Still’s Osteopathy – its roots and reasoning


ATSTillIn this hopefully provocative set of blogs I will painstakingly examine A.T. Still’s seminal Osteopathic text “The philosophy of Osteopathy”.

My aim is to tease out the roots of our profession and openly discuss his original philosophical axioms with reference to the modern medical era.

Should we discarded Still work as out dated? or are there underlying truths about the human experience that still hold true?

Chapter 1 Medication is not medicine

To begin – even in the preface Still is immediately making his stance very clear, he is utterly opposed to drug driven medicine.

“When I saw others who had not more than skimmed the surface of the science, taking up the pen to write books on Osteopathy, and after having carefully examined their productions, found they were drinking from the fountains of (the) old schools of drugs, dragging back the science to the very systems from which I divorced myself so many years ago, and realized that hungry students were ready to swallow such mental poison, dangerous as it was, I became fully awakened to the necessity of some sort of Osteopathic literature for those wishing to be informed.” (Still, 1899)

It must be admitted here that Modern Osteopathy has long been wedded to the stand point Still was criticising here, due in large part to the profound success of antibiotics in the treatment of bacterial infections, such as cholera, typhus, syphilis, staphylococcus, etc and to a lesser extend to the efficacy of NSAIDs. However with the advent of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria the time to rethink our adherence to medication driven medicine may have come again.

Still’s horror at medication was due primarily to the use of laudanum and alcohol in the era referred to as ‘heroic medicine’, during and after the American civil war when Still founded Osteopathy. However, Still’s concern for a medicine based on chemical compounds has found advocates in unexpected places in recent times as well.

Danish physician Dr Peter Gotzsche, medical researcher and co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration, the world’s foremost organisation for the assessment of medical evidence, has stated that our most commonly used drugs, even when used as prescribed, are lethal and cause the death of over 100,000 American’s per year.

Gotzsche warns us off the following drugs; antidepressants as they don’t work, all psycho-active and anti-psychotic drugs for children or the elderly, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories for headaches, arthritis or muscular pain, chemotherapy and drugs for incontinence. A quick reminder here – Gotzsche is a co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration; the world’s leading medical evidence assessors.

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