Osteopathy is a science developed in the late 1800's by Andrew Taylor Stills. He believed the body had the capacity to self correct and heal, that it was always searching for homeostasis (thehealingself). His life pursuit was to access this auto regulation/healing through the structure and function of the body. There is an ideal structure that we can strive for, but what is more import is how well it moves. We are moving creatures, as long as you are breathing, you are moving. Having "correct" spinal curvature/posture (structure) is something to strive for but how well the entire spine moves as a whole (function) is of far greater interest. How well to does the low back move with the legs, how do the shoulders move with the arms, how does the rib cage move with the middle back and while breathing? How well does the body move together as a whole? AT Stills believed we are one dynamic unit of function, therefore treatment should always integrate all the parts together, into one whole body.
The integration of the entire body translates to the integration of the entire nervous system. We are not only moving creatures but we are thinking and feeling beings. These things express themselves throughout the nerves in the body. If the thoughts/feelings are worrisome (stress) this effects the structure and function or movement and form. The effect is truly unique to every person and should be treated as such. Essentially a treatment views your body as the sum of all experiences in life with the goal of helping you feel whole again.
Integrating the mind and body by the balancing of the nervous system also helps all the fluids (blood, lymph, spinal fluid) flow throughout the body. Proper circulation of blood to muscles and organs can only mean a healthier body. As an Alternative Manual Therapy it prevents and corrects a multitude of various conditions and symptoms.
Osteopathy began as manual (hands on) model of therapy. As medicine in the United States changed, Osteopathy moved into the medical (allopathic) model. US trained Osteopathic Physician are currently Medical Doctors (DO's) who can prescribe drugs and diagnose. Osteopathy spread to Europe, Canada and the rest of the world where it still remains a non-medical, drugless, hands-on manual therapy.