Words to know

Naturopathic medicine: a branch of medicine in which a variety of natural medicines and treatments are used to heal illness using a system of medical diagnosis and therapeutics based on the patterns of chaos and organization in nature. It is founded on the premise that people are naturally healthy, and that healing can occur through removing obstacles to a cure and by stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities. Naturopaths are general practitioners who treat a wide variety of illnesses, emphasize preventative care, and treat the “whole person”–the spirit as well as the physical body. Naturopaths often recommend changes in diet and lifestyle to enhance the health of their patients.

Homeopathy: or homeopathic medicine, is a holistic system of treatment that originated in the late eighteenth century. The name homeopathy is derived from two Greek words that mean “like disease.” The system is based on the idea that substances that produce symptoms of sickness in healthy people will have a curative effect when given in very dilute quantities to sick people who exhibit those same symptoms. Homeopathic remedies are alleged to stimulate the body’s own healing processes. An example is hyposensitization for allergies.

Integrative medicine: combines allopathic conventional care with alternative or complementary medicine to improve patient care. Rather than practice one type of medicine, integrative physicians will often combine therapies and treatment approaches to ensure the best results for their patients. Integrative physicians do not shun western medicine; in fact, they practice western care every day, and at the same time incorporate appropriate and proven alternative treatment options.

Western medicine: allopathic or traditional contemporary medicine applies health science, biomedical research, and medical technology to diagnose and treat injury and disease, typically through medication or surgery, but also through therapies as diverse as psychotherapy, external splints and traction, prostheses, biologics, ionizing radiation, and others.

Holistic medicine: a concept in medical practice that all personal needs, including psychological, physical, and social, should be taken into account and seen as a whole. The holistic practice provides everything from surgery, dental care, and traditional medicine, to counseling and support groups. The Holistic model is currently being practiced at the Mayo Clinic (and similar institutions) where patients have a team of professionals who address all the above needs.

Natural: produced by nature.

Alternative/Complementary Medicine: non-traditional remedies not considered to be conventional/traditional/allopathic treatments (such as medications and surgery), some of which require licensure, and some of which do not. Types of alternative treatments may include chiropractic/spinal manipulation, Homeopathy, Naturopathic medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture, Herbs, Qi Gong), Herbal Therapy (Ayurvedic, Chinese, Western, etc.).

Alternative: implies treatments used in place of conventional/traditional/allopathic medicine.

Complimentary: treatments used in addition to conventional/traditional/allopathic medicine.