Alternative Health & Holistic Medicine R-T

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

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

R.D.: Registered Dietician.

random sample A random sample is a procedure to select subjects for a study in which all individuals in a population being studied have an equal chance of being selected. using a random sample allows the results of the study to be generalized to the entire population. The term random also applies to assignments within controlled studies, or the division of subjects into groups. Random assignment ensures that all subjects have an equal chance of being in the experimental and control groups, and increases the probability that any unidentified variable will systematically occur in both groups with the same frequency. Randomization is crucial to control for variables that researchers may not be aware of or cannot adequately control, but which could affect the outcome of an experimental study.

random sampling A method by which subjects are selected to participate in a study in which all individuals in a population have and equal chance of being chosen. This helps to ensure the generalizability of the study results.

randomization, or random assignment A process of assigning subjects to experimental or control groups in which the subjects have an equal chance of being assigned to each group. Randomization is used to control for known, unknown and difficult-to-control-for variables.

rapid assays These diagnostic tests use emerging technology to identify and remove impurities from foods before they reach the consumer. There are two major types of rapid assays. Antibody-based assays link a "familiar" characteristic on a pathogen's surface (the antigen) to a substance known as an antibody. When this connection is made, the test registers "success." Similarly, nucleic acid-based assays use the unique genetic materials of the cells to detect a pathogen.

rBST (bovine somatotropin) Recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST) is virtually identical to a cow's natural somatotropin, a hormone produced in its pituitary gland that stimulates milk production. Treatment with rBST can increase a cow's milk production by 10 percent to 15 percent.

RDI – Recommended Dietary Intake. Estimates of daily minimal dietary intake of established nutrients provided by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council. Optimal levels have not been formally established.

recombinant DNA (rDNA) The DNA formed by combining segments of DNA from different organisms.

reliability Whether a test or instrument used to collect data, such as a questionnaire, gives the same results if repeated on the same person several times. A reliable test gives reproducible results.

rennet An enzyme used to make cheese. Rennet is extracted from the lining of calves’ stomachs. New technologies have enabled the removal of the specific gene that produces rennet and have reproduced it in bacteria. This allows the production of rennet through a fermentation process, eliminating the need for extracts from calves’ stomachs.

research design How a study is set up to collect information, or data. For valid results, the design must be appropriate to answer the question or hypothesis being studied.

residual confounding The effect that remains after one has attempted to statistically control for variables that cannot be measured perfectly. A particularly important concept in epidemiological studies because knowledge of human biology is still developing. Unknown variables could exist that could significantly change conclusions made on the basis of epidemiological research.

retrospective study Research that relies on recall of past data, or on previously recorded information. Often this type of research is considered to have limitations, because the number of variables that cannot be controlled, and because memory is not infallible.

Rheumatoid arthritis   A progressive destructive connective tissue disease that results from the body rejecting its own tissue cells (autoimmune reaction). It is characterized by inflammation, muscle soreness and stiffness and by pain in the joints and associated structures.

risk A term encompassing a variety of measures of the probability of an outcome. It's usually used in reference to unfavorable outcomes such as illness or death. Be certain to distinguish between absolute and relative risk.

risk factor A risk factor is anything statistically shown to have a relationship with the incidence of a disease, however it does not necessarily infer cause and effect.

RNA Also known as ribonucleic acid. RNA is a molecule similar to DNA that functions primarily to decode the instructions carried by genes for protein synthesis.

Royal jelly   A substance produced by young nurse bees who have consumed honey and pollen. Between the sixth and 12th day of life, these young nurse bees secrete the thick, sweet milky substance that is fed to the Queen Bee. Royal jelly's active ingredients include globulinic acid (gamma globulin) and amino acids. It also contains the B vitamins, minerals and enzymes. It is important to start Royal Jelly in small doses; allergy sufferers may develop a sensitivity to Royal Jelly.

saccharin Saccharin, the oldest of the non-nutritive sweeteners, is currently produced from purified, manufactured methyl anthranilate, a substance occurring naturally in grapes. It is 300 times sweeter than sucrose, heat stable and does not promote dental caries. Saccharin has a long shelf life, but a slightly bitter aftertaste. It is not metabolized in the human digestive system, is excreted rapidly in the urine and does not accumulate in body.

salmonella Salmonella is a Gram-negative bacterium, occurring in many animals, especially poultry and swine. In the environment, salmonella can be found in water, soil, insects, factory and kitchen surfaces, animal fecal matter, and raw meats, poultry (including eggs) and seafood. Acute symptoms of the illness caused by the Salmonella species include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and fever.

SAM-e (S-adenyl methionine)   SAM-e is formed in the body when methionine combines with ATP. SAM-e is involved in many biochemical processes.

saponins The functional component of soybeans, soy foods and soy protein-containing food which may lower LDL cholesterol and may contain anti-cancer enzymes.

saturated fat Saturated fats are those in which all carbons contain a hydrogen, and therefore, no double bonds exist. In general, fats that contain a majority of saturated fatty acids are solid at room temperature, although some solid vegetable shortenings are up to 75 percent unsaturated. Some common fatty acids in foods include palmitic, stearic and myristic acids. Saturated fatty acids are more stable than unsaturated fatty acids because of their chemical structure. Stability is important to prevent rancidity and off flavors and odors.

Saturated fats   A type of fat that is readily converted to LDL cholesterol and is thought to encourage production of arterial disease. This type of fats tends to be solid at room temperature. Saturated fats include animal fats, dairy products and certain vegetable oils such as coconut and palm oils.

Saw palmetto   A small palm tree native to the southeastern United States. The berries of the tree have proved to be the beneficial part of the tree. The active ingredients in saw palmetto are fatty acids and sterols, and many adult men have relied on saw palmetto for years to support normal prostate health. Saw Palmetto berries were used by Native American Indians to ease certain ailments. The red berries contain high concentrations of plant sterols, including B-sistosterol, which act as anti-inflammatory agents. In addition, the berries provide a variety of fatty acids and phytosterols which inhibit the action of dihydrotestosterone, the compound thought to be responsible for the enlargement of the prostate.

science: 1. A continuous process whose basic purposes are to make phenomena recognizable and to predict outcomes, and whose fundamental activities comprise: (a) observing and describing phenomena and developing general conclusions about them; (b) integrating new data with organized observations that have been confirmed; (c) formulating testable hypotheses based on the results of such integration; (d) testing such hypotheses under controlled, repeatable conditions; (e) observing the results of such testing, recording them unambiguously, and interpreting them clearly; and (f) actively seeking criticism from participants in science. 2. Knowledge from science. 3. A scientific domain (e.g., genetics). 4. Knowledge from a particular scientific domain. 5. Any system or method characterized by the application of scientific principles to practical ends (e.g., culinary science). 6. Any disciplined, systematized area of study. 7. Methodological activity, training, or study. 8. Any activity that ostensibly requires study and method. 9. Knowledge from experience. 10. A developed ability. 11. The state of knowing.

selective breeding This process allows for the transfer of only one or a few desirable genes, thereby permitting scientists to develop crops with specific beneficial traits and those without undesirable traits. Current technology allows scientists to alter one plant characteristic at a time, thereby not spending years trying to develop the tastiest and hardiest plants.

Selenium – Mineral acting as an antioxidant; needed for proper immune and heart functions. An essential mineral that works with Vitamin E to protect body compounds from oxidation.

self fixer The innate ability of legumes like soybeans to “fix” nitrogen, which means to use the natural nitrogen in the soil and air. These natural nitrogen fixers replenish the nitrogen supply in the soil from which they were harvested. Breeders desire to develop other crops that can “fix” their own nitrogen which would thereby decrease farmers’ use of synthetic fertilizers while maintaining bountiful yields.

Senna   Offers relief of occasional constipation.

Silicon   A trace mineral found naturally in soil and present in skeletal structures such as bones and teeth.

Sodium – Helps regulate blood pressure and water balance in the body. The most abundant mineral in the body. It is necessary for water balance in the body, as well as for nerve impulse transmission and muscle contraction because of its influence on potassium and calcium.

sodium nitrite A salt used in smoked or cured fish and in meat-curing preparation. It acts as a preservative and color fixative. Can combine with chemicals in the stomach to form nitrosamine, a carcinogenic substance.

Softgel   Easy to swallow and convenient. Softgels not only offer faster absorption of the product but also protect herb extracts from the damaging effects of oxidation.

Solubility   The amount of substance that will dissolve into a given amount of another substance.

soluble fiber A type of dietary fiber found in psyllium, cereals, oatmeal, apples, citrus fruits, beans and other foods which increases the viscosity in the gut and acts to reduce high blood cholesterol levels which decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Soy   A member of the legume family, also known as glycine soja (wild soybean). Soybeans are the world's primary source of vegetable protein. Soy contains all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Soy is low-fat, cholesterol free, lactose free and is a good source of calcium. The FDA recently approved a health claim on the labels and labeling of foods containing soy protein about the role soy may play in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease: "Twenty-five grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease."

Soy isoflavone   A substance derived from soy that is also known as phytoestrogens or plant estrogens. Isoflavones are thought to play a role in delivering the health benefits associated with soy protein. These compounds are being extensively studied because they exert physiological effects.

soy protein The protein found in soybeans and soy-based foods which when consumed at the level of 25 grams per day may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Spina bifida   A congenital defect in which the spinal column is imperfectly closed so that part of the spinal cord protrudes, often resulting in water on the brain (hydrocephalus) and other neurological disorders. Also called schistorrhachis.

spina bifida Spina bifida is a birth defect in which the infant is born with the spinal cord exposed. These children can grow to adulthood although they often suffer from paralysis and other disabilities. Also, see "neural tube defects (NTDs)."

spirit: Among other things, wind; breath; life; the alleged vital force within living beings; an alleged soul inside or outside a living being; any alleged supernatural being; the nature of a person or of a group of persons; genius; and liveliness.

Squalene   A fatty substance that is naturally present in shark liver oil.

St. Johns wort – An herb (Hypericum perforatum). St. John's Wort is an aromatic perennial herb which has been used for centuries for a wide variety of conditions. The plant's active compound, hypericin, has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory activity. Hypericin has also been shown to have monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibiting activity, mimicking the action of antidepressant agents. It is native to many parts of the world, including Europe and the United States. Over 50 ingredients have been identified in St. John's wort, but the most prominent components are hypericin and pseudohypericin. St. John's wort provides dietary support for positive mood balance and may help support general well being.

Standardized herb   A product that includes a consistent level of an identified compound. By standardizing herbs, the variability of the product is reduced.

stanol/sterol esters A functional component found in wood oils, corn, soy and wheat which may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels.

staple crops Those crops which are most common in people’s diets are considered staple crops. Staple crops of greatest importance include rice, wheat and maize (corn). These three crops provide 60 percent of the world’s food energy intake. And rice feeds almost half of humanity. Typically, staple crops are well adapted to the conditions in their source areas. For example, they may be tolerant of drought, pests or soils low in nutrients.

statistical power A mathematical quantity that indicates the probability a study has of obtaining a statistically significant effect. A high power of 80 percent, or 0.8, indicates that the study - if conducted repeatedly—would produce a statistically significant effect 80 percent of the time. On the other hand, a power of only 0.1 means there would be a 90 percent chance that the research missed the effect—if one exists at all.

statistical significance The probability of obtaining an effect or association in a study sample as or more extreme that the one observed if there was actually no effect in the population. Based on the hypothesis that if there truly is no effect, the results of a study are unlikely to have occurred. A P value of less than five percent (P<0.05) means the result would occur less than five percent of the time if there were no effect, and is generally considered evidence of a true treatment effect or a true relationship.

stearate A saturated fatty acid containing eighteen carbon atoms in its molecular “backbone” that is essentially neutral in effect on coronary heart disease in humans (i.e., doesn’t appreciably increase low-density lipoproteins in the bloodstream). Because of the heart disease neutrality and resistance to oxidation/breakdown, stearate-containing oils are an excellent cooking oil choice.

Stearic acid   A white, fatty acid found in solid animal fats and a few vegetable fats.

Sterol alcohol   A group of alcohols related to fats and lipids. They are found with fatty acids in animals or in plants.

stroke (apoplexy, cerebral accident, cerebrovascular accident, CVA, cerebral apoplexy): A neural deficit that results from an undersupply of oxygen to the brain (e.g., due to thrombosis or a cerebral aneurysm, embolism, or hemorrhage), develops within minutes or hours, and persists for more than 24 hours. A hemmorhage or blockage in a blood vessel that supplies the brain, esulting in insufficient blood and oxygen to a portion of the brain. The most common manifestation is some degree of paralysis, but smaller strokes (transient ischemic attacks, or TIA's) can occur without producing symptoms. strong holism: An aspect of supernaturalistic pantheism, or Spinozism, which holds that nature is divine. According to strong holism, the universe is uninterrupted in substance--an unbroken whole--and all things have instantaneous interconnections.

Sublingual   Beneath the tongue; under the tongue.

subtle energy: See "vital force."

sucralose Sucralose is the only low-calorie sweetener that is made from sugar. It is approximately 600-times sweeter and does not contain calories. Sucralose is highly stable under a wide variety of processing conditions. Thus, it can be used virtually anywhere sugar can, including cooking and baking, without losing any of its sugar-like sweetness.
Currently, sucralose is approved in over 25 countries around the world for use in food and beverages. In the US, the FDA has been petitioned to approve the use of sucralose in 15 different food and beverage categories. A simple sugar obtained from sugar cane, sugar beets and other sources. It is converted by the intestines into glucose and fructose by the enzyme sucrase. a type of sugar, is a diglyceride composed of glucose and fructose. sugar alcohols Ingredients used to add sweet flavors to food. Those often used instead of sugars include sorbitol, mamitol, and xylitol. Many fruits and vegetables contain sugar alcohols naturally. They’re also found in some sugarless gum, hard candies, jams and jellies. Besides adding sweetness, sugar alcohols also add texture, help foods stay moist, prevent browning when food is heated and give a cooling effect to the taste of food. They supply four calories per gram, but are absorbed slowly and incompletely and thus require little or no insulin for metabolism. They are not cavity-producing because they are not metabolized by bacteria that produce cavities.

sugar Although the consumer is confronted by a wide variety of sugars—sucrose, raw sugar, turbinado sugar, brown sugar, honey, corn syrup—there is no significant difference in the nutritional content or energy each provides, and therefore no advantage of one nutritionally over another. There also is no evidence that the body can distinguish between naturally occurring or added sugars in food products.

sulfites Sulfiting agents are sometimes used to preserve the color of foods such as dried fruits and vegetable, and to inhibit the growth of microorganisms in fermented foods such as wine. Sulfites are safe for most people. A small segment of the population, however, has been found to develop shortness of breath or fatal shock shortly after exposure to these preservatives. Sulfites can provoke severe asthma attacks in sulfite-sensitive asthmatics. For that reason, in 1986 the FDA banned the use of sulfites on fresh fruits and vegetables (except potatoes) intended to be sold or served raw to consumers. Sulfites added to all packaged and processed foods must be listed on the product label.

Sulfur   Is present in proteins and plays an important role in determining the contour of protein molecules. Skin, hair and nails contain some of the body's more rigid protein and these have a high sulfur content. Sulfur containing amino acids include L-cysteine, L-cystine, L-menthionine and taurine.

sulphoraphane A functional component of cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, kale, horseradish) which provides the health benefits of neutralizing free radicals and possibly reducing the risk of cancer.

Swedish massage: The most common form of bodywork in Western countries. Its originator, Peter Hendrik (Per Henrick) Ling (1776-1839), of Sweden, was a fencing master, physiologist, and poet. His method was called the "Ling system" or the "Swedish movement treatment." Dr. S.W. Mitchell introduced Swedish massage in the United States. It is based on scientific anatomy and often vigorous. The purported aim of Swedish massage is to improve circulation of blood and lymph.

synchronicity (synchronistic principle): "Acausal connecting principle," the supposed equivalent of a cause. Carl Jung (see "Jungian psychology") posited synchronicity--which he equated with the Tao--to describe meaningful but apparently accidental concurrences or sequences of events.

synergistic effect The effect achieved by the combination of two or more substances or organisms which neither alone could accomplish.

Tao: In a word, everything; the experience of the "universal Way" ("essential reality").

Taurine   Is one of the most abundant amino acids in the body. It is found in the centeral nervous system, skeletal muscle and is very concentrated in the brain and heart. Taurine inhibits and modulates neurotransmitter in the brain. It has been reported to benefit epileptics and helps maintain cardiovascular and eye health.

TCM: Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Tea tree oil   A natural substance that has been used for centuries for its antiseptic and cleansing abilities.

Testosterone – A naturally occurring androgenic hormone.  The principal male sex hormone

Th.D.: Doctor of Theology.

thalassotherapy: The treatment of illness by sea air and sea water. It encompasses sea bathing, ocean voyaging, and sojourning at seaside resorts.

thermal effect of food The increase in energy expenditure associated with the processes of digestion, absorption and metabolism of food; represents approximately 10% of a person’s total energy expenditure and includes facultative thermogenesis and obligatory thermogenesis; often called diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT).

Thiamin   A B vitamin widely distributed in various animal and plant foods. Dry yeast and wheat germ are the richest natural sources. Thiamin is necessary for the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. It also acts as a coenzyme and is essential for the transfer of pyruvic acid into the Kreb's cycle.

Thyroid gland   An endocrine gland in the neck that contains thyroxine and triiodothyronine. It secretes the hormone calcitonin.

Timed release   When a vitamin or mineral has a timed release factor, it means that the ingredients are released over a period of 2-6 hours. The advantage of timed release is it gives the body the vitamin or mineral gradually instead of all at one time.

Tocopherol   Generic term for Vitamin E and a number of chemically related compounds, most of which have the biological activity of Vitamin E.

tofu (bean curd): A kind of soy cheese. It is nondairy and high in protein.

Tonalin (conjugated linoleic acid) – An essential fatty acid shown to reduce body fat and increase muscle tone.

toxicologist A scientist who studies the nature, effects and detection of poisons and the treatment of poisoning.

toxicology The scientific study of the chemistry effects and treatment of poisonous substances.

traditional crop breeding For traditional crop breeding, breeders mix thousands of genes in order to transfer the protein products to enhance one or a few genetic traits. Therefore, the odds of something undesirable being transferred unintentionally are far greater in traditional breeding than in biotechnology.

trans fats Trans fats occur naturally in beef, butter, milk and lamb fats and in commercially prepared, partially hydrogenated margarines and solid cooking fats. The main sources of trans fats in the American diet today are margarine, shortening, commercial frying fats and high-fat baked goods. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils were developed in part to help displace highly saturated animal and vegetable fats used in frying, baking and spreads. However, trans fats, like saturated fats, raise blood LDL cholesterol levels (the so-called "bad" cholesterol). High consumption of trans fats may also reduce the HDL or "good" cholesterol levels.

Transactional Analysis (TA): System of psychotherapy created by psychiatrist Eric Berne, M.D. (d. 1970), and the subject of two bestsellers: Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships (1964) and I'm OK--You're OK (1967). Fundamental to TA is the hypothesis that "ego states"--attitudes during transactions and corresponding sets of behavior patterns--fall into three categories: parental (preceptive or didactic, admonitory), adult (evaluative), and childlike (emotional and creative).

Triglyceride   The main form of fat found in food and in the body. Triglycerides contain three fatty acids and one glycerol and are stored in the fat cells in the body. When these cells break down, they release triglycerides into the blood.

Type I diabetes Insulin dependent (Type I) diabetes is less common than Type II. This disease occurs when the pancreas can’t make insulin, or at least not enough. Often this form of diabetes begins in childhood or the young adult years, but people of any age can get it. Insulin shots are required daily.

Type II diabetes Non-insulin dependent (Type II) diabetes is the more common type of diabetes and people of African-American, Hispanic and Native American decent are at higher risk of this disease. The disease develops slowly and usually becomes evident after age 40. Being overweight is a common risk factor. Often it can be controlled through diet, weight control and exercise.

Tyrosine – A nonessential amino acid but may be essential for individuals with certain diseases or nutritional concerns. May be important for neurotransmitter synthesis and mood regulation. May be useful for depression, allergies and addictive states.   Aids in the production of melanin (pigment of skin and hair) and in the functions of the adrenal, thyroid, and pituitary glands.