Iridology, also called iris analysis or iris diagnosis, is the study of the iris (the colored part of the eye). Iris “readings” are made by iridologists to assess a person’s health picture (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual) and guide them to take measures to improve their health.

The basic concept of iridology has existed for centuries. The medical school of the University of Salerno in Italy offered training in iris diagnosis. A book published by Philippus Meyers in 1670, called Chiromatica medica, noted that signs in the iris indicate diseases.

Dr. Ignatz von Peczely, however, is generally considered the father of iridology, with the date of his discovery given as 1861. Von Peczely was a Hungarian physician. As a child, he accidentally broke an owl’s leg. He observed that a black line formed in the owl’s lower iris at the time of the injury.


Iron is a mineral that the human body uses to produce the red blood cells (hemoglobin) that carry oxygen throughout the body. It is also stored in myoglobin, an oxygen-carrying protein in the muscles that fuels cell growth.

Iron is abundant in red meats, vegetables, and other foods, and a well-balanced diet can usually provide an adequate supply of the mineral. But when there is insufficient iron from dietary sources, or as a result of blood loss in the body, the amount of hemoglobin in the bloodstream is reduced and oxygen cannot be efficiently transported to tissues and organs throughout the body.

The resulting condition is known as iron-deficiency anemia, and is characterized by fatigue, shortness of breath, pale skin, concentration problems, dizziness, a weakened immune system, and energy loss.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common intestinal condition characterized by abdominal pain and cramps; changes in bowel movements (diarrhea, constipation, or both); gassiness; bloating; nausea; and other symptoms.

There is no recognized cure for IBS. Much about the condition remains unknown or poorly understood; however, dietary changes, drugs, and psychological treatment are often able to eliminate or substantially reduce its symptoms.

IBS is the name people use today for a condition that was once called colitis, spastic colon, nervous colon, spastic bowel, and functional bowel disorder. Some of these names reflected the now-outdated belief that IBS is a purely psychological disorder and a product of the patient’s imagination.


Ischemia is an insufficient supply of oxygenated blood to an organ, usually due to a blocked artery.

Myocardial ischemia is an intermediate condition in coronary artery disease during which the heart tissue is slowly or suddenly starved of oxygen and other nutrients. Eventually, the affected heart tissue will die.

When blood flow is completely blocked to the heart, ischemia can lead to a heart attack. Ischemia can be silent or symptomatic. According to the American Heart Association, up to four million Americans may have silent ischemia and be at high risk of having a heart attack with no warning.


Itching is an intense, distracting irritation or tickling sensation that may be felt all over the skin’s surface or confined to just one area. The medical term for itching is pruritus.

Itching leads most people instinctively to scratch the affected area. Different people can tolerate different amounts of itching, and anyone’s threshold of tolerance can be changed due to stress, emotions, and other factors.

In general, itching is more severe if the skin is warm, and if there are few distractions. This is why people tend to notice itching more at night.


Jaundice is a condition in which a person’s skin and the whites of the eyes are discolored yellow due to an increased level of bile pigments in the blood resulting from liver disease. Jaundice is sometimes called icterus, from a Greek word for “the condition.”

In order to understand jaundice, it is useful to know about the role of the liver in producing bile. The most important function of the liver is the metabolic processing of chemical waste products like cholesterol, and excreting them into the intestines as bile.

The liver is the premier chemical factory in the body—most incoming and outgoing chemicals pass through it. It is the first stop for all nutrients, toxins, and drugs absorbed by the digestive tract.

Jet lag

Jet lag is a condition marked by fatigue, insomnia, and irritability that is caused by air travel through changing time zones. It is commonplace: a 2002 study of international business travelers (IBTs) found that jet lag was one of the most common health problems reported, affecting as many as 74% of IBTs.

Living organisms are accustomed to periods of night and day alternating at set intervals. Most of the human body’s regulating hormones follow this cycle, known as circadian rhythm.

The word circadian comes from the Latin, circa, meaning about, and dies, meaning day. These cycles are not exactly 24 hours long, hence the “circa.” Each chemical has its own cycle of highs and lows, interacting with and influencing the other cycles.

Jock itch

Also known as tinea cruris, jock itch is a growth of fungus in the warm, moist area of the groin.

Fungal infections are named for the affected part of the body. Cruris is derived from the Latin word for leg, hence Tinea cruris, for the fungal rash affecting the area where the leg joins the pelvis. Fungi seem to thrive in dark moist places.

Jock itch has been found most often in males, especially those who wear athletic equipment and frequently use public showers and locker rooms. It is also thought that some fungal infections may be spread by towels that may be inadequately cleansed between gym/spa users, but this has not been clearly documented.

Fungal infections can invade or spread to various other areas of the body, and are named for the affected body part. For example, Tinea capitis is a fungal infection of the head, usually resulting in red, itchy areas that destroy the hair in the affected area.

Jojoba Oil

Jojoba (pronounced ho-ho-ba) oil is a vegetable oil obtained from the crushed bean of the jojoba shrub (Simmondsia chinenis). The jojoba shrub is native to the Sonoran Desert of northwestern Mexico and neighboring regions in Arizona and southern California. It grows in dense stands throughout that region.

The woody evergreen shrub may reach 15 ft (4.5 m) in height. Jojoba has flat gray-green leathery leaves and a deep root system that make it well adapted to desert heat and drought. It has a life span of 100–200 years, depending on environmental conditions.

Jojoba grows best in areas with 10–18 in (25–45 cm) of annual rainfall where temperatures seldom fall below 25°F (-4°C) for more than a few hours at night. It can grow on many types of soils, including porous rocks, in slightly acid to alkaline soils, and on mountain slopes or in valleys.

Journal Therapy

Journal therapy is the purposeful and intentional use of a written record of one’s own thoughts or feelings to further psychological healing and personal growth. It is often used as an adjunct to many psychotherapy and re covery programs.

Healthcare practitioners maintain that written expression fills a very important role in the therapeutic process by providing a mechanism of emotional expression in circumstances in which interpersonal expression is not possible or viable.


People have kept journals and diaries to record dreams, memories, and thoughts since ancient times. Emotional expression has also long held a central role in the study and practice of psychology.

Juice Therapies

Juice therapy involves the consumption of the juice of raw fruit or vegetables. A person may drink juice preventively to stay healthy, to treat a medical condition like cancer, or to produce a certain outcome, such as strengthening the immune system.

Three widely practiced juice therapies differ primarily in the amount of time that a person is involved in the therapy and whether other items are included in the person’s diet.

For some people, adding fresh juice to their daily meal plan is sufficient. Others will embark on a juice fast for several days to cleanse their systems. Juice is also a major component of the so-called Gerson therapy diet that is used to treat cancer. This therapy usually starts with a stay of three to eight weeks in a clinic. Then therapy continues at home and may continue for years.


Juniper (Juniperus communis) is an evergreen shrub found on mountains and heaths throughout Europe, Southwest Asia, and North America. The tree grows to a height of 6-25 ft (2-8 m) and has stiff, pointed needles that grow to 0.4 in (1 cm) long. The female bears cones that produce small round bluish-black berries, which take three years to fully mature.

Juniper belongs to the pine family (Cupressaceae). Juniper has diuretic, antiseptic, stomachic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antirheumatic properties. The tree’s therapeutic properties stem from a volatile oil found in the berries. This oil contains terpenes, flavonoid glycosides, tannins, sugar, tar, and resin.

Terpinen-4-ol (a diuretic compound of the oil) stimulates the kidneys, increasing their filtration rate. The flavonoid amentoflavone exhibits antiviral properties. Test tube studies show that another constituent of juniper, desoxypodophyllotoxins, may act to inhibit the herpes simplex virus.

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) refers to a number of different conditions, all of which strike children, and all of which have immune-mediated joint inflammation as their major manifestation.

JRA is also known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis or JIA. The European League Against Rheumatism, or EULAR, refers to the disorder as juvenile chronic arthritis, or JCA.

The skeletal system of the body is made up of different types of strong, fibrous tissue known as connective tissue. Bone, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons are all forms of connective tissue that have different compositions, and thus different characteristics.

Kaposi’s Sarcoma

Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS), also called multiple idiopathic hemorrhagic sarcoma, is a neoplastic disease associated especially with AIDS, usually affecting the skin and mucous membranes.

Causes and symptoms

Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) is caused by herpesvirus 8. Malignant cells are found in the tissues under the skin or mucous membranes that line the mouth, nose, and anus. KS causes red or purple patches on the skin and/or mucous membranes and spread to other organs, such as the lungs, liver, or intestinal tract. KS is seen in three forms:
  • indolent
  • lymphadenopathic
  • AIDS-related

Kava kava

Kava kava (Piper methysticum) is a tropical shrub that grows throughout the Pacific Islands. Kava kava belongs to the pepper family (Piperaceae) and is also known as kava, asava pepper, or intoxicating pepper.

It grows to an average height of 6 ft (1.83 m) and has large heart-shaped leaves that can grow to 10 in (25.4 cm) wide. A related species is Piper sanctum, a native plant of Mexico that is used as a stimulant.

Kava kava has been used as a medicinal herb for hundreds of years and used by Pacific Islanders to treat rheumatism, asthma, worms, obesity, headaches, fungal infections, leprosy, gonorrhea, vaginal infections, urinary infections, menstrual problems, migraine headaches, and insomnia.

Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises (Kegels) are exercises designed to strengthen the muscles of the lower pelvic girdle, or pelvic floor—the pubococcygeal (PC) muscles. The PC muscles support the bladder, urethra, and urethral sphincter—the muscle group at the neck of the bladder that acts as a spigot for controlling urine flow into the urethra—and the vagina, uterus, and rectum.

Anything that puts pressure on the abdomen can weaken or damage these pelvic muscles. Such conditions include pregnancy, childbirth, excess weight, hormonal changes, and aging.

Kegel exercises enable the PC muscles to better withstand increases in intra-abdominal pressure (pressure inside the abdomen). They make the bladder, urethra, and vagina more resilient, and improve bladder control and sexual relations.

Kelley-Gonzalez diet

The Kelley-Gonzalez diet consists of large amounts of raw fruits, juices, raw and steamed vegetables, cereals, and nuts. When combined with massive quantities of dietary supplements and freeze-dried pancreatic enzymes, together with a “detoxification” process involving coffee enemas, it is said to slow the growth of cancer tumors.


The Kelley-Gonzalez regimen is based on a belief that enzymes from the pancreas are capable, like chemotherapy, of killing cancer cells. The use of pancreatic enzymes to treat cancer was first proposed in 1906 by John Beard, a Scottish embryologist. This idea received some attention at the time but was largely abandoned after Beard died in 1923.

During the 1960s, the concept was resurrected by William Donald Kelley, a controversial dentist from Grapevine, Texas. Kelley wrote a book titled One Answer to Cancer that outlined his five-pronged approach:


Kelp (Fucus vesiculosus) is a type of brown sea-weed, moderate in size, that grows in regions with cold coastlines, including those of the northwestern United States and northern Europe.

There are several varieties of kelp: true kelp, which thrives in cool seas; giant kelp, and bladder kelp, which grow in the North Pacific. Giant kelp is so named because it grows to 213 ft (65 m). Kelp anchors itself to rocky surfaces via tentacle-like roots. From these roots grows a slender stalk with long, leaf-like blades.

Kelp belongs to the Fucaceae family. Other names for Fucus vesiculosus are kelpware, black-tang, bladderfucus, cutweed, and bladderwrack. The main constituents of kelp include phenolic compounds, mucopolysaccharides, algin, polar lipids, and glycosyl ester diglycerides. Kelp also contains protein, carbohydrates, and essential fatty acids.

Kidney Infections

Kidney infection is a general term used to describe infection of the kidney by bacteria, fungi, or viruses. The infecting microbe may have invaded the kidney from the urinary bladder or from the bloodstream. The disease is characterized by fever, chills, back pain, and, often, the symptoms associated with bladder infection.

As the principle part of the urinary system, the kidneys process the fluid component of blood (called plasma) to maintain appropriate water volume and concentrations of chemicals. The waste product formed from this process is called urine.

Urine travels from the kidney, through tubes called ureters, to the urinary bladder, and is eliminated from the body through a tube called the urethra. The kidneys and ureters comprise the upper urinary tract, and the bladder and urethra comprise the lower urinary tract.

Kidney stones

Kidney stones are solid accumulations of material that form in the tubal system of the kidney. Kidney stones cause problems when they block the flow of urine through or out of the kidney. When the stones move through the ureter, they cause severe pain.

Urine is formed by the kidneys. Blood flows into the kidneys, and nephrons (specialized tubes) within the kidneys allow a certain amount of fluid from the blood, and certain substances dissolved in that fluid, to flow out of the body as urine.

Sometimes, a problem causes the dissolved substances to become solid again. Tiny crystals may form in the urine, meet, and cling together to create a larger solid mass called a kidney stone.

Kirlian photography

Kirlian photography creates a photographic image by placing the object or body part to be photographed on film or photographic paper and exposing it to an electromagnetic field.

Although experiments with photographing objects exposed to an electrical field are known to have been carried out as early as the 1890s, Kirlian photography is generally said to have originated with the work of a pair of Soviet scientists, Semyon and Valentina Kirlian, beginning around 1939.

Over the next several decades at Kazakh State University, the Kirlians developed electrophotographic techniques that used neither a lens nor a camera. By the 1960s, their work had attracted public attention in the Soviet Union.

Knee pain

Knee pain refers to any aching or burning pain in the knee joint. Knee pain can be a symptom of numerous conditions and diseases, including knee stress, osteoarthritis, injury, gout, infection, and bursitis.

Knee pain is very common. Each year, millions of Americans visit the doctor for knee pain. It is the most frequent reason for visits to an orthopedist (bone and joint surgeon).

To understand the various causes of knee pain, it is important to know how the knee functions. The knee refers to the joint where the femur (thigh bone) meets the tibia (largest lower leg bone). In front of this joint lies the patella (knee cap).

Kneipp Wellness

Kneipp wellness is a holistic system for overall health developed by Sebastian Kneipp, a nineteenth-century Bavarian priest. His approach included aspects of hydrotherapy, herbalism, and aerobic exercise.

Sebastian Kneipp was born to a poor family in Stephansreid, Bavaria, on May 17, 1821. He initially took up his father’s trade of weaving, but longed to become a priest.

With help from a sympathetic clergyman, he was admitted to high school as a mature student, but after five years of intensive studies, Kneipp became seriously ill with pulmonary tuberculosis.

At that time, the disease was usually fatal, but Kneipp came across an eighteenth-century book about hydrotherapy that inspired him during the winter of 1849 to immerse himself several times a week in the icy Danube River.

Kola nut

The kola nut, or bitter cola, (Cola vera, Cola acuminata, Cola nitida) is a seed part from a tree from the Sterculiaceae family. The trees are native to Central and Western Africa, but are now found in the West Indies and Brazil, where they were introduced by African slaves. All three species are used as a stimulant and are prepared in the same manner.

The kola tree grows to approximately 40 ft (12 m) in height, and has white to yellow flowers with spots that range from red to purple. The kola tree’s leaves are 6–8 in long (15–20 cm) and the tree bears fruit that is shaped like a star. Inside the fruit, about a dozen round or square seeds can be found in a white seed shell.

General use

Kola nut, which contains high amounts of caffeine, helps combat fatigue and is most commonly used as a central nervous system stimulant that focuses on the cerebrospinal centers.


Kombucha is a fermented beverage prepared from a mushroom (Fungus japonicus). Known as kombucha tea, the drink is touted for its health-promoting properties. It is also called Manchurian mushroom tea, Manchurian fungus tea, Kwassan, combucha tea, and champagne of life.

During fermentation and preparation, the kombucha membrane becomes a tough gelatinous cover composed of several different yeasts (one-celled fungi) and certain nontoxic bacteria derived from the air, similar to a sourdough bread starter.

When the fungus is fermented in a mixture containing water, black or green tea, sugar, and vinegar (or other fermentation source), the microorganisms combine into a complex fermenting culture.


Kudzu, whose botanical name is Pueraria lobata, is a member of the Fabaceae legume family. It is also known as Ge-gen, kudzu vine, mile-a-minute vine, foot-a-night vine, and the vine-that-ate-the-South.

The latter names refer to this vine’s property of rapid growth. This perennial trails, climbs, and winds its rough vines around tree poles and anything else it touches.

It grows in shady areas, mountain areas, fields, roadsides and forests in China, Japan, and the southern United States, more so in the latter because when imported, its native insects did not tag along. Kudzu was first seen in the United States as an ornamental plant at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.

Labyrinth Walking

A labyrinth is a patterned path, often circular in form, used as a walking meditation or spiritual practice. A labyrinth’s walkway is arranged in such a way that the participant moves back and forth across the circular form through a series of curves, ending at the labyrinths’s heart or center.

It is unicursal, which means that it has only one entrance and leads in only one direction. Although the word maze is often used as a synonym for labyrinth, mazes are multicursal in design; the user has to make choices at many points along the path. Mazes often have more than one entrance, and usually contain many wrong turns and dead ends.

The English word labyrinth is derived from the Greek word labyrinthos, which in turn may come from labrys, the word for the double-headed axe associated with the Minoan culture on the island of Crete that was at its height around 1650 B.C. According to the Greek historian Herodotus (c. 450 B.C.), King Minos of Crete asked an Athenian architect and inventor named Daedalus to build a house with winding passages for the Minotaur, a monster that his queen had borne after having intercourse with a bull.


Not all products used in alternative healing come from plants. Lachesis is the venom of the bushmaster snake, Lachesis mutus. It is used in homeopathic medicine.

L. mutus is a tropical snake that lives in the jungles of Central and South America, growing to a length of 12 feet (3.6 m). It is the largest poisonous pit viper in the Western hemisphere, and second in size in the world only to the king cobra. L. mutus is related to the familiar North American rattlesnake.

A large bushmaster can have fangs more than 1 in (2.5 cm) long. Its venom is deadly and kills rapidly by inhibiting nervous impulses or slowly by interfering with blood clotting and accelerating the destruction of red blood cells. The bushmaster is also called the surucucu (sometimes spelled surukuku).