Osteopathy – Research and Practice


Author: A. T. Still
Pages: 544
ISBN: 978-1-909052-10-9
Language: English



In working out the general scheme of this book I have considered the human body in sections, or regions.  I have classified the effects of abnormalities of the human body, or the so-called diseases, upon a basis of nerve and blood supply and the region affected.  Often the line of separation cannot be closely drawn, as will be seen in my discussion of the condition.  I have considered the most general diseased conditions of the regions of the head, neck, thorax, abdomen and pelvis.  Some conditions being more extensive in their effects do not properly fall into any of these classes but belong to the region above the diaphragm.  Others belong to the region below the diaphragm; while others general in character, are spoken of as spinal.  For convenience in referring to contagious diseases and fevers I have grouped them under a separate heading.

I have omitted all cuts and pictures because the reader of my practice is supposed to have in his mind an image of every bone, muscle, nerve, organ and part of the human body.  His thorough anatomical and physiological acquaintance with the body makes it useless to have illustrations in this work.  On your table are fully illustrated works on anatomy by able authors.  Keep well posted on anatomy because the osteopath reasons from his mechanical knowledge of anatomy.

I have quoted many definitions from Dunglison’s and Borland’s latest works.  We consider them standard authorities and herewith give them credit and thanks.

I have given you from my many years of experience and observation what I consider some of the underlying causes of these so-called diseases, which are seen as effects in the different regions of the body, together with my method of treating such causes.

While I do not propose to follow in the old medical tracks, I want here and now to give my love and pay my respects to those doctors who are now in their graves, as well as to those living, who have tried honestly to bring relief to suffering humanity.  I agree with what has been and is now the opinion of many of them, that the world would be just as well off or even better off (with very slight exception) had there never been a system of drug medication.

I was born and raised to respect and confide in the remedial power of drugs, but after many years of practice in close conformity to the dictations of the very best medical authors and in consultation with representatives of the various schools, I failed to get from drugs the results hoped for and I was face to face with the evidence that medication was not only untrustworthy but was dangerous.

The mechanical principles on which osteopathy is based are as old as the universe.  I discovered them while I was in Kansas.  You can call this discovery accidental or purely philosophical.  I was in the practice of medicine and had been for several years.  I treated my patients as other doctors did.  A part of them got well and a part died.  Others both old and young got sick and got well without the assistance of the medical doctor.

As I was an educated engineer of five years’ schooling I began to look at the human framework as a machine and examine all its parts to see if I could find any variation from the truly normal among its journals, belts, pulleys and escape pipes.  I began to experiment with man’s body as a master mechanic would when he had in his charge any machinery which needed to be kept perfectly adjusted and in line in order to get perfect work.  There are many ways by which a machine may be adjusted.  An osteopathic operator is not expected to depend on any one method or manipulation for the adjustment of a bone.

I worked along faithfully, patiently and hopefully, finding out that the human body was just as liable to strains and variations as a steam engine and that after correcting the strains and variations health was sure to follow.  I was many years philosophizing, comparing and noticing results which followed taking off strains and pressures.  I was surprised to see that fever, congestion and all irregularities gave way, health returned and the results were good and satisfactory.

I found mechanical causes for disordered functioning or poor work of the head, neck, thorax, abdomen, pelvis or extremities.  I adjusted the bony framework and secured such good results that I was encouraged to keep on and on until now I can truthfully say that I am satisfied that osteopathy is the natural way by which all of the diseases to which the human family is heir can be relieved and a large majority of them cured.

Osteopathy is based on the perfection of Nature’s work.  When all parts of the human body are in line we have health.  When they are not the effect is disease.  When the parts are readjusted disease gives place to health.  The work of the osteopath is to adjust the body from the abnormal to the normal; then the abnormal condition gives place to the normal and health is the result of the normal condition.

The God of Nature is the fountain of skill and wisdom and the mechanical work done in all natural bodies is the result of absolute knowledge.  Man cannot add anything to this perfect work nor improve the functioning of the normal body.  Disease is an effect only, and a positive proof that a belt is off, a journal bent, or a cog broken or caught. Man’s power to cure is good as far as he has a knowledge of the right or normal position, and so far as he has the skill to adjust the bones, muscles and ligaments and give freedom to nerves, blood, secretions and excretions and no farther.  We credit God with wisdom and skill to perform perfect work on the house of life in which man lives.  It is only justice that God should receive this credit and we are ready to adjust the parts and trust the results.

I want to thank my three brothers, my wife and my children for their aid and encouragement in this work.  I want also to thank all persons who have given me a kind word, a smile of encouragement, a handshake, or bade me Godspeed during the period of time in which I was prosecuting the unfolding of this science which I believe to be the living truth and which has demonstrated itself as such.

In conclusion I want to say that I extend my love to all persons who by word or act have encouraged the unfolding of the science of osteopathy; also to those who will in time to come receive benefit from the science and send back a thought of gratitude to the pioneer who has tried to blaze the way.  I thank you one and all from the inner depths of my soul and I wish each of you Godspeed.


When reading this treatise on diseases, their cause and cure from an osteopathic standpoint, I think the reader will soon observe that I am talking to him.  I want him to listen and think.  I do not expect to quote Shakespeare, Robert Burns, nor any other author save Nature.  I speak from practical experience in Nature’s school and from the philosophy of an American who is neither ashamed nor afraid to say or do what he thinks truthful honesty demands.

This work is strictly American.  The development and unfolding of the many and great conveniences known to exist in this country are due to and the result of the skill of the American mechanic.  Any person wishing to know this is the truth has only to acquaint himself with the reports of the patent office of the United States, which, if I am rightly informed, has issued many more patents to its inventors than any other country or government.

It was the inventive mind that first thought out and put into execution the application of steam and electricity for all useful purposes both on land and sea.  The inventor’s head is high above all other heads because his work shows that he thought and studied on cause and effect.  He reasons, works and waits the demonstration of facts to prove the truth of his reasoning.  To the inventive thinker we owe our ease and safety when on sea and land; to the inventor we are indebted for fuller cribs, fatter hogs, sheep and cattle, because many of his inventions are in the interest of the farmer, the horticulturist and so on throughout the list.

Without asking any reader’s pardon I use the English language because it is plain and I hate the cobwebs of delusive words which have gotten into all of our medical books on surgery, midwifery and general practice.  The most abominable nuisance I find between man and his receipt of knowledge is that great cobweb of delusive and incomprehensible words that some doctors feel called upon to use when they try to talk to an American thinker about such important subjects as diseases of the human body.  He talks at great length and says nothing to the point.  The listener becomes disgusted because the doctor fails to demonstrate his claims, in his practice.  His theory is a failure as proven by the results.

I want it understood that I look upon the treating of effects as being as unwarranted as it would be for the firemen of a city to fight the smoke and pay no attention to the cause that produced it.  Is such teaching wise?  You may answer the question.  I think it is a great mistake to ignore man as a machine – the latest, best, and the one pronounced not only good but “very good” – a product of the greatest architectural mechanic of the universe, God.

This book has been written under a physical protest, my health not being good enough for me to enjoy the place of an author on any subject, but osteopathy is a science which I think can be explained only on a mechanical basis.  I know this book is far from perfection and it is my hope and wish that every osteopath will go on and on in search for scientific facts as they relate to the human mechanism and health, and to an ever-extended unfolding of Nature’s truths and laws.

I have no doubt of the willingness of others to write in my place and take this labor off my shoulders, but that knowledge which I have obtained for and against the principles and practice of osteopathy during the past fifty years cannot be furnished by any one who has not had the experiences in the work and a life-long observation.  Thus I write.

It is my object to tell what I know to be the truth without using the words “possibly,” “however”, “maybe so”, or any other evasive phrases, such as are usually applied to undemonstrable theories.  In their place I give you what I think are facts to which I can say “yes,” “no,” “I did,” “you can,” and so on.

With this short introduction I leave you to study and practice the philosophy of osteopathy as here set forth, governing yourselves accordingly and forming conclusions of your own, based upon the day by day’s unfolding of the science.
A. T. Still


  • Osteopathic  Fundamentals
  • Region of the Head
  • Region of the Throat and Neck
  • Thoracic Region
  • Abdominal Region
  • Region above the Diaphragm
  • Region Below the Diaphragm
  • Obstetrics:  Operating with Infants and Children
  • Spinal Region
  • Contagious Diseases and Fevers
  • Miscellaneous Subjects
  • Osteopathy and the Solidity of Its Foundation
  • Life
  • A Final Exhortation

Additional information

Weight1500 g
Dimensions210 × 148 × 40 mm