What Is Osteopathy


Dr. A. T. Still founder of osteopathy

“Osteopathy is a science.  It’s use is in the healing of the afflicted.  It is a philosophy which embraces surgery, obstetrics and general practice.  Osteopathy is to me a very sacred science.  It is sacred because it is a healing power through all Nature.”  – A.T. Still MD, DO – founder of osteopathy                                                                                                             

Osteopathy is the name given to a system and philosophy of medicine known as osteopathic medicine.  In the United States an osteopath or a D. O. (doctor of osteopathy) is fully licensed to practice all aspects of medicine with the same scope of practice as an M. D.  In addition to training in standard western medicine osteopathic physicians have additional training in the philosophy, principles and hands on application of osteopathic medicine.

Osteopathy is a  sophisticated form of medicine; it takes osteopathic physicians many years of training and study to become proficient in the use of their hands to diagnose and treat illness and to gain a complete understanding of the philosophy and principles.  At the most basic level we could say that osteopathy is an alternative and holistic medical practice that was first envisioned by doctor Andrew Taylor Still M. D. in 1874.   Dr. Still was trained as a surgeon and was a doctor during the civil war.  Many of his insights arose out of his skill as a surgeon and his deep understanding of anatomy and physiology.

Years ahead of his time Dr. Still began to recognize a significant relationship between structure, function and health in the human organism.  He recognized the importance of proper blood flow, lymphatic and nerve flow and a relationship to all of these functions and health.  He began to develop a system of medicine that is still in use today.  Through the skilled and gentle touch of the physician’s hands imbalances through out the body are corrected.  Corrections and balance are sought in the bones, tendons, ligaments, nerves, fascia, fluids and more subtle structures and anatomy as well.   This leads to improved physiology and balance and enhances the bodies own capacity to heal  often with out the use of drugs, medicines or surgery.  Some of Dr. Still’s early students latter coined his approach as non -incisive surgery, in other words they were seeing results deep with in the body with out the use of a scalpel or knife.

As our scientific understanding advances many of Dr. Still’s insights are being scientifically validated today – one hundred and fifty years latter.  For example osteopathic philosophy and practice has always placed a great emphasis on homeostasis and balance.  Skilled osteopathic touch can bring greater balance between the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system and the parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system.  Osteopaths have been working with this balance with in the nervous system to improve health for hundreds of years.  Modern medical science is now beginning to recognize that perhaps eighty percent of all diseases affecting modern man can be traced back to an imbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.  Dr. Still first recognized this important principle in the mid 1800’s.

Dr. Still was a very spiritual man and a deep thinker who lived very close to nature.  He said osteopathy was an expression of natural laws “not framed by human hands.”  It takes many years to appreciate the insights and depth osteopathy has to offer.  Osteopathic physicians spend their entire professional lives studying and trying to advance their clinical skills and knowledge for their patients, for humanity and for the profession.  One of the best ways to gain greater insight and understanding of osteopathy is to receive an osteopathic treatment from a physician who specializes in traditional hands on osteopathy.  In this way we begin to feel and experience the profound effects in our own bodies and consciousness.

Osteopathic medicine has been helping people with many medical conditions and problems for close to a hundred and fifty years.  With the physician’s skill full and precise touch many problems and conditions can be improved or resolved.  The articles with in this web site are shared with a deep love and respect for osteopathic medicine and are an attempt to share some of the insights and experiences that arise from osteopathic medicine as well as explore the deeper truths of osteopathy and man’s relationship to nature and divinity.



9 Responses to What Is Osteopathy

  1. Andrea says:

    I have used osteopathy for many of my health care needs, I take all of my family members to an osteopath it has helped us all so much. I enjoy learning more about osteopathy and this very rich tradition.

  2. Steve says:

    I recently saw an osteopath for my chronic headaches it seems to be helping

  3. Mary says:

    I don’t know how it works but osteopathy really works miracles I always feel better after a treatment.

  4. Jay says:

    Good stuff

  5. Bal says:

    Great site! Thanks for sharing. As a Manual Osteopathic practitioner, you have done a great job explaining what true Osteopathy is. Too many Osteopaths get side-tracked and lose what Osteopathy actually entails and why they even chose to become an Osteopath. I’m glad I was led here.

  6. May I reference this site on my website?

  7. Eric says:

    Very nice site. Just came across this. Beautifully written and I love the quotes. Thank you for taking the time and effort to create this.
    Eric Cohen

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