Common Terms & Definitions Used in Natural Treatments

Acupressure Acupressure is similar in practice to acupuncture only no needles are involved. Practitioners use their hands, elbows, or feet to apply pressure to specific points along the body’s “meridians.” The reasoning holds that illness can occur when one of these meridians is blocked or out of balance; acupressure is thought to relieve blockages so energy can flow freely again, restoring wellness.
Acupuncture Uses tiny needles inserted into various trigger points in the body to alleviate symptoms and release internal energy blockages. It is generally painless and is used to stimulate total healing of the body and mind. The theory is that problems arise within the body due to blocked energy channels. When the needles are inserted at the proper meridian channel, they help to unblock those channels, releasing any negative energy that was trapped.
Alternative Medicine These are ‘non-mainstream’ health practices used in place of conventional medicine. These can include using herbal remedies or aromatherapy in place of over-the-counter medications. Or, another example would be using a chiropractor instead of surgery.
Aromatherapy (also known as Essential Oil therapy) can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit.  It seeks to unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process. Therapeutic application or the medicinal use of aromatic substances (essential oils) for holistic healing. It is a natural, non-invasive modality designed to affect the whole person not just the symptom or disease and to assist the body’s natural ability to balance, regulate, heal and maintain itself by the correct use of essential oils.
Aura An electromagnetic emanation surrounding the body of a living creature, viewed by mystics, spiritualists, and some practitioners of complementary medicine as the essence of the individual, and allegedly discernible by people with special sensibilities. In parapsychology and spiritual practice, an aura is a field of subtle, luminous radiation surrounding a person or object. Like your phone or stereo, that uses electricity to function, will emit a field around it that is a result of electricity passing through it. These energy fields can be detected by EMF (Electromagnetic Field) meters.
Ayurvedic Medicine (also called Ayurveda) is one of the world’s oldest medical systems. It originated in India and has evolved there over thousands of years. In the United States, many products and practices used in Ayurvedic medicine are also used on their own as complementary approaches—for example, herbs, massage, and specialized diets.
Balm Dense, heavy moisturizer used for extremely dry skin or lip moisturizing. Usually made with beeswax or nut butter as the base.
Biofeedback Biofeedback techniques allow people to control bodily processes that normally happen involuntarily—such as heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, and skin temperature—in order to improve conditions including high blood pressure, headaches, and chronic pain. Patients work with a biofeedback therapist to learn these relaxation techniques and mental exercises. In initial sessions, electrodes are attached to the skin to measure bodily states, but eventually the techniques can be practiced without a therapist or equipment.
Botanical Pharmacology


Herbs and/or plant material used in health promotion through supplementation. These include plant oils, leaves, flowers, stems, seeds, barks, roots, and rhizomes. They are usually taken in capsule form and can be unprocessed or are chemically processed to extract or concentrate only specific active ingredients.
Chakra Literally means – wheel, disk, circle, cycle, spiral, or vortex. These are energy centers in the body where multiple meridians cross over or come together. They are found where nerve bundles join in the body along the spine, spinal cord, and brain.  Typically considered as seven main chakras found along spine and in brain and many secondary or underlying energy centers found throughout the body. It is believed that when a chakra is blocked or the energy flow through it is restricted the body develops illness and disease, following the same premise as energy blockage in terms of Reiki, Reflexology, Chiropractic, Ayurveda, etc. Each chakra is commonly associated with a color or stone that can be used in balancing and opening chakras in order to improve function and overall health.


The use of spinal manipulation to free the body from disease. It is commonly used as a natural method for relieving back and neck pain. Chiropractors use controlled pressure and quick, forceful movements to manipulate spinal joints. In doing so, they attempt to move the joint beyond its current stopping point. By “unsticking” the joint, range of motion improves and muscles and bones begin to return to their normal location. With regular chiropractic treatments, many individuals have achieved complete relief from pain and correction or improvement of spinal abnormalities.
Complementary Medicine These are ‘non-mainstream’ health practices used in conjunction (combined) with conventional medicine. Most commonly alternative therapies are used with complementary medicine. These can include natural supplements, deep breathing practices, yoga/tai chi, massage, meditation, homeopathy, relaxation, and visualization.
Dietary Supplement Botanicals, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and probiotics taken to increase nutrient intake. These are typically an easy way to support certain functions by increasing the nutrients needed for running bodily system processes. For example, chromium picolinate improves insulin function within the body.
Glycerite An herbal infused tincture with vegetable glycerin. Instead of alcohol like vodka, everclear, or grain alcohol (white lightening) these use liquid vegetable sugar instead. Used as a supplement, therapy, or symptom treatment. For example, Mother Gaia’s Allergy Drops are an effective replacement to OTCs like Claritan or Sudafed without the nasty side effects like drowsiness, drunkenness, or brain fog. These contain no alcohol and will not raise blood sugar and are safe for children of any age.
Holistic The way the individual is considered during a treatment process. This practice looks at the entire individual for diagnosing illness and disease and for treating their ailments. The individual’s mind, body, and soul are considered prior to prescribing treatment. Lifestyle and diet change are usually the first recommendations before surgery and medications are prescribed.
Homeopathic Medicine (also known as Homeopathy) is an alternative medicine practice developed in Germany over 200 years ago. Follows the premise that – ‘like cures like’ – that a disease can be cured by a substance that produces similar symptoms in healthy people. This includes the – ‘law of minimum dose’ – the lower the dose of the medication, the greater its effectiveness. Many homeopathic remedies are so diluted that no molecules of the original substance remain. Treatments are ‘individualized’ or tailored to each person—it is not uncommon for different people with the same condition to receive different treatments.
Hydrotherapy (also known as Balneotherapy) involves the use of water for therapeutic purposes, and it dates as far back as 1700 B.C.E. It’s based on the idea that water benefits the skin and might treat a range of conditions from acne to pain, swelling, and anxiety; practitioners use mudpacks, douches, and wraps in attempts to reap the water’s rewards. This can include foot soaks, body soaks, and steam therapy as well.
Integrative Medicine This practice brings together conventional, complementary, and alternative medicine together and uses a holistic approach to treatment.
Massage Therapy Relies on the healing power of physical touch to relieve stress and treat disease. Muscles and soft tissues are manipulated by a trained therapist who presses, pushes, pulls and rubs the affected area. Therapist not only use their hands, but depending on the type of massage, may use their fists, arms, elbows and even their knees to work on particular areas of the body. There are numerous types of massage therapy, each one used to address different conditions. Examples are relaxation massage, Swedish massage, craniosacral massage, sports massage and prenatal massage.
Meditation Used to bring about a peaceful state of quiet consideration. There is not one way to meditate and goal is to quiet the mind and calm the spirit, leaving the individual free from stress, anxiety, and negative thoughts and emotions.  Some examples of different types of meditation are prayer, visualization, Yoga/Tai Chi, and transcendental meditation. While some types require no movement whatsoever, others encourage free flowing body movements or specific controlled poses. Meditation is often prescribed to cancer patients and individuals suffering from debilitating illness.
Meridians Energy channels ‘transporting’ life energy (Chi/Qi) throughout the body. If there are blockages, leading to lack of energy supply to certain areas of the body, or a surplus of energy in other areas. Our energy flow affects how we feel, how we think, and the over all condition of our health situation. When the body’s life-force energy becomes blocked, various imbalances will result. Energy blockages can be the result of stress, an injury or trauma, or bad living habits and can be traced to the root of all health (physical/mental/spiritual) problems.
Naturopathic Medicine (also Known as Naturopathy) a medical system that has evolved from a combination of traditional practices and health care approaches popular in Europe during the 19th century. This is a holistic treatment practice that is also completely individualized. These doctors with PhDs provide a wide variety of treatment approaches including diet and lifestyle change, stress reduction, herbal supplementation, homeopathy, exercise, counseling, and manipulation therapies.

(aka Chi)

Literally translates as “breath”, “air”, or “gas”, and figuratively as “material energy”, “life force”, or “energy flow”. In other words, it is our soul. The energy or electricity that gives our cells (and bodies) life. Qi is the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, Homeopathy, acupuncture, reflexology, chiropractic, and martial arts, to name a few. Qi is composed of two kinds of forces: ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’. A person remains in good health if there is harmony and balance between these two forces. If the balance is disturbed, that is, if the flow of one of these forces is greater than the other, illness arises. These forces – energies – flow through definite channels in the body, called ‘body meridians’ (body’s healing energy pathways).
Reflexology Similar to acupuncture in that is believed to release trapped energy from certain trigger points in the body. The treatment involves using special finger and hand techniques to apply pressure to areas of the foot that represent certain parts of the body. Bare hands are used, and no oils or lubricants are used. Therapists rely on a reflexology chart that mirrors an image of the body onto the feet. Each are of the body has a specific area on the foot. The area of the foot is treated is directly related to the body part that requires healing.
Reiki A form of touch therapy. Its principle belief is that individuals are controlled by a universal life force energy known as “qi”. Reiki practitioners use their hands to release energy blockages along specific meridian points in the body. This laying-of-hands therapy can help to channel the energy throughout the body and redistribute it as needed.
Salve A fat or oil based infusion of plant materials used topically on the skin to treat eruptions, irritations, injuries, and infections on the skin. They are also used as a heavy application for pain relief and reducing inflammation in joints like Arnica Gel.
Spray Here at Mother Gaia’s this is a purified water-based spray that contains essential oils for diffusion. Just shake and spray, no need for an expensive oil diffuser or alcohol as an emulsifier.
Tea An infusion of plant materials with water. For daily enjoyment, nutritional supplementation, symptom relief, and health support. Hot water extracts some of the chemical compounds from the plant materials as they steep. Plant materials include leaves, stems, flowers, barks, roots, seeds, and rhizomes. Does not have to have Tea (Camellia sinensis) leaves in it to be a tea.
Tincture An herbal extract using alcohol like vodka, everclear, or grain alcohol. These are used as a delivery system for an herbal remedy with an extensive, 10 year or more, shelf life. The alcohol absorbs the chemical constituents and suspends them in the fluid. These do raise blood sugar and are not recommended for use by diabetics. Due to the alcohol content they are not recommended for use by children. Note: these can also ruin a breathalyzer test, even when taken hours before.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (also known as TCM) originated in ancient China and has evolved over thousands of years. TCM practitioners use herbal medicines and various mind and body practices, such as acupuncture and tai chi, to treat or prevent health problems. In the United States, people use TCM primarily as a complementary health approach.