Principles and Practice of Osteopathy by Carter Harrison Downing

A volume specifically centered on some aspects of the osteopathic techniques, those most favorable for the patient, less onerous for the practitioner and less time-consuming.

Publisher: Williams Publishing Co., Kansas City, Missouri

Year of publication: 1923

Number of pages: 442 (but from page 406 the pages are blank to allow the reader to take notes).





The author, who was a lecturer at the Massachusetts College of Osteopathy and at the ASO, declares to have composed this work by describing the new developments of osteopathy limited to the most important ones, selected on the basis of his own experiences, observations and research. 

The volume is divided into twelve chapters, the first of which is dedicated to the osteopathic principles, presented with great clarity.

Besides the concepts of structure and function other themes are addressed, for example: the modification of the cell during sickness, the vasomotor system, arterial tension, sympathetic system, neurovegetative system, nervous mechanism, reflex arc, abdominal disorders of sympathetic origin, vagotonia, sympathicotonia, inhibition and stimulation, germ theory.

The second chapter defines the osteopathic vertebral lesion and the third one the spine. The remaining chapters deal with specific dislocations and subluxations and provide the description of lesion, diagnosis, suggested treatments and the author’s reflections.



  • The language is clear, the principles are presented in a logical and concise manner; 
  • A detailed  index at the beginning of the volume for easy reference; 
  • There are several drawing and explicative photographs.
  • The exposition of the osteopathic principles is very interesting from a historical point of view as it provides a photograph of the theoretical foundation of the discipline in the twenties of the twentieth century. 
  • As J. H. Styles, DO, author of the introduction to the volume, states that the book is permeated by the spirit of osteopathy.

Weaknesses: there is no analytical index.

The enthusiastic foreword of Dr FP. Millard praises the brilliant competence of Dr Downing in understanding human nature and his ability to perform joint corrections in a very swift way, obtaining excellent results.

  • Chapter 1 – Osteopathy, the science
  • Chapter 2 – The osteopathic spinal lesion
  • Chapter 3 – The vertebral column
  • Chapter 4 – Occipital-atlantal subluxations
  • Chapter 5 –  Atlanto-axial subluxations
  • Chapter 6 – Subluxations of the cervical vertebrae from the second to the seventh inclusive 
  • Chapter 7 – Subluxations of the thoracic vertebrae
  • Chapter 8 – Subluxations of the lumbar vertebrae
  • Chapter 9 – Subluxations sacro-iliac articulations
  • Chapter 10 – Costa subluxations 
  • Chapter 11 – Foot subluxations 
  • Chapter 12 – Luxations, partial and complete

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