The Natural Health and Wellness Glossary
Ever wonder what the difference is between a medical doctor and a naturopathic doctor? Whether acupuncture or reiki is right for you? Or how to choose between an osteopath or chiropractor? We’ve got you covered. The IMI Glossary offers you a brief description of every natural health treatment, therapy, and qualified professional available to you at IMI, so you can take charge of your health and wellbeing.
Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practice that originated thousands of years ago. In TCM, it’s believed that illness is caused by disruptions to the flow of life energy (Qi) in channels called meridians throughout the body. Acupuncturists insert hair-thin needles to specific acupuncture points throughout your body to clear blockages, restore the flow of qi, and stimulate your body’s natural healing mechanisms. Different types of acupuncture include Chinese acupuncture, Japanese acupuncture, and dry needling.
What is Alternative Medicine?
Alternative medicine is a broad range of medical modalities used in place of conventional medicine. These healing modalities are typically supported by centuries-old healing traditions from Eastern and Western philosophies and are not taught widely in Western medical communities.
Bach Flower Remedies are a system of plant and flower-based essences developed in the 1930’s by British physician and homeopath Dr. Edward Bach to support everyday wellness. Safe and natural, these essences gently restore the balance between body and mind by clearing negative emotions like fear, anger, uncertainty, and uncertainty. A qualified Bach Flower Remedy Practitioner can recommend a blend or create a personalised blend to support your emotional wellbeing.
What is BodyTalk?
Body Talk is an alternative therapy based on the belief that each system, cell and atom in the body is always in constant communication with each other. When these lines of communication become compromised by the stressors of daily life, we experience ill-health. A qualified BodyTalk practitioner uses a gentle form of neuromuscular biofeedback (muscle checking) to evaluate which areas of your body are not communicating well and gently taps specific energy points to redress the balance. By addressing the entire person rather than one specific issue, BodyTalk offers a non-invasive “whole-healthcare” system that stimulates your body’s innate ability to self-heal and restore emotional, physical and physiological wellbeing.
What is Breathwork?
Breathwork involves breathing techniques or exercises, with conscious awareness on the breath. Its origins underpin most of the meditative and spiritual disciplines including yoga, tai chi, chi gung, Buddhist and zen practice. These various traditions discovered that by focusing on our breath, we can affect the state of our mind, calm and energise our bodies, and access the more subtle energetic systems of the body and even mystical states. A plethora of growing research confirms the benefits of these ancient practices – from steadying and calming our minds; to improving oxygen flow in our bodies, through to reducing stress and anxiety. You can learn breathwork practice as an integral part of the traditions mentioned and there are more recent approaches too: holotropic breathwork, rebirthing, clarity and more. If you are new to breathwork it is advisable to learn from an experienced teacher to minimise risks and make sure you are practising the breathwork techniques properly.
What is Bowen Therapy?
Bowen Therapy is a hands-on therapy that involves gentle rolling movements to stretch the fascia – the soft tissue covering your organs and muscles – to rebalance your body and relieve pain. Focused on the whole person and not just the condition, Bowen therapy acts on the autonomic nervous system by inhibiting the sympathetic nervous system (your ‘fight or flight’ response) and activating the parasympathetic nervous system (your ‘rest and digest’ response) for optimal healing.
Chiropractic is a hands-on non-invasive treatment focused on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, and the effects on the nervous and overall health. Through joint mobilisation and manipulation, as well as soft tissue techniques, a Hong Kong chiropractor that has completed a 4–5-year degree and is registered with the Hong Kong Chiropractors’ Council can treat a wide range of musculoskeletal issues including neck, back and shoulder pain without medication or surgery.
What is Clinical Nutrition?
Clinical nutrition is an evidence-informed practice of determining how nutrients in the food are processed, stored and discarded in relation to acute and chronic disease and conditions caused by an excess or lack of nutrients. A clinical nutritionist can assess your nutritional needs based on your medical history, lifestyle and diagnostic tests and make recommendations on your diet and individual nutritional needs.
What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a form of talk therapy offered by qualified mental health counsellors and psychotherapists that allows you to identify and change inaccurate or distorted thought patterns that can have a negative influence on your emotions, mood and behaviour.
What is Complementary Medicine?
Complementary medicine is a wide range of medical modalities used together with conventional medicine to support optimal healing. Complementary therapies and treatment are typically backed by centuries of wisdom from Eastern and Western philosophies.
What is Conventional Medicine?
Conventional medicine is a system taught in Western medical schools that allows medical doctors and healthcare professionals to recognise and attribute the symptoms you are experiencing to an illness. Drugs, surgery and other treatments are then used dependent on the diagnosis to decrease or eliminate the symptoms.
Also known as allopathy and allopathic medicine, Western medicine and mainstream medicine.
What is counselling?
Counselling is a talk therapy that involves a qualified counsellor holding a safe, confidential and non-judgmental space for you to discuss specific issues and challenges you are facing in life. In collaboration with a trusted counsellor, you can identify strategies to resolve concerns, overcome obstacles, develop self-understanding, and support mental health and wellbeing.
What is corporate wellness?
Corporate wellness consists of workplace wellness programmes offered by employers to support healthy behaviour and improved wellbeing among employees. A holistic corporate wellness programme covers all aspects of employee wellbeing – physical health, mental health, emotional health, community and more. Designed and delivered effectively, these programmes can help employees boost overall health, lower their risk of chronic disease, increase morale, productivity and engagement, and reduce absenteeism and turnover rates.
What is craniosacral therapy?
Also known as cranial sacral therapy (CST), this form of bodywork is a gentle, hands-on approach to release restrictions in the soft tissues that surround the central nervous system to alleviate tension, relieve pain and improve overall health and performance.
What is cranial osteopathy?
Cranial osteopathy is a refined osteopathic treatment that involves gently manipulating the bones and connective tissues of the brain and cranium to release pressure and retained strains, typically from old accidents and injuries. Through subtle touch, your cranial osteopath can diagnose rhythmic motion present in your head and brain that are influencing your health and wellbeing and apply light contact in target locations to restore balance.
What is crystal healing?
Crystal healing is an alternative therapy that uses crystals and semi-precious stones to bring balance to your mind, body and life. Recognised throughout history as conduits for the earth’s healing energy, crystals are believed to radiate subtle and stable energy, which can correct energetic imbalances in the body and promote physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. A qualified crystal healer has extensive knowledge of the specific healing power of gemstones and their effects on you. In a crystal healing session, they can place the appropriate healing crystals on or around you to help unblock, focus and direct energy.
A medical doctor is a person trained and licensed to diagnose and treat sick and injured patients using conventional Western methods. Drawing on the scientific framework of medicine, a medical doctor addresses and treats the symptoms of disease and, depending on the diagnosis, uses pharmaceutical drugs or surgery.
A naturopathic doctor is a person trained and licensed to diagnose, treat and prevent sickness and injury using a blend of modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. Treating patients as individuals, a naturopathic doctor addresses all aspects of a person’s health and wellbeing – the physical, mental emotional, spiritual, social and more – to find and treat the underlying cause of the health condition using a variety of natural therapies.
What is diagnostic testing?
Diagnostic testing is a range of conventional and functional testing procedures to identify imbalances in your body and provide critical insights to allow for personalised prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment and management of health conditions. Testing procedures may include in-clinic blood tests or take-home urine, stool or salivary test kits.
What is detox?
Detoxification is the process of removing toxic substances from your body. While your body has a natural ability to eliminate some toxins, DNA and increased exposure to synthetic chemicals in food, water and the air may impair your detoxification process. Off-the shelf detox programmes cannot factor in your unique detoxification challenges and as a result, can harm your liver. A naturopathic detox programme typically includes personalized guidance on nutrients, medical foods, herbal medicines, supplements, and homeopathic remedies to stimulate the detoxification process and safely remove toxins from your body.
Executive coaching is a client-driven process for executives and business leaders to maximise their personal and professional potential. In confidential conversations with a qualified executive coach, executives can identify their goals, strengths and areas for development, obstacles, and clear actions to move forward.
What is emotional wellness coaching?
Emotional wellness coaching is a client-driven process for individuals to become aware of thoughts, behaviours and patterns driven by emotions. In confidential conversations, a qualified emotional wellness coach can help you restore emotional balance, find joy, and strengthen resilience to meet life’s challenges. Emotional wellness therapies may include Bach Flower Remedies, crystal healing and energy healing.
What is energy healing?
Energy healing is a traditional healing system that restores the balance and flow of vital and subtle energy throughout the body to support physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. When the flow of energy (also known as Qi, Chi or Prana) in the body becomes obstructed, illness can arise. Different types of energy healing techniques work differently to heal a person. Depending on your unique needs and challenges, certified energy healers including homeopathists, osteopaths, acupuncturists, reiki healers, crystal healers, bowen therapists and EFT practitioners.
What is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)?
EFT is a type of ‘psychological acupressure’ that combines tapping on energy points on your face and body with talk therapy. A disruption in the flow of energy throughout the body can create physical and psychological distress. Fingertip tapping meridian points (energy hotspots) is believed to restore energetic balance and alleviate pain and distress.
Facial reflexology is a centuries-old, hands-on healing practice grounded in the belief that reflexology points on the face correspond with specific organs in the body. Through subtle massage, a qualified facial reflexologist stimulates reflex points and nerve points on your face and scalp to stimulate the parts of the brain responsible for the functioning of a particular organ to restore balance and overall wellbeing.
What is functional medicine?
Functional medicine is an evidence-based holistic approach to healthcare intended to find and treat the root cause of health conditions. Recognising that we are unique beings, functional medicine considers every obvious and hidden factor that may be causing or contributing to ill-health including lifestyle, diet, environment and genetics. Combining integrative and traditional medicine, functional medicine practitioners including naturopaths and medical doctors create personalised plans to support long-term, sustainable healing. Functional medicine practitioners include naturopaths and osteopaths. Some medical doctors are now recognising the importance of adopting a functional medicine approach to patient care too.
A General Practitioner (GP) is a medical doctor qualified to treat a broad range of acute and chronic common illnesses. General Practitioners are trained to treat the symptoms of disease and prescribe pharmaceutical drugs or referrals to a specialist for treatment or surgery.
Health coaching is a process of self-discovery in partnership with a health coach to identify desired health goals, recognise obstacles and blind spots, and set clear actions to move forward. Drawing on their deep understanding of diet and lifestyle and the effects on overall health, a qualified health coach can equip you with the knowledge and tools to achieve your goals and provides accountability and encouragement along the way.
What is herbal medicine?
Herbal medicine is the traditional practice of using medicinal plants and plant extracts to prevent illness, treat disease and enhance overall health and wellbeing. Also known as herbalism or botanical medicine.
What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a centuries-old holistic system of medicine based on the theory of treating ‘like with like’ to stimulate the body’s innate ability to self-heal. It is believed that something that brings on symptoms in a healthy person can – in tiny amounts of highly diluted natural substances in pill or liquid form – treat an illness with similar symptoms. A qualified homeopath will assess your health, wellness, personality and lifestyle habits before preparing a personalised homeopathic remedy for optimal healing. Some homeopaths are naturopaths that have extensively studied homeopathy, while homeopathic doctors will have completed a degree in homeopathy.
Iridology is a non-invasive diagnostic practice of studying the iris (the coloured part of the eye) to determine information about your state of health and detect signs of disease in their early stages. Changes in the structure, texture and colour of your iris are said to reflect changes in the tissues of corresponding body organs. A certified iridologist will match their observations to iris charts and link points on the iris to specific parts of the body. This knowledge can help you to in the proactive prevention against illness and disease.
What is intravenous therapy (IV therapy)?
IV therapy is the administration of nutrients and vitamins directly into the bloodstream through the veins for immediate absorption and use by the body.
What is integrative medicine?
Integrative medicine is an approach that combines conventional and complementary medicine in a coordinated way to treat the whole person, not just a health problem. Tailored to your individual needs and challenges, complementary medicine may include a combination of treatments to support your wellbeing – chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, supplements, meditation, dietary changes and more.
What is imaging?
Imaging is a range of technology-based tests that take detailed images of specific body structures. Imaging, also known as radiology, includes x-rays, CT scans, MRI scans and ultrasounds. Each type of test provides different information to help in the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of medical conditions.
Journaling is the practice of recording your thoughts, feelings and insights to improve mental health, gain clarity, and identify behaviours that no longer serve you. Examples of journaling include diary writing, typing, doodling or drawing.
Kinesiology is a non-invasive form of energy healing that draws on chiropractic theory, Traditional Chinese Medicine and nutrition. Through
gentle muscle testing (biofeedback) on meridian points, a trained kinesiologist can identify blockages and inbuilt belief systems from the way the body does or doesn’t push back. In this way, kinesiology detects and corrects imbalances that may be causing illness in the body.
Laboratory tests are medical procedures that involve taking a sample of your blood, urine, stool or body tissues and analysing them in a laboratory. Lab tests can identify changes in your health, diagnose a health condition or disease, provide information used by practitioners to prepare a personalised treatment plan, evaluate your response to a treatment plan, and monitor the course of a disease over time.
Mental health is an integral and critical component of your overall health. It includes your emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. With positive mental health, you recognise your abilities, cope with the normal stressors of daily life, and contribute to your community and society. Poor mental health can impair your ability to function effectively in your daily life. Mental health issues cover a breadth of conditions including stress, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, phobias, self-harm, learning disorders and acute psychiatric disorders. The common characteristic is they all affect personality, thought processes and social interactions. Mental health therapists like counsellors, psychotherapists and psychologists can offer a safe, confidential and non-judgemental space to be heard, and to heal and strengthen your mental wellbeing.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing full awareness and attention to what is happening in the present moment. This can include your inner experiences – thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations, as well as what is happening in your surrounding environment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance of what is arising –
we bring an attitude of non- judgement to our thoughts, feelings and what is happening. Practising mindfulness enables you to come from a place of response rather than reaction and can support calmness, centredness and clarity. Mindfulness techniques include seated meditation, breath work and breath awareness practices, and moving and walking meditations. The best mindfulness techniques are the ones that feel right for you.
What is meditation?
Meditation is an ancient Eastern wellness practice focussed on cultivating awareness, focus, and compassion for self and others. There are hundreds of meditation techniques all from different traditions, cultures, religions and spiritual practices. These include Mindfulness Meditation, Body Scan, Visualisation, Loving Kindness Meditation, and Moving Meditation. The best meditation practice is the one that feels right for you.
Naturopathy is a medical system based on the belief that your body has the innate ability to heal itself in the right conditions. A naturopath analyses your whole being to identify and treat the root cause of health conditions using natural therapies. Instead of focussing solely on your presenting symptoms, a naturopath carefully evaluates factors including your nutritional status, genetics, family history, lifestyle, feelings, environmental stresses, social status and spiritual outlook. A naturopath then creates a personalised treatment plan that may include lifestyle and dietary changes, homeopathy, botanical medicine, nutritional supplements, and other forms of alternative therapies for optimal healing. What is the difference between a naturopath and a naturopathic doctor? A well-trained naturopath would have completed a 3–4-year undergraduate degree in naturopathy. A naturopathic doctor (or naturopathic physician) would have completed an undergraduate bachelor’s in science, a four-year professional level degree at an accredited naturopathic medical school, and board exams.
What is a nutritionist?
A nutritionist provides evidence-based information and guidance about the impact of food and nutrition on your body’s health and wellbeing. Partnering with you, a nutritionist can assess and advise on your nutritional and health needs, develop personalised meal and nutrition plans, modify plans when needed, and monitor your progress. A clinical nutritionist can work with you to address specific health concerns or create a complementary nutrition plan to counter the effects of a treatment protocol. A qualified nutritionist will typically have completed a three-year full-time degree at the very least. Naturopaths also have rigorous training in nutrition to align with their integrated approach to healing.
Osteopathy is a medical practice that focusses on the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal issues and their effects on your health and wellbeing. Based on the belief that the body is an interconnected system, osteopaths focus on treating the whole person and not just the presenting symptoms. Using non-invasive, hands-on techniques, they evaluate how your muscles, bones, joints, nerves, connective tissue and internal organs function together, and diagnose any dysfunctions. Osteopathic treatment includes techniques such as mobilisation, manipulation, stretching and massage to treat muscular, postural, cranial and paediatric conditions and alleviate painful symptoms.
A clinical psychologist is a mental health practitioner with specialised training in behavioural science to diagnose and treat complex mental, emotional, learning and behavioural difficulties and disorders. Through talk therapy over a series of sessions, they provide a safe and compassionate space to explore the factors contributing to ill-health including thinking and behavioural patterns, and environmental and life stressors. Clinical psychologists do not prescribe medication to treat mental health symptoms. Instead, they use therapeutic techniques to guide and support you to understand your symptoms and teach coping skills to navigate them. While the profession is not regulated in Hong Kong, a skilled clinical psychologist will have completed a Master’s or Doctorate’s degree in clinical psychology.
What is psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is a deeply insightful approach to supporting and healing a wide range of current mental health conditions and emotional difficulties. These include addiction, anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders, grief, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance-use disorder and traumatic life circumstances. There are various approaches to psychotherapy like psychoanalytical therapy, relational/humanistic therapy, integrative therapy, mindfulness-based therapy and more. The type of therapy that will work best will vary from person to person.
At the heart of psychotherapy is relationship. The therapeutic relationship with your psychotherapist becomes a significant part of your healing process. Recognising the lasting impact of trauma, a qualified psychotherapist will typically explore with you any history and relevant patterns that might be contributing to your present-day challenges or problems. They will help you reflect on what has happened to you – the stressful events you may have experienced or witnessed that have made you feel unsafe, helpless or vulnerable. Through a safe and trusted relationship, skilful therapy can literally help to rewire your brain, heal the effects from past events, and help you develop healthy coping strategies to better navigate your life with awareness.
As well as talk therapy, your therapist may also draw on other techniques and approaches to best support you. These can range from movement, drama and art therapy, through to analytical and cognitive therapy.
A qualified and skilled psychotherapist will have attended long-term, post graduate training to at least Master’s level. Their own personal therapy will also form a crucial part of their training, so they remain aware of their own process.
What is preventive medicine?
Preventive medicine is an interdisciplinary branch of medicine intended on prevention and lifestyle change to promote good health and protect against illness. While treating a range of acute and chronic conditions, alternative health practitioners like naturopathic doctors focus not only on presenting symptoms but your whole self to correct underlying imbalances before illness arises or develops.
What is play therapy?
Play therapy is a form of counselling or psychotherapy that uses play – children’s natural medium of expression – to help them through mental and emotional difficulties. In this form of mental health therapy, a play therapist offers a safe space for children to express and explore feelings, thoughts, experiences and behaviours through toys.
Qi Beauty™ is a natural anti-aging and pro-healing facial rejuvenation treatment designed to activate your skin’s biological repair system. While most skin rejuvenation therapies exfoliate the top layer of skin and induce inflammatory states to stimulate collagen production, Qi Beauty™ restores your skin barrier and encourages its energy and fluids to rise. A certified Qi Beauty™ practitioner does this by creating a customized facial matrix, which consists of 1000 gold-plated micro-magnets along acupuncture points. By tapping on these energy centres on your face, Qi Beauty™ is believed to restore cellular energy, and improve regeneration and oxygenation of skin cells.
Reflexology is a traditional therapy based on the belief that certain points on the feet and hands correspond to organs in the body. Reflexologists gently press and massage these points to stimulate energy pathways in your body and release any blockages in energy flow. This is said to help ignite your body’s innate healing ability, restore balance, and promote positive health and wellbeing.
What is Reiki?
Reiki is a Japanese energy healing technique based on the belief that vital energy flows through your body. A certified Reiki practitioner uses light touch or places their hands above parts of your body (energy hot spots) to guide energy, release tension that can cause physical or emotional distress, and stimulate your body’s natural healing abilities.
Supplements (also known as food supplements, dietary supplements and nutritional supplements) are products designed to deliver essential nutrients that may not be consumed in sufficient qualities. Supplements include ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, amino acids and enzymes. They come in many different forms including pills, tablets, capsules, powders, gummies and liquids. Supplements are not intended to be a substitute for a balanced healthy diet. However, in Hong Kong, most people lack the nutrients needed for optimal health and wellbeing due to nutrient-poor diets, nutrient-compromised imported foods, environmental toxins, stress and more. It is important to note that not all supplements are created equal. Off-the-shelf supplements are often made from low-quality ingredients, contain the wrong form of nutrient, are difficult for your body to absorb, and can cause side-effects. A naturopath can advise on clinical grade supplements and the correct dosage for optimal nutrient intake.
What is sports medicine?
Sports medicine is an area of practice focussed on physical fitness and the prevention, diagnosis and management of sports and exercise-related injuries. Some naturopaths and osteopaths are skilled in sports medicine, helping people improve their performance, rehabilitate and recover from sports-related injury, and protect against future injury.
Total Body Modification (TBM) is an advanced kinesiological technique based on the belief that everything, including disease, has its own vibrational electromagnetic frequency. Using a gentle muscle testing technique, a Total Body Modification practitioner helps to locate a specific organ or area of your body that is not functioning as it should and determine the reason why. Using their hand or an instrument, a TBM practitioner gently stimulates specific reflex points along the spine corresponding to organs and body parts. This, in turn, stimulates the brain to help your body restore balance to its nervous and bio-electric system, thus allowing for optimal health.
What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical system that has been used for thousands of years to prevent, diagnose, manage and treat disease. It is based on the belief that life force or energy, known as Qi, flows along pathways in the body called meridians. For your body to be healthy and well, your Qi must be balanced and flow freely. But when there is too little or too much Qi, or when the flow has become blocked, illness arises. These imbalances can be caused by external, internal and lifestyle factors. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners also focus on the balance of yin and yang for optimal health and wellbeing. Through a wide range of therapeutic modalities including acupuncture, acupressure and Chinese herbs, and diet, TCM can restore Qi and the yin-yang balance and stimulate your body’s innate healing abilities.
An ultrasound is a non-invasive diagnostic imaging test that used sound waves to produce a real-time picture (sonogram) or video of organs, tissues and other structures inside your body. Ultrasounds are particularly effective for imaging soft tissues and structures, as well as motion. A natural health practitioner may refer you to a sonographer for an ultrasound if you’re experiencing pain, swelling or other symptoms that require an internal view of your organs or tissues. Ultrasounds are safe and do not use radiation.
While there are many off-the-shelf weight loss programmes available, a medically supervised weight loss programme devised by a naturopath, for example, is a safe and personalised programme that takes every factor of your weight, diet, challenges and wellbeing into consideration. A weight loss natural health specialist assesses and corrects underlying medical issues contributing to weight gain as well nutritional deficiencies which may be causing food cravings. They advise on supplements to address deficiencies, assess and address psychological and emotional challenges that may be contributing to weight challenges, and create a realistic plan to help you lose weight safely within an agreed timeframe.
An x-ray is a non-invasive diagnostic test that uses radiation to produce images of internal tissues, bones and organs. X-rays are particularly effective for imaging bones and dense tissues in your body. Chiropractors may use x-rays to diagnose the underlying cause of spinal and postural issues or guide their chiropractic care plan to restore your health.
Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in India over 5000 years ago. Both a spiritual and physical practice, yoga combines physical poses, meditation and breathing to develop strength, balance, flexibility and ease within body and mind. Depending on your needs, there are many types of yoga to choose from such as Ashtanga Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, and Vinyasa Flow.
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