Osteopathic Doctors are NOT New Age

DD asks: “Does the Catholic Church allow going to see a Doctor of Osteopathy.  I am having problems with acid reflux, heartburn and mainly my eating habits.  I am going crazy wondering who I can go to take care of these problems.  I am not sure a Nutritionist would help as they would just tell me what to eat and not look at what caused me to get to where I am.  Any information you can give me about a Doctor of Osteopathy I would appreciate it.”

Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917)

An osteopathic physician may be just what you’re looking for.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM),   physicians licensed as Doctors of Osteopathis Medicine (DOs) must pass all the same national or state medical boards as their allopathic counterparts and are both the legal and professional equivalent of medical doctors (MDs).

The difference between the two is that osteopathic medicine is based on the philosophy that all body systems are interrelated and dependent upon one another for good health. This belief comes from the work of the founder of osteopathic medicine, Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917) who was a licensed MD in the state of Missouri and served as a surgeon during the Civil War.

In 1864, he lost three of his children to spinal meningitis and it was this experience that convinced him that the medical practices of the day were insufficient and, at times, even harmful. He devoted the next ten years of his life to finding better ways to treat disease.

As the AACOM recounts, his research and clinical observations led him to believe that the musculoskeletal system played a vital role in health and disease and that the body contained all of the elements needed to maintain health, if properly stimulated.

“Still believed that by correcting problems in the body’s structure, through the use of manual techniques now known as osteopathic manipulative treatment, the body’s ability to function and to heal itself could be greatly improved. He also promoted the idea of preventive medicine and endorsed the philosophy that physicians should focus on treating the whole patient, rather than just the disease.

“These beliefs formed the basis of a new medical approach, osteopathic medicine. Based on this philosophy, Dr. Still opened the first school of osteopathic medicine in Kirksville, Missouri in 1892.”

Today, there are more than 50,000 DOs practicing in the United States in the areas of primary care, general internal medicine, pediatrics, and a wide range of medical specialties including surgery, anesthesiology and emergency medicine.

These are well-trained doctors and you should have no fear of being treated by them.

In fact, the family physician who treated my family was a DO and I saw him from the age of six months until he died sometime around my 35th birthday. (I still miss him!)

The bottom line is that the underlying principles of osteopathy are not based in the New Age and are considered scientifically sound.

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