Wellness Terminology Glossary

Activator: A spring-loaded adjusting instrument that utilizes an extremely rapid pulse to help restore normal functioning in the body.

Acupressure: The practice of applying; pressure on parts of the body to relieve pain.

Acupuncture: The practice of inserting very fine filiform needles thru the skin at specific 'meridian' points on the body with the intention of manipulating Qi (energy) for relieving tension, stress, and pain. Highly useful in the treatment and relief of back pain. The filiform needles are solid, as opposed to the hollow hypodermic needles most people are familiar with, and are usually made of stainless steel, but can also be gold or silver.

Addiction: Psychological, emotional, or physical dependence on the effects of a drug.

Adjustments: A form of chiropractic technique involving the application of gentle, yet firm, pressure to a bone. Adjustments employ a high velocity, low amplitude thrust. The goal of any adjustment is to restore the bone to its natural, or original, position.

Adrenal glands: Small glands located on the kidneys that produce the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol.

Adrenaline: A hormone that stimulates metabolism, increases alertness and increases blood pressure.

Aerobic Exercises: These kinds of exercises generally involve large muscle groups and foster a strong and healthy heart and lung function.

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome): The final and most serious stage of HIV disease, which causes severe damage to the immune system. AIDS begins when a person with HIV infection has a CD4 cell count below 200. (CD4 is also called "T-cell", a type of immune cell.) AIDS is also defined by numerous opportunistic infections and cancers that occur in the presence of HIV infection. AIDS is the fifth leading cause of death among persons between ages 25 and 44 in the United States.

Alternative Medicine: The use of various non-drug, non-surgical related therapies. Using natural means of treatment.

Amino acid: The basic unit from which proteins are made. There are two classes of amino acids: essential and non-essential. Essential amino acids are those that cannot be manufactured by the body and must be attained from the diet. Non-essential amino acids are those that the body can synthesize from other amino acids.

Anabolism: The metabolic process of building new tissue. Typically used in relation to building muscle, ligaments and tendons.

Analgesics: Medicines that are used to relieve pain - aspirin is an example.

Anesthesiologist: A physician who specializes in giving drugs or other agents that block, prevent, or relieve pain.

Ankylosing Spondylitis: A chronic, progressive, rheumatic disease of the spine that causes calcification of the spinal ligaments, resulting in a loss of movement.

Annulus fibrosis: The tough outer layer of the intervertebral disc. Cartilage-like material formed in a series of rings surrounding the nucleus pulposus (soft center) of a disc.

Aroma Therapy: People commonly think that aromatherapy refers to anything that smells good, like scented candles, potpourri, and perfumes. We use the term aromatherapy to refer to the therapeutic application of plant essential oils (usually diluted in some type of solution) by qualified individuals.

Arthritis: Inflammation of a joint; most arthritis is caused by degenerative changes related to aging. Arthritis affects not only joints but also connective tissue throughout the body can be involved, as well.

Autonomic nervous system: The part of the nervous system that is responsible for controlling the involuntary functions in the body, such as digestion, metabolism, blood pressure, etc.

Ayurvedic Medicine: Ayurvedic medicine evolved in India, and is considered to be the world’s oldest healthcare system. It is named for the Sanskrit word Ayurveda, meaning the “science of life.”

Back Extension: Backward bending of the spine.

Back Flexion: Forward bending of the spine.

Bariatric surgery: Surgery on the stomach and/or intestines to help the patient with extreme obesity lose weight. Bariatric surgery is a last-resort weight-loss method used for people who have a body mass index (BMI) in excess of 40.

Basal energy expenditure (BEE): Also known as the basal metabolic rate.; The number of calories that your body needs for basic processes such as digestion, breathing, brain function, etc.

Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA): A way to estimate the amount of body weight that is fat and nonfat. Nonfat weight comes from bone, muscle, body water, organs, and other body tissues. BIA works by measuring how difficult it is for a harmless electrical current to move through the body. The more fat a person has, the harder it is for electricity to flow through the body. The less fat a person has, the easier it is for electricity to flow through the body. By measuring the flow of electricity, one can estimate body fat percent.

Biofeedback: Biofeedback trains patients to observe shifts in their bodily functions by using electronic monitors (i.e., heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, muscular tension, and brain activity). With this focus, patients learn to adapt and modify their mental and emotional responses to alleviate symptoms and regulate specific conditions.

Body Composition Score (BCS): A measure that combines body weight, percentage of body fat, waist circumference and hip circumference into one score. The BCS is a more accurate measure of weight loss progress than simply measuring body weight.

Body Mass Index (BMI): A measure of body weight relative to height. BMI can be used to determine if people are at a healthy weight, overweight, or obese. A body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 up to 25 refers to a healthy weight, a BMI of 25 up to 30 refers to overweight and a BMI of 30 or higher refers to obese.

Bodywork: A general term that relates to a wide variety of hands-on therapies, such as massage and some movement therapies.

Botanical Medicine: Simply put, they are plants (or substances that come from plants) that are used to treat or prevent disease. Plants have been used in this way in all cultures from pre-history onward.

Breathwork: One way to master stress is to be aware of your breathing. When people feel panicked or unconsciously stressed, they tend to take short, shallow gasps of air. The resulting lack of oxygen restricts blood flow and causes muscles to tense. The way you breathe affects your whole body. Full, deep breathing is an effective way to reduce tension, feel relaxed, and reduce stress.

Bulging Disc: The annulus portion of the lumbar disc weakens causing the nucleus to press against it resulting in the annulus pinching or pressing against a nerve causing pain.

Bursitis: A condition in which the bursa, or fluid filled sacks that cushion joints, become swollen.

Calorie: A unit of energy in food. For energy/body function: carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram; proteins have 4 calories per gram; fats have 9 calories per gram; and alcohols have 7 calories per gram. 

Carbohydrate: A major source of energy in the diet. There are two kinds of carbohydrates: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are sugars, while complex carbohydrates include both starches and fiber. Population averages demonstrate that carbohydrates provide approximately 4 calories/gram for energy/body function. By comparison, protein also provides 4 calories/gram, while body fat can provide approximately 9 calories/gram and alcohol can provide approximately 7 calories/gram for energy/body function. Carbohydrates are found naturally in foods such as: breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, and milk and dairy products. Foods such as sugar cereals, soft drinks, fruit drinks, fruit punch, lemonade, cakes, cookies, pies, ice cream, and candy are very rich in sugars.

Cardiovascular system: The system in your body responsible for distributing blood throughout the body. The cardiovascular system is made up of the heart, arteries, capillaries and veins.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS): A progressive and sometimes painful joint disorder caused by a compression of the median nerve of your hand. The compression causes swelling, which exerts pressure on the nerves.

Cartilage: A connective tissue that lines the ends of bones and most joints. It lines the facet joints of the spine.

Catabolism: The metabolic process of breaking down tissues. Typically refers to the breakdown of muscle, bone, ligaments and tendons.

Cauda Equina: A region at the lower end of the spinal column in which nerve roots branch out in a fashion that resembles a horse's tail.

Cervical Spine: The upper portion of your spine; also called the neck, made up of 7 spinal segments (vertebrae).

Chinese Dietary Therapies: Dietary considerations have always held central importance in Chinese medicine. Sun Si Miao, the great Tang dynasty physician, advised doctors to tend first to their patient’s diet and lifestyle before considering other forms of intervention. He considered diet a precious opportunity for safeguarding good health and preventing disease. Diet has held center stage in Chinese medicine ever since.

Chinese Herbal Therapies: Herbal therapy, next to dietary therapy, is perhaps the most widely used TCM treatment modality. TCM relies on herbal therapies both for the treatment of illness and in the optimization of health and prevention of disease.

Chinese Medicine: The general term to describe the numerous techniques utilized in China for many thousands of years to heal bodily ailments. These may include massage, herbs, acupuncture and Qi Gong.

Chiropractic: Comes from the Greek words, "chiro," meaning hand, and "practic," meaning practice, or treatment. Chiropractic is a form of 'complete' natural hands-on health care that focuses primarily on restoring normal position, motion and function in the body's structures; especially the spine, nerves and muscles via a basically painless spinal or joint manipulation referred to as an "adjustment"... thereby preserving and optimizing health. a form of complementary medicine based on the diagnosis and manipulative treatment of misalignments of the joints, especially those of the spinal column, which are believed to cause other disorders by affecting the nerves, muscles, and organs.

Chiropractor: Also known as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC), diagnoses and treats a broad range of physical conditions in patients with muscular, nervous, and skeletal problems, especially the spine and joints.

Cholesterol: A fat-like substance that is made by the body and is found naturally in animal foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Foods high in cholesterol include liver and organ meats, egg yolks, and dairy fats. Cholesterol is carried in the blood. When cholesterol levels are too high, some of the cholesterol is deposited on the walls of the blood vessels. Over time, the deposits can build up causing the blood vessels to narrow and blood flow to decrease. The cholesterol in food, like saturated fat, tends to raise blood cholesterol, which increases the risk for heart disease. Total blood cholesterol levels above 240 mg/dl are considered high. Levels between 200-239 mg/dl are considered borderline high. Levels under 200 mg/dl are considered desirable.

Chronic Pain: Pain that has lasted for more than three months generally having significant psychological and emotional affects and limiting a person's ability to fully function.

Clinical Hypnosis: Clinical hypnosis teaches patients to use a deep relaxation state to address issues such as smoking cessation, weight loss, pain relief, or self-improvement. The decision to use hypnosis in clinical settings in addition to treatment can only be made in consultation with a qualified healthcare provider who has been trained in the use and limitations of clinical hypnosis.

Coccyx: The small and delicate final bone at the lower tip of the spine initially was made up of 3 - 5 small ossicles (bones) that fuse together at about puberty. Also called the 'tailbone' or 'vestigial tail', it is basically a triangular-shaped bone at the bottom of the lumbo-sacral region of the spine that can support ones weight while sitting and leaning back..

Cognitive Restructuring: A therapy whose emphasis is on learning to recognize and then change, or restructure thought processes, reframing thoughts in less stressful terms. Learning to make molehills out of mountains.

Complementary Medicine: The use of various non-drug, non-surgical related therapies. Using natural means of treatment.

Compressed Nerve: Material from a bulging or Herniated disk pushes against a nerve in the spinal cord causing severe pain.

Computed Tomography (CT) scan: A sophisticated x-ray using a computer to produce a detailed cross-sectional three-dimensional picture of the bone and discs.

Cordotomy: Surgery to cut some of the fibers of the spinal cord; used to relieve pain.

Cortisol: A hormone that is released from the adrenal glands in response to stress that facilitates fat storage and has a catabolic effect on muscle and connective tissue.

Cranio-Sacral Therapy: Craniosacral therapy is a gentle, non-invasive, manual hands-on healing modality of the bones in the skull and sacrum that focuses on the wave-like rhythmic pulse that goes through the entire body. This therapy stems from osteopathy, which is an approach that emphasizes the role of the musculoskeletal system in health and disease.

Creative Arts Therapies: Creative arts therapies are based on the premise that when someone works creatively under the guidance of a qualified therapist, they become more expressive and communicative. This raises their awareness of issues and brings impetus for change. The creative work can involve music, art, dance, movement and other creative activities.

Cupping: Cupping applies suction to the surface of the body to draw out pathogenic factors or to invigorate the flow of Qi at the surface of the body.

Cyclo-oxygenase: An enzyme that comes in two forms, I and II. Type I maintains body functions. Type II is associated with the development of inflammation. Aspirin inhibits I and II. COX-2 drugs inhibit Type II only.

Degenerative Arthritis: The wearing away of cartilage that protects and cushions joints including those in the spine, hands and feet (see Osteoarthritis).

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD): A general term applied to degeneration of the lumbar spinal discs which serve as cushions between the spinal vertebrae, resulting in a narrowing of the disc space.

Dermal Friction: Dermal friction therapy (called gua sha and pronounced gwa shaw) is a method that involves increasing circulation at the surface of the skin by means of scraping the skin vigorously with a blunt edged object.

Diabetes Mellitus: A disease that occurs when the body is not able to use blood glucose (sugar). Blood sugar levels are controlled by insulin, a hormone in the body that helps move glucose (sugar) from the blood to muscles and other tissues. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not make enough insulin or the body does not respond to the insulin that is made.

Discectomy: Surgical removal of part or the entire herniated intervertebral disc.

Disc Annulus: The outer lining of a disk (see Annulus Fibrosis).

Disc Nucleus: The inner core of a disk (see Nucleus Pulposus).

Diet: What a person eats and drinks. Any type of eating plan.

Electrical nerve stimulation: A type of physical therapy treatment that utilizes various frequencies and wave forms of electrical current, which have therapeutic effects on the nervous and musculoskeletal systems.

Electromyography (EMG): Procedure that tests nerves and muscles providing information to help determine if surgery may be required.

Endorphins: Chemical messengers released by the body during vigorous exercise that stimulate the brain to feel good, happy and relaxed.

Energy expenditure: The amount of energy, measured in calories, that a person uses. Calories are used by people to breathe, circulate blood, digest food, and be physically active.

Epidural Injection: Into the spinal column but outside of the spinal cord.

Exercise: Exercise is physical activity that is planned or structured. It involves repetitive bodily movement done to improve or maintain one or more components of physical fitness: cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, endurance, flexibility and body composition.

Exercise Therapy: A form of chiropractic treatment used to help manage pain, rehabilitate damaged soft tissues, such as muscles, ligament, and tendons, and restore normal range of motion and function.

Extensor Muscles: Muscles that cause your joints to straighten, such as the back and gluteus muscles that help keep your back straight.

Facet Joints: The joints above and below each intervertebral disc, allowing the spine to bend. The paired joints located in the posterior portion of the vertebral bodies connecting the spine. These joints are part of the stabilizing mechanism for the spine.

Facet Joint Syndrome: Pain resulting from degeneration, wear, pressure exerted on and inflammation of the facet joints, which are the joints at the back of each vertebrae linking the vertebrae together.

Fascia: A band of connective tissue separating muscles and organs in the body.

Fat: A major source of energy in the diet. All food fats store approximately 9 calories per gram for energy/body function. Fat helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, and carotenoids. Some kinds of fats, especially saturated fats, [see definition] may cause blood cholesterol to increase and increase the risk for heart disease. Other fats, such as unsaturated fats do not increase blood cholesterol. Fats that are in foods are combinations of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fatty acids.

Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes pain in muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons.

Fibrositis: Pain arising from damaged tendons or muscles.

Flexor Muscles: The muscles that cause your joints to bend, such as your biceps muscle on the front of your upper arm or your abdominal muscles.

Foraminal Stenosis: Narrowing of a vertebral opening.

Fusion: In regard to the spine, a surgical procedure to unite two or more vertebrae with bone graft with or without metal supports resulting in immobilization of that portion.

Gestational diabetes:  A type of diabetes mellitus that can occur when a woman is pregnant. In the second half of her pregnancy, a woman may have glucose (sugar) in her blood at a higher than normal level. In about 95 percent of cases, blood sugar returns to normal after the pregnancy is over. Women who develop gestational diabetes, however, are at risk for developing Type II diabetes later in life.

Ghrelin: A hormone released from the stomach and the small intestine that creates the sensation of hunger.

Glucagon: A hormone released from the pancreas that elevates blood sugar by stimulating the release of glucose stores in the liver and muscle.

Glucose: A building block for most carbohydrates. Digestion causes carbohydrates to break down into glucose. After digestion, glucose is carried in the blood and goes to body cells where it is used for energy or stored.

Glycemic Index: A measure of a food's ability to raise the body's blood glucose level. Foods that have a low glycemic index do not raise blood glucose levels to nearly the extent of high glycemic index foods.

Golfer's Elbow: Also known as medial epicondylitis, produces pain on the medial (inside) part of the elbow, on or near the bony protrusion. It is usually caused by the overuse of the wrist flexor muscles, which leads to the inflammation of the tendon attachment. This type of pain may also be caused by a tear or rupture in the tendon supporting the elbow bone.

Healing Environment: When you think of a healing environment, what comes to mind? A spa, a Japanese garden, perhaps a corner of your house? Few of us would immediately think of their local health clinic or a hospital. But that is beginning to change as healthcare organizations pay attention to a growing body of research that clearly demonstrates the benefits of a healing environment.

Healing Touch: An energy therapy that uses gentle hand techniques thought to help re-pattern the patient’s energy field and accelerate healing of the body, mind, and spirit.

Healthy Weight: As compared to overweight or obese, a body weight that is less likely to be linked with any weight-related health problems such as Type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, or others. A person with a body fat percentage between 18% - 22% (depending on age) are considered to be at a healthy weight.

Heat Therapy: A form of therapy often used in patients who have chronic, or long-lasting pain. Heat therapy can involve many kinds of methods, from simple heating pads, wraps, and warm gel packs, to sophisticated techniques such as therapeutic ultrasound. While ice therapy is used to reduce swelling, heat therapy is used to relax the muscles and increase circulation. Both kinds of therapy help reduce pain.

Herniated Disc: A disc that protrudes from its normal position between two vertebrae, due to an injury to the annulus; frequently associated with the nucleus of the disc oozing out of the center of the disk.

High Blood Pressure: See Hypertension.

High-density Lipoprotein (HDL): A form of cholesterol that circulates in the blood. Commonly called "good" cholesterol. High HDL lowers the risk of heart disease. An HDL of 60 mg/dl or greater is considered high and is protective against heart disease. An HDL less than 40 mg/dl is considered low and increases the risk for developing heart disease.

Hip circumference: A measurement of the hips, including the widest portion of the buttocks, used in conjunction with the waist circumference, body weight and percent body fat to calculate the body composition score.

Holistic Pregnancy & Childbirth: A holistic pregnancy and childbirth recognizes the impact of the mind and spirit, as well as the physical body, on the experience of pregnancy and birth. Physical health, values and beliefs, relationships, emotional well-being, and spirituality all affect pregnancy and birth. In turn, the experiences of pregnancy and birth influence body, mind, and spirit.

Homeopathy: Homeopathy is described by NIH as being a complete system of medicine that purports to work with the body's innate ability to heal. It uses very dilute doses of substances that practitioners believe stimulate the body's own defense mechanism and healing powers and return it to a state of balance—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Hypertension: A resting blood pressure that is greater than or equal to 140/90 mm Hg. Hypertension is associated with an increasee risk of heart disease and stroke.

Hypothalamus: A small area of the brain that is a main control center for regulating eating and sleeping behavior in humans. It has binding sites for several hormones including ghrelin and leptin.

Ice Massage: A form of therapy involving the application of ice to treat many kinds of injuries, including those associated with back or neck pain. Ice causes the veins in the affected tissue area to constrict. This reduces the flow of blood while acting as kind of anesthetic to numb the pain. But when the ice is removed, the veins compensate by opening large, allowing a large volume of blood to rush to the affected area. The blood brings with it important chemicals that aid in the healing process.

Ideal body weight: The weight that your body would be if you had a 20% body fat. Calculated by multiplying your current lean body mass by 1.2.

Imagery: A method of pain relief that uses mental images produced by memory or imagination. Imagery exercises use creative imagination to picture scenarios that relax and heal. They can be done on your own, or with a facilitator guiding you, which is called guided imagery.

Inflammation: A pathologic process associated with redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function. This process destroys tissues but is also associated with the repair and healing of body structures.

Instrument Adjustment: A form of chiropractic adjustment using a spring-loaded device called an Activator.

Insulin: A hormone in the body that helps move glucose from the blood to muscles and other tissues. Insulin controls blood sugar levels.

Integrative Therapies: Integrative therapies are modalities and healing practices that complement conventional care, particularly in offering preventive strategies or managing symptoms of chronic diseases and other conditions. Integrative therapies generally embrace a holistic perspective, addressing the wellbeing of mind, body, and spirit. The FDA refers to these therapies as complementary health approaches, and they are also known as complementary and alternative medicine. Integrative therapies may include mind/body practices (such as meditation, yoga, and biofeeback), natural products (such as vitamins and dietary supplements like fish oil), traditional or cultural healing practices (such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine), or energy-based therapies (such as Healing Touch and Reiki).

Interferential Current (IFC): A form of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy in which high-frequency electrical impulses are introduced deep into the tissues near the center of the pain.

Intuition in Healthcare: If you are like many people, you may already have a good idea what intuition is and the role it plays in your life. Perhaps you have had experiences like these: You had a sense of the best decision, like who to hire or when to make a career change. You had a feeling or a sense about a situation or person, for example you knew something was wrong with your child or that you could trust a particular person. You knew in advance who was calling on the phone or what someone was going to say. You encountered intuition as part of your religious or spiritual life; perhaps receiving intuitive guidance in a variety of circumstances.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): A condition that is characterized by a combination of abdominal pain and altered bowel function.

Kinesiology: The study of muscles and their relation to movement and pain relief.

Kyphosis: Normal curve of the thoracic spine. Also describes an excess curvature of the thoracic spine called a "dowager's hump." This is a common occurrence in people with osteoporosis.

Laminectomy: A surgical procedure that removes a portion of the plate that serves as the back of the spinal canal. This decompression procedure is performed for treatment of herniated intervertebral discs and spinal stenosis.

Laser: This word is an acronym for "Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation". and is also referred to "Photobiostimulation" (PBS). A laser beam produces photons of light with specific characteristics and is capable of treating many conditions. Laser light therapy offers natural, effective, non-invasive, drug-free solutions that are FDA/CSA cleared and Health Canada licensed. Applying light produced by low level laser and super luminous diodes, triggers normal cellular functions that lead to faster wound healing, pain relief and accelerated functional recovery.

Leptin: A hormone produced by the small intestine that signals the brain to stop eating. People who are overweight will often have a diminished leptin response in the brain.

Ligament: Strong, dense bands made of connective tissue that stabilize a joint, connecting bone to bone across the joint.

Lipoprotein: Compounds of protein that carry fats and fat-like substances, such as cholesterol, in the blood.

Local anesthetics: Drugs that block nerve conduction in the region where it is applied.

Lordosis: The curve in the cervical and lumbar spine. An abnormal accentuated arch in the lower back swayback.

Low back pain: Pain at the base of the spine that can be caused by several factors.

Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL): A form of cholesterol that circulates in the blood. Commonly called "bad" cholesterol. High LDL increases the risk of heart disease. An LDL less than 100 mg/dl is considered optimal,100-129 mg/dl is considered near or above optimal, 130-159 mg/dl is considered borderline high, 160-189 mg/dl is considered high, and 190 mg/dl or greater is considered very high.

Lumbalgia: A general term meaning low back pain (See Low Back Pain).

Lumbar: The lower five weight bearing vertebrae that are located between the thoracic vertebrae and the sacrum.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Magnetic radio frequency energy used to see internal structures of the body, including bone, discs, and nerves without the use of x-rays. Overall, the most useful technique in the investigation of spinal abnormalities.

Manipulation: Manual movement of the spinal bones or joints to restore normal function.

Massage Therapy: Generally, massage therapy means many things to many people. In fact, a recently published scholarly article identifies more than 80 different styles of massage (bodywork therapies), many of which have been developed in the past 30 years! But to start, let’s simply define massage as the manual manipulation of soft body tissues (muscle, connective tissue, tendons, and ligaments) to enhance health and well-being.

Maximum heart rate: A person's maximum heart rate is based on their age. An estimate of a person's maximum age-related heart rate can be obtained by subtracting the person's age from 220. For example, for a 50-year-old person, the estimated maximum heart rate would be calculated as: 220 - 50 = 170 beats per minute. The maximum heart rate is important for measuring whether exercise is classified as moderate-intensity (50% - 70% of maximum) or vigorous-intensity (70% - 85% of maximum).

Meditation: Meditation is a general term for numerous self-directed practices for relaxing the body and calming the mind. In many traditions, meditation is used to achieve insight and expanded awareness. People can meditate while sitting quietly, chanting or reciting, or moving mindfully, as in walking meditation, tai chi, aikido, or yoga. Basically, one focuses awareness on one thing such as breath or a short phrase in order to quiet the mind.

Metabolism: All of the processes that occur in the body that turn the food you eat into energy your body can use.

Mind-Body Therapies: They are techniques designed to enhance the mind’s positive impact on the body.

Mindful Movement: While many types of aerobic and anaerobic exercise promote physical and mental well-being, there are specific schools of physical activity with a more distinct mind-body approach.

Moderate-Intensity Physical Activity: To be classified as moderate-intensity, physical activity generally requires sustained, rhythmic movements of an intense enough level to elevate heart rate to 50% - 70% of maximum heart rate. A person should feel some exertion but should be able to carry on a conversation comfortably during the activity.

Monounsaturated fat: Fats that are in foods are combinations of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fat is found in canola oil, olives and olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados. Eating food that has more monounsaturated fat instead of saturated fat may help lower cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk. However, it has the same number of calories as other types of fat, and may still contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess.

Moxibustion: Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy in which dried plant materials called moxa are burned on or very near the surface of the skin. The intention is to warm and invigorate the flow of Qi in the body and dispel certain pathogenic influences.

Muscle Spasm: A sudden violent involuntary contraction of a muscle or a group of muscles. A muscle spasm is attended by pain and interference with function, producing involuntary movement and distortion.

Muscle Tension: A state where the muscles are in a general state of contraction.

Muscles: Soft tissues that provide strength and assist with motor ability, or movement. Spinal muscles support your spine as it bends and flexes.

Myofascial Pain: Referred pain caused by trigger points, or hard nodules in muscle tissue.

Myofascial Release: Releasing the fascia (the sheath around a muscle) by gentle movements.

Narcotic: Pain relieving drug related in action and structure to the opiates. A powerful pain-relieving drug associated with potential to cause significant alteration of mood and dependence following repeated administration.

Naturopathy: Naturopathic medicine is a science-based tradition that promotes wellness by identifying the unique aspects of each patient and then employing non-toxic natural therapies to restore his or her physiological, psychological, and structural balance.

Nerve: The body's communication system; nerves carry messages back and forth between the brain and all body parts.

Nerve Block: Pain relief method in which an anesthetic is injected into a nerve.

Nerve roots: Nerve projections from the spinal cord.

Neurologist: A physician who specializes in treating diseases of the nervous system.

Neuropeptide Y: Is the key hunger transmitter in the brain. It signals the hypothalamus to eat. The action of neuropeptide Y is the opposite of that of leptin.

Neurosurgeon: A physician who specializes in surgery on the brain, nerves, and spinal cord.

Neurotransmitter: A chemical produced in the brain that sends messages between nerve cells.

Nucleus pulposus: Soft center of an intervertebral disc, made up of gel-like substance.

Nutrition: We believe that nutrition involves more than simply eating a good diet. it is about nourishment on every level with respect to the relationship of food to the well-being of the body. It involves relationships with family, friends, the greater society and the world. Choices about nourishment are very much linked to other human beings and other life forms on this planet, so healthy (and unhealthy) decisions have great impact.

Obesity: Having an excessive amount of body fat. A person is considered obese if he or she has a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or greater.

Oleylethanolamine (OEA): A fatty acid found in some foods that sends a strong signal to the brain to stop eating. A powerful satiety factor and appetite suppressant.

Opiate: Pain-killing drug chemically related to opium; also called a narcotic (see Narcotics).

Orthopedic Surgeon: A doctor who specializes in diseases of the musculoskeletal system.

Osteoarthritis: Also called "degenerative arthritis" mostly affecting middle-aged and elderly men and women. In some, osteoarthritis may affect the spine's facet joints, making it extremely painful to bend or twist. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage to break down and away from the joints. Stripped of their protective material, the joints begin rubbing against each other, causing pain and impeding movement. This action further irritates the surrounding nerves. Advanced forms of spinal osteoarthritis lead to disc collapse and other problems.

Osteopathy: Osteopathy, more commonly referred to as osteopathic medicine in the U.S., is not a modality, but rather an 'alternative' system of healthcare. It considers the whole body and focuses on preventive care. The osteopathic concept is essentially that any observable alteration in the normal anatomy is a sign that disease is present and that correction of this abnormality would resolve or improve the disease's effects. Particular attention is paid to muscles, joints, bones, and nerves through defined osteopathic manipulations.

Osteoporosis: A disease characterized by the loss of bone density, resulting in brittleness; most commonly affecting the spinal vertebrae, wrists and hips. Affects women more than men.

Osteophytes: Additional bone material, or overgrowths, that have been attributed to a wide variety of ailments. Also called bone spurs, osteophytes are manufactured by your body in response to a breakdown in existing bony structures. Sometimes, bone spurs can exert pressure on nerves, and this leads to pain.

Overload principle: Strength training term that refers to the phenomenon that muscles only grow in strength if they are pushed to near maximum effort - overloaded.

Overuse injuries: Injuries that occur during the course of everyday activities, such as housework or exercise. Symptoms may include pain, muscle spasms, and stiffness.

Overweight: Carrying too much body fat. (see Obesity)

Pancreas: A gland that makes enzymes that help the body break down and use nutrients in food. It also produces the hormones insulin and glucagon, releasing these into the bloodstream to help the body control blood sugar levels.

Pedometer: A small device that counts each step taken, total distance walked, or other related measures. It is usually worn on the waistband or in a pocket.

Pilates: Pilates is a physical fitness system of controlled movements ("contrology", from "control" and Greek -λογία, -logia) which should look and feel like a workout (not a therapy) when properly manifested. If practiced with consistency, pilates improves flexibility, builds strength and develops control and endurance in the entire body. It puts emphasis on alignment, breathing, developing a strong core and improving coordination and balance. There is no good medical evidence that Pilates is of benefit to people with existing health conditions. It may perhaps help to condition the abdominal muscles of healthy people and alleviate lower back pain.

Piriformis Syndrome: A condition caused by the sciatic nerve getting pinched as it exits the spinal column. (Sometimes, it can mimic the symptoms of sciatica.) The pinching is sometimes caused by muscles spasms. Piriformis syndrome sometimes causes pain along the back of the thigh to the knee, or loss of feeling in the soles of the feet.

Plantar Fasciitis: Inflammation of the ligament running from the front of the heel bone through the bottom of the foot. Repetitive motions such as quick stops and starts during sports, or long distance running, have sometimes been associated with Plantar fasciitis.

Phenylethanolamine (PEA): A chemical found in chocolate that elevates mood. It is thought to be the compound that causes chocolate cravings.

Physical activity: Any form of exercise or movement. Physical activity may include planned activity such as walking, running, basketball, or other sports. Physical activity may also include other daily activities such as household chores, yard work, walking the dog, etc.

Physical fitness: The measure of a person's ability to perform physical activities that require endurance, strength, or flexibility and is determined by a combination of regular activity and genetically inherited ability.

Physical Therapy: The health profession that treats pain in muscles, nerves, joints, and bones with exercise, electrical stimulation, hydrotherapy, and the use of massage, heat, cold, and electrical devices.

Polyunsaturated Fat: A highly unsaturated fat that is liquid at room temperature. Fats that are in foods are combinations of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fats are found in greatest amounts in corn, soybean, and safflower oils, and many types of nuts. They have the same number of calories as other types of fat, and may still contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess.

Prayer: Prayer has a very personal meaning arising from an individual’s religious background or spiritual practice. For some, prayer will mean specific sacred words, for others, it may be a more informal talking or listening to God or a higher power.

Protein: One of the three nutrients that provides calories to the body. Protein is an essential nutrient that helps build many parts of the body, including muscle, bone, skin, and blood. Protein provides 4 calories per gram and is found in foods like meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, beans, nuts, and tofu.

Qigong: Sometimes spelled Chi-Kung (and pronounced chee-gung), is the study and practice of cultivating vital-life-force through various techniques, including: breathing techniques, assumed postures, meditations, and guided imagery.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): The level of dietary intake of essential nutrients considered to be sufficient to meet the minimum nutritional needs of most healthy individuals.

Reflexology: Reflexology is the application of appropriate pressure by thumbs and fingers to specific points and areas on the feet, hands, or ears in order to improve the recipient’s health.

Reiki: Commonly translated from the Japanese as 'universal life energy', Reiki is a spiritual, vibrational healing practice used to promote balance throughout the human system. Reiki does not involve physical manipulation or the ingestion or application of any substances, but works with the subtle vibrational field thought to surround and penetrate the body.

Relaxation Techniques: A natural process that can be learned by anyone to reverse the effects of stress on the body's physiology. Methods used to lessen tension, reduce anxiety, and manage pain.

Repetitions or "Reps": Refers to a single full execution of an exercise movement. For example, one repetition of a push-up involves beginning with your arms straight, lowering your body to the floor and returning to the starting position. The number of repetitions you perform of a particular exercise will determine the type of benefit to your muscles. Higher weights with lower repetitions will increase strength. Lower weights with higher repetitions will increase endurance.

Routine: This term encompasses virtually every aspect of what you do in an exercise session, including: the exercises, reps and sets you do of strength training, aerobic conditioning, the order in which you perform the exercises, the length of time spent. To keep workouts interesting, many people change their routine from time to time. Your routine is also referred to as your "program" or your "workout."

Rheumatoid Arthritis (rA): An inflammatory disease that affects the facet joints in the spine as well as other joints in the body including the hands, elbows, shoulders, fingers and toes.

Ruptured Disk: Herniated disk where material from the disk pushes through the outer lining of the disk.

Satiety: A mechanism to tell the body that it has had enough food. The most important satiety compounds are the hormone leptin and the fatty acid oleylethanolamine (OEA).

Saturated Fat: A fat that is solid at room temperature. Fats that are in foods are combinations of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fatty acids. Saturated fat is found in high-fat dairy products (like cheese, whole milk, cream, butter, and regular ice cream), fatty fresh and processed meats, the skin and fat of chicken and turkey, lard, palm oil, and coconut oil. They have the same number of calories as other types of fat, and may contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess. Eating a diet high in saturated fat also raises blood cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.

Sciatic Nerve: The nerve that serves the legs and originates from several levels of the lower back. Formed by multiple nerve roots from the lumbar spine; the sciatic nerve sends signals down the leg to control muscles and up the leg to provide sensations.

Sciatica: An inflammation of the sciatic nerve usually marked by tenderness along the course of the nerve through the buttocks, thigh, and leg.

Scoliosis: An abnormal curve of the spine.

Sedentary: A person who engages in little to no leisure-time physical activity.

Serotonin: A neurotransmitter in the brain that elevates mood and decreases appetite.

Set: A set is a group of repetitions that you perform without rest. For example, if you do ten repetitions of a bench press and then place the bar back on the rack and rest, you have just completed one set. For strength training, most people do three sets of a particular exercise, 10 - 15 repetitions in each set, and a one minute rest between each set.

Shamanism: Because it is not an organized religion as such, but rather a spiritual practice, shamanism cuts across all faiths and creeds, reaching deep levels of ancestral memory. As a primal belief system, which precedes established religion, it has its own symbolism and cosmology, inhabited by beings, gods, and totems, who display similar characteristics although they appear in various forms, depending upon their places of origin.

Shiatsu: Shiatsu is a form of therapeutic bodywork from Japan. It uses kneading, pressing, soothing, tapping, and stretching techniques and is performed without oils through light, comfortable clothing. Shiatsu translates as finger pressure.

Slipped Disk: Herniated disk where material from the disk pushes through the outer lining of the disk (see Disc Herniation).

Social Support: The term social support often appears in discussions of relationship. Social support means having friends and other people, including family, to turn to in times of need or crisis to give you a broader focus and positive self-image. Social support enhances quality of life and provides a buffer against adverse life events.

Spina Bifida: A congenital defect of the spine in which the arches of the lower lumbar spine fail to form over the spinal cord, leaving the cord unprotected.

Spinal Canal: The opening at the center of the spine through which the spinal cord runs.

Spinal Cord: The root section of the central nervous system going down from the brain through the spinal column, where it divides into nerves.

Spinal Column: The spine (below).

Spinal Cord: The column of nerve tissue that runs from the brain to the lower back.

Spinal Fracture: Broken vertebrae in the spine.

Spinal Fusion: A process in which the disc and cartilage is removed from between the vertebrae, and bone grafts (often harvested from the pelvis) are placed between or alongside the vertebrae to join the bones together.

Spinal Stenosis: A narrowing of the spinal canal, that compresses the spinal cord and/or the nerve roots, cutting off their impulses to the muscles of the leg.

Spondylitis: Inflammation of the spine generally caused by an infection.

Spondyloarthopathy: A group of disorders that causes inflammatory arthritis of the spine.

Spondylolisthesis: A spinal abnormality in which there is an anterior (forward) or posterior (backward) displacement (slippage) of a vertebra on the one below, often resulting in back pain.

Starvation metabolism: The slowing of the basal energy expenditure caused by chronic underfeeding, leading to a reduction in the rate at which the body burns calories and an increase in the rate at which the body attempts to store fat.

Stenosis: Narrowing of a portion of the spinal canal, usually because of bony overgrowth (see Spinal Stenosis above).

Strength Training: This helps you tone muscles and lose fat. It also helps to keep your bones keep your bones strong-which helps you avoid fractures as your bones weaken with age.

Subluxation: A misalignment in the bony structures of the spine. Subluxations can create pressure or irritation on the various nerves in your spine, and can cause a wide variety of symptoms throughout your body, such as localized pain, soreness, irregularity, and weakness. When pressure is applied on a nerve in your spine, the nerve energy is interrupted, and sometimes this can profoundly affect the function of other systems or organs in your body.

Tendon: White fibrous bands of tissue that attach muscle to bone.

Tennis Elbow: Also known as lateral epicondylitis, produces pain on the lateral (outside) part of the elbow, on or near the bony protrusion. It is usually caused by the overuse of the wrist extensor muscles, which leads to the inflammation of the tendon attachment. This type of pain may also be caused by a tear or rupture in the tendon supporting the elbow bone.

Therapeutic Massage: A form of massage that involves the manipulation of the soft tissues of the body to decrease muscle spasm, pain and to improve movement.

Therapeutic Touch: In therapeutic touch, therapists place their hands on or near their patient’s body with the intention to help or heal. In doing so, therapists consciously direct or modulate an individual’s energies by interacting with his or her energy field. The focus is on balancing the energies of the total person and stimulating the body’s own natural healing ability rather than on the treatment of specific physical diseases.

Thoracic Spine: Twelve vertebrae above the lumbar spine and below the cervical spine.

Thyroid hormone: A hormone released by the thyroid gland that stimulates metabolism and helps to regulate a range of biochemical processes in the body.

Tolerance: Decreasing effect of a drug with the same dose or the need to increase the dose to maintain the same effect.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): TCM is based on the Chinese concept of Qi, pronounced chee and usually translated as vital energy, and the theory of yin and yang, the harmony of all the opposite elements and forces that make up existence. It believes that Harmony brings health, well-being, and sustainability. Disharmony leads to illness, disease, and collapse.

Tranquilizer: A drug used to treat anxiety.

Trigger Point Therapy: The application of pressure on tender trigger points in the muscles to relieve pain and tension.

Trigger Points: A generally small area of a muscle that is tightly knotted and in spasm causing referred pain.

Tui Na: The term tui na (pronounced 'twee naw'), which literally means pinch and pull, refers to a wide range of TCM therapeutic massage and body work. Tui na is not generally used for pleasure and relaxation, but rather as a treatment to address specific patterns of disharmony.

Underwater Weighing: A research method for estimating body fat. A person is placed in a tank, underwater, and weighed. By comparing weight underwater with weight on land, one can get a very good measure of body fat.

Unsaturated Fat: A fat that is liquid at room temperature. Vegetable oils are unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats include polyunsaturated fats, and monounsaturated fats. Sources of unsaturated fats include most nuts, olives, avocados, and fatty fish such as salmon.

Vertebrae: The 24 cylindrical segments of bone that make up the vertebral column. This does not include the 3 additional bony segments that make up the coccyx (tail-bone).

Vertebral Column: The Spine. The flexible structure that forms the "backbone" of the skeleton, arranged a straight line from the base of the skull to the tailbone; also called spine.

Vertebral Subluxation Complex (VSC): Another term for subluxation that is used in the chiropractic profession.

Vigorous-Intensity Physical Activity: To be classified as vigorous-intensity, physical activity requires sustained, rhythmic movements of an intense enough level to elevate heart rate to 70% - 85% of maximum heart rate. Vigorous-intensity physical activity may be intense enough to represent a substantial challenge to an individual, resulting in a significant increase in heart rate and respiration.

Waist Circumference: A measurement of the waist (girth). Fat around the waist increases the risk of obesity-related health problems.

Weight Control: Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight by eating well and getting regular physical activity.

Weight-Cycle: Losing and gaining weight over and over again. Commonly called "yo-yo" dieting. With each cycle, there is a worsening of the percentage of body fat due to a loss of lean muscle tissue.

Wellbeing: Wellbeing is a state of balance or alignment in body, mind, and spirit. In this state, we feel content; connected to purpose, people, and community; peaceful and energized; resilient and safe. In short, we are flourishing.

Whiplash: Whiplash is an injury to the neck such as in an automobile accident, caused by a sudden and forceful back-and-forth movement, resembling the crack of a whip. Frequently, whiplash occurs from car accidents where the vehicle is struck from behind, front, and from the side. However, it can also happen in sports mishaps, incidents of physical abuse, or other traumatic events like falls. Whiplash might be referred to as a neck sprain or strain, although these terms encompass various neck injuries.

The majority of individuals experiencing whiplash show improvement within a few weeks by adhering to a treatment plan that involves pain relievers and prescribed exercises. Nevertheless, some individuals continue to experience persistent neck pain and enduring complications. , .

Wrist Circumference: A measurement of the wrist at its thinnest point, just proximal to the hand, that is used to estimate the size of an individual's overall skeletal structure.

X-Ray: A diagnostic imaging method that exposes photographic films with radiation passed through the body. X-Rays are most useful in diagnosing fractures, dislocations, abnormal positioning or other structural problems in bone.

Yoga: Yoga is a spiritual tradition that began in India about 5,000 years ago. Historically, it's practices have been adopted by such religions as Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. However, the practice of yoga is compatible with any religion, as well as atheism. The word yoga means union in Sanskrit. It is a gentle exercise system consisting of numerous stretching movements that is extremely helpful in healing.

For further information, visit: 

  1. The Health & Wellness Glossary
  2. What is Wellness? Understanding the Concept of Wellness (goalcast.com)
  3. A Glossary of Trending Wellness Terms and Definitions | Notes by Thalia




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