Glossary of Therapies & Terms

A type of Chinese medicine that uses direct stimulation by a therapist’s fingertips, knuckles, or hands or from blunt-tipped instruments to stimulate specific points on energetic meridians and points on a patient’s body.

a branch of ancient Chinese medicine that treats many conditions including diseases, drug or alcohol addiction, and sinus problems by stimulation of needles to directly manipulate a network along 12 major pathways or energetic meridians, connecting specific internal organs with energetic points on the network. Acupuncture regulates, or disperses Ki (also referred to as Chee, Chi, Ki, Qi, and Qui), the vital life energy that animates all living organisms, and results in a correcting and rebalancing Ki to relieve pain and restore health.

a foreign substance (such as pollen, house dust, and various foods) that can produce a hypersensitive reaction in the body but is not necessarily intrinsically harmful.

the conventional method of medicine that combats disease by using active techniques specifically against the disease.

Alternative therapies
interventions for improving, maintaining and promoting health and well being, preventing disease, or treating illness. Encompassing over 200 modalities and more than 10,000 uses, alternative and complementary therapies are not part of the standard Australian biomedical regimen of health care or disease prevention.

Anthroposophical Medicine
based on the principles of anthroposophy, developed by philosopher and spiritual scientist Rudolf Steiner, PhD (1861‑1925); this medical system takes into account the spiritual and physical components of illness. A treatment regime may include herbal and homeopathic medicines as well as dietetics, art and movement therapies, massage, and hydrotherapy.

a substance capable of protecting other substances from oxidation; some are made by the body to inhibit the destructive actions of chemicals called free radicals; some, such as vitamins C and E, are nutrients.

therapeutic use of essential oils extracted from flowers, stems, leaves, roots, or fruits of a plant or tree. Physiological and psychological benefits of treatment are achieved by absorption through massage, hydrotherapy, and inhalation.

Art therapy
a type of therapy in which a person is encouraged to express feelings through a nonverbal process, using a variety of materials to create art.

Ayurvedic medicine
5,000-year-old system of holistic and preventive medicine from India that treats illness as an imbalance or stress in the awareness of the individual, along with an imbalance of the doshas. The ayurvedic tradition employs diagnostic procedures such as reading the pulse and observing the tongue. Nutrition counseling, yoga, massage, herbal medicine, meditation, and other modalities are used to treat a broad spectrum of ailments in reaching a balanced state of inner harmony, health, and natural well-being.

the scientific study of interactions between living organisms and electromagnetic fields, forces, energies, currents, and charges. The range of interactions studied includes atomic, molecular, intracellular, up to the entire organism.

a method of studying and understanding the human personality in terms of the body and its energetic processes. Bioenergetic therapists believe that the body and mind are functionally identical and that repressed emotions affect the body and mind by creating chronic muscular tension and diminishing energy. Through movement, breathwork, psychotherapy and emotional release techniques, the person works to resolve these issues; also called Reichian Therapy.

the process of furnishing an individual with information, usually in an auditory or visual mode, on the state of one or more physiological variables such as heart rate, blood pressure, or skin temperature; it often enables the individual to gain some voluntary control over the physiological variable being sampled. Biofeedback is used especially for stress-related conditions such as asthma, migraine headaches, insomnia, and high blood pressure.

Botanical medicine
another term for herbal medicine–therapies of or derived from plants.

sensed by some practitioners of the touch therapies and first elaborated in ancient Indian metaphysics, describes seven major vortices of energy in the human biofield, each associated with a particular nerve plexus and endocrine gland. Chakra balancing is the clearing of energy blocks from the chakras.

Chelation therapy
series of intravenous injections of the synthetic amino acid EDTA (ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid), designed to detoxify the body of undesirable heavy metals such as lead, mercury, nickel, copper, and cadmium. Chelation therapy is often used to treat atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis by dissolving plaque that has built up in the circulatory system.

Chinese medicine
a variety of ancient and modern therapeutic methods, including acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, heat therapy, and nutritional and lifestyle counselling–to treat a broad range of chronic and acute illnesses.

Chiropractic practice
a discipline that views the spine as the backbone of human health. Misalignments of vertebrae caused by poor posture or trauma cause pressure on the spinal nerve roots, leading to diminished function and illness. Through manipulation or adjustment of the spine, treatment seeks to analyse and correct misalignments.

Chronic fatigue syndrome
an illness characterised by long periods of fatigue, often accompanied by headaches, muscle pain and weakness, and elevated antibody titers to some herpes viruses. The cause or causes are unknown.

Colonic therapy
colonic irrigations with fluid under gentle pressure are a method of and therapy for bowel cleansing designed to detoxify the large intestine.

Complementary medicine
This term is being used more and more within the naturopathic professions in preference to the term ‘alternative’ medicine to describe non orthodox medicine It is the term used by the Australian Government to describe non-orthodox medical practice The naturopathic profession today sees its role in complementing orthodox medicine and believes the term alternative can be quite misleading and cause confrontation. It makes good common sense to recognise that orthodox medicine, which specialises in crisis health care, would be greatly complemented by the preventative health care skills of the naturopathic profession.

Craniosacral therapy
gentle manipulation of the brain, spinal cord, bones of the skull, sacrum and interconnected membranes–to correct misalignments and distortions in the structure and function of the craniosacral mechanism that surrounds the central nervous system.

Crystal therapy or gem therapy or crystal healing
use of quartz crystals, gemstones, and other types of crystals and stones for therapeutic and healing purposes.

a technique of applying suction over selected points or zones in the body. A vacuum is created by warming the air in a glass jar and overturning it onto the body to disperse areas of local congestion. This therapy is used in the treatment of arthritis, bronchitis, and sprains, among other ailments.

Dance and movement therapies
therapeutic technique which uses expressive movement as a tool for personal expression, psychological and/or emotional healing.

the process of eliminating the build‑up of wastes and toxins from the body, often accomplished with fasting, adhering to specific diets, colon therapy, vitamin therapy, chelation therapy, and hyperthermia.

the study and regulation of the diet.

in Ayurvedic medicine, three basic physiological principles that interact to create health; an imbalance leads to disease.

Ear candling or ear coning
a treatment for wax build-up, hearing problems, and ear and sinus infections. Treatment involves placing a narrow, specially designed tubular candle at the entry to the ear canal, while the opposite end is lit. The heat from the burning cylinder creates a vacuum and draws debris from the ear canal.

Eastern medicine
a broad term for Oriental, Indian, Tibetan, Japanese, and Chinese medicine, all of which share philosophies about the energy system of the human body and the necessity of balance and harmony.

the use of electrical current for a variety of therapeutic purposes including pain relief, reduction of swelling, muscle relaxation, speeding up of the healing process, and stimulation of acupuncture points.

a form of movement therapy designed to isolate separate muscles and muscle groups to promote flexibility, release tension, and enhance balance.

Fung shui
ancient Chinese practice of arranging home or work environments to promote health, happiness, and prosperity. Importance is placed on colour selection and furniture placement in order to promote a healthy flow of chi or vital energy.

Guided imagery
a technique that involves using the imagination and mental images to promote relaxation, changes in attitude or behaviour, and encourages physical healing. Also known as visualisation.

Healing touch
one of the touch therapies that uses a variety of techniques to repattern and align the biofield, allowing the innate healing process to occur. Healing touch is an energy-based, therapeutic approach to healing and uses touch to influence the energy system thus affecting physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.

Herbal therapy or botanical therapy or herbalism
employs parts of plants (seed, stem, flowers, root, bark, leaf) for the relief of conditions, ailments, or complaints; the earliest known form of medicine.

Holistic medicine
philosophical approach to health care which treats the patient as a whole person, not simply as a disease process or a collection of symptoms. Holistic health care practitioners may combine allopathic medicine with complementary therapies, taking into account the emotional, spiritual, social, nutritional, mental, environmental, and physical aspects of health and illness.

derived from the Greek word homoios meaning similar and pathos meaning suffering, homoeopathy is an alternative medical system that treats the symptoms of a disease with minute doses of a natural substance or remedy. In larger doses, the remedy would produce the same symptoms as the disease or disorder that is being treated.

treating a disease with hot or cold water, externally or internally to maintain and restore health. Treatments include full body immersion, steam baths, saunas, sitz baths, colonic irrigation, and the application of hot and/or cold compresses.

the clinical use of hypnosis, in which the subject’s powers of consciousness are mobilised and subconscious memories and perceptions are brought into consciousness. Heightened responsiveness to suggestions and commands, suspension of disbelief with lowering of critical judgments, the potential of alteration in perceptions, motor control, or memory in response to suggestions and the subjective experience of responding involuntarily are induced through hypnotherapy.

Integrative medicine
practitioners of integrative medicine have training and interest in both conventional Western medicine and alternative and complementary therapies, bringing a variety of techniques to their practices.

a diagnostic technique which uses the markings and patterns of the irises of the eyes to determine the condition of various systems or organs of the body.

Laying‑on of hands
healing technique often practiced in Christian fundamentalist churches. The practitioner is felt to have a God-given gift and is an instrument of God to promote healing.

Light therapy
many health disorders are traced to problems with circadian rhythm, the body’s inner clock, and how it governs the timing of sleep, hormone production, body temperature, and other biological functions. Disturbances in circadian rhythm can lead to health problems such as depression and sleep disorders. Natural sunlight and various forms of light therapy can help reestablish the body’s natural rhythm and are becoming an integral treatment for many health-related conditions.

Macrobiotic diet
Low-fat, high-fibre diet of whole grains, vegetables, sea algae, and seeds, that are prepared in accordance with specific principles; said to synchronise eating habits with the cycles of nature.

Magnetic field therapy
also known as biomagnetic therapy; uses magnets or electromagnetic fields, generally for pain control and bone growth stimulation following a fracture. Magnetic waves pass through tissues enhancing blood flow and bringing more oxygen to that area.

a term used in connection with the therapeutic application of manual force. Spinal manipulation, broadly defined, includes all procedures in which the hands are used to mobilise, adjust, apply traction, massage, stimulate, or otherwise influence the spine and nearby (paraspinal) tissues with the goal of positively influencing the patient’s health.

Massage therapy
systematic, therapeutic stroking, rubbing, or kneading of the skin and underlying muscle and other soft tissue of the recipient for the purpose of physical and psychological relaxation, improvement of circulation, relief of sore muscles, and other therapeutic effects.

a technique of mind control with the goals of feeling an inner calm and peacefulness, profound experiences of self-realisation and transcendental awareness. Meditation is a discipline found in many of the world’s religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity, but it is also advocated by many practitioners of holistic health for its impact on stress-related disease.

Megavitamin therapy
administration of vitamins vastly exceeding the amount recommended for nutritional balance

hormone synthesised in the pineal body, implicated in the regulation of biological rhythms, such as sleep.

in Eastern traditional medicine, it is believed that the body has a channel with 12 parts, or meridians, that loop through the body in an endless circuit, connecting the principal organs and other body parts. Meridians are said to carry ching qi that regulates the relationship between, and the functioning of, various body structures.

Mind‑body techniques
therapies such as meditation, hypnosis, guided imagery which focus on the interaction between the mind and the body.

A modality is a method of treatment which may be used by a naturopath. Modalities can be split into two main areas.
1. Ingestive (or primary modalities) examples include nutrition, homoeopathy, herbalism and orthomolecular medicine. An ingestive modality, also referred to as an ingestive therapy is a method of prescribing oral medications or nutritional supplements such as vitamins. They are referred to as primary modalities not to signify rank or importance within the profession but more to indicate the additional training required and the added responsibilities and caution required of practitioners giving oral medication to patients. For example: Herbalism as well as nutritional therapy and homoeopathy can be defined as ingestive therapies/modalities. Natural therapists who practice ingestive modalities are commonly referred to as naturopaths.
2. Non ingestive (secondary modalities) examples include massage, aromatherapy and reflexology.
The non ingestive natural therapy modalities can be grouped:

  • the tactile therapies such as massage, aromatherapy, applied kinesiology, reflexology and reiki.
  • the stimulatory therapies which aim to stimulate the flow of vital energy(Qi) along the meridians of the body. These include acupuncture, acupressure and shiatsu.
  • the psychological therapies including hypnosis and psychotherapy

other modalities such as colour therapy, sound therapy, distance healing, radionics, aura healing. These modalities whilst often not enjoying the same status within the professions still come under the broad category of natural therapies.

Music therapy
systematic application of music to produce relaxation and desired changes in emotions, behaviour and physiology. Music can also be created by the client, allowing nonverbal self expression.

a specific hands on tactile therapy [massage] designed by the founder of The College of Somatic Studies in Australia and is offered in courses exclusive to that college.


A naturopath is a person who holds the necessary qualifications to be recognised as such by appropriate registering bodies. At the present time the appropriate bodies are the naturopathic associations. However, in time, if naturopaths achieve government registration the appropriate body would then be a peer group state registration government board.

Naturopathic Associations

There are numerous associations throughout Australia representing naturopaths. It is important to recognise that at this time Associations are the ‘appropriate bodies’, in the absence of government registration, to regulate the profession. The recognition of such associations by the Federal Therapeutic Goods Administration acknowledges this fact. All associations require some academic qualifications and practical training as a condition of membership. Most insist on a course which includes training in the basic health sciences, diagnostic subjects, a professional modality and supervised clinical experience. An minimum accredited training course would normally require at least 2000 hours of study at tertiary level to complete a basic diploma.

Naturopathy can be defined as those therapies practiced by naturopaths. An example of current primary naturopathic therapies include, nutrition, homoeopathy, herbalism, many forms of massage and tactile (touch) therapies. It can also include, but not limited to, other non ingestive, secondary therapies such aromatherapy, reflexology, flower remedies etc. Such therapies are also generally described by the medical profession as non orthodox therapies. Naturopaths regard their profession both as complementary to the medical profession and as preventative medicine. Naturopaths recognise the innate intelligence and inherent healing ability of the body; great emphasis is placed on preventive medicine.

Neurolinguistic programming (NLP)
process of guiding a subject to review current thought, behaviour, and linguistic patterns. By discovering personal patterns and removing self-induced limits, new levels of awareness and personal effectiveness can be achieved.

nutrition is the science of food, the nutrients in foods and how the body uses those nutrients. It includes the process of ingestion, digestion, absorption, metabolism, transport, storage and excretion of those nutrients. It also includes the environmental, psychological and behavioural aspects of food and eating. The six classes of nutrients include: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water.

Osteopathic medicine
a system of therapy that emphasises normal body mechanics and manipulation to correct faulty body structures. Osteopathic physicians provide comprehensive medical care.

Oxidative therapy
supplies oxygen to the body for its potential therapeutic benefit. The two most widely known types of oxidative therapy are hydrogen peroxide therapy and ozone therapy.

plant compounds that exert oestrogen-like effects.

Polyunsaturated fats
fats, mostly from plants, with double bonds that can bind to hydrogen; these tend to be liquid at room temperature and are called oils.

Qi (also referred to as Chee, Chi, Qui or Ki)
in Eastern philosophies, the energy that connects and animates everything in the universe; includes both individual qi (personal life force) and universal qi, which are coextensive through the practice of mind‑body disciplines, such as traditional meditation, aikido, and tai chi.

Qigong (gi gong and chi‑kung)
ancient Chinese exercise that stimulates and balances the flow of qi, or vital life energy by using breath, movement, and meditation to cleanse, strengthen, and circulate the blood and vital life energy. Certain qigong “masters” are considered to be “energetic healers,” who via “external” qigong use some of their own energy to strengthen the vitality of others who have ailments.

a body work technique in which the practitioner applies pressure with thumbs and fingers to points on the feet, hands and ears said to correspond to specific organs and parts of the body. Similar to acupressure.

Reiki therapy
an Eastern touch therapy in which the practitioner systematically uses light hand placement in one of 12 positions on the recipient’s body to balance and direct healing energy to those sites.

a massage technique developed by Swiss-born Dr. Ida Rolf that involves deep fascia and muscle manipulation and education about body position. The purpose is to help the recipient establish deep structural relationships within the body that manifest via a symmetry and balanced function when the body is in an upright position. Also known as structural integration.

Saturated fats
fats that have no double bonds and cannot accept more hydrogen atoms; such fats tend to be solid at room temperature and are mostly from animal sources such as meat, whole milk, butter, and eggs.

an ancient spiritual and medical tradition practiced in native cultures around the world. Using ritual, shamans often enter altered states of consciousness to promote the healing of their clients. Shamans regard themselves as conductors of healing energy or sources from the spiritual realm.

a form of acupressure used in Japan to treat pain and illness as well as for general health maintenance. Practitioners apply rhythmic finger pressure at specific points on the body to stimulate qi.

Tai chi
through this form of movement, one achieves health and tranquility while developing the mind and body. Tai chi teaches the individual how to control the nervous system in order to put the entire body to rest, believed to be an effective way of staying healthy.

Therapeutic touch
a healing modality that involves touching with the conscious intent to help or heal. The practitioner moves the hands through a recipient’s energy field for the purpose of assessment and treatment of energy field imbalance.

Touch therapy
broad range of techniques in which the practitioner uses the hands on or near the patient’s body to assist the individual toward optimal function.

a compound found in most animal and vegetable fats that is made up of a fatty acid and glycerol.

Trigger points
specific points in the muscular and fascial tissues that produce a sharp pain when pressed; may also correspond to certain types of traditional acupuncture points.

a variety of visual techniques used to treat disease based on inducing relaxation in the patient who actually wills away his disease. Also known as guided imagery.

Western medicine
a term used by holistic health care practitioners to describe allopathic medicine, orthodox medicine, or the way medicine has traditionally been practiced in the United States and Europe. The basis for the separation and division of the mind and the body along with the diseased part from the whole is the Descartian system of analytic, reductive reasoning with human beings divorced from nature. Pharmaceutical products and surgery are the major modalities used to combat disease.

Ancient philosophical system and spiritual practice from India; it involves stretching exercises, breathing practices, and meditation