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Against allopathy
Alternative medicine
Clinically unproven

Wellness is a term with two meanings, one sensible, scientific, and meaningful, the other the province of woo and quackery.

In the context of public health and social policy, wellness refers to a characterization of an individual's wellbeing that goes beyond health, particularly in the narrow sense of health as the absence of disease. One definition is "the sense that one is living in a manner that permits the experience of consistent, balanced growth in the physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, social, and psychological dimensions of human existence". Wellness goes beyond physical health and mental health, to consider people's social relationships, sense of fulfillment, well-being, self-expression, agency, meaningfulness, sense of security, and resilience, which are typically factors that can influence mental and physical health as well as being important for fulfillment as a human being.[1][2] (At the same time, health can be used in a wider sense with much the same meaning, as in the WHO definition of health - "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity" - but "wellness" emphasizes the wider aspects.[3])

But "wellness" is often used as a woo version of "health". Quacks like to claim that their woo will promote healing and stimulate wellness, in the hope that you will be deluded into thinking they are in some way related to health. Often this ties in with claims to go beyond "the narrow focus on diseases of western medicine" and focus on "the whole person" (much as the WHO definition of health says). For example, a company called "GIA Wellness" sells products that claim to "optimize health and well being" but it turns out on inspection to be just another MLM scam scheme flogging "Statements made about any products… have not been evaluated by any governmental agencies" (a.k.a. the "quack Miranda warning").[4]

Combining the two, there is the vast and wide-ranging wellness industry or wellness economy, globally a $4.2 trillion sector, which incorporates a variety of services loosely connected with health claims: gyms and exercise, dieting and weight loss products, beauty products, and treatments, wellness tourismWikipedia (Eat Pray Love-style vacations), and outright health woo (CAM, Goop, etc).[5]

Examples of "wellness" in the more rigorous sense are the website Berkeley Wellness and its sister publication the Wellness Letter, which are published by the University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health, and report evidence-based wellness information on health.[6]


External links[edit]


  1. "Promoting Health and Wellness: Implications for Physical Therapist Practice", Janet R. Bezner, Physical Therapy, Volume 95, Issue 10, 1 October 2015, Pages 1433–1444, https://doi.org/10.2522/ptj.20140271
  2. Well Now: What Humans Need to Flourish, Jennie Dusheck, Stanford Medicine, accessed 21 March 2019
  3. See the Wikipedia article on Health.
  4. GIA Wellness: Overpriced quackery at Skeptical Health
  5. These 10 market trends turned wellness into a $4.2 trillion global industry, Fast Company, 10.08.2018
  6. Berkeley Wellness