The Discovery of Osteopathy

The next ten years of Dr. Still's life were spent studying, observing, comparing and experimenting. After re-reading the medical books and finding no answers there, he turned to nature. He dug up Indian graves to provide him with the bodies for research. For over a year he concentrated on the study of bones, experimenting to understand their relationship to one another. Then he studied the blood, which he called the "river of life," and how the blood flowed.

As he pursued his research with severe intensity, he came to think of the human body as a machine. He found that this machine, made up of a skeleton with supporting muscles and ligaments, was subject to certain mechanical laws and was, therefore, subject to stresses and strains. He learned that the proper function of the nervous and circulatory systems was an important factor to health and disease.

He believed that the body contained certain substances necessary for health, and if properly stimulated, they might also cure disease. Stimulation could be obtained by working with the musculoskeletal system by applying pressure to restore normal function. These beliefs led him to the theory that all parts of the body were interrelated and that man must be treated as a whole. He believed that medicine must be more than

"the three R's of medicine: repair, remove and relieve".

He reached beyond the disease for the cause and hence the cure. Also, he strongly advocated sanitation and hygiene, and his hatred of drugs led him to eliminate many impotent and toxic drugs from his practice.

Through a combination of research and clinical observation, Dr. Still's new medical philosophy evolved. He named it "osteopathy," a combination of the Greek word "osteo" meaning bone and "pathy" meaning suffering. He chose that name because his experiments started with the study of bones. More that a hundred years ago, when Andrew Taylor Still was nearly forty-six years of age, he announced osteopathy to the world: "On June 22nd 1874, I flung to the breeze the banner of Osteopathy".

Further reading: -

Origins of Osteopathy

A.T.Still: The Doctor

The Discovery of Osteopathy

Osteopathic Roots

The First Osteopathic School