Osteopathy Illustrated: a Drugless System of Healing by Andrew Paxton Davis

A substantial and in-depth volume, written by a physician who participated in the first course of the ASO and then tried to integrate osteopathy into other care systems like chiropractic and neuropathy.

Publisher: Fred L. Rowe, Cincinnati, Ohio (USA),

Year of publication: 1899

Number of pages: 851






A volume dedicated to explain osteopathy in calm and serious terms, addressed to professionals.

The first 200 pages outline the fundamental principles of osteopathy and describe the nervous system, highlighting the importance of nerves for the functioning of all the organs.

Afterwards, the author describes both the general osteopathic treatment, defined as important and not to be neglected, and the specific treatments in the case of particular pathologies. The emphasis is always on common sense and on the objective pursued, which must be the removal of all obstructions.

It follows a part containing indications about the bed, visit, diet in case of sickness (It is important not to overload the gastrointestinal system) and about the importance of the mental aspects. In a successive chapter expressing an enthusiastic approval of “orificial surgery” by the homeopath E.H. Pratt, who affirmed the necessity of keeping all body orifices clean; some advice is given on the most appropriate clothes to wear during the manipulations.

The book continues by giving instructions for the reduction of dislocations and, starting from page 237, for the treatment of the single pathologies. These last ones are introduced with their scientific name, each with a description of symptoms, cause and treatment: fevers, acute pathologies, blood, respiratory system, otolaryngology, pulmonary, circulatory, cardiac, nervous, gastrointestinal, urinary, peritoneal, cutaneous and ocular diseases are all addressed.

The book closes with a page regarding some techniques used to soothe labor pain and reduce delivery time, and, at the very end, with a small chapter on obesity.

The volume contains an analytical index.

Strengths: An interesting work from an historical point of view, showing the principles of osteopathy acquired by the author in the first official course of the ASO, even though interpreted in his own way.

Weaknesses: Dr A.P. Davis takes possession of osteopathy, integrating it into his other medical knowledge and specializations. He also points out that, despite owing to Dr Gowers the description of the functioning of the nervous system and to Dr A.T. Still the discovery of the fundamental principle of osteopathy, it is only thanks to his own further in-depth studies that this discipline could begin to thrive. He also declares to have been a teacher in the first school of osteopathy ever (pp. X-XI, 45-46).

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Historical osteopathy books

Osteopathy Research and Practice by Andrew Taylor Still

The fourth book of A.T. Still, written at the age of 82 years, enunciates the principles and the practical maneuvers of osteopathy in reference to the single pathologies, classified by body regions.


History of Osteopathy and Twentieth-Century Medical Practice by Emmons Rutledge Booth

A milestone in the history of osteopathy. Emmons Rutledge Booth, who enrolled at the ASO in Kirksville in 1898 and graduated in 1900, met A.T. Still personally.


Philosophy of Osteopathy by Andrew Taylor Still

The second book published by A.T. Still, it collects the basic principles of osteopathy, written over several years and then gathered in one volume. Despite the insistence of his friends, Still was not sure that the time was ripe to divulge his early science.


Autobiography of Andrew Taylor Still with a History of the Discovery and Development of the Science of Osteopathy by A. T. Still

A fundamental text to begin to know the founder of osteopathy and to understand the cultural context and the historical events during which his life unfolded.


Primitive Physick: or, an Easy and Natural Method of Curing most Diseases by John Wesley

A fundamental text for the Methodists, which Still’s father surely knew and probably owned - in addition to remedies, the book contains a preface that dispenses advice for a healthy life.


The Old Doctor by Leon Elwin Page

A small volume dedicated to the story of Andrew Taylor Still, and to the birth and development of the idea of osteopathy.


The Cure of Disease by Osteopathy, Hydropathy and Hygiene A Book for the People by Ferdinand L. Matthay

A small volume addressed to the general public, dispensing health advice and illustrating some osteopathic techniques.


Osteopathy; the New Science by William Livingston Harlan

The volume collects and comments a series of relevant articles on the new science of osteopathy, highlighting legal, historical and theoretical aspects.


A Manual of Osteopathy – with the Application of Physical Culture, Baths and Diet by Eduard W Goetz

Very schematic volume, with the aim of spreading the osteopathic application techniques to everybody, even to those lacking any sort of health training.


Francesca Galiano


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