I give up . . . what does it mean?

Most of us are familiar with terms like yoga, acupuncture, and chiropractic, but the world of alternative medicine and therapies is full of terms with which most of us are unfamiliar. Here are just a few of the more esoteric practices your employees may ask about:

Aromatherapy: The use of herbs and aromas for mind-body wellness – based on legend, lore, and writings of practitioners.

Ayurvedic Medicine: The "art and science of living." A systematic approach that utilizes all that nature provides (foods, spices, herbal medicines, colors, metals, gems, sound) to not only overcome illness but to continually strengthen the self.

Biofeedback Training: Biofeedback training teaches a person how to change and control his or her body’s vital functions through the use of simple electronic devices. It is particularly useful for learning to reduce stress, eliminate headaches, control asthmatic attacks, recondition injured muscles, and relieve pain.

Bodywork: The term refers to therapies such as massage, deep-tissue manipulations, movement awareness, and energy balancing, which are employed to improve the structure and functioning of the human body. In all its forms, bodywork helps to reduce pain, soothe injured muscles, stimulate blood and lymphatic circulation, and promote deep relaxation.

Environmental Medicine: This area of alternative health explores the role of dietary and environmental allergens in health and illness. Factors such as dust, molds, chemicals, and certain foods may cause allergic reactions that can dramatically influence diseases ranging from asthma and hay fever to headaches and depression. Virtually any chronic physical or mental illness may be improved by the care of a physician competent in this field.

Guided Imagery: Using the power of the mind to evoke a physical response, guided imagery can reduce stress and slow heart rate, stimulate the immune system, and reduce pain. As part of a rapidly emerging field of mind/body medicine, guided imagery is being used in various medical settings, and when properly taught, can also serve as a highly effective form of self-care.

Homeopathy: Homeopathy attempts to stimulate the body to recover itself. Its aim is the cure, "the complete restoration of perfect health," as opposed to merely controlling symptoms.

Macrobiotics: A holistic way of life, taking into account all aspects of human life, and acknowledging the interrelationship between body, mind, and spirit.

Naturopathic Medicine: Naturopathic medicine’s philosophy for the prevention and treatment of disease is based on the healing power of nature.

Osteopathy: Osteopaths (DOs) stress the unity of all body systems. They emphasize holistic medicine — awareness of proper nutrition and environmental factors; a hands-on approach to medicine; and a unique aid to the diagnosis and treatment of various illnesses known as osteopathic manipulative treatment.

Polarity Therapy: A gentle, holistic method of treatment. Central to polarity therapy is the concept of a life energy, which is in constant pulsation from positive to negative poles via a neutral position, creating fields and energetic lines of force. This creates an energetic "template" for the physical body.

Qigong (Ch’I Kung): The "mother of Chinese self-healing." It focuses on one’s vitality, or life force. Proponents claim it increases delivery of oxygen to the tissues; enhances the elimination of waste products as well as the transportation of immune cells through lymph system; and shifts the chemistry of the brain and the nervous system.

Reiki: A method of natural healing based on the application of "universal life force energy," through "healing" touch, and/or healing at a distance.

T’ai Chi (Taiji): A gentle, gradual movement therapy, t’ai chi is said to trigger health and healing benefits from both the Asian paradigm of energy and the Western paradigm of physiology.