What is Osteopathy?
‘Osteopathy is that science which consists of such exact, exhaustive and verifiable knowledge of the structure and functions of the human mechanism, anatomical, physiological and psychological, including the chemistry and physics of its known elements, as has made discoverable certain organic laws and remedial resources, within the body itself, by which nature under scientific treatment peculiar to Osteopathic practice, apart from all ordinary methods of extraneous, artificial or medicinal principles, molecular activities and metabolic processes, may recover from displacements, disorganisations, derangements and consequent disease, and regain its normal equilibrium of form and function in health and strength’ (Dr A.T Still)
Osteopathy was developed by American frontier physician, Dr Andrew Taylor Still. He discovered Osteopathy in 1870 and it was formally taught from 1892 onwards.
Dr Still pioneered Osteopathy in response to the suffering he witnessed throughout his time in practice and as a battle surgeon during the American Civil War.
He recognised that the medicine of his day was failing the health of those he served as physician, and this was painfully borne out to him when he witnessed the deaths of four of his children to meningitis.
Such personal tragedy provided Dr Still with the determination to seek a system of medicine, both a science and a healing art, that would provide a complete system of healthcare to fight the major diseases of his day namely smallpox, cholera, pleurisy, pneumonia, measles, scarlet fever, diphtheria, dysentery and meningitis along with the more chronic disorders and ailments of the musculo-skeletal system.
Osteopathy was founded upon the wise application of the hands, with a deep knowledge of anatomy, dissection and physiology and the inherent wisdom of the body to heal itself.
The first American School of Osteopathy was opened on 30th October 1894 in Kirksville, Missouri. It now stands as The Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, training young physicians to become Osteopaths.
Linguistically, Osteopathy is derived from the Greek, ‘osteon’, bone and ‘pathos’, suffering. Dr Still used the term Osteopathy denoting that his system of medicine began with knowledge of the bones to encompass all aspects of applied anatomy and physiology. ‘To know all of a bone in its entirety would close both ends of an eternity’. Dr A.T Still reasoned that ‘a natural flow of blood is health; and disease is the effect of local or general disturbance of blood – that to excite the nerves causes muscles to contract and compress venous flow of blood to the heart; and the bones could be used as levers to relieve pressure on nerves, veins and arteries’.
Dr A.T Still was an accomplished physician, pioneering thinker and philosopher.
He studied medicine under his father and elder brother Ed. His father was a Methodist preacher of Baldwin, Kansas and it is clear that Christian spirituality helped to shape his understanding of man’s relationship with the divine presence of God in nature.
He practised medicine among the Shawnee. In the mid West of the 19th century Dr Still sought to understand the healing traditions of the American Indian peoples and other traditional and emerging medicinal practices such as Homoeopathy. Careful study and observation enabled Dr Still to develop a philosophy that recognised the ‘triune man’ in mind, body and spirit and the tendency to maintain a normal state of health. ‘God manifests himself in matter, motion and mind. Study well his manifestations’. Dr Still stated that ‘all parts of the body obey one eternal law of life and motion’.
‘Osteopathy to me is a very sacred science. It is sacred because it is a healing power through all of nature’
His principles and practice of Osteopathy, as in his daily life, were based on a profound understanding of the creative work of God in man and nature.
He described God as ‘the all-knowing Architect’. The founding principles of Osteopathy recognise the importance of the healthy functioning of all organ systems and the relationship of each system to the whole.
‘Make yourself a child of inquiry and a student of nature’ 
Dr Still stated ‘the rule of the artery must be absolute, universal and unobstructed, or disease will be the result’. He developed techniques for treating the vascular system to enable health to return to the diseased part.
Dr Still also realised that ‘all nerves depended wholly on the arterial system for their qualities, such as sensation, nutrition and motion, even though by the law of reciprocity they furnished force, nutrition and sensation to the artery itself’.
His work in treating the arterial and venous circulation was matched by his understanding of the prime importance of the health of the lymphatic system where ‘the principle of life more abundantly dwells’. Such principles continue to form the basis of current Osteopathic technique and practice. By treating the lymph vessels of a diseased or injured part, Osteopathy promotes a more rapid healing response than by treating the injury alone.
Dr Still applied Osteopathic techniques where the bones are used as levers to stimulate healing to nerve, blood vessels, lymphatic vessels and organs. By his own experimenting and through observing the results of those he trained in his methods, Still was able to say ‘I have proven that the laws of the Infinite are all sufficient when properly administered’.
Dr Still stressed the importance of healthy behaviours that supported the inherent wisdom of the body to heal and disavowed the use of injurious medicines or drugs.
‘I believe man made a mistake when he undertook to inject poisonous substances into the human system as a remedy for disease, instead of applying the laws of creation to that end’.
‘The brain of man was God’s drug store and had in it all liquids, drugs, lubricating oils, opiates, acids and antacids, and every quality of drugs that the wisdom of God thought necessary for human happiness and health’
Osteopathy is founded on the intimate study of applied anatomy and physiology to observe the dynamic healing of the whole person. Through a sense of touch, ‘knowing the normal’ of healthy tissue function enables an Osteopath to recognise dysfunction and disease. Knowing normal allows an Osteopath to restore health to disturbed tissues whether from illness or trauma. The founding precept of Osteopathy is the knowledge of the inherent wisdom of the body to govern health.
The teachings of Dr Andrew Taylor Still inspired his student, Dr William Garner Sutherland to a lifelong study of Osteopathy. In 1899, aged twenty four years, Sutherland discovered the inherent motion of the temporal bones, likening it to the gills of a fish, designed for exchange within the primary respiratory system. ‘Bevelled like the gills of a fish, and indicating an articular mobile mechanism for respiration’.
During the next thirty years, Dr Sutherland worked out his system of cranial Osteopathy. Through experimentation and careful analysis, Sutherland observed the inherent motion of the cranial bones, the gliding motion of the fascial membranes and motility of the nervous system; the actions of the durae and intra-cranial membranes which he termed the ‘reciprocal tension membranes’ and the relationship of these ‘five phenomena’ of the body.
- Fluctuation of the cerebro-spinal fluid or the ‘potency of the Tide’
- The function of the reciprocal tension membrane
- The motility of the neural tube
- The articular mobility of the cranial bones
- The involuntary mobility of the sacrum between the ilia.
The primary respiratory mechanism maintains an inherent, rhythmic, automatic, involuntary ‘life and motion’ cycle of mobility and motility 10-12 cycles per minute.
Every cell and all fluids express this rhythmic, involuntary ‘life and motion’ throughout life.
This mobility and motility are important factors in maintaining health and is vital in maintaining homoeostasis of all body physiology, from cell nourishment and motility to the overall regulation of our nervous system, hormonal system and all other vital organs. In 1947, Sutherland stated: ‘Allow physiological function within to manifest its own unerring potency rather than apply blind force from without’.
Osteopathy today honours the founders of Osteopathy and explores new paradigms of healing and science. One of the emerging sciences which support Osteopathic understanding is embryology. ‘There are many processes that govern the development of an embryo. The forces at work here are precise in time and spatial orientation and meet those intersections with complete precision. By eight weeks of embryonic life: the birth of the foetus. The basic form is done. Forces inside fluids make decisions’.
‘The forces of embryogenesis becomes the forces of healing in the adult’
‘As Osteopaths, we are searching for Health, we are attempting to follow its direction, moment to moment, as it consciously creates living motion towards perfection.’
(Dr James Jealous D.O.,)
About Carolyn McGregor
‘I love my fellow man because I see God in his face and in his form’ (A.T Still)
I practice Osteopathy in general family practice as taught by Dr Andrew Taylor Still.
I am in full time Osteopathic practice specialising in Cranial Osteopathy as taught by Dr William Garner Sutherland, specialising in Obstetric and Paediatric care; and with a particular interest in post-neurosurgical care. I continue with my postgraduate training and teaching within cranial Osteopathy. I am humbly aware of the highest aspects of the body’s healing nature to bring about cure.
I wish to offer Osteopathy in these areas of health:
- Family practice – All round General Osteopathic practice
- Pregnancy/Labour/ Post partum – including attendance during delivery
- Children – newborn and the older child
- Sports medicine – experience treating athletes and professional dancers
- Post neurosurgery states and post trauma states including head injury
I strive for effective means of cure with honesty, integrity, simplicity and truthfulness. I only take on patients that I know I can fully treat and operate a system of co-referral with many other health practitioners. My practice has always been based upon the necessity of sharing ideas and information.
I search for the best information and refer on where necessary to optimise the health of my patients. I don’t have an ego about this. It’s what works for me.
I learn from my patients. They have always been my best teachers.
I graduated as an Osteopath from the British School of Osteopathy, London 1993.
I am in full time Osteopathic practice and have taught Osteopathy at undergraduate and post graduate levels. I gained a degree in Theology in 2004 and graduated as a Homoeopath from the South Downs School, Chichester in 2006. I am registered with the General Osteopathic Council and the Society of Homoeopaths. I love mountains, rock climbing, walking and sea kayaking.
 Autobiography of AT Still, vol.1. 1897
 Doctor A.T Still in the Living – His concepts and principles of health and disease. Ed. Robert E. Truhler D.O., 1950, p.110.
 Autobiography of A.T Still, vol.1, 1897, p.174.
 Doctor A.T Still in the Living – His concepts and principles of health and disease. Ed. Robert E. Truhlar D.O., 1950, p.69.
 Autobiography of A.T Still, vol. 1, 1987,
 Autobiography of A.T Still, vol.1, p.219
 Doctor A.T Still in the Living – His concepts and principles of health and disease. Ed. Robert E. Truhlar D.O., 1950, p.77.
 Dr A.T Still in the Living – His concepts and principles of health and disease. Ed. Robert E. Truhler D.O., 1950, p.
 Dr A.T Still in the living – His concepts and principles of health and disease. Ed. Robert E. Truhler, D.O., 1950, p.122
 Autobiography of A.T Still, vol.1, 1897, p.219
 Dr James Jealous D.O., Handbook of Osteopathy