Health and Wellness Terminology


Health, Wellness, Alternative Medicine, Complementary Medicine, Natural Healing, Holistic Medicine; what do all these terms really mean?

Health and Wellness
In conventional terms, ‘health’, is considered to be ‘the state of being free from illness or injury’, although in 1948 the World Health Organisation labelled it ‘a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. However, when Halbert L Dunn M.D., began using the phrase ‘high level wellness’ in the 1950’s, it was the beginning of the modern concept of ‘wellness’, which eventually began to become popular the 1970’s, and which has grown to what it has become, today.

The term, ‘wellness’ is generally used to define a healthy balance of the mind, body and spirit, which results in an overall feeling of well-being. Wellness is considered care without drugs that can not only eliminate health problems but essentially prevent them. It is defined by the National Wellness Institute as, ‘an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence’. While conventional medicine remains a constant in our lives, more and more people are searching for alternative methods for overall health and wellness.

The word, ‘medicine’ is derived from the Latin, ‘ars medicina’, meaning ‘the art of healing’. Modern, conventional medicine applies health science, biomedical research and medical terminology to diagnose and treat injury and disease, typically through medication, surgery, and occasionally other forms of therapy. There is medicine available however, considered un-conventional, which is utilised to not only treat injury and disease, but to prevent it, without the need for artificial medications.

Alternative Medicine and Complementary Medicine
‘Alternative medicine’ commonly refers to any healing practice that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine, and is used to describe practices that are used in place of conventional medicine. It covers a broad range of healing philosophies, and therapies, commonly referred to as, ‘natural healing’, and many of which have been practised in different cultures for centuries.

If alternative medicine or therapy is used instead of conventional medicine, it is called, alternative medicine. If the treatment or therapy is conducted in addition to conventional medicine, it is referred to as ‘complementary medicine’. For example, many Chinese hospitals use acupuncture to reduce the pain during surgery, instead of anaesthetics, as in the practice of conventional medicine. Other widely used forms of complementary medicine include; relaxation techniques, visualisation and herbal medicine.

Natural Healing and Holistic Medicine
‘Natural healing’ is a broad term which refers to treating injury or disease with natural medicines, such as herbs, vitamins and supplements, and through physical, energy and spiritual techniques; in place of traditional modern medicine produced from chemical, synthetic drugs. Any therapy that relies on the body's own healing powers may be considered ‘natural medicine’.

While conventional medicine is divided up into specialists who treat only one part of the body, such as a cardiologist, gynaecologist, or orthopaedist; ‘holistic medicine’ considers the complete person, on all levels. Holistic medicine practices pay attention to the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of health, in addition to the physical body.  They believe our bodies are remarkably resilient machines, capable of healing themselves to a large degree, and in the importance of self care to prevent, rather than cure, illness.

© Copyright Jan Reid-Lennox. All Rights Reserved.