctor puts this symptom and that symptom in a column, adds them up according to the latest books on symptomatology, finally he is able to guess at some name to call the disease.  Then he proceeds and treats as his pap's father heard his granny say their old family doctor treated "them sort of diseases in North Carolina." An Osteopath feels bad to have to hunt cause for disease, and not know how to start out to find the mechanical cause.  He feels that the people expect more than guessing of an Osteopath.  He feels that he must put his hand on the cause and prove what he says by what he does, that
he will not get off by the feeble minded trash of stale habits that go with doctors of medicine, and by his knowledge he must show his ability to go beyond the musty bread of symptomatology and water his patients made, from the cider of the ripe apples from the tree of knowledge.


    An Osteopath should be a clear-headed, conscientious, truth loving man, and never speak until he knows he has found and can demonstrate the truth he claims to know.


    I understand anatomy and physiology after fifty years casual and close attention, the last twenty years being very continued and close attention to what has been said, by all the best writers whom I have perused, many of whom are considered standard guides for the student and practitioner to be governed by.  I have dissected and witnessed the very best anatomists that the world affords dissect.  I have followed the knife after arteries through the whole distribution of blood of arterial systems, to the great and small vessels, until the lenses of the most powerful microscopes seemed to exhaust their ability to perceive the termination of the artery; with the same care following the knife and microscope from nerve center to terminals of the large to the infinitely small fibers around which those fine nerve vines entwine.  First like a bean entwining by way of the right around and up continuing to the right, and then turn my microscope to the entwining of another set of nerves which is to the left universally as the hop.  Those nerves are solid, cylindrical and stratified in form, with many leading from the lymphatics to the artery, and to the red and white muscles, fascia, cellular membrane, striated and unstriated organs, all connecting to and traveling with the artery, and continuing with it through its whole circuit from start to terminals.


    Like a thirsty herd of camels, the whole nerve system, sensory, motor, nutrient, voluntary and involuntary; this herd of sappers or hungry nerves seems to be in sufficient quantities and numbers to consume all blood and cause the philosopher to ask the question: "Is not the labor of the artery complete when it has fed the hungry nerves?" Is he not justified in the conclusion that the nerves do gestate and send forth all substances that are applied by nature in the construction of man?  If this philosophy be true, then he who arms himself for the battles of Osteopathy when combating diseases, has a guide and a light whereby he can land safety in port from every voyage.


    Turn the eye of reason to the heart and observe the blood start on its journey.  It leaves in great haste and never stops even in the smaller arteries.  It is all in motion and very quick and powerful at all places.  Its motion indicates no evidence of construction even supposable during such time, but we can find in the lymphatics, cells or pockets, motion slow enough to suppose that in such cells, living beings can be formed and carried to their places by the lymphatics for the purposes they must fill, as bone, or muscle.  Let us reason that blood has a great and universal duty to perform, if it constructs, nourishes, and keeps the whole nerve system normal in form and function.


    As blood and other fluids of life are ponderable bodies of different consistences, and are moved through the system to construct, purify, vitalize and furnish power necessary to keep the machinery in action, we must reason on the different powers necessary to move those bodies through arteries, veins, ducts, over nerves, spongy membranes, fascia, muscles, ligaments, glands and skin; and judge from their unequal density, and adjust force to meet the demand according to kinds, to be sent to and from all parts.


    Suppose venous blood to be suspended by cold or other causes in the lungs to the amount of oedema of the fascia, another mental look would see the nerves of the fascia of the lungs in a high state of excitement, cramping fascia on veins which is bound to stop flow of blood to heart.  No blood can pass through a vein that is closed by resistance, nor can it ever do it until resistance is suspended.  Thus the cause of nerve irritation must be found and removed before the channels can relax and open sufficiently to admit the passage of the fluids being obstructed.  And in order to remove this obstructing cause, we must go to the nerve supply of the lungs, or any other part of the body, and direct our attention to the cause of the nerve excitement, and that only; and prosecute the investigation to a finish.  If the breathing be too fast and hurried, address your attention to the motor nerves, then to the sensory, for through them you regulate and reduce the excitement of the motor nerves of the arteries.  As soon as sensation is reduced the motor and sensory circuit is completed and the labor of the artery is less, because of venous resistance having been removed.  The circuit of electricity is complete as proven by the completed arterial and venous circuit for the reduction of motor irritation.  The high temperature disappears because distress gives place to the normal, and recovery is the result.