Alternative Health & Holistic Medicine N-Q

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

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

N.D.: Doctor of Naturopathy.

N.M.D.: 1. Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine. 2. Naturopathic Medical Doctor.

Naprapathy: System of bodywork founded in 1905 by chiropractic professor Oakley G. Smith, author of Modernized Chiropractic (1906). It encompasses nutritional, postural, and exercise counseling. Naprapathic theory holds: (a) that soft connective tissue in a state of contraction can cause "neurovascular interference," (b) that this "interference" may cause "circulatory congestion" and "nerve irritation," and (c) that reducing this "interference" (primarily by hand) paves the way for optimal homeostasis. The major form of Naprapathy in the United States is the Oakley Smith Naprapathic Method(TM), taught by the Chicago National College of Naprapathy.

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) A series of surveys that include information from medical history, physical measurements, biochemical evaluation, physical examination and dietary intake of population groups within the United States. The NHANES is conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services approximately every five years.

Nationwide Food Consumption Survey (NFCS) A survey conducted by the USDA roughly every ten years that monitors the nutrient intake of a cross-section of the U.S. public.

natural toxins A naturally occurring substance (e.g., produced in some cases by disease-causing microorganisms) which is poisonous to certain other living organisms.

natural: Not human-induced or manmade.

nematodes Microscopic, wormlike organisms that feed on plant roots.

neotame A versatile, new no-calorie sweetener composed of two elements of protein, the amino acids L-aspartic acid and L-phenylalanine, combined with two organic functional groups, a methyl ester group and a neohexyl group. It is approximately 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar and as such captures the “essence of sweetness.” with only a very small amount required for use. The chemical composition of neotame makes it stable for use in baking. The FDA has recently approved Neotame for use in a variety of food products and as a tabletop sweetener.

neural tube defectIn simple terms, a neural tube defect (NTD) is a malformation of the brain or spinal cord (neurological system) during embryonic development. Infants born with spina bifida, where the spinal cord is exposed, can grow to adulthood but usually suffer from paralysis or other disabilities. Babies born with anencephaly, where most or all of the brain is missing, usually die shortly after birth. These NTDs make up about 5 percent of all U.S. birth defects each year.
According to the CDC, the use of sufficient folic acid is enough to eliminate the risk of NTDs. (see folic acid)

neuro-electric acupuncture: (evidence-based acupuncture, physiologic acupuncture): Subject of Beyond Yin and Yang: How Acupuncture Really Works (Warren H. Green, Inc., 1994), by George A. Ulett, M.D., Ph.D. Neuro-electric acupuncture is a nonvitalistic form of electroacupuncture.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP(TM), neurolinguistics): Quasi-spiritual behavior-modification (or "performance psychology") technique whose crux is "modelling," or "NLP modelling": imitating the behavior of high achievers. Richard Bandler and John Grinder initially formulated NLP in 1975, reputedly duplicating the "magical results" of several top communicators and therapists. (These included Milton H. Erickson, M.D., the originator of Ericksonian Hypnosis.) Advanced Neuro Dynamics, Inc., in Honolulu, Hawaii, has promoted a style of NLP that "recognizes the importance of the human spirit and its connection with the mind and body." Pure NLP(TM) is the brand of NLP promoted by The Society of Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

New Scientific ElectroAcupuncture (NSEA): Form of acupuncture developed in China between 1958 and 1962. NSEA theory does not include any of the metaphysical "explanations" of ancient acupuncture.

Niacin   Also known as Vitamin B3. Niacin can be eaten, preformed, or made into the body from its precursor, tryptophan, one of the amino acids. Niacin functions as part of the co-enzymes NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) and NADP (its phosphate form) used in energy metabolism. Crucial for conversion of food into energy; helps maintain normal functioning of the skin, nerves and digestive system.

nitrite Nitrite is a safe food additive that has been used for centuries to preserve meats, fish and poultry. It also contributes to the characteristic flavor, color and texture of processed meats such as hot dogs. Because nitrite safeguards cured meats against the most deadly foodborne bacterium of all, Clostridium (C.) botulinum, its use is supported by the public health community. The human body generates much greater nitrite levels than are added to food. Nitrates consumed in foods such as carrots and green vegetables are converted to nitrite during digestion. Nitrite in the body is instrumental in promoting blood clotting, healing wounds and burns, and boosting immune function to kill tumor cells.

nitrogen A nonmetallic element that constitutes nearly four-fifths of the air by volume, occurring as a colorless, odorless, almost inert diatomic gas in various minerals and in all proteins. It is used in a wide variety of important manufacturers, including ammonia, nitric acid, TNT and fertilizers.

nitrosamines Nitrosamines are a digestive reaction-product of nitrite, a food additive used to preserve meats, fish and poultry. (Also see nitrite.)

NLP: Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

nonaccredited (unaccredited): Without institutional, departmental, or programmatic accreditation whose source is certified by the U.S. Secretary of Education or by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The U.S. Secretary of Education and CHEA autonomously decide whether: (1) to grant recognition to any functioning or would-be accreditor that expressly wants it, or (2) to withhold or withdraw it from such an entity. In practical terms, recognition constitutes publicizing acceptance of such an entity as an accreditor.

no-till farming A methodology of crop production in which the farmer avoids mechanical cultivation (i.e., only one pass over the field). The plant residue remaining on the field’s surface helps to control weeds and reduce soil erosion, but it also provides sites for insects to shelter and reproduce, leading to a need for increased insect control.

nutraceuticals One term used to describe substances in or parts of a food that may be considered to provide medical or health benefits beyond basic nutrition, including disease prevention. Research indicates this term might not appeal to consumers. Also, see "functional foods."

nutrient density Nutrient dense foods are those that provide substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals and relatively fewer calories. The opposite of nutrient dense is calorie dense which are foods that mainly supply calories and relatively few nutrients.

nutrient: Any chemical element, chemical compound, or combination of chemical elements and/or chemical compounds that contributes to bodily development or is necessary for life.

Nutrients   Any food or substance providing the body with elements necessary for metabolism. Certain nutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) provide energy, while other nutrients (water, electrolytes, vitamins and minerals) are essential to the metabolic process.

O.M.D.: Oriental Medical Doctor. ("D.O.M." stands for "Doctor of Oriental Medicine.")

obesity, or overweight Although precise definitions vary among experts, overweight has been traditionally defined as 10 percent to 20 percent above an optimal weight for height derived from statistics. Obesity is defined as body weight being 20% above normal. Some scientists argue that the amount and distribution of an individual's body fat is a significant indicator of health risk and therefore should be considered in defining overweight. Abdominal fat has been linked to more adverse health consequences than fat in the hips or thighs. Thus, calculations of waist-to-hip ratio are preferred by some health experts to help determine if an individual is overweight.

Octacosanol – A naturally derived wheat germ oil concentrate which has been clinically proven to increase oxygen utilization when exercising.

Omega 3 fatty acid   Any of several polyunsaturated fatty acids found in leafy green vegetables, vegetable oils and fish such as salmon and mackerel, capable of reducing serum cholesterol levels and having anticoagulant properties. The difference between the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids lies in the distance of their double bonds from the methyl end of the carbon chain. A type of fatty acid found in fish and marine oils which provide the health benefits of reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and improved mental and visual function.

Omega 6 fatty acid   Any of several polyunsaturated fatty acids found in leafy green vegetables, vegetable oils and fish such as salmon and mackerel, capable of reducing serum cholesterol levels and having anticoagulant properties. The difference between the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids lies in the distance of their double bonds from the methyl end of the carbon chain.

organic Organic defines agricultural products that are grown using cultural, biological and mechanical methods prior to the use of synthetic, non-agricultural substances to control pests, improve soil quality an/or enhance processing. The USDA is currently addressing the issue of organic products, and aims to have official rules for what may be considered organic ready for the 1999 spring planting season.Currently organic defines an agricultural process in which farmers use techniques such as crop rotation, cultivation, mulching, soil enrichment and the "encouragement" of predators and microorganisms which naturally keep pests away. The now widely accepted definition allows farmers to use natural pesticides, but nothing synthetic.

Ornithine   Is a non-essential amino acid essential for the removal of waste from the body.

orthomolecular medicine (orthomolecular nutritional medicine, orthomolecular therapy): Approach to therapy whose centerpiece is megavitamin therapy. Orthomolecular medicine encompasses hair analysis, orthomolecular nutrition (a form of megavitamin therapy), and orthomolecular psychiatry. Linus Carl Pauling, Ph.D. (1901-1994), coined the word "orthomolecular." The prefix "ortho-" means "straight," and the implicit meaning of "orthomolecular" is "to straighten (correct) concentrations of specific molecules." The primary principle of orthomolecular medicine is that nutrition is the foremost consideration in diagnosis and treatment. Its purported focus is "normalizing" the "balance" of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and "similar" substances in the body.

Oryzanol   Gamma-Oryzanol is a natural component of rice bran oil that may exhibit antioxidant-like properties.

Osteoporosis   Literally, "brittle bones"; a progressive disease in which the bones become extremely porous, are subject to fracture, and heal slowly. It occurs especially in postmenopausal women and often leads to curvature of the spine from vertebral collapse. Osteoporosis affects more than 28 million Americans.

osteoporosis Osteoporosis is a skeletal disease in which the bones lose mass and density, the pores in bones enlarge, and the bones generally become fragile. Osteoporosis often is not diagnosed until a fracture occurs, most commonly in the spine, hip or wrist. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that about 1.5 million such fractures occur each year in the United States, at an estimated annual cost of $14 billion in 1995.Osteoporosis is four times more common in women, whose bones are naturally thinner and less dense, than in men. Women start losing bone mass and density at an earlier age, and the process is accelerated by menopause, causing osteoporosis to manifest itself between the ages of 50 and 60. Research has shown that in addition to regular exercise, calcium intake during childhood, adolescence and early-adulthood helps build a "bone bank" of calcium stores. While bone length is established by age 20, bone strength and density continue to develop through age 30.

osteopuncture: Form of acupuncture named by Ronald M. Lawrence, M.D. In osteopuncture, the needle penetrates the periosteum (the membrane that covers bones) and is usually electrified. The acupuncture points of osteopuncture do not correlate with "meridian points."

outcomes research A type of research increasingly used by the health industry which provides information about how a specific procedure or treatment regimen results: the subject (clinical safety and efficacy), the subject's physical functioning and lifestyle, and economic considerations such as saving/prolonging life and avoiding costly complications.

oxidation The loss of electrons from a compound (or element) in a chemical reaction. When one compound is oxidized, another compound is reduced. That is, the other compound must “pick up” the electrons that the first has lost.

P.T.: Physical Therapist.

PABA – Functions in the breakdown and use of proteins in the formation of blood cells. Is a member of the B vitamins, and is part of the folic acid molecule. PABA itself is ready available in food and is made by intestinal bacteria. It is known specifically for its nourishment to hair and its usefulness as a sunscreen. It is found in liver, brewer's yeast, whet germ, whole grains such as rice, eggs and molasses.

palatable Acceptable or agreeable to taste.

Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5)  A B vitamin that occurs naturally in yeast, liver, heart salmon, eggs and grains. It is part of coenzyme A, which is necessary for the Kreb's cycle and the conversion of amino acids and fats to carbohydrates. Essential in metabolizing food; aids in the synthesis of various body chemicals, such as hormones and cholesterol.

pathogens Virus, bacterium, parasitic protozoan, or other microorganisms that cause infectious disease by invading the body of an organism know as the host. Note that infection is not synonymous with disease because infection does not always lead to injury of the host.

pectin A natural gelling agent found in ripe fruit. Pectin is an important ingredient in making jams and jellies. Some fruits have high pectin levels (e.g., citrus fruit, blackberries, apples and red currants) but others are low in pectin (e.g., strawberries) so lemon juice is added to strawberry jam to help the set.

pesticide A broad class of crop protection chemicals including four major types: insecticides used to control insects; herbicides used to control weeds; rodenticides used to control rodents; and fungicides used to control mold, mildew and fungi.
In addition consumers use pesticides in the home or yard to control termites and roaches, clean mold from shower curtains, stave off crab grass on the lawn, kill fleas and ticks on pets and disinfect swimming pools, to name just a few "specialty" pesticide uses.

Phenylalanine   Is an esstenial amino acid that is required for protein formation. It also plays an important rolse in the information of brain chemicals.

pheromones “Sex perfume” traps used to disrupt insect reproduction cycles.

Phosphatidylserine (PS) – Increases the rate of protein synthesis during periods normally marked by muscle breakdown. Can aid in memory function.

Phosphorus – A mineral vital to energy production; helps build bone and form cell membranes and genetic material. The second most abundant mineral in the body. Phosphorus performs a wide variety of functions. It is a principal mineral of bones and teeth, it is part of every cell, it is important in genetic material, part of phospholipids and used in energy transfer and in buffer systems that maintain acid-base balance.

physician: 1. (doc, doctor, medico) One who practices medicine and holds a medical license, particularly an M.D. who is a general practitioner or an internist. 2. A healer, one skilled in healing, or one whose influence is healthful.

phytate A chemical complex (large molecule) substance that is the dominant (i.e., 60 to 80%) chemical form of phosphorous within cereal grains, oilseeds, and their by products. Monogastric animals (e.g., swine) cannot digest and utilize phosphorus within phytate, because they lack the enzyme known as phytase in their digestive system, so that phosphorus (phytate) is excreted into the environment. When phytase enzyme is present in the ration of a monogastric animal, at a high enough level, the monogastric animal is then able to digest the phytate (thereby releasing that phosphorus for absorption by the animal).

Phytic acid   Phytic acid is a natural component of plant fiber. GNC's Cell Phyte contains Phytic acid.

phytochemical Phytochemicals are substances found in edible fruits and vegetables that may be ingested by humans daily in gram quantities and that exhibit a potential for modulating the human metabolism in a manner favorable for reducing risk of cancer. (see functional foods)

Phytonutrients   See Soy isoflavone.

placebo Sometimes casually referred to as a "sugar pill," a placebo is a "fake" treatment which seems identical to the real treatment. Placebo treatments are used to eliminate bias that may arise from the expectation that a treatment should produce an effect.

polyols A type of sweetener used in reduced-calorie foods. They differ from intense sweeteners in that they are considered nutritive; that is, they do contribute calories to the diet. Polyols are incompletely absorbed and metabolized, however, and consequently contribute fewer calories than sucrose. The polyols commonly used in the United States include sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol, maltitol syrup, lactitol, erythritol, isomalt and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates. Most are approximately half as sweet as sucrose; maltitol and xylitol are about as sweet as sucrose. Polyols are found naturally in berries, apples, plums and other foods. They also are produced commercially from carbohydrates such as sucrose, glucose, and starch for use in sugar-free candies, cookies and chewing gum. Along with adding a sweet taste, polyols perform a variety of functions such as adding bulk and texture, providing a cooling effect or taste, preventing the browning that occurs during heating and retaining the moisture in foods.

post harvest waxes After a fruit or vegetable is picked, it continues to need moisture to stay fresh and edible. To help retain moisture, certain varieties of fresh produce are given new wax coating to replace the natural wax the fruit or vegetable loses during harvest and shipping. If a fungicide is mixed with the wax to prevent molding, retail stores must label the waxed produce.

Potassium – A mineral that serves as an electrolyte and is involved in the balance of fluid within the body. Our bodies contain more than twice as much potassium as sodium (typically nine ounces versus four ounces). About 98 percent of total body potassium is inside our cells. Potassium is the principal cation (positive ion) of the fluid within cells. Potassium is important in controlling the activity of the heart, muscles, nervous system and just about every cell in the body. Potassium regulates the water balance and acid-base balance in the blood and tissues. Evidence is showing that potassium is also involved in bone calcification. Potassium is a co-factor in many reactions, especially those involving energy production and muscle building.

Povidone   A synthetic polymer used as a dispersing and suspending agent in manufacturing drugs.

Pregnenolone   A hormone that may be converted to other hormones like DHEA. Like other hormones, pregnenolone is produced in ample qualities when young, but begins to decline with age.

Prenatal   The period of pregnancy.

prevalence The number of existing cases of a disease in a defined population at a specified time.

prion A prion is a rogue protein, that appears to cause Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

proanthocyanidins A type of tannin found in cranberries, cranberry products, cocoa and chocolate which may provide the health benefits of improving urinary tract health and of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Propolis   This natural substance- also known as "bee bread," is a fine, powder-like substance that flowers produce and bees gather. Bee propolis contains B-vitamins, amino acids, vitamin C and minerals.

prospective study Epidemiological research that follows a group of people over a period of time to observe the potential effects of diet, behavior and other factors on health or the incidence of disease. In general, this is considered a more valid research design than retrospective research.

Protein – The building blocks of the body. Composed of amino acids, which are vital to the body’s growth and function. Supplies valuable enzymes that regulate bodily functions. Key to muscle building and development. Chemically, a protein is a complex nitrogenous compound made up of amino acids in peptide linkages. Dietary proteins are involved in the synthesis of tissue protein and other special metabolic functions. In anabolic processes they furnish the amino acids required to build and maintain body tissues. As an energy source, proteins are equivalent to carbohydrates in providing 4 calories per gram. Proteins perform a major structural role in all body tissues and in the formation of enzymes, hormones and various body fluids and secretions. Proteins participate in the transport of some lipids, vitamins and minerals and help maintain the body's homeostasis.

psychokinesis (PK, cryptokinesis, telekinesis, telergy): Alleged production or control of motion, or influencing of an event, mentally, without the use of bodily mechanisms. The word "telekinesis" implies involvement of the occult.

psychospiritual: Pertaining to mental health and spirituality.

psychotherapy (psychotherapeutics, therapy): Treatment of illness--particularly mental and emotional disorders--or "adjustment" problems mainly with psychological techniques. Its major categories are individual psychotherapy and group psychotherapy. Psychotherapy ranges from specialistic therapy to informal conversations, and from science-oriented techniques (e.g., rational-emotive therapy [RET]) to quackery, applied pop psychology, religious counseling, and methods akin to mesmerism. Psychotherapists include clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, "counselors," psychiatric nurses, and psychiatrists.

Psyllium seed   The dried ripe seed of the psyllium plant; grown in France, Spain and India. It is used as a mild laxative and in the symptomatic treatment of diarrhea. It enhances stool consistency by absorbing water from the bowel contents.

Pycnogenol®   Is the trade name for a proprietary pine bark extract. It provides antioxidant protection that helps maintain normal healthy cell function by protecting against free-radical activity. Pyncnogenol helps maintain healthy circulation by strengthening capillary walls. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Pygeum   Is an evergreen tree, growing in the higher plateaus of Southern Africa. Traditionally, the bark has been taken as tea but it can now be found in supplement form. Pygeum contains naturally occurring phytosterols and is useful for maintaining a healthy prostate gland and in treating symptoms of BPH

Qi (chi [chee], ki): Broadly, an alleged vital force that underlies functioning of body, mind, and spirit. The concept of this purported, multifaceted "cosmic life force" is fundamental to various practices termed Chinese, including architecture, art, "health" practices, magic, and martial arts. According to Qigong theory, Qi encompasses air and internal Qi, or true Qi, which includes essential Qi ("vital energy").

quality of life:The degree of comfort or pleasure one derives from one's usual actions.