Dr. Andrew Taylor Still

The Origin of Osteopathy

Although manual healing practices have been in existence for decades, it was not until 1874 that the American Andrew Taylor Still officially fathered osteopathy.

He was a physician who obtained an additional diploma in engineering to satisfy his interest in health and mechanics.

As he applied his knowledge and personal experience he created this new way of understanding and treating the human body.

What is Osteopathy exactly

The term osteopathy comes from the Greek words "osteon " which means bone, structure of the life material, and "pathos " meaning pain, the emotion that the person is trying to express. 

Osteopathy is:

  • A natural medicine that uses in-depth knowledge of anatomy and physiology combined with gentle palpation skills to evaluate and treat the root cause of the symptoms and to restore the balance of the body.
  • An effective and non-invasive treatment for many health conditions.
  • A way to restore movement of the body mechanisms, to maintain equilibrium and to relieve symptoms.
  • A preventive approach to health care.

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The Principles of Osteopathy

The following principles are the foundation of osteopathy and are imperative for the body as a whole.

  • The physical body is interconnected with all components being interrelated. When a particular part is not functioning properly, the entire body will react and readjust causing the body to be imbalanced.
  • Each physiological structure of the body determines its function. For example, the anatomic structure of the elbow joint determines the way it moves and the direction it moves in. The osteopath will study and correct the irregularities in the structures that make up the body in order to improve their functions.
  • The internal homeostatic system has its own pharmacy to heal. When the system is in balance, it has everything needed to be self-sufficient and heal itself.
  • The arteries have a primary role; blood circulation represents the power and well-being of the body. It is through the arteries that blood supplies oxygen, water and nutrients to the different cells of the body.

These principles summarize the holistic vision of the osteopathic approach.

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Osteopathy schools

The first school of Osteopathy was opened in the USA in 1892 by Andrew Taylor Still, but since then, this field of practice has become popular all over the world.

In Canada, the first Osteopathy College (CEO) opened its doors in Montreal in 1981 and has expanded across the country with schools located in: Halifax, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver.

There are two different philosophies for Osteopathic Training:

  • In American schools, students train as a physician with a speciality in osteopathy.
  • The traditional Osteopathic schools around the world, like CEO (Collège d'Études Ostéopathique) in Montreal train strictly in osteopathic theory and practice for a minimum of 4 years with an additional requirements for a research thesis or practicum.