Glossary of Natural Health Terms
Acupressure is a variation of acupuncture, an ancient
Chinese system of healing that was developed from theories that the body has an
energy force (known in traditional Chinese medicine as Qi) running through it along
specific pathways called meridians. In order to maintain health, the flow of Qi must
remain balanced and uninterrupted, and acupressure is one method for correcting
imbalances and removing blockages. In acupressure, finger pressure is used at
specific points where meridians come to the skin�s surface.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese system of healing that was
developed from theories that the body has an energy force (known in traditional
Chinese medicine as Qi) running through it along specific pathways called meridians.
In order to maintain health, the flow of Qi must remain balanced and uninterrupted,
and acupuncture is one method for correcting imbalances and removing blockages. In
acupuncture, very fine needles are inserted into the skin at specific points where
meridians come to the skin�s surface.
Allopathy is a system involving use of medicines that
produce effects different from those produced by the disease. In contrast to
holistic approaches, allopathy views the body as a set of systems separate from the
mind. The allopathic approach introduces drugs and surgery to �fix� the body rather
than assisting its natural healing process. This is the most prevalent and well-known
form of addressing ill health in Western culture. Allopathic physicians successfully
complete a formal medical degree and are trained to diagnose and treat illness and
disease from the approaches of medication (often synthetic) and invasive surgery. Most
physicians follow this medical model of treatment, which is preset.
Alternative medicine incorporates nontraditional methods
of treatment in the overall medical treatment of illness and disease. This includes,
but is not limited to, homeopathy, herbalism and bodywork therapy.
Approaches to healing that are not included in the
traditional medical model of treatment are considered alternative. These include,
but are not limited to, massage therapy, nutritional supplementation, using herbal
formulas, guided imagery and hypnotherapy.
Aromatherapy involves the use of unadulterated fragrant
essential oils that are extracted from various plants. In nature, these act to
protect the plant from parasites and diseases. Distilled, the essential oils are
mixed with neutral-scented carrier oil and then may be applied to the skin, sprayed
into the air, added to bath water, etc. Some fragrances are stimulating, while others
promote relaxation. Aromatherapy is used to promote healing from various physical,
mental, and emotional conditions.
Ayurveda is India�s traditional health system. Dating back
more than 5000 years, it is based on the theory of constitutional body types, or
doshas. Everyone has a unique constitution or combination of doshas. Doshas are
based on the five elements � fire, water, earth, air and ether. Although there are
five elements, there are only three doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. Vata is the
combination of air and ether, pitta is the combination of fire and water, and
kapha is the combination of water and earth. Each person is a combination of
elements and the qualities that are attributed to these elements. Ayurveda, which
means �the science of life,� takes into account the different stages of life and
aging, and includes not only food and herbs, but also diet, exercise, massage,
color, light, sound, hygiene and more.
Bach Flower Remedies
Bach Flower remedies were developed by Dr. Edward Bach, a
British medical doctor and homeopath. Bach believed that, beginning in the mind and
emotions, illness is initiated by a conflict between a person�s higher self and his
or her ego. Flower remedies are used to resolve this conflict and thus allow healing
to occur throughout the entire organism. These remedies are chosen based on an
individual�s personality characteristics rather than on the specific physical
problem. Of the 39 remedies in the Bach repertory, all but one are made from the
essences of single flowers. Rescue Remedy � the exception � is a combination that
is used in emergency situations.
This acronym, often used among healthcare practitioners,
means complementary and alternative medicine.
Often used interchangeably with the term �alternative
medicine,� this system of treatment uses traditional allopathic methods as well as
alternative approaches to form a complementary medical system.
The human body creates and is exposed to many toxins simply
through the normal processes of life. Under ordinary conditions, various body
systems � including the liver, kidneys, intestines, lymph, and circulatory
systems � eliminate toxins without a problem. However, a poor diet and lifestyle
habits, as well as excessive exposure to environmental toxins, can sometimes overwhelm
the body�s natural processes, allowing toxins to accumulate internally. Signs of a
toxic condition include headaches, digestive disorders, increased allergic reactions,
and fatigue, among many others. Various methods are used to stimulate detoxification,
such as fasting, the use of herbs, and following specific cleansing diets.
Feng Shui, an ancient system of environmental and interior
design that developed alongside acupuncture and herbal medicine in rural China, can
be a powerful tool for supporting the immune system and fostering more radiant
health. Like conventional architecture and interior design, Feng Shui recognizes the
importance of aesthetics and functionality. However, the main difference is that
somatic and energetic qualities are thought to be equally important. There are more
than a dozen different styles of Feng Shui throughout the world, including Black
Sect Feng Shui, Pyramid School Feng Shui, and Space Clearing Feng Shui.
The study of herbology is one of the oldest sciences in
the world. It is the study of plants and their physical attributes as used for
healing, food, flavoring, scents, and dyes. Herbologists study the effect of plants
upon the body, stressing the use of whole plants. Herbology may include: the study of
the part of plant that is used, plant gathering methods, and method of preparation of
the plant. Herbology systems in use today include: Western, Native American,
Ayurvedic, Traditional Chinese, and European. Herbology has been important to the
following professions: herbalism, naturopathy, homeopathy, aromatherapy, botany,
nutrition, pharmacy, dietetics, dentistry, midwifery, chemistry and medicine.
Herbalism involves the practice of using plants for healing,
food, flavoring, scents and dyes. It is practiced in all forms of traditional healing
worldwide. The philosophy of herbalism is directed at support of the body�s healing
processes with the use of plants and foods. In traditional herbalism, not only are
plants and foods used, but also exercise techniques, breathing techniques, and
various mind/body techniques. Herbalism looks at the whole person � mind, body and
An herbalist is a person who grows, gathers, sells, or uses
herbs for healing, food, flavoring, scents or dyes. The aim of a practicing herbalist
is to bring the body back into balance by getting to the root cause of the
imbalance. An herbalist looks at the whole person � mind, body and spirit.
This involves viewing individual health in a holistic
fashion. Holistic means considering and encompassing body, mind, emotions and
spirit. Therefore, factors involving physical wellness/illness, mental/thought
patterns, emotional expression and stability, and the individual�s spiritual
beliefs all have significant roles in maintaining good health and must be addressed.
Holistic medicine is a medical model that focuses on the
whole person, not just the body.
Homeopathy is a system of medicine, developed by Samuel
Hahnemann in the late 18th Century and founded on the principle that likes will cure
likes. That is, a homeopathic remedy, if given full strength to a healthy person,
will cause the same symptoms that the very dilute homeopathic formula will remove. This
theory has been supported by experimentation and practice over the past 200 years.
Two of the major branches of homeopathy are Classical and Constitutional.
Based on the work of Dr. Hahnemann, classical homeopathy
adheres to the nine principles set out in Hahnemann�s Organon of Medicine. It
addresses the complete person in mind, body and spirit. Classical Homeopathy
recognizes that disease is a change of state that is based upon an individual�s
genetics, the strength of their vital life force, their life circumstance, and their
environment. In classical homeopathy, one remedy is given at a time in the smallest
possible dose to affect a response in the chief complaint. Combinations of remedies
are not generally used.
In constitutional homeopathy the emphasis is placed upon
the constitution of the individual, including the underlying psychological issues,
motives, personality and physical symptoms. Information about the client is gathered
and a picture is pieced together. Remedy selection is based upon the most distinct
characteristics of the client matching the characteristics of the remedy which will
enhance overall health. In constitutional homeopathy, the selected remedy may not
address the chief complaint but fits the overall picture or constitution of the person.
Hydrotherapy involves using water of any temperature or
form � hot, cold, steam or ice � in order to promote healing. Depending on the
temperature and form of the water, it can address a wide range of problems, including
sore muscles, injuries, fevers, burns, skin problems, and so forth. Warm or hot water
has a relaxing effect; cold water reduces inflammation; and alternating hot and cold
water acts to stimulate the circulatory system. Water may also stimulate the immune
system. This simple form of therapy was fundamental to the nature cure � an ancestor
to naturopathy � as it developed in 19th century Europe.
Used interchangeably with the term �alternative medicine,�
this system integrates traditional, allopathic methods with nontraditional methods.
In defining iridology, the International Iridology
Practitioners Association (IIPA) states that it is �the study of the iris, or
colored part, of the eye. This structure has detailed fibers and pigmentation that
reflects information about our physical and psychological makeup. It identifies
inherited dispositions (how our body reacts to our environment and what symptoms are
most likely to occur), risks (what areas or organ systems are more likely to have
symptoms) and future challenges (where we are likely to have more problems as we
age). Iridology helps identify inherited emotional patterns which can create or
maintain physical symptoms, as well as identify lessons or challenges and gifts or
talents available to us.�
Massage therapy involves manipulating the soft tissues of
the body in order to bring about normalization, which in turn promotes
healing. Massage affects blood and lymph circulation as well as muscular
tension. In addition, it stimulates or relaxes the nervous system, depending on the
technique used. Among the benefits of massage are faster healing from soft tissue
injury, healthier skin, and stress reduction. There are many different techniques
of massage, including AMMA therapy, Lomi-Lomi, myofascial release, neuromuscular
therapy, shiatsu, sports massage, Swedish massage, Thai massage, trigger point
therapy and more.
Natural health means maintaining good health, naturally. This
takes into account the air you breathe, the water you drink, the diet (food and fluid)
you ingest, your daily physical movement and activities, your rest and sleep and your
human interactions. In summary, this is how you live in your body on a daily basis.
This involves moving the body from a state of non-health to
a state of health using only natural (non-synthetic and non-invasive) means. Examples
of this include fasting to cleanse the body of mucous, massage therapy to ease
aching and painful muscles and the use of herbal formulas to soothe an irritated throat.
Naturopathy is a system of therapy that employs natural
forces such as light, heat, air, water and massage. This system differs most
significantly from allopathy by focusing on building health rather than on treating
disease. The techniques used are non-invasive and may include foods, herbs, fasting,
nutritional supplements, bodywork, hydrotherapy, forms of exercise or body
movement and/or meditation.
Reflexology is a system of bodywork in which the
practitioner applies finger pressure to specific points on the feet and/or the
hands. Reflexology is based on the correspondence between reflexes in the feet
and hands and the various organs and areas of the body. Pressing on these reflexes
aids in healing by stimulating a return to homeostasis.
Reiki is a type of energy work that draws on several
techniques of touch and visualization in order to improve the flow of life
energy. In fact, the Japanese term �Reiki� translates to �universal life
energy.� Practitioners are sensitive to � and trained to correct � difficulties of
energy flow on all levels: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Reiki practitioners
often work directly with clients, and they may also work at a distance. Positive
effects of this modality include pain relief, stress reduction, and stimulation of
the immune system.
Therapeutic Touch is a non-invasive, and in fact non-touch,
system of energy work that was developed in the 1970s by Dora Kunz and Delores
Krieger, Ph.D., RN. In Therapeutic Touch, energy is transferred from the practitioner
to the energy field of the individual receiving treatment. As with other energy
techniques, major effects include relaxation and accelerated healing. It has been
found that the autonomic nervous system is quite sensitive to Therapeutic Touch,
followed by the lymphatic and circulatory systems, and the musculoskeletal system.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
More than 2000 years old, Traditional Chinese Medicine is
based on creating and maintaining balance and harmony between various types of polar
opposites, for example Yin and Yang, heaven and earth, cold and hot, wet and dry,
inner and outer, and so forth. Also important are the five elements: wood, fire, water,
earth, and air. Balance and harmony bring health; imbalance and disharmony
bring the opposite. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) takes the entire person, the
physical, psychological and spiritual makeup, into account when approaching any
problem. The chief modalities of TCM include herbs, foods, and acupuncture.
Vegetarianism is a plant-centered dietary style that
excludes meat. This may include a number of variations:
- Lacto-Vegetarian � Eats only vegetables, grains, fruits, and dairy products.
- Ovo-Vegetarian -- Eats only vegetables, grains, fruits, and eggs.
- Pesco-Vegetarian � Eats only vegetables, grains, fruits, and fish/seafood.
- Vegan � Eats only vegetables, grains, and fruits, with no animal products at
all. For many people this becomes a way of life that extends beyond dietary
practices. Strict vegans often avoid using any product, for example leather or
silk, that has animal origins.
Some of these dietary styles may be combined. For example,
a lacto-ovo-vegetarian includes dairy products and eggs as part of his or her
plant-centered diet. For many people, a well-balanced vegetarian diet, high in
micronutrients and fiber and generally low in saturated fats, is quite
healthy. Although a plant-centered diet is recommended for nearly everyone, some
people do not respond well to a diet in which there is no animal protein.