Glossary Table of Contents
(These are alternative health related terms and not Achlasia
- A Alternative
Medicine, Alternative Therapy
- B Biofeedback, Biomedical Model, Biopsychosocial Model
- C Case
- E Evidence-Based
- F Fresh Air
- H Healer, Health Psychology, Heroic Medicine
- L Lifestyle, Life-Extension
- M Materia Medica,
Medical Scientism, Medicine, Miasmas, Mind - Body Connection
- N Natural, Natural Healing Practices, Natural Health, Natural Therapy,
- P Patient
- Q Quackery
- S Scientism,
- T Treating
the Disease, Treating the
Health Related Terms
Natural Health Related Comments
"A variety of therapeutic or preventive health
care practices, such as homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, and
herbal medicine, that do not follow generally accepted medical methods
and may not have a scientific explanation for their effectiveness."
There are three key points.
- Alternative medicine is any method of treatment
other than prescription medication, the heroic
medicine of chemotherapy / radiation therapy, and surgery.
- It is not defined by the practitioner or
institution, but by the method of treatment.
- Alternative medicine was yesterday's quackery, is today's complementary medicine, and
may be tomorrow's new branch of medicine.
- It is always about a professional doctor -
- The word medicine denotes a professional
doctor - patient relationship.
- Popular examples would be:
- For self-care or group treatments, alternative therapies is the
Alternative medicine is simply an after the fact
modern classification of phenomena that has been going on for hundreds,
if not thousands of years, long before biomedicine arrived on the
scene. In short, when one method does not work for you the natural
response is to try another or alternative method.
When exploring the individual branches of
alternative medicine four questions need to be answered. The answers to
these question will reveal whether or not each branch of alternative
medicine is mostly quackery or something that
the public should seriously consider using.
- What is the method of treatment utilized?
- What are its therapeutic effects?
- What medical conditions does it effectively
- What modes of action could plausibly account
for these therapeutic effects?
"A term given to nonconventional therapy
usually given by persons who do not have a medical qualification."
In natural health
contexts, therapy is the preferred term for self-care whereas treatment
or medicine is the preferred term for professional care administered by
Alternative therapies is, thus, the preferred term
for self-care alternative healing methods and covers therapies like
aromathreapy, herbal medicines, visualization, meditation, and yoga.
Therapy would also include individualized training
sessions and group classes. The point being that therapy is always
something that you can eventually use to treat yourself with.
"A training technique that enables an
individual to gain some element of voluntary control over autonomic
body functions; based on the learning principle that a desired response
is learned when received information such as a recorded increase in
skin temperature (feedback) indicates that a specific thought complex
or action has produced the desired physiological response."
|Biofeedback links the
mind with the body through high-technology devices that allows the mind
to control certain bodily functions. In this treatment method, an
individual is hooked up to monitoring devices which provides feedback
of how brain waves, breathing patterns, muscle activity, sweat gland
function, pulse, skin temperature, and blood pressure are responding to
relaxation techniques, such as meditation.
"A conceptual model of illness that excludes
psychological and social factors and includes only biological factors
in an attempt to understand a person's medical illness or disorder."
biomedical approach of medicine generally
looks for single, very specific causes for diseases, with
correspondingly specific treatments, such as antibiotics for
infections, that are expected to be effective for that illness in most
people, under most conditions.
Further, the biomedical model assumes that all disease is caused by
structural anatomic or biochemical abnormality. The physician's
responsibility is limited to finding the abnormality to be cured. But without
an easily discovered abnormality the simplistic biomedical model often
"The process of systematically finding,
appraising, and using contemporaneous research findings as the basis
for clinical decisions."
|Michael L. "Millenson
decries the lack of scientific-based medical practice and medicine's
failure to wake up due to its own historical studies. He cites data
that 85% of current practice has not been scientifically validated
despite medicine's claims of the physician-scientist."
Evidence-based medicine is an open admission
by the scientific community that the practice of modern medicine has failed to live up to the
standard of being based upon science. It is a recent movement that
really did not become popular until the establishment of the Center for
Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University in 1995. The mere fact
that evidence-based medicine is being promoted speaks historically to a
practice of medicine that was not completely based on science.
A major problem with evidence-based medicine is
that "the knowledge gained from clinical research does not directly
answer the primary clinical question of what is best for the patient at
|During the 19th century,
fresh air referred to air without any strong smells or miasmas. During the 20th century, fresh air began
to refer to pollution free air.
"One that heals or attempts to heal, especially
a faith healer."
|A healer is a
practitioner of alternative health practices who works with,
rather than against, the natural recuperative self-healing properties
of the human body. Healers are said to heal because all healing
comes from within the body. Healers heal the body by applying treatment
from without the body.
"The aggregate of the specific educational,
scientific, and professional contributions of the discipline of
psychology to the promotion and maintenance of health, the prevention
and treatment of illness, the identification of etiologic and
diagnostic correlates of health, illness, and related dysfunction, and
the analysis and improvement of the health care system."
|Once upon a time the
difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist was that the
psychiatrist was a medical doctor who specialized in psychiatry while a
psychologist had nothing to do with treating illness. Times have
changed. These days, many psychologists are in the health business.
Some of them have a specialization in health. You should expect a
health psychologist to be using the mind
- body model of health. Psychologists provide alternative
medical services when they use biofeedback,
hypnotherapy, or cognitive behavior
therapy to treat an illness.
"Denoting an aggressive, daring procedure in a
dangerously ill patient which in itself may endanger the patient but
which also has a possibility of being successful, whereas lesser action
would result in failure."
|Conventional medicine has had a marked historical preference
for heroic medicine. Heroic medicine is any medicine or method of
treatment that makes people suffer, get sick, get weak and run down
and/or die. Further, physicians often prefer to start off with these
bold and daring treatments.
Heroic medicine, in short, is aggressive,
reckless and foolhardy medicine that has a high potential for harming
Book Review: Life Extension: A Practical Scientific
Approach (1982) -- "The book's central premise is that animal
experiments are now adaptable to humans who want to live to the age of
what happens when quackery meets up with
people who have been educated in the basic sciences. These people often
dwell on biochemical egg-headed discussions of the effects
these drugs have on the human body, as if a critical use of science
supported their nonsense. This movement is characterized by vicious
personal attacks on all forms of alternative medicine, natural health
and quackery while they steadfastly refuse to recognize their own
position as quackery
Quackwatch -- Your Guide to Health Fraud,
Quackery, and Intelligent Decisions, a web site, has a web page on Life Extension: A Practical Scientific Approach
which clearly labels the methods advocated by this book as quackery.
This movement advocates the extreme use of growth hormones,
prescription drugs, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other
substances that science supposedly claims to cause people to live much
longer than normal.
In short, any person who is mostly into the heavy use of drugs,
vitamins and other substances to the annual expenditure of $1,000+
because it is the scientific approach to health is a follower
of this Life-Extension quackery.
"The particular attitudes, habits or behaviour
associated with an individual or group."
|Lifestyle describes the
particular attitudes, habits or behaviors associated with an
individual. Lifestyle is under the control of the individual. And,
their lifetime accumulative effects are theorized by advocates of natural health to be connected to all
lifestyle or degenerative diseases. Individuals improve their
health by carefully changing to a healthier lifestyle.
"1. Material or substance used in the
composition of remedies; a general term for all substances used as
curative agents in medicine."
|The use of all Materia
Medica, or medicine, is historically quackery based upon a myth as old as mankind that
medicines possess magical curative powers.
"the belief that there is one and only one
method of science and that it alone confers legitimacy upon the conduct
Scientism is the religion of reductionist
scientific materialism. The mantra of medical scientism is
double-blind randomized clinical trial peer reviewed research published
in respectable journals. Medical scientism, as a form of academic
snobbery, says that just because a treatment method was shown to work
on you that fact alone is not good enough for the medical community to
accept its effectiveness.
The essence of medical scientism is that there is
only one acceptable method of medical research: Whatever the members of
their elite private club says that it is. Critics maintain that there
are other ways, such as observational evidence, clinical experience
and research published in any kind of a research journal.
The primary problem with this one method of
medical research is that it was clearly developed to test the
effectiveness of drugs. Trying to force this method of drug testing
on non-drug forms of alternative treatment methods is like trying to
force a square peg into a round hole.
Further, peer reviewed respectable journals like
NEJM, Lancet, JAMA, and BMJ have been unable to prevent biased papers
ghostwritten by pharmaceutical companies from being published.,
These same pharmaceutical companies are a primary source of funding for
medical/drug research. In some cases, doctors listed as authors on
ghostwritten research papers never reviewed the raw data, just tables
compiled by a medical writing company.
Another problem with medical scientism is
that its one way of science seems more interested in being a
welfare system for researchers than it is about solving the mysteries
of health. NASA, after all, got man on the moon without the
necessity for double-blind randomized clinical trial peer reviewed
research published in respectable journals. This is because medical
research, just like science, is designed to go on forever. No single
piece of research is ever considered conclusive or final. Often the
same research seems to be done over and over again which moves health
research in a never ending spiraling of endless research circles that
refuses to directly answer basic health questions. Medical scientism
is, thus, about a never ending drive for more and more reductionism.
Nothing about science prevents people from taking a direct approach to
solving the mysteries of health.
An argument can, also, be made that what an
individual needs in order to improve their own health is more synthesis
rather than further reductionism. Hence, what might benefit the
progress of immortal science is not necessarily helpful for the mortal
"1. Any substance, liquid or solid, that has
the property of curing or mitigating disease in animals, or that is
used for that purpose. Simples, plants and minerals furnish most of our
medicines. Even poisons used with judgment and in moderation, are safe
and efficacious medicines. Medicines are internal or external, simple
or compound. 2. The art of preventing, curing or alleviating the
diseases of the human body. Hence we say, the study of medicine, or a
student of medicine."
Webster's 1828 Dictionary definition of medicine,
which is shown to the left, clearly points out the historical meaning
of conventional medicine.
- Medicine is any substance that has the property
of curing or mitigating disease. The use of medicine is historically quackery based upon a myth as old as mankind that
medicines possess magical curative powers.
- It is no coincidence that medicine has a
double meaning. Medicine has one primary method of treatment: Materia
Medica, or medicine.
In natural health
contexts, physicians can benefit people who find themselves in acute
medical emergences. But, when it comes to lifestyle diseases their
offer of a quick fix is illusionary and can benefit only a few lucky
people. Their position on the elderly is that it is natural for old
people to die. So, it is foolhardy to expect them to go to
extraordinary measures in order to save people with limited financial
means from dying from lifestyle diseases.
Biomedicine today claims that diseases are to
be treated through the introduction of prescription medications.
Depending upon how you look at it, the Western medical system currently
is either eclectic, or a royal mess, which consists of a large number
of unrelated treatment methods that largely have not been supported by
science. While the public equates conventional medicine with
science due to a successful public relations campaign of the American
Medical Association, the advent of evidence-based medicine
documents that it is not.
Making prescription medication the primary
treatment method of biomedicine, while separating surgery from
medicine, makes this Western medical system comparable to the
various alternative treatment methods offered by alternative medicine.
"For traumas, acute bacterial infections, and
medical emergencies, allopathic medicine is very effective, but it does
not handle viral infections, degenerative diseases [or lifestyle
diseases], serious cancers, mental illness, or functional illness
nearly as well."
Modern medicine, with its high technology, is also
good at making diagnosis. In short, biomedicine is good at
preventing and treating bacterial infections and for treating medical
emergencies, such as acute traumas.
"Infecting substances floating in the air; the
effluvia or fine particles of any putrefying bodies, rising and
floating in the atmosphere, and considered to be noxious to health."
|During the 19th century,
disease was generally believed to be spread by foul smelling air, or
miasmas. It was in reference to the horrific smells of urban life which
came from horse manure, open sewers, and uncollected garbage.
Webster's 1828 Dictionary definition of miasma, which is shown to the
left, was written when the miasma theory of disease was generally
believed to be correct.
"It treats the biological, psychological and
social issues as systems of the body, similar to ... [bodily] systems
such as the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
For a patient, they have not recovered from a disease until they feel
better and their illness is over.
Because of the importance of illness, much more
information needs to be gathered during a consultation. ...
For this reason, the interview process should
encourage the patient to give as much information [as possible] ...
This is a patient-centred approach, and generally involves open-ended
questions designed for the patient to do much of the talking."
The complex biopsychosocial model is concerned
with illness, the subjective sense of suffering or reduced capacity to
function. The biopsychosocial model is a much more complex systems
theory approach to health, illness and healing. It does not look for
single, specific causes for illness, but sees health, illness and
healing as resulting from the interacting effects of events of very
different types, including biological, psychological, and social
factors. All of these are seen as systems that affect and interact with
one another to affect personal health.
The mind-body connection says "loudly and
clearly that the causes, development, and outcomes of an illness are
determined by the interaction of psychological, social, and cultural
factors [along] with biochemistry and physiology."
This model says that wholeness and integration is the answer rather
than more and more medical specialization by body parts.
- Sample psychological factors (thought
patterns, beliefs, attitudes, and behavior)
- When it comes to treating a specific
individual the placebo effect is always beneficial.
- Depression caused by patterns of thought.
- Positive and Negative Attitudes
- Personality types, such as Type A
- Psychoneuroimmunology -- The study of how
emotional and other psychological states affect the bodies immune
- Sample social factors (relationships
with other people)
- Being in a hospital dramatically increases
your risk of getting a communicable disease or iatrogenic injury.
- Family life, or your relationship with all
your family members
- Social support systems
- Hostile work environments
health contexts, the word illness is often used to mean a
person's perception of being sick.
"Pertaining to nature; produced or effected by
nature, or by the laws of growth, formation or motion impressed on
bodies or beings by divine power. ... In this sense, natural is opposed
to artificial or acquired."
Webster's 1828 Dictionary got the definition of
While a certain group of scientists would say that
everything is natural, natural health
advocates would find such a definition as being patently absurd.
Natural is what is opposed to artificial.
Natural is what naturally occurs in nature without
any assistance from man. What can only be made by man is called
artificial. While natural is what naturally occurs in nature, if
mankind did not and had never existed.
Man can produce both natural and artificial
toxins. Evolution has given living creatures a natural way of
dealing with natural toxins. Man made artificial toxins might be
especially harmful to life since these toxins may not be biodegradable.
Evolution has not given living creatures a natural
way of detoxifying many of these artifical toxins. For
example, how does the human body effectively deal with plastic leached
into food from microwave cooking in plastic containers?
Doing what is natural is only a relative
guideline rather than an absolute maxim.
LaLanne often preaches: "If man made it, don't consume it!"
Yet, also believes in drinking high protein shakes made from soy
protein powder as well as soy milk. Soy cannot be safely consumed by
man unless it is first heavily processed. And, while many animals live
a physically active life and engage in aerobic activities like running,
no animal naturally lifts weights or works out on a treadmill.
So, use of the word natural in natural health
contexts only connotes a preference for trying simple natural therapies first
even though much of what we advocate is not 100% natural in all
respects. There is no requirement in natural health to do only what
is completely natural.
Natural Healing Practices
practices are a subset of both treatment methods and alternative
medicine that looks towards nature for natural causes and explanations,
rather than towards the supernatural. From the point of view of
treatment methods, biomedicine can be considered a natural healing
practice because it looks towards nature rather than the supernatural
"Natural health is an eclectic self-care system
of natural therapies that builds and restores health and wellness
by working with the natural recuperative powers of the human body."
Natural health is an eclectic self-care system of
that builds and restores health by working with the natural
recuperative powers of the human body.
See our tutorial on: What
is Natural Health?
"Natural therapy is the treatment method used
by advocates of natural health, which is a form of alternative
Natural therapy is the treatment method used by
advocates of natural health.
Natural therapy criteria:
- Its mode of action exists in the physical realm
- Can be physically measured or detected.
- Always targets health, illness or healing.
- Is slow acting, simple and inexpensive.
- Is under the control of the individual.
See our tutorial on: What
is a Natural Therapy?
"Having the right to make one's own choices and
of having the ability to act on them."
empowerment is a concept that has recently emerged in the health
scene. It embraces the idea that patients have the right to make their
own choices about their health care. The empowerment model is based
on the assumption that to be truly healthy, people must bring about
changes not only in their personal behavior but also in their social
situations and in the environment that influences their lives. This
empowerment model has evolved out of the realization that patients
cannot be forced to follow a lifestyle
dictated by others.
"The act of going, or state of being, before."
There are actually three different levels of
- Primary Prevention - actions taken to
avoid disease or injury.
- Secondary Prevention - actions taken to
identify and treat an illness or injury early on with the aim of
stopping or reversing the problem.
- Tertiary Prevention - interventions to
contain or retard the damage caused by a serious injury or a disease
that has progressed beyond the early stages and causes lasting or
When physicians claim that they are interested
in prevention they are referring to high-technology used to detect
diseases (Secondary Prevention) and the management of diseases
like diabetes (Tertiary Prevention) because they offer no hope
of cure. Just about the only Primary Prevention services provided
by physicians are vaccinations as Primary Prevention services are too
Prevention according to medicine
means detecting and managing infectious diseases, while in natural health contexts
prevention means avoiding getting sick entirely. In short, medicine
does not prevent anything, other than more serious progression of
existing disease states and a handful of communicable diseases that are
allegedly prevented by vaccination.
"Quackery used to be a pejorative term
describing medical charlatanism. As medical charlatanism became more
popular and as using pejorative terms became politically incorrect
except for the formerly oppressed classes, quackery evolved into
alternative medicine and complementary medicine by those who practice
it, and into unproven therapies and questionable methods by those who
are critical of it. When quackery is mixed with scientific medicine,
the latter is called a mainstream modality and the result is called
integrative medicine by those who practice."
|Outside of outright
consumer fraud, what is considered quackery is purely a matter of
politics as consumers in a free market economy have the right to decide
how they want to spend their own money. This modern concept is known as
The word 'quackery' is derived from the word quacksalver ("someone who boasts about his salves"), which
historically was an insult used against physicians using heroic medicine. It was historically
associated with the use of mercury in Europe as medicine in the form of
salves. The German form of the word is quacksalber and is based
on the word quecksilber in German which means quicksilver or
Who were the Quacks who originally topically treated diseases like
syphilis with salves made from mercury in Europe? Why it was the
educated and then politically correct professional physician, of course.
"A branch of medicine that involves cutting
open the body to manually correct injuries and disorders and to
diagnose injuries or diseases."
|Most of the success
stories made by conventional medicine in treating heart disease have
come from surgery rather than from medicine.
Historically, advances in surgery developed by trial and error over the
need to treat battlefield injuries. Surgery was considered a trade
or a form of lowly physical labor throughout most of Western history.
In Europe the distinction between surgery and medicine is rather
distinct, while in America the differences are more muddled. The
lofty educated physician did not perform surgery because it was beneath
their aristocratic social position.
While natural health advocates surely do not recommend unnecessary
surgery most of the criticisms directed against conventional medicine
are referring to Materia Medica or medicine
rather than the field of surgery.
"During a physical examination, a health care
provider studies a patient's body to determine the presence or absence
of physical problems. A typical physical examination includes:
- inspection (looking at the body)
- palpation (feeling the body with hands)
- auscultation (listening to sounds)
- percussion (producing sounds)"
|When you treat the
disease, either a high-tech diagnosis is made with the expensive tools
of modern medical science or a diagnosis has been made based upon a
physical examination of the patient. It would also include taking the
medical history of the patient.
In short, treating the disease emphasizes pathology and centers on
the simplistic biomedical model
"All the relevant information or material
gathered about an individual, family, group, etc., and arranged so as
to serve as an organized record and have analytic value for a social
worker, student, or the like: used esp. in social work, sociology,
psychiatry, and medicine."
|When you treat the
person a case study is taken that ascertains what the patient has been
doing wrong because all illness is assumed to be the fault of the
patient. Further, the natural healer will try to
regulate the life of their patients, their diet, etc., first before
using any drugs. Once the wrong behavior has
been stopped; drugs in the form of nutritional supplements and herbs
are given that will assist the patient in recovering naturally from
In short, treating the patient emphasizes the behavior of the
patient and centers on the complex biopsychosocial model of
health otherwise known as the mind-body