Are you new to the natural health world? Maybe you have decided that taking medications that only cover up your symptoms is getting you nowhere. Maybe you have toyed with the idea of trying a natural treatment that a friend mentioned to you. Maybe you are just sick and tired of being sick and tired and now you are exploring your options.
Well… the natural health world welcomes you. It’s a world that cares about the health of your whole body. It’s a world that wants you to live your best life. And, it’s a world with a new language. But do not fear, my friend! I’m here to help you navigate through this new lifestyle.
DICTIONARY OF NATURAL HEALTH TERMINOLOGY
- Acupuncture– A centuries old Chinese therapy. The theory behind acupuncture is that if the energy flow of the body (or Qi, pronounced “chee”) is disrupted, then disease can occur. Needles are inserted at specific points on the body to open pathways and eliminate these imbalances. Acupuncture is used most commonly to treat pain conditions, but is used to treat a wide number of ailments.
- Alternative Medicine– Any approach to your health that is not considered standard medical practice. Chiropractic, acupuncture, and naturopathic medicine- among others- fall under the category of alternative medicine.
- Allopathic Medicine– a natural health term used to describe mainstream medicine, a.k.a. modern medicine or Western Medicine.
- Aromatherapy– The therapeutic method of using extracted aromatic essences from plants (essential oils) and other plant compounds systemically to promote a healthy mind, body and spirit. Aromatherapy has become widely popular as of late. There have been an increased number of people discovering the benefits of essential oils.
- Ayurvedic Medicine– A 5,000 year old system of medicine that originated in India. The focus of this type of medicine is your over all energy and resilience.
- Chinese Medicine– A system of medicine that focuses on the patients “life energy” or Qi (pronounced “chee”). Practitioners look for signs of health and dysfunction and treat the patient accordingly. A number of treatments are used and can include: acupuncture, herbal medicine, and breathing therapy.
- Chiropractic– One of my favorites to talk about. The focus of chiropractic is that disorders of the musculoskeletal system and nervous system impact our overall health. Read more here.
- Detoxification– In short, this is the body’s process of eliminating toxins from the body. Your liver, kidneys, skin, blood, lungs, and lymphatic system are doing it right now. To help the body along (because many of us have an overload of toxins), special diets, herbal medicines, and other methods can be used.
- Essential Oils– Natural aromatic compounds found in the seeds, flowers, bark, rinds, and leaves of plants. The essential oils are extracted and distilled for health benefits. I love them so much I have an entire page about them here.
- Gluten– Gluten is a combination of two protiens- gliadin and glutenin- that is found in many grains. In those who are sensitive to it, the immune system attacks the gluten when it is ingested. Celiac disease is a severe form of gluten sensitivity and is classified as an auto-immune disease. As the awareness has grown, gluten free foods have become widely available.
- GMO foods– (genetically modified organism) The idea behind the genetic modification of foods seems legit- modify foods so that more can be grown with greater efficiency. But, there are many concerns. Scientists take one or more genes of DNA from an organism (such as bacteria, virus, animal or plant) and combine it with the DNA of a plant they want to alter. The result is a genetically modified food. An example is sweet corn. Sweet corn has been modified so that it now produces a poison that helps it resist certain insects. Insects are in danger and insects are important. There is also concern that the antibiotic resistant genes injected into GMO corn are responsible for the increase in antibiotic resistant diseases. There is a large push for the mandatory labeling of GM foods- and for good reason.
- Gut Flora– Intestinal flora is a common topic in natural health circles. It is thought by many that an imbalanced gut is the cause of much disease. I have experienced the power of a balanced gut and I talk a little bit about that here. If you have ever killed bad bacteria (using antibiotics is one way), then you have killed the good bacteria also. A real food diet and probiotics are examples of the many ways you can restore your intestinal health.
- Health Coach– a.k.a. wellness coach. This person works with you to achieve your life and health goals. Holistic health coaches consider all areas of their client’s life and help them to improve in weak areas. The focus can include: nutrition, spirituality, physical fitness, relationships, and career.
- Herbal Medicine– the use of plants or plant extracts to treat illness and support body functions.
- Holistic Medicine– The focus is on the treatment of the patient’s whole body and mind, rather than symptoms. The goal is optimal wellness. The lifestyle, spirituality, physical health, nutrition, and emotions of the patient are evaluated and improved as needed.
- Homeopathy– This term means “like disease” and is based on the principle that ‘like cures like.’ Symptoms are evaluated at length. The medicines are derived from nature. The practitioner selects a medicine that would produce like symptoms in a healthy person (a cough for example), so that the patient’s immune system will fight against their cough even more so than it is. The thought is that the body’s healing process is stimulated. We have used homeopathic medicine in our home with much success.
- Immune System– A collection of organs, cells and tissues within us that functions to protect the body against disease and dangerous foreign bodies.
- Integrative Medicine– The whole body is taken into consideration with integrative medicine. The practitioner then selects the appropriate treatment and that can include conventional (allopathic) medicine, alternative medicine, or a combination of both.
- Massage Therapy– the manual manipulation of soft tissue for physical and emotional benefits. There are many types of massage including: Swedish massage, shiatsu, deep tissue, and aromatherapy massage. Treat yourself today!
- Naturopathic Medicine– Naturopathic Doctors attend a school of Naturopathy to become a practitioner. They can prescribe some pharmaceutical medications. Their philosophies include: first do no harm, treat the whole person, the doctor is the teacher, use the healing power of nature, and prevent disease. They recognize that the body has the inherent ability to heal itself.
- Organic Food- Food grown in it’s purest form with out the use of pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, and other harmful substances/methods. Organic meats and poultry are not given antibiotics or growth hormones as they mature.
- Paleo Diet– a nutritional approach that is based on the eating habits of the hunters and gatherers of the Paleolithic period. The basic rules of this way of eating are: no dairy, no processed grains, no processed sugar, no legumes. While, in my opinion, there is no single diet that fits every person, everybody can benefit from avoiding processed foods- a principal that is strongly emphasized in this dietary approach.
This is by no means a complete list and I will add terminology from time to time. What would you like to learn more about?
Best wishes for better living,