Flow: A lesson from nature

Being abroad has provided many opportunities to admire examples of how the body works by observing nature. One such example is the accumulation of foam on a river. Organic decomposing materials from vegetation or animals produces certain chemicals which reduce the surface tension of the water (1). As a result, air bubbles begin to form and a foam like substance appears on the surface of the water at intervals where the flow of water is compromised or obstructed by fallen branches or at sandy embankments.


Sigulda, Latvia: Foam accumulation from obstruction river water flow

The importance of fluid movement is exemplified during the development of the embryo, where in the flow of fluid exists before the vessel itself. Its role in providing nutritious blood to hungry tissues and removing waste is essential to the maintenance of health throughout life.

Nature normally goes about its business with a minimum of fuss. Under ideal conditions, waste is removed expertly and efficiently by the venous and lymphatic system. If however, the flow were to be slowed or affected in some way it would create an environment in which waste production would be greater then waste elimination. An environment in which waste accumulation could lead to congestion, fermentation and catalyse disease.Blood flow

So what could effect the flow of fluid? Tightening of connective tissues over a vein, or the spasm of a muscle compressing an artery. Anything that puts pressure on a blood vessel or compromises the nerve supply just enough to effect how efficiently fluid moves through the system. It is an osteopaths job to find where fluid movement has stagnated,  remove the unwanted branch from the river bed and alter the conditions to those less favourable for air bubble formation. Once the normality of fluid flow has been restored nature will do the rest.



  1. ARRI
  2. Still, A. T. The Philosophy And Mechanical Principles Of Osteopathy. Kirksville, Mo.: Osteopathic Enterprise, 1986. Print.

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