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AN ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE GLOSSARY

Understanding these frequently used terms is the first step to learning about alternative
medicine.
Complementary and alternative medicine encompasses a wide range of therapeutic approaches
that fall outside conventional medicine. Understanding some of the commonly used terms in
complementary medicine and alternative medicine can be helpful in making informed decisions
about which treatments might be right for you and your family.
Acupuncture: Part of traditional Chinese medicine, this practice inserts fine needles into
designated points on the body in order to restore the smooth flow of “qi” energy! and balance
the opposing forces of yin and yang.
Alternative medicine: "edicine that is used as a replacement for conventional medicine.
Aromaterap!: #he use of flower oils and essences for their therapeutic properties. $epending
on the type, oils and essences can be inhaled, ingested, and used e%ternally on the skin.
A!urveda: &n 'ndian system of alternative medicine that uses diet, herbs, massage, and yoga to
regulate a person(s physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects.
Ciropractic: & form of manual therapy that looks at the connection between structure and
function ) specifically focusing on the spine. Chiropractors perform manipulations of the
musculoskeletal system in order to alleviate pain and encourage the body to heal itself.
Complementar! medicine: "edicine that is used in combination with conventional medicine.
Cranio"acral terap!: & light*touch technique that seeks to improve the functioning of the
body(s central nervous system. Practitioners use subtle movements on the skull and spine to
affect cerebrospinal fluid and realign bones.
#omeopat!: & whole medical system that operates by stimulating the body(s defense
mechanism. +omeopaths give patients small doses of substances that in larger amounts would
cause illness. #he goal of this alternative medicine is to prompt the body to heal itself.
Inte$rative medicine: #his medicine also known as integrated medicine! uses complementary
and alternative medicine in combination with conventional medicine. 'ntegrative medicine aims
to treat the whole person ) body, mind, and spirit ) not ,ust the disease.
Ma""a$e: #he use of varying pressure and movement to manipulate muscles and other soft
tissues. -y rela%ing the soft tissues of the body, more blood and o%ygen can reach the affected
areas and decrease pain.
Meditation: Considered mind*body medicine, meditation is a conscious mental process that is
used to release physical tension, rela% the body, and ease the mind.
Naturopat!: & whole medical system that focuses on supporting health rather than treating
illness. #his alternative medicine encourages the body to heal itself through the use of diet,
herbs, massage, ,oint manipulation, and lifestyle changes.
%i $on$: Part of traditional Chinese medicine, qi gong in .estern terms is considered energy
medicine. #his alternative medicine combines movement with controlled breathing to promote
health by improving the flow of “qi,” or energy.
Re&le'olo$!: & therapeutic modality designed to relieve tension, improve circulation, and
promote the natural functioning of the body through application of pressure on various points on
the feet.
Rei(i: & form of energy medicine that originated in /apan. .ith this form of alternative
medicine, the practitioner places their hands on or near the patient with the goal of spiritual
healing.
Tai ci: & form of martial arts from China that is now used as mind*body therapy. 0ometimes
referred to as a “moving meditation,” tai chi involves slow, gentle movements and deep
breathing.
Yo$a: #his mind*body practice from 'ndia combines postures, breathing e%ercises, and
meditation to promote rela%ation and improve body functions.