ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES GLOSSARY
[From: Eddie, L. 2008, A Skeptical Look At Alternative Therapies And Beliefs, Digital Reproductions]
(Investigator Magazine 191, 2020 March)
From the Chinese xue,
literally meaning a hole or a cave, these are 361 points on the body
that are claimed to lie on meridians, and are used for the insertion of
acupuncture needles or as acupressure points.
One of a number
of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Treatments. It involves
inserting small metal needles into specific locations on the body,
known as acupoints, which are claimed to be located on special internal
body channels, (meridians), through which, it is claimed, flows a
special form of energy, known as Qi or Chi'. See—BLOODLETTING.
AGE OF AQUARIUS:
theory claims that as the Earth moves through the cosmos it enters
various periods or "star ages" where the inhabitants of Earth are
profoundly influenced by that particular zodiacal sign. Although
Astrologers claim each star age lasts approximately 2,200 years, this
is a fallacy as the length of these ages vary quite considerably. It is
widely claimed that the Earth is about to enter a new star age, the Age
of Aquarius, which, according to believers will be an age of love,
peace and enlightenment, and will commence when the sun moved into the
zodiacal sign of Aquarius. There is considerable disagreement as to
when this age will commence, Astrologers place the commencing date at
between 1904 and 2160.
introduced by Dr. Samuel Christian Hahnemann, (1755-1843), to refer to
those medical practitioners who used medicines that produced symptoms
that were the opposite of those of the disease, a concept previously
mentioned by Galen.
person who treats people using methods that are not generally
recognized by orthodox medicine; the principal examples are
practitioners of Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Chiropractic, Therapeutic
The term used by Mesmer to describe the vitalistic energy that pervaded the entire cosmos. The term is derived from anima – an ancient name for the soul.
The name given
by Paracelsus to the vitalistic life-energy. He perceived it as a form
of universal energy, a life-principle that could enter inanimate
material and give it both life and innate intelligence. Yet despite
animating this substance, the Archeus always remained a separate entity
and would, in time, discard the former body which would decay and
return to dust, and return to its place of origin in the heavens.
alternative therapists the Aura is an energy field radiating from all
living organisms, both plants and animals. The human aura is claimed to
be a three-dimensional ovoid extending about 60 cm on every side, it is
said to contain layers of moving clear, pure colours. Alternative
therapists claim it serves as a "visual" indicator of health, with the
colours fading and becoming dull whenever an individual is not in good
health and that these colour changes enable alternative healers to
diagnose an individual's health. See - ENERGY FIELD; ETHERIC.
A form of luminescence, or Aura that surrounded the entire body.
Indian form of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, whose
origins are rather obscure. From two Sanskrit words, Ayus = life; and Veda
= knowledge, it appears to be simply a collection of traditional oral
medical experience, passed down through numerous generations until at
some point in time it began to be recorded around the 1st century
BCE. Its teachings are based upon many erroneous pre-scientific
ideas, in particular the religious and philosophical teachings of the
Vedas, in particular that diseases are caused by demons, and cures were
essentially magical spells and charms to ward of these demons. Although
it was for its time, an enlightened form of medicine, it stagnated,
never evolving the solid scientific base of Western medicine.
BACH FLOWER THERAPY:
A form of
Vitalism developed by Dr. Edward Bach, (1886 - 1936) a British
physician and pathologist. It was based upon the belief that plants
contain a spiritual healing energy that can be utilized in the
treatment of the sick; this was done by using essences drawn from the
dew that formed on various plants. Since the amount of essence that
could be obtained in this way was rather limited, Bach developed other
processes, such as picking the flowers, sprinkling them with water and
placing them in a glass container, or by boiling plant material in
water. Bach's theories were based upon his own subjective observations,
and, as such, are not only unreliable but completely unscientific.
Various independent studies have failed to substantiate the claims made
for the process.
BIOENERGETIC: See – BIOENERGY.
referred to as "bioenergetic" or bio-electromagnetic therapies, in
alternative terminology this refers to the concept of the biological
energy of the body. Most alternative beliefs are based upon the idea
that the life-force that animates humans and animals comes from a
heavenly source and flows into the body and in the process of
maintaining life it generates and radiates a bioelectric energy field
around the body, (the Aura). According to some this energy field
consists of two separate layers, the Etheric Double and the Etheric or
Health Aura. These combined layers of energy are generally referred to
as the Human Energy Field or HEF. Psychics claim it is composed of some
of the universal animating energy that "radiates" from the body,
combined with specific patterns of mental and physical energy that
reflect the function and operation of every body organ. They claim that
certain individuals are able to dynamically interact with these energy
fields to locate health defects, caused by "blockages" in the internal
energy flow, and are detectable in the energy field, and then, by
transferring some of their own biological energy to the sick person,
they can "balance" and "readjust" the patient's internal energy flow.
Bioenergetic techniques include Therapeutic Touch, Rei-ki, Auric
Massage, Pranic Healing, Qi Gong.
BIOLOGICAL MAGNETS: See – MAGNES MICROSCOPI.
of hot irons to the skin, creating large blisters. It was believed that
the pain helped to expel evil energies from the body, while malignant
energies were also drained from the body as the liquid from the
blisters was expelled. The process had its origins in ancient times
when severe physical suffering was thought necessary to drive out evil
spirits that were believed to cause sickness.
Phlebotomy, a very primitive form of "medical" treatment in which the
skin was cut open to allow blood to flow out. There are various
thoughts as to the purpose, it is thought to have been either a
blood-sacrifice to the deities or else given the ancient belief that
sickness and disease was caused by evil spirits entering the body, a
means to allow the evil spirits to escape. It appears such practices
were probably the origins of Acupuncture, that while other cultures
continued to bleed out large amounts of blood the Chinese replaced the
practice with small cuts and then later, with small punctures to the
skin, first using bian stones, then later needles made of bamboo, or
fish and animal bones. During the Shang Dynasty, (1600 – 1046 BCE),
bronze casting developments enabled the first metal needles to be
produced. Phlebotomy remained a part of European medicine well into the
A person who not
only studies Crop Circles but considers themselves experts in the
field. They are absolutely convinced these circles are the work of
aliens and totally reject any claims from hoaxers who claim to have
created these formations.
Sanskrit word for "a wheel" are claimed to be locations on the body
which receive and transmit a form of energy called Prana, the
'life-force'. They are like palm-sized whirlpools, although the Crown
Chakra is said to be much larger. They are said to have an important
role in all aspects of physical, mental and emotional health, as well
as in the spiritual development of the individual. Although invisible
they are claimed to be visible to clairvoyants. Various authorities
give varying numbers, but the most common claim is that there are seven
principal chakras. They are as follows: -
1. The Base Chakra (located at the base of the spine, between the anus and the genitals);
2. The Spleen Chakra (located just below the navel);
3. The Solar Plexus Chakra, located 8-9 centimeters above the navel, controls the digestive process;
The Heart Chakra, located near the centre of the chest, controls the
operation of the heart and the circulation of blood;
The Throat Chakra, located where the throat and chest meet, controls
the lungs and respiration, as well as the vocal chords, the ears, nose,
and the throat;
6. The Brow Chakra, located in the centre of the forehead);
7. Crown Chakra (located on the top of the head).
Each chakra is
said to have a specific role in controlling various physical, spiritual
and metaphysical abilities. So for instance, the Crown Chakra, which
controls our consciousness, providing us with our awareness of things
around us, is said to have an important role in spiritual development,
and, when fully developed, it grants the individual access to
transcendental levels of wisdom and understanding, enabling them to
access spiritual dimensions, even it is claimed, to the realm of the
fount of universal wisdom and knowledge, the godhead itself. The
physiological roles of the other chakras are as follows:
The root and belly chakras are related to generative and sexual functions.
• The heart chakra
• The throat chakra
• The Brow, or 'third eye chakra' is related to vision, the eyes, and the pituitary gland.
• The Crown Chakra is related to the brain, and especially the pituitary and pineal glands.
In certain alternative therapies crystals are placed at the sites of the various chakras to encourage healing.
A Chinese form of life-force, or energy that was drawn into the body with each breath. Also known as Qi,
or, "vital or heavenly air" it was believed to originate in the sun and
was perceived as a form of radiant energy. See – PRANA.
The use of
coffee as the liquid for enemas or colonic irrigation, it is widely
promoted by certain alternative therapists as a cure for cancer.
Various claims are made about the treatment, such as that the coffee
enemas can reduce the pain of the cancer and also can activate a liver
enzyme to destroy free radicals in the body. The technique was widely
promoted by Max Gerson. See – GERSON THERAPY.
Also known as,
Colonic Hydrotherapy, High Colonic, Colonic Lavage, Entero-lavage, or
simply, a colonic, this is a process in which a large amount of liquid,
generally 50 litres or more is injected deep into the colon. The liquid
completely fills the colon and is then flushed out, the process
normally being repeated several more times. It is a popular practice
with many alternative therapists. Because of the complexity of the
process it is done by a therapist and usually involves a special
machine that injects the water via a long tube directly into the colon,
and then drains it out in a continual operation.
chakra located at the top of the head, or, according to other
"authorities" about 10-15 cm. above the head, through which it is
claimed an energy or life-force enters the body. See – CHAKRAS.
The use of
crystals or gemstones for purposes of divining the future or to access
"hidden knowledge" — also known as scrying. It is so named because the
most common stones used were quartz crystals. Because these were often
found in large pieces they were suitable for carving into a ball-shape,
techniques, and also in pre-scientific European medical practice. It
involved the use of small glass globes that were heated by inserting a
lighted taper into them; this caused the air in the globe to expand and
then, when placed on the skin the reduced air pressure causes them to
adhere, producing faster, more voluminous bleeding.
The claim made
by certain alternative therapies that they are able to "project" their
healing energies to someone located at another, often distant location.
A "vital force"
possessed by every human; a concept developed by Dr. Samuel Christian
Hahnemann, (1755-1843), as part of Homeopathy. For thousands of years
Western medicine relied on the concepts that since bleeding, swelling,
abscesses, etc. were normal symptoms of disease, producing them
artificially would speed up the normal healing process, so the sick
were deliberately cut open to let them bleed, burned with hot irons and
purged with powerful laxatives. Hahnemann rejected such ideas; he
believed that these natural symptoms were produced by a vital force,
the "dynamis" as a natural means of dealing with the disease. Hahnemann
was extremely critical of practitioners who continued to use these
primitive treatments, believing they would accelerate healing.
From "endogenous" and "morphine",
a natural substance created within the body during times of stress
which produces similar heightened feelings of exhilaration much like
those produced by morphine and heroin, interfering with the perception
of pain. It has been suggested that techniques such as acupuncture
might trigger the release of this substance reducing the perception of
pain during surgery. They appear to have a role in the Placebo
Response. Their release can also be triggered by hypnosis, meditation,
yoga, bio-feedback and other relaxation techniques.
A process by
which a liquid is introduced into the rectum. Because they are only
intended to flush out the lower part of the colon, the rectum and the
sigmoid colon and use only a small amount of liquid, they can be, and
are often self-administered with a syringe. They are often confused
with a similar process known as Colonic Irrigation.
referred to as the Human Energy Field, (HEF), it is claimed by many
alternative therapists, especially those involved in Bioenergetic
therapies, that the body is surrounded by a field of energy which is
composed some of the universal animating energy that "radiates" from
the body. This energy field combines specific patterns of mental and
physical energy that reflect the function and operation of every body
organ, as well as reflecting our every thought and emotion. It is
claimed, that these distinctive energy patterns within this HEF enable
alternative therapists to quickly and easily diagnose any illness or
bodily disorder. See – ETHERIC.
From the ancient
concept of "aether" a substance that was believed to fill space it
generally referred to a special non-physical spirit like body of light
that surrounded the human body and enabled it to communicate with the
spiritual world. See – AURA; ETHERIC BODY.
Essentially this refers to the field of radiant light said to surround the body; also known as the Aura.
Theosophical teaching the etheric double is an invisible area
surrounding the human body, composed of at least two "etheric
envelopes" or, energy fields, the Etheric Double which projects about
one centimeter from the body, while the other part, the Etheric or
Health Aura, is some three to five centimeters deep.
This is an
attempt by alternative therapists to provide a simplistic explanation
for emotional cause and effect. They claim that all interactions
between individuals are based upon the projection of an etheric energy
which radiates out from one individual to interact with and influence
others in the vicinity, even amplifying any similar feelings which they
may have. See - ENERGY FIELD.
According to Ayurvedic teaching the universe is composed of five elemental forces; known as Pancha Mahabhutas, these are air (Vayu), fire (Agni), water (Apa) earth (Prithvi), and Space (Akasha). See – FOUR ELEMENTS.
traditional Hellenic teaching the Earth, and all things within the
mundane world were composed of four types of matter, Air, Earth, Fire
and Water and that since humans too were composed of these four
elements their behaviour and character reflected the dominant element
of which they were composed. In contrast Ayurveda identified five
elemental forces, (Pancha Mahabhutas), these are air (Vayu), fire (Agni), water (Apa) earth (Prithvi), and space (Akasha).
An ancient but
erroneous Hellenic theory concerned the belief in four basic human
"temperaments". Originally known as the "four fluids", humor being
Latin for "moisture" or "fluid", it later became the "Four Humours".
Although attributed to Hippocrates, it appears more likely that he
simply adopted an already existing concept, since the Chinese already
had a similar idea. It related to the concept of the Four Elements, a
traditional Hellenic philosophy that there were only four universal
elements which occurred in the mundane world, (the sphere of the
earth), as the Air; Earth; Fire; and Water, and that all earthly
matter, including humans, was composed of varying amounts of these four
ingredients, which occurred in humans in the form of four physiological
fluids or humours, blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. Blood
corresponded to air, heat and wetness; phlegm to water, and was cold
and wet; yellow bile or choler corresponded to the dry heat of fire,
while black bile equated to the cold dryness of earth.
and behaviour, of each person was determined by which fluid was most
prevalent, along with the amounts of the other substances and the
manner in which they interacted to produce "balance" or "imbalance."
These factors produced the individual's "temperament" or "temper" (from
the Latin temperare meaning "to mix together"). Individuals with a
preponderance of hot, dry blood were thought to be wise and thoughtful;
those controlled by Phlegm were lethargic, and lazy; Yellow Bile
produced people who were highly unstable while black bile which was hot
and wet produced a person with a sad, melancholy nature. Good health
depended upon the correct balance of each of these substances, and when
an imbalance occurred, illness resulted.
As a result
Greek physicians stressed the importance of correct diet, believing
proper nutrition could keep these fluids in their proper balance.
Hippocrates believed that the four elements which composed humans
originated from certain invisible substances which occurred naturally
in food and drink. One by-product of the consumption of food and drink
was the creation of a life-force, or energy, which much later was
called by Galen a "natural spirit."
process in which the victim was either placed in closed room filled
with thick smoke or over a bowl with a blanket over their head and
inhaled smoke or vapours from a bowl. The process had its origins in
ancient times when obnoxious smelling smoke was used to drive out the
evil spirits believed to cause sickness.
therapy claimed to be effective against cancer. Developed by Max Gerson
(1881 – 1959) in the later 1920's it comprised a regime of coffee
enemas, and a diet low in sodium and high in potassium. His ideas were
based on ideas which although popular in Germany over one-hundred years
ago, have no valid scientific basis and no relevance to modern
nutrition or cancer treatment.
Christian Hahnemann, (1755-1843), the creator of Homeopathy. Evidence
suggests that he was a gifted, independent thinker, who, at a time when
medicine was still primarily based upon superstitious nonsense, was
driven by genuine concern to develop a new form of medical treatment
that was not only more humane, but was also more scientific, to replace
the harsh treatments that were a normal part of medicine in his time.
Unfortunately, like many of his age, lacking the scientific basis of
the origins of disease, he was led astray by the archaic pre-scientific
theories of their time and so evolved a pseudo-scientific concept based
upon a religious-philosophical model of illness rather than a medical
model. As part of his theory he introduced the concepts of Miasms and
Psora, concepts now rarely mentioned by Homeopaths.
Theosophical teaching the human body is surrounded by an invisible
field of energy composed of at least two "etheric envelopes"; these are
the Etheric Double which projects about one centimeter from the body,
while the other part, the Etheric or Health Aura, is some three to five
centimeters deep. Although invisible, according to those able to
perceive it, this field it was a pale violet-grey or blue-grey and
Abbreviation for the Human Energy Field. See – ENERGY FIELD.
The term Homeopathy is derived from the Greek words, homoion
(like or similar) and, pathos (suffering), to describe a system of
'medical' treatment using various substances that produced a physical
reaction in patients that was similar to the symptoms produced by the
actual disease. A Vitalistic concept developed by Dr. Samuel Christian
Hahnemann, (1755-1843), it is essentially a collection of
pseudo-scientific ideas with no relevance to proper medicine. It is
based upon the ancient concept of homogeneity, that things of a like or
similar nature have a degree of cosmic connection, thus red coloured
plants were believed to be particularly efficacious in the treatment of
condition that involved bleeding. Hahnemann defined the concept as,
"Like cures like" (similia similibus curantur).
most contentious aspect of Homeopathy is the process of "dynamization",
or "potentizing" where a small amount of a herb that produced symptoms
similar to those of the patient's disorder being experienced is
constantly diluted. Commencing with a Mother Tincture the plant, or
mineral agent, is dissolved in a mixture of 90% alcohol and 10% water,
stored for two to four weeks, being shaken, (succussed), at regular
intervals. A small amount is removed and is then added to either nine
or ninety parts of alcohol or water; as before this is shaken briskly,
at least forty times. This process is repeated so that each time the
previous mixture continues to be diluted until the mixtures reach
an ultra-molecular level, in Homeopathic terms 12C or 24X (1 part in
1024); despite the fact that this is beyond Avogadro's number (6.023 x
1023) which actually corresponds to homeopathic potencies of 12C.
Homoeopathists claim that at this level of dilution the more effective
it becomes, for while any toxic qualities have been so diluted as to be
non-existent the substance retains the curative properties of the drug
remains undiminished able to activate the dynamis, the powerful
internal healing force. The explanation for this is to be found in
Vitalistic concepts, which states that the strength of the original
life-energy within any substance can never be diminished, so, no matter
how endlessly diluted, however minute might be the final amount of that
substance, the life-energy within that substance remains as powerful as
when the process began.
Sympathetic Magic, the primitive magical belief that "like produces
like", the erroneous belief that items or processes that had a similar
nature or appearance had a sympathetic connection and acted together.
Based upon the belief that there existed an unbreakable connection
between the "macro" and "micro" levels of nature, so that all things in
the natural world possess the "power" to act upon each other through
some mystical form of universal sympathy, particularly if they have
common similarities such as shape or colour. Thus red flowers and
plants were thought to be most suitable herbs for treating wounds or
disorders that produced bleeding, while plants with red stems, such as
Mugwort, and rhubarb, were considered especially effective in the
treatment of menstrual discharges, and to prevent hemorrhaging after
child-birth. Any plants that grew in or near water were used for colds
and rheumatism, which was thought to be caused by a flow of watery
substances through the affected area. Fevers were treated with spicy
herbs that produced heat, or by wrapping the patient in heavy blankets,
sealing the room and building up a fire. This principle was an
important aspect of magical beliefs as well as in early medicine and
erroneous nature of this concept it forms the basis of most forms of
alternative therapies, e.g. Homeopathy uses base substances that
produce symptoms similar to the illness, while in TCM someone suffering
from a bad back would be advised to eat fried centipedes, or prescribed
a medicine containing dried centipedes, since the appearance of their
segmented body is similar to that of the human spine. See - LAW OF SIMILARITIES; MACROCOSM-MICROCOSM.
HUMAN ENERGY FIELD:
Also referred to as HEF. See – ENERGY FIELD.
psychophysiologic process, originating in the Ascending Reticular
Activating System, (ARAS), and the Limbic System, two sub-systems
within the brain stem. However, because the hypnotic process takes
place outside our level of consciousness, even though it occurs dozens
of times every day, individuals are normally totally unaware they are
taking place! By reducing the degree of external input activity within
the reticular activating system, (RA), is greatly reduced, leading to a
general feeling of relaxation and calmness. Further reductions in
sensory input can produce even more pronounced feelings of restfulness,
as well as feelings of serenity and a sense of general well being. By
concentrating one can often turn the individual's attention "inwards"
so that the "attention" becomes increasingly concentrated within the RA
and Limbic Systems, producing a sense of reverie. This can produce
additional experiences such as a feeling of dissociation, as if one is
"drifting off" into another level of reality, or even that one has left
their body. It is at this level where many are deceived into believing
they are having some form of spiritual or transcendental experience.
referred to as a "trance state'' the altered condition is actually a an
altered state of consciousness, a shift in the level of consciousness,
from a normal conscious level, to another "deeper level" where the
individual becomes more centred, more focused, and where it appears
they are in touch with a much deeper level of their "inner
concept of an invisible life-force it was developed by Daniel David
Palmer, a tradesman and magnetic healer, the "discoverer" of
Chiropractic. He proposed it was the "Soul, the Spirit or Spark of
Life" a natural instinctive spirit, part of the subconscious mind, and
it was the internal principle that was responsible for controlling the
natural healing process of the body via the autonomic nervous system.
See — VIS MEDICATRIX NATURAE.
The use enemas
to provide sexual gratification. It can occur in several forms, either
alone, in conjunction with normal sexual intercourse, or in conjunction
with fetishes or masturbation, and is generally classified as a
LAW OF SIMILARITIES:
This refers to
the erroneous belief that items or processes of a similar nature
operate together in a "similar" or sympathetic manner. It was once
widely accepted that if some object or substance had properties similar
to something else, that there was a subtle connection between the two
items, thus because red-coloured flowers had the same colour as blood,
they were believed suitable as a means of treating wounds or disorders
that produced bleeding. This principle was an important aspect of early
medicine, for, in the preparation and use of primitive medicines,
remedies were used that produced symptoms similar in nature to the
illness, a practice that continued until relatively recent times, (in
some parts of the world until the 19th century).
See — HOMOGENEOUS MAGIC; SYMPATHETIC MAGIC.
beliefs accept the claim found in Genesis 2:7 that humans are composed
of inanimate material and that this is animated by an external energy,
(the life-force). For some it is a divine substance, from the deities,
for others a celestial force that flows down from heaven to enter the
human, generally though the Crown Chakra, then flowing through the body
it maintains life. However, if the flow of life-energy should become
restricted or blocked, it causes illness, disease or a general lack of
energy. The objective of most alternative therapies is to restore the
flow to its normal level using their particular form of "therapy".
(the "great cosmos") was the heavens, while the Microcosm, (the "small
cosmos") was the Earth and its inhabitants. In ancient times it was
believed there existed an inexorable connection between the two, and
that what happened in the heavens influenced events on earth. Such a
belief formed the basis for most forms of divination which were
effectively processes to divine the will of the gods or the cosmos and
led to the development of such arts as Astrology.
the earth was perceived as reflections of similar larger-scale models
in the heavens, so that for instance, the Zodiac where the
constellations were attributed with the shapes of beings or animals,
were considered to be the macrocosmic representations of the
microcosmic creatures upon the earth. From the observations that the
stars continually repeated their tracks through the heavens,
year-by-year, there developed such ideas as reincarnation and
predestination, based upon the belief that just as the stars in the
macrocosm were destined to "endlessly repeat" their pathways through
the sky, so too humans were likewise destined to repeat their life upon
earth, or were predestined to follow courses which had been mapped out
for them long before their birth.
A belief that
the natural events of the universe can be directed by human design,
through the use of magical incantations or words of power. The website,
Natural Majick: A Beginners Guide to Energy Divination and Majickal Applications,
defines magic as, "…simply using an endless supply of natural energy
that surrounds everything in the universe. By attuning and accessing
this energy we have the natural ability to heal, attract money, attract
love, get glimpses of what the future may hold and to grow spiritually
magnet" a concept of a biological magnet. In the Middle Ages it was
believed by some that sickness was caused by an overabundance of
vitality; Paracelsus claimed that mumia, made from dried bodily
residue, would act as a magnes microscopi, to attract and draw excess
vitality out of a human body in the same way that a magnet could
attract iron. Paracelsus also believed that when this special "magnet"
drew out the disease, at the same time, the inflammation in that area
would be relieved by blood rushing to this area, a claim still used by
proponents of alternative magnetic healing techniques. The "magnet" was
then discarded, and as it slowly rotted away, so too it was believed,
the patient's sickness gradually disappeared.
Italian, mal'aria, from mala aria 'bad air' thought to be noxious
vapours that arose from swamps and marshland and was believed to be the
cause of diseases such as Cholera and the Black Death. See – MIASMA.
Chinese term used in Acupuncture for invisible and undetectable channels which enable the life-giving energy Chi to be distributed throughout the body. In Ayurvedic they are known as srotas, and to the Buddhists nadis.
Mesmer, (1734-1815). He believed the planets influenced human behaviour
and health, and that the cosmos was filled by an invisible fluid or
gas, which he called gravitas universalis, (universal gravity). Some
eight years later he learned that his friend, the astronomer Father
Maximilian Hell, had successfully cured the sick wife of a
distinguished visitor to Vienna using a magnet, and he concluded he had
been wrong earlier and that the universal force was magnetic in origin
not gravitational. He began to research and experiment with magnets
and, as a doctor, he soon began to use them to treat his patients. He
was the first person to attempt a scientific study of what he called
"animal magnetism"; unfortunately scientific research per se was still
based upon pseudo-scientific concepts so that his therapy was a
combination of astrology, mysticism, vitalism, traditional faith
healing methods with the laying on of hands. He was so successful he
turned his Vienna home into a clinic.
upset other physicians and he moved to Paris where his salon became
famous. He treated up to thirty patients at a time seating them around
a large tub filled with bottles of "magnetized water" and iron rods.
His outlandish theories continued to upset the medical profession who
claimed there were other simpler explanations for the so called
animal-magnetism and he was increasingly ostracized. After his death
his disciples continued to spread his theories and gradually as others
began to examine "mesmerism" it was realized that the phenomena was
actually a normal cognitive and psychophysiological process, which came
to be better known as Hypnosis. See – MESMERIC PASSES; MESMERISM.
hypnotic technique which although common in Asia, was first used in the
West by MESMER. It involved passing the hands around a person's body
from the top of the head down to the feet, with the hands always a few
centimeters away from so that they never actually touched the body.
This technique is the basis of a number of alternative therapies in
particular, Rei'ki and Therapeutic Touch.
An early form of
hypnosis; it was named after the discoverer Franz Anton Mesmer who
stumbled on the process accidentally. He mistakenly believed that it
was a form of universal fluid, a life-force, which he called animal
magnetism. He believed it was to be found in all humans. Later he
mistakenly came to believe it could be transmitted from individual to
individual and could be used for healing. Some of his followers sought
other explanations for what was obviously a powerful tool, and
gradually it was realized that it was a psychological process that
relied heavily upon suggestion. The concept of a universal life-energy
fluid is a form of Vitalism and is still found in many alternative
forms of therapy. The belief that it can be "transmitted" from one
person to another for healing is a fundamental principal of many
Bioenergetic therapies such as Rei'ki and Therapeutic
Touch. See – MESMER; MESMERIC PASSES.
Before it was
understood that germs caused disease physicians sought to find an
explanation for the mysterious manner in which people became infected.
One of these pre-scientific explanations was the idea of a miasma, from
the Greek for "pollution." It was also known as malaria, from the
Italian, mal'aria, from mala aria 'bad air' thought to be noxious
vapours produced by mephitic decaying animal or vegetable matter; these
dank, fetid and miasmas were believed to carry on the air, in some
ethereal manner, various infectious diseases such as Cholera and the
Black Death. The term was also applied to any form of physical
discharge from diseased people. See – MALARIA; SPONTANEOUS GENERATION.
evolved by Dr. Samuel Christian Hahnemann, (1755-1843), the creator of
Homeopathy. He considered Miasms to be the cause of disease; the idea
was based upon the belief that noxious vapours produced by mephitic
decaying animal or vegetable matter; these dank, fetid and miasmas were
believed to carry on the air, in some ethereal manner, various
infectious diseases; the term was also used to describe any physical
discharge from a diseased person. There is some suggestion that
Hahnemann perceived miasms as a form of infectious disease, however,
until the development of germ theory there was no solid scientific
basis for the spread of "infectious diseases" and so his ideas were
rather imprecise. Hahnemann defined the following types of miasms:
Psoric Miasm: Caused by environmental factors that produced
itching, burning, inflammation and functional disturbances like
headache, nausea, and discomfort.
Sycotic Miasm: A hypersensitive response to specific agencies that
caused tumors, allergies, and the production of growth like warts,
condylomata, and fibrous tissue, especially in the pelvic and sexual
• Syphilitic Miasm: Causing gangrene, ulceration, fissures and deformities.
Tubercular Miasm: Causing respiratory imbalance, weak lungs,
head-sweats, re-occurring bleeding from the nose, bleeding gums,
enuresis, and bloody stools.
inheritance of the miasms was not genetic per se, they are said to be
caused by the fact that the "vital force" of parents has been tainted
by such miasmic conditions at the time of conception. See –
used in TCM, and also in pre-scientific European medical practice in
which small sticks or cones composed of various herbs were placed on
the skin and ignited. It was believed that the heat would assist
healing. In TCM they were placed on the acupoints, to stimulate that
point and were sometimes allowed to burn right down so as to create a
blister on the skin.
A number of
alternative products that promote colonic cleansing offer customers
various products that are designed to clean out the colon. These
products generally contain one or more herbal products aimed at
stimulating and quickly pushing waste matter through the colon. The
faecal discharge is often in the form of a long, continuous tubular
mass, which it is claimed is the build-up of faecal mass inside the
colon; however the material is actually formed by the high-level of
fibrous material that is part of the cleansing product.
referred to the physical substance that had been given temporary life
by the Archeus, as the mumia. He inferred that while the Archeus was
present in this physical body, the mumia, "absorbed" some of the
life-energy of the Archeus, and even retained some of this life-energy
for a short time after death. Since sickness was believed to be an
overabundance of vitality, it was thought that mumia which when dried,
became eager to attract life-energy, and so, could be used to draw out
this excess of energy, healing the sick. In Homogeneous Magic, it was
believed that any bodily residue such as blood, hair, nail cuttings,
excremental material, and urine could be used to attack an individual.
This was the reason why rulers went to so much trouble to hide or
destroy such material, to ensure it did not fall into the hands of
their enemies who could use it against them.
From the Latin mundánus
meaning, "of this world" referred to the ancient conception of the
space from the Earth as far as the Moon, was thought to be part of, and
influenced by the earthly influences, thus, the mundane world. In this
domain all things were composed of Four Elements.
term refers to any form of treatment that can generally be referred to
as "natural", or to the use of substances that are derived from nature.
Naturopathic therapies include herbal medicines, either the actual
plant or extracts derived from them, various dietary and nutrition
programmes, Homeopathy, Hydrotherapy, various manipulative techniques
such as Osteopathy and Chiropractic, as well as Acupuncture, and
various other traditional forms of oriental medicine such as
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine.
The opposite to
a placebo, this is something that is done or used to create or cause
harm to a person. It is most commonly seen in primitive magic where
someone is "cursed" and they become ill. It is a common factor in such
areas as hypochondria and in the origins of psychosomatic
disorders, particularly where a person is convinced a certain action
will negatively affect their health.
The study of the
alleged magical properties of numbers. Each number is attributed a
specific meaning and nature. It often used special formulas to
establish "base" numbers. Thus each of the letters forming the name of
any individual had a numerical number. These were added together, and
then the number "reduced" to a single number. If the number totaled 49,
the number was split and the two digits added together, thus 4 + 9 =
13. The 13 were treated in the same way, 1 + 3 = 4. In this way the
numerical characteristics of the person was established. There was an
extensive list of characteristics corresponding to each number, similar
to the claimed character traits attributed to people born under a
particular sign of the Zodiac, and once the "number" of the individual
had been determined it was said that their personality and character
corresponded to these specific guidelines. It has been claimed that
Numerology evolved from certain theories of Pythagoras, in which he
believed the cosmos could be explained in the ratios between the first
ten numbers, however there is little evidence to support this claim.
by Dr. Samuel Christian Hahnemann, (1755-1843), which set out in detail
the concepts of his new form of medical treatment known as Homeopathy.
PHLEBOTOMY: See – BLOODLETTING.
Any treatment or
medicine which although it has no actual curative powers, nevertheless
can produce an improvement, or cure, in a person who is ill. For a
placebo to be effective the individual must believe in the
effectiveness of the therapist, the therapy and the medicine. The
placebo effect is a major feature of alternative therapies where
although most treatments have no real value, nevertheless the person
PLACEBO EFFECT OR RESPONSE:
A psychophysiological response to a form of treatment or medicine that has no actual curative ability. See – PLACEBO.
was perceived as a special form of energy that originated in the cosmos
and was radiated down to Earth. The Hindu religious texts, the Upanishads, dating from around the 7th-8th century BCE, first mentioned the existence of Prana,
which was received by all living creatures upon the Earth. While the
Hindus saw it as a form of cosmic energy, the Buddhists viewed it more
as a life-current contained in the air around us, and that, as we
breathed, we drew this force into our body. This latter idea is
expressed more fully in Yoga where it is believed that, because of the
way we breathe, most of the pranic energy is wasted when we exhale. To preserve the energy they use a breathing technique, (pranayama), where the breath is held, allowing the vital energy to be fully absorbed.
evolved by Dr. Samuel Christian Hahnemann, (1755-1843), the creator of
Homeopathy. Hahnemann noted that patients treated with homeopathic
remedies were not permanently cured, they would often experience the
same disease time-after-time; he concluded that there must be something
within the body that continued to produce these diseases, this was
Psora, a fundamental disease creating agent.
of laxatives, cathartics, or enemas to cleanse the bowels. Originally
the process was an attempt to force out evil spirits that were thought
to be the cause of illness; yet even when Western medicine became more
secular, the practice continued in the belief it could drive out
malignant energies believed to cause sickness.
QI: See – CHI.
fifth essence"; in ancient times all mundane matter was believed to be
composed of four elements, Fire, Water, Earth and Air, but that beyond
the realm of the Moon was a fifth element or "essence".
Rei-ki, (pronounced ray-key is a bioenergetic healing technique, the term is from two Japanese words; rei = "spirit" plus ki
= a mysterious form of energy. Essentially Rei-ki means a mysterious
spiritual life force, or energy, although it can also mean a spirit
that is directed by the life force. It is said to utilize this energy,
which practitioners claim exists within every individual, and that they
have the ability to transfer some of their own special "energy" into
the bodies of others, especially those who are ill due to a depletion
or blockage of their own internal energy, a process that revitalizes
and restores the sick individual back to normal health.
Another name for divination using crystals, gemstones or special stones such as a seer-stone. See — CRYSTALLOMANCY.
The name given
to any stone of an unusual shape or colour that was said to give its
owner the ability to see the future or to find bodies of minerals or
hidden treasure. Also known as, "shew-stones";
"seer-stones"; "peep-stones"; or "peek-stones", since it was claimed
that they allowed certain individuals, (seers) to "see", or to "peep",
within the stones to obtain information that was hidden from ordinary
attempt to explain the origins of life. In addition to the Vitalistic
theory this proposed that most of the lower forms of life, insects,
etc. formed through a natural process, without any effort, or
intervention of external forces, and did not require developmental
processes, such as eggs, or babies. It was believed that rotting
vegetation, and the like, produced certain miasmas, gases, imbued with
the potential to form life, such as insects, frogs, fish etc. This is
the basis of the claim in Exodus 7:17 that "... all the dust of the earth became gnats throughout the land of Egypt."
possibly the first person to document the various aspects of
spontaneous generation, claiming that shellfish, limpets, oysters, and
fleas, were born spontaneously out of the mud on ocean and sea beds; in
turn, crabs developed from certain shellfish, especially those like
mussels which had a curved form; while Jellyfish were formed
spontaneously from sea-water. He reasoned that spiders are born from
other insects, which had an appearance similar to spiders. Other life
was thought to form from the dew, when it formed on grass and leaves,
while some creatures were believed to develop from leaf mould, mud, or
decomposing manure. Mosquitoes came from earthworms; ticks from couch
grass. Aristotle believed that some insects were engendered from snow,
claiming that under certain conditions, snow takes on a red colour, out
of which emerged red, hairy worms. A number of insects, especially
moths, developed from wool, or from spider silk; while wax-worms and
bookworms emerged from wax. His ideas were accepted without question
until the end of the 16th century, and Jan Baptiste van Helmont, the
foremost 16th century physiologist, chemist and physician, claimed that
mice developed from a combination of wheat, cheese or bread and a
stained female undergarment. He experimented by wrapping wheat, bread
or cheese in old rags and left them in a dark corner. After several
weeks mice were found in the rags. Later experimenters were more
careful in the methodology, although there were still misleading
findings. In the 17-18th century a more scientific approach was
(1713-1781) suggested heating a sealed vessel to kill off all life
within, and then observing whether or not life regenerated
spontaneously. He performed this experiment, but probably due to a
faulty seal, life reappeared within the container. Abbé Lazzaro
Spallanzani, who conducted the same experiment and found that life
failed to emerge within the sealed container, disputed his findings.
Similar experiments by others found, for instance, that maggots would
not form on meat in a properly sealed container, so that by the end of
the 17th century spontaneous generation was being seriously questioned.
By the end of the 19th century, after Pasteur proved the existence of
microorganisms, which were capable of reproducing, it was finally
established that all life forms were biologically propagated.
practice in certain cultures, of sticking pins into the image of a
person was based upon the belief that there was a coherent strain of
commonality or "sympathy" between objects, especially those which
contained some part of the other. Because anything that came in contact
with an individual was believed to be able to absorb some of their
latent energy, even a piece of clothing, or something they had handled
was considered sufficient to use since, imbued as it was with their
energy, it became a microcosmic representation of that other person,
and so could be used against that other person, either to hurt or kill
them, or, in a love potion, to attract that person to another. Because
body parts were believed to contain a portion of the spirit, or energy
of an individual, hair, or nail clippings were considered the most
potent substances to include in the image, making it a powerful
tool. In many civilizations any hair, nails, and even faeces,
were carefully buried in a hidden location to ensure that no enemy
could gain possession of this material, and thus gain a definite
advantage in using magic to attack the individual. See — HOMOGENEOUS MAGIC; LAW OF SIMILARITIES.
TCM: See – TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE.
A form of
bioenergetic alternative therapy which despite the name does not
involve actual touch. It involves the practitioner sweeping their hands
around the body of a "client" to detect areas of negative health. Once
"detected" the practitioner then rebalances the subject's internal
energy flow, even radiating some of their own energy into the subject
to "boost" the healing potential of their internal energy.
TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE:
The ancient and
traditional medical lore of China it appears that the earliest form
combined herbal medicine and a form of Acupuncture. It was essentially
based on celestial (astrological) principles, the belief that the
health of every individual depended upon the constant interaction, and
in particular, the balance produced by the harmonious combination of
the Yin, Yang, Qi and the Five Elements.
belief that since sickness was an actual physical substance, it could
be transferred out of a victim; however, since it was perceived as
being "alive" it could not simply be released into the air, for it
would find another victim to enter so it was thought best to transfer
it into an object or an animal. In ancient Mesopotamia the sick would
place a loaf of bread on their head and recited a sacred incantation
three times, the loaf was then wiped over their body from head to feet,
and the loaf then thrown to an animal; if the animal ate the loaf the
evil would be transferred to that creature; this was the reasoning
behind the Biblical reference in which an evil spirit is expelled from
a possessed man and transferred into a herd of pigs. (Mark 5:11-13).
The concept survives in many alternative therapies, such as Rei-ki and
TT where the "healer" is claimed to have the ability to transfer some
of their life-energy into the sick or in Bach Flower treatments where
it is claimed that by soaking plants in water and leaving them in the
sunshine the vital plant essence would be transferred into the water.
TT: See — THERAPEUTIC TOUCH.
Jan van Helmont,
(1580-1644), An early scientist who studied the principles of
magnetism. He believed in a universal magnetic force and that certain
individuals had the power to forcibly discharge this "magnetic fluid"
into other humans, completely overwhelming their will, the persons with
this power were usually males who could overwhelm the wills of women
who were considered weak and inferior in strength. Many of his ideas
were adopted by Franz Anton Mesmer.
VIS MEDICATRIX NATURAE:
In ancient Greek
medicine this was an invisible energy or force that was claimed to be
the agent responsible for enabling the sick and injured to recover to
normal health. In modern terminology the Auto-Immune System
Various forms of
alternative therapies that claim to use "healing vibrations" emitted by
crystals and gemstones for therapeutic purposes. It is claimed these
vibrations interact with the HEF to increase personal energy levels
that can facilitate healing in the sick.
concept that sought to explain the mystery of life by attributing it to
a heavenly or divine source. Many alternative forms of therapy
attribute life to the inflowing of this energy into the body. It is
claimed that in order to maintain life and good health this substance
needs to be able to flow uninterrupted through the body in special
channels that are invisible and undetectable to ordinary science. Poor
health is said to be the result of blockages or restrictions to the
flow of this energy, and the various alternative therapies each claim
to have their special way of restoring the proper flow of this
believed that humans were animated by a cosmic life-force, and that
sickness resulted from this energy being "disturbed" or interfered
with. They sought and devised many ways to restore the vital balance.
Today the term can be applied to most alternative therapists.
WORDS OF POWER:
incantations used in magic that were believed able to harness the power
of a deity, demon, or spirit to have them "do your will" in changing
events, seeing the future, or gaining wealth or power. The words of
power were often the secret or hidden name of a deity or demon.
One of two
celestial forces which, along with Yin formed the basis of all
existence. A concept derived from Taoist philosophy, Yang and Yin were
two mutually opposed forces that together produce a sense of cosmic
balance, Yin was perceived as a visible, physical substance while Yang
was without form or substance. A Chinese dualistic concept, Yin
represented darkness, disorder, evil, the intuitive and the female
aspect of nature, while Yang represented light, order, goodness,
rationale and the male aspect. It was the "dynamic interplay" between
these two opposing forces that produced continuing balance throughout
the cosmos, so that if, in their endless cycles of interaction, one
would gain in strength to reach a climax, and would then retreat, at
which point the other aspect would begin to gain ascendancy until, once
again, cosmic equilibrium was achieved. Over time, these concepts came
to be applied to the fundamental principles of human life, so that, it
was reasoned, if one lived in harmonious balance with the natural order
of the cosmos, then they would also experience good health. See – TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE.
The female aspect of nature Yin represented darkness, disorder, evil, and the intuitive aspect of nature. See – YANG.