Alternative Health & Holistic Medicine J-M

A glossary of terms including vitamins, minerals, herbs and supplements.

A-C | D-F | G-I | J-M | N-Q | R-T | U-Z

J.D.: 1. Doctor of Jurisprudence. 2. Juris Doctor.

Kava Kava   A plant native to the South Pacific, which the native inhabitants call "the giver of peacefulness." It is the national drink of Fiji and has long been used as a ceremonial drink; it is widely used today as dietary support for its calming effects. Kava Kava is a member of the pepper family and contains the active components kavalactones.

Kelp   The "vegetable of the sea," is thought to contain more vitamins and mineral than any other food. Kelp contains high amounts of natural iodine that are required for thyroid gland function.

Kirlian photography (corona-discharge photography, electrography): Purported means of recording one's aura (see above). Soviet electrician Semyon Davidovich Kirlian and his wife, Valentina, developed Kirlian photography in the early 1940s.

Kreb's Cycle   A complex series of chemical reactions involving the oxidative metabolism of pyruvic acid and the release of energy. It is the main pathway by which carbohydrates, protein and fats are utilized.

L.Ac. (Lic.Ac.): Licensed Acupuncturist.

L.M.T.: Licensed Massage Therapist.

lactobacillus A type of prebiotic/probiotic found in yogurt and some other dairy products which may improve gastrointestinal health.

lactose A sugar naturally occurring in milk, also known as "milk sugar," that is the least sweet of all natural sugars and used in baby formulas and candies.

lactose intolerance Lactose intolerance is an inherited inability to properly digest dairy products, due to a deficiency in the amount of the enzyme, β-galactosidase in the small intestine. This enzyme is necessary for the hydrolysis of lactose (a disaccharide) into its constituent monosaccharides, glucose and galactose. Symptoms of lactose intolerance, including abdominal cramps, flatulence and frothy diarrhea, can increase with age. Lactose intolerance is a result of decreased activity of the enzyme lactase and is one of the most recognized digestive concerns. According to the National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse, between 30 and 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant. This inability to digest the milk sugar lactose is commonly characterized by bloating, gas, abdominal distress and diarrhea. Lactase activity is normally at its highest immediately after birth, and as the body matures, production of lactase may begin to decrease. Many people use enzyme supplements to facilitate eating a healthy diet.

laying on of hands: Contact healing.

L-carnitine – A nutrient responsible for the transportation of fats to cells for use in energy production.  A nonessential amino acid. The primary function of L-carnitine is to facilitate the transport of long chain fatty acids into the cells' mitochondria. The mitochondria are the part of a cell where energy is produced. Long chain fatty acids, however, are unable to cross the inner mitachondrial membrane. L-carnitine links to the fatty acids and shuttles them successfully across the barrier. One inside the mitochondria, the fatty acids are broken down and ultimately, cellular energy is produced. Natural sources of L-carnitine include dark turkey meat and red meat. Vegetables are a poor source of this amino acid.

LDL cholesterol   The "bad cholesterol." LDL delivers cholesterol to tissues and has been implicated in the accumulation of plaque within the arteries.

Lecithin   Any of a group of phospholipids found in egg yolks and the plasma membrane of plant and animal cells, used as an emulsifier in a wide range of commercial products, including foods, cosmetics, paints, and plastics. Also called phosphatidylcholine. A by-product of the refining for soybean oil and is also found in eggs, red meats, spinach and nuts. Historically, lecithin has been used commercially in food processing as an emulsifier, instantizing agent and lubricating agent. Lecithin is a source of choline when digested; and is a critical component of the lipoproteins which transport fat and cholesterol molecules in the blood stream. Lecithin (choline) promotes synthesis of high-density lipoproteins (i.e., HDLP also know as “good” cholesterol) by the liver, when it is consumed by humans.

Leucine   Another essential amino acid that the body cannot manufacture, leucine must be obtained from food or supplements. It is important for protein structure, catalysis and enzyme activites (lecuine zipper-structure motif)

Licorice Root   Is an herb prepared from the underground stems and roots of an Asian and European perennial of the pea family. Licorice is reported to help promote peptic function and expertorant function in the respiratory system. The herb has a variety of uses, especially in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is one of the most widely used herbs in various formulas. Excessive consumption can cause hypertension and should be avioded unless otherwise directed by a medical practioner.

life energy: See "vital force."

lignans A type of phytoestrogen found in flax, rye and various vegetables which may provide the health benefits of lowering LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides thereby protecting against heart disease and some cancers.

Linoleic acid (EFA) (Parent Omega-6)   A liquid polyunsaturated fatty acid abundant in plant fats and oils; a fatty acid essential for nutrition in the formation of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in the body.

Linolenic acid (EFA) (Parent Omega-3)   An essential fatty acid occurring in some fish and many seed oils that is used in the formation of prostaglandins. Essential fatty acids must be present in the diet to form Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in the body.

Lipids   The technical term for fats, waxes and fatty compounds.

listeria Listeria monocytogenes is a Gram-positive bacterium, found in at least 37 mammalian species, as well as 17 species of birds and possibly some fish and shellfish. The bacteria can be isolated from soil, and is resistant to heat, freezing and drying. Listeria has been associated with foods such as raw milk, soft-ripened cheeses, ice cream, raw vegetables, raw and cooked poultry, raw meat and raw and smoked fish. Unlike other pathogenic bacteria, such as salmonella, listeria can survive and grow at temperatures as low as 5°C (41°F). Acute infection with listeria may result in flu-like symptoms including persistent fever, followed by septicemia, meningitis, encephalitis, and intrauterine or cervical infections in pregnant women. Possible gastrointestinal symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, alone or couple with other symptoms (mentioned above).

low-calorie sweetenerLow-calorie sweeteners are non-nutritive sweeteners, also referred to as intense sweeteners. Low-calorie sweeteners can replace nutritive sweeteners in most foods at a caloric savings of approximately 16 calories per teaspoon. Thus, caloric reduction may be achieved when low-calorie sweetened foods and beverages are substituted for their full-calorie counterparts. Examples of low-calorie sweeteners in use in the U.S. food supply are saccharin, aspartame and acesulfame K.

L-phenylalanine   See Phenylalanine.

L-Tyrosine   A nonessential amino acid that serves as a precursor for epinephrine, thyroxin and melanin. Tyrosine is present in many proteins, especially casein and works synergisticaly with glutamine and tryptophan. Tyrosine requires the presence of vitamin C and folic acid to function. Sources of tyrosine include aged cheese, beer, wine, yeast, ripe bananas, avocados, strawberries, cherries, apples and almonds.

Lutein   Is an antioxident found in many plants. It is from the carotenoid family, which consists of naturally occurring fat-soluble pigments on plants. It is the main carotenoid found in the retina. Lutein has been shown effective in the treatment of cataracts and in protecting the retina from the sunlight damage. A type of carotenoid found in most green vegetables which positively contributes to maintenance of eye vision.

lycopene Lycopene is a carotenoid related to the better known beta-carotene. Lycopene gives tomatoes and some other fruits and vegetables their distinctive red color. Nutritionally, it functions as an antioxidant. Research shows lycopene is best absorbed by the body when consumed as tomatoes that have been heat-processed using a small amount of oil. This includes products such as tomato sauce and tomato paste. Also, see functional foods.

Lysine – Essential amino acid. Important for growth, tissue repair, and the production of hormones, enzymes and antibodies. Research indicates that lysine may be useful in the treatment of migraine and herpes simplex. Precursor to carnitine in the body. Is an essential amino acid that is not made in the body and must be obtained from the diet. It aids in the production and regulation of hormones and antibodies and helps support a healthy immune system. Lysine also aids in the production of collagen, promoting healthy skin, cartilage and bone.

M.F.A.: Master of Fine Arts.

M.S.W.: Master of Social Work.

Ma Huang   See Ephedra. Also known as yellow river, General of Respiration and Mormon Tea.

Mad Cow Disease See BSE (Bovine spongiform encephalopathy).

Magnesium – A mineral aiding many basic functions, including metabolism, heart rhythm, bone growth and the function of nerves and muscles.   A component of enzymes required for the synthesis of ATP and for the release of energy from ATP. It is also a component of enzymes involved in muscle contraction and protein synthesis. The best sources of magnesium are whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Manganese – A mineral playing a vital role in reproduction and energy production; very important in building healthy bones. Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) – Provide twice the energy of carbohydrates; have no significant effect on insulin production. Improve the absorption of amino acids and reduce muscle tissue breakdown. An essential element needed for normal bone metabolism and many enzyme reactions. Sources include bananas, bran, beans, beets, blueberries, chard, chocolate, peas, leafy vegetables and whole grains.

massage therapy (massotherapy, somatotherapy): Any method that involves pressing or similarly manipulating a person's soft tissues to promote the person's well-being.

mast cells Tissue cells which when connected to immunoglobulin E antibodies release histamine or other substances causing allergic symptoms.

Melatonin   A hormone produced by the pineal gland. The level of melatonin increases at night, but like other hormones, production of melatonin diminishes with age. Used as an aid to sleep - not recommend for continuous use.

Menopause   The end of a woman's childbearing years, usually occurring at 40-54 years. Also called "change of life."

meta-analysis A quantitative technique in which the results of several individual studies are pooled to yield overall conclusions.

Metabolism   The sum of all physical and chemical changes that take place within the body. It involves anabolism ("building up" processes) and catabolism ("tearing down" processes). All metabolic processes are driven by energy derived from the major nutrients in food. The entire set of enzyme-catalyzed transformations of organic nutrient molecules (to sustain life) in living cells. Conversion of food and water into nutrients that can be used by the body’s cells, and the use of those nutrients by those cells (to sustain life, grow, etc.).

Methionine   An essential amino acid needed for proper growth in infants and for nitrogen balance in adults. An essential amino acid; furnishes (to organism) both labile methyl groups and sulfur necessary for normal metabolism.

methyl cellulose A number of gummy substances, produced through reaction between cellulose and methyls. It is found in fruit butters and jellies and serves to keep these products from separating.

microorganisms Simple unicellular and structurally similar representatives of the plant and animal kingdoms. With few exceptions, the unicellular organisms are invisible to the naked eye and generally have dimensions of between a fraction of a micron and 200 micron.

Milk thistle   A plant that is native to Europe, also known as Blessed Thistle, Marian Thistle and Our Lady's Thistle. The principal active compounds in milk thistle are silybin, silydianin and silychristin; these are collectively known as silymarin. These compounds are believed to be responsible for milk thistle's ability to support healthy liver function.

Minerals   Minerals are inorganic (non-carbon containing) micronutrients, 16 of which are essential nutrients and must be supplied by the diet. Minerals are divided into two groups: Major minerals, which are essential and are found in the body in amounts larger than 5 grams. Trace minerals, also essential, and are found in the body in amounts less than 5 grams.Major Minerals: calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and sulfurTrace Minerals: chromium, copper, flouride, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc

Molybdenum – A mineral required to activate certain enzymes that are necessary for thousands of bodily functions. A heavy metal found naturally in grains and green leafy vegetables. Although the RDA has not been established, the Estimated Safe and Adequate Intake has been set at 75-250 mcg.

mono- & di-glycerides Emulsifying agents found in shortening, margarine, cacao products and bakery products. Usually derived from soybean fat, these food additives keep food products from separating.

mono-diet (monophagic diet): Any regimen characterized by: (a) restriction of food intake to one specific kind of food, or (b) restriction of each meal to one specific kind of food (e.g., porridge alone for breakfast, fruits alone for lunch, and meat alone for dinner).

MSG (monosodium glutamate)MSG is the sodium salt of glutamic acid. Glutamic acid, or glutamate, is one of the most common amino acids found in nature. (s

MSM   MSM is a natural source of sulfur. Sulfur is also a constituent of bones, teeth, and collagen (the protein in connective tissue).