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Bellingham Osteopathic Center


Health isn’t simply the absence of disease–it’s the presence of vitality, energy, joy, truth, and freedom in your life pursuits. Through Integrative Osteopathy, we’re partnering with you to activate your body’s innate power to heal, making new levels of health possible.

Our practice utilizes a full range of Osteopathic modalities. 

We welcome patients of all ages for the treatment of the full spectrum of their healthcare concerns.

Traditional Osteopathy

Osteopathic physicians address most health conditions with their hands. Through their highly refined sense of touch, these skilled healers can many times revisit a patient’s entire health history by touching just one part of the body. This hands-on approach allows Osteopaths the ability to feel the “living anatomy” of each patient and help restore these systems to balance. With the precision of a scientist and physician, along with the deep compassion and sensitivity of a healer, Dr. Stanley and Dr. Swan are able to detect slight misalignments of a bone or joint, which then in turn loosens up a tight jaw, for example, providing patient relief from chronic headaches.

Osteopaths perform treatments by gently easing and adjusting the flow and rhythm of fluids, lightly manipulating with just the right amount of pressure the muscles, tissues, bones and joints of the body to return it to its natural state of optimal function. Osteopaths are trained to access the flow of cerebrospinal and other cellular and vascular fluids throughout the body to determine if there is a restriction of its motion caused by injury or disease. Normalizing the balance and restoring the flow of cerebrospinal fluid throughout the body assists in the removal of injury patterns or disease processes. This restricted flow can be treated anywhere it is found in the body. These gentle techniques often ease the patient into a state of deep relaxation, and allow the release of tension and patterns of trauma, to dissolve on a cellular level.

Osteopaths believe and practice under the philosophy that everyone’s body records every injury and trauma into the records of their tissues. Even years later, a seemingly unrelated pain or condition may crop up that is directly connected to something that happened much earlier. By treating the body and its systems as a whole, Osteopaths can often help the body correct not just the current pain or discomfort, but release the original impact of the much earlier event.

Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy

Osteopaths incorporate a variety of gentle hands-on methods to address tension, distortions or stress in the function of systems and structures of the body. These treatments incorporate the idea that each part of the body is dependent on all the others. Therefore, if one area is affected, say, an injured shoulder, then the whole body is impacted.

To help the body return to its natural state of health without restriction, an osteopath may apply a variety of techniques in a treatment session. Some of these techniques may include: soft tissue and myofascial release to address tension, adhesions and restrictions in the muscles and fascia; cranial osteopathy which focuses on the rhythm and fluctuation of the central nervous system to treat the whole body; lymphatic drainage to support the flow of lymph and boost the immune system and relieve infections; as well as various stretching techniques and joint movements to improve mobility.

Because each person and each condition is very different, the approach and combination of hands-on techniques may vary, and may vary from session to session. Because Osteopaths “listen” with their hands, they respond to what’s happening with each patient in the present moment, not just what the numbers on their lab tests report. The great benefit of working with an Osteopath is they look at everything – from lab tests, to posture, to motion of fluids in the body, to a person’s emotional state and stress level – and because  their treatment approach focuses on the whole body, a variety of conditions and health concerns can be treated effectively. Osteopathy is not a “cure” for every condition, as each person is different and responds differently to care.

Cranial Osteopathy

Cranial osteopathy is a non-invasive therapy. Using light touch, practitioners assess the quality of the patients’ Cranial Rhythm and compare it to what they consider to be a normal rhythm, they can then judge the state of the patient’s body and how well it is functioning.

William Garner Sutherland (1873-1954), was the first Osteopath to discover that that the bones of the skull have the ability to allow small movements – a slow rhythmic motion that is present throughout the entire body, independent to both breathing and heart rhythms. This rhythmic pulse occurs as a result of the secretion of cerebrospinal fluid, which nourishes and protects our nervous system, and is now commonly known as the Primary Respiratory Mechanism.

Osteopaths who train in Cranial Osteopathy, such as Dr. Swan and Dr. Stanley, can adjust this primary respiratory mechanism to initiate a healing response. They can place their hands on any part of the body to affect a change in this system. Treatment can also involve light touch and manipulation of the bones of the skull and cradling of the sacrum, and other areas of the anatomy to free movement of bones and soft tissues. Restoring optimal function to the primary respiratory mechanism can provide a much needed boost to an individual’s natural healing process.

As an additional treatment modality to Osteopathic care, Cranial Osteopathy can help address a variety of health conditions, not limited to pain or trauma to the musculoskeletal system. In addition, Cranial Osteopathy can help relieve respiratory, neurological, developmental, digestive, menstrual and other systemic conditions.

Biodynamic Inherent Intelligence

The science of Biodynamics in relationship to Osteopathic principles and treatment was developed over thirty years ago by James Jealous, DO as he explored the relationship of human embryologic development to the living anatomy and physiology of a patient. Through the work of an embryologist named Blechschmidt, Dr. Jealous found that the embryologic bioelectric field surrounding the embryo, has as much, or more, to do with determining developmental stages than genetics. This field is also maintained throughout the lifetime of every living human being. It is this Field and the living anatomy that arises out of it, that has the Inherent Intelligence that the founders of Osteopathy discussed. It is this Intelligence that does the actual healing.

With this knowledge, combined with the deep anatomic understanding and palpatory skill of a trained Osteopath, the structural and physiologic dysfunctions that have created symptoms can be resolved by aligning the adult (or childhood) anatomy with this everpresent embryologic field. This work, in our experience, allows the possibility for healing very complex and longstanding issues, as well as acute trauma or illness. Each treatment is very specifically, and dynamically related to the patient and their individual needs.

Medical Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been a profound healing system for over 5,000 years. It has been incorporated into American healthcare for the past fifty years, with many excellent colleges of Oriental Medicine throughout the nation.

Dr. Swan has been practicing Medical Acupuncture as part of an integrated practice, often combined with Osteopathic Manipulation for over twenty years. This treatment combination synergistically allows both modalities a deeper and often, more rapid healing response in patients.

Dr. Swan initially studied acupuncture at UCLA as part of a physicians program, with a special emphasis on the management and alleviation of pain. He later intensively studied hundreds of hours in The Balance Method of Acupuncture, taught by Dr. Richard Tefu Tan, OMD. This system is based on an ancient form of acupuncture that predates Traditional Chinese Medicine and Five Element Acupuncture.

The balancing that is described relates to the Yin and Yang energy inherent in all form. The direct translation of the name of this system is “stand pole see shadow”, meaning that the symptoms will disappear as soon as the needles are correctly placed.

As part of your initial evaluation at Bellingham Osteopathic Center, Dr. Swan or Dr. Stanley may recommend medical acupuncture as part of your treatment plan. The needles can be placed while Osteopathic Manipulation is occurring, and will potentiate the effects of both.

Acupuncture treatments are determined very individually in order to resolve the deep-seated neurologic and energetic dysfunctional patterns that have created the symptoms or condition. The number of treatments depends on symptom response and physiologic change, but most conditions are significantly improved or resolved completely within.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions regarding acupuncture and whether it could be helpful in treating you and your family.

Classical Homeopathy

Classical Homeopathy is a treatment that uses very small amounts of mineral, plant and animal-based substances to treat a broad spectrum of illnesses and conditions, both acute and chronic. A classical homeopathic remedy is a single substance that is determined to be the correct substance to assist the patient to begin a deep healing response. The remedy is chosen after a number of interviews, and usually Osteopathic treatment, to determine the exact match that will be the most beneficial to the patient.

In homeopathic theory and practice, ‘like cures like’, much like a vaccination allows the body to mount an appropriate immune response to a serious illness, but with minimal side effects. Homeopathy can be useful for treating everything from allergies to chronic auto-immune conditions, or to help acute trauma to resolve much more rapidly.

At the turn of the 20th century, homeopathy was practiced in over sixty countries, and continues to be practiced all over the world. There were 100 homeopathic hospitals, 22 homeopathic medical schools and 15,000 homeopathic physicians in the United States in the early 1900’s.

The advent of antibiotics decreased the interest in more holistic treatment protocols, but there has been renewed interest in this country for the past thirty years, as some of the difficulties with conventional, or allopathic treatment, have become apparent. This includes severe resistance to antibiotic treatment, creating ‘superbugs’, as well as the difficulty that allopathic care has when treating chronic conditions, or in genuinely assisting the patient to move toward health.

If Dr. Stanley or Dr. Swan feel that a homeopathic evaluation could be helpful to your health needs, or if you are interested in such an approach, it can easily be incorporated into your treatment plan.

Nutritional & Dietary Guidance

Bellingham Osteopathic Center offers nutritional guidance because it is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Without proper nutrition, there is not enough energy to make it through the day or to handle the stress of modern lifestyles. Also, health declines without proper nutrition, making the possibility of illness more prevalent. Nutritional guidance supports the wellness of each person, looking at each individual’s lifestyle, activity level, and current health concerns. The proper nutrition can help the body recover faster from injury and illness, boost the immune system, slow the aging process and improve mental clarity and mood as well as improve exercise and sports performance.

We welcome you and your family!  Our expertise encompasses all ages and stages of life, from birth and throughout adulthood, including providing care and support for children and expectant mothers.