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Allopath

: The treatment of disease using medicines whose effects are different from those of the disease being treated (as distinct from homeopathy, which treats according to similars--giving a remedy that, in large doses, would create the symptoms in a healthy person that the ill person is displaying. In minute doses, the similar remedy is thought to be curative).

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Alternative medicine

: Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed.) gives one definition as"existing or functioning outside the established cultural, social, or economic system." In an article entitled "Evaluating the Alternatives," Jonathan H. Lin writes, "The term 'alternative medicine' has been used interchangeably with complementary medicine, integrative medicine, and unconventional medicine. While these names encompass many healing practices outside the realm of allopathic medicine, they are not necessarily equivalent...For example, not all alternative therapies complement allopathic medicine. [H]omeopaths might treat a runny nose by prescribing herbs that enhance the nasal discharge, while allopathic physicians would probably provide medications to suppress the symptoms."

The most thorough analysis of this term appears in the March 1997 issue of Alternative Therapies (Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 49-57) in an article entitled "Defining and Describing Complementary and Alternative Medicine," written by the Panel on Definition and Description, CAM Research Methodology Conference, April 1995.

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Holism

: "Holism" was a word coined by South African politician and philosopher Jan Christian Smuts in his 1926 book "Holism and Evolution," in which he saw wholes as being more than the sum of their parts. Although Smuts was reacting to the reductionistic, mechanistic view of the universe at that time, he was giving a new name to an ancient concept.

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Complementary

: Defined in Webster's Collegiate as "something that fills up, completes, or makes perfect [def. 1]." Thus complementary medicine falls into the category of "serving to fill out or complete." David Aldridge, in an article in Advances: The Journal of Mind-Body Health

, explains: "'Complementary medicine' indicates approaches that are independent from modern scientific medicine but have a potential for working with such medicine in a broader context of health care delivery. That is, they 'complete' the delivery of health care rather than being an 'alternative' in opposition to orthodox medicine." The most thorough analysis of this term appears in "Defining and Describing Complementary and Alternative Medicine"(cited above).

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