Definitions for Holistic and Medical Terms

Definitions are listed alphabetically. If you don't find a definition, we suggest that you e-mail us at with the word you wish to have defined, and we will add it to this list.


A pocket of infection or localized concentration of infection. These infections are caused mostly by bacteria, but fungal infections can also occur. See Cellulitis.

Botanical Medicine

The use of plant- or animal-derived substances for medicinal purposes. These products may be processed in various ways, including drying, alcohol extraction, cooking, and desiccating. They are not chemically altered, producing new compounds to enhance their potency as with certain pharmaceutical drugs. Through extraction processes, however, they may be concentrated. Botanical medicine can be and often is, called herbal medicine. Herbal medicines can be given as single herbs or combination products. Some combination products blur the line in that they may contain nutritional therapies as well.


A diffuse area of infection spreading out in tissues under the skin. It usually involves an area on a leg and will look like a swollen, puffy area. Cellulitis is serious in that it can spread widely throughout the leg and cause septicemia (blood born infections) that can spread to other organs.

Diarrhea, Acute

Diarrhea starts suddenly and lasts for a few days to a week or two. The dog seems reasonably fine the whole time and eats, drinks, plays, and has reasonably normal energy. Of course, everyone with diarrhea will not feel 100% normal, so this is somewhat a judgment call.

Diarrhea, General

In the minds of many people, this means a watery stool. The definition is much broader and includes any abnormal stool that is softer than normal. This includes watery stools, urging to defecate and only passing gas, soft-formed stools, soft stools with abnormal color or odor, and "cow pie" type stools.


A relatively permanent alteration from a normal intestinal microbial population to an abnormal (=dysbiotic) population. This change may include abnormal bacteria, protozoa, yeasts (e.g.. Candida), or fungi.

Natural Products

A poorly defined term in that at its most basic, everything on earth comes from the earth (with the relatively rare exception of meteorites) and so everything is natural. The term is an attempt to differentiate chemically unaltered medicines or remedies from pharmaceuticals. Natural remedies or products are only isolated and/or concentrated from products of nature, while pharmaceuticals are often produced through modification of various molecular structures into different compounds, usually modified using chemical reactions. Pharmaceuticals are compounds that the body is not used to "seeing" and are more likely to produce toxic reactions in the body.

Nutritional Therapy

The practice of using food or food products such as vitamins, oils, amino acids and the like in an attempt to alter the course of the disease process. In its purest form, feeding foods that are intended to alter or enhance certain body functions, such as the immune response to disease. Foods are known to have properties such as hot, cold, moistening, drying, oil-producing and other characteristics that, when understood, can be valuable in modifying the body's disease response. Some people subdivide nutritional therapy into nutritional medicine and food therapy, but this does not seem to be a useful division for the author.

Nutraceutical Medicine

A newer term that has emerged in the last 20 years or so, Nutraceutical therapy is an attempt to redefine natural therapies. Nutraceutical comes from a combination of nutrition and pharmaceutical, implying a combination of the two forms of therapy. Nutraceuticals are often highly refined, chemically isolated, individual compounds derived from "natural" substances. They are not new chemical compounds (see pharmaceuticals), instead of being compounds normally found in substances of nature. Since individual chemical compounds are produced, they can be concentrated and administered in doses much larger than the body is accustomed to.

Pharmaceutical Medicine

Often used incorrectly as a synonym for allopathic medicine, pharmaceutical medicine has been the standard form of therapy employed by conventional western medicine. Pharmaceuticals are chemically altered compounds producing, through biochemical and chemical reactions, entirely new compounds. In part, due to this foreign nature (the body has not been able to adapt to them), pharmaceuticals are often very powerful in their actions in the body. These compounds are usually given allopathically to alter the biochemical functioning of the body. They commonly produce side effects and usually are toxic in larger quantities. They are widely recognized and admired by many people for their dramatic ability to temporarily alter bodily functions.

Western Herbal or Botanical Medicines

A form of botanical medicine, using herbs that have been studied mostly in Europe or North America. Note that these are not necessarily herbs found in the "West", but may come from other countries as well. Examples of some of these botanicals that come from other countries include Tahitian Noni from Tahiti and Pau D'Arco from South America.

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