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Glossary

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Abscess
A localized cavity of pus surrounded by inflamed tissue formed as the result of an infection. An abscess can develop in tissues, organs or other confined spaces within the body.
Adaptogen
A substance that strengthens the body's immune, endocrine and nervous systems, which enhances resistance to external and internal stress.
Amino acids
Chemical substances found in foods and produced by the body that are commonly called the building blocks of protein.

There are 21 amino acids, which are classified as either nonessential (ones the body can manufacture) or essential (ones which can only be derived from food).

Nonessential amino acids include alanine, argine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, taurine and tyrosine.

Essential amino acids include histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.

anaphylactic shock
A severe allergic reaction to a food, drug, venom, or other stimulus. Also called anaphylaxis, anaphylactic shock can occur immediately, resulting in collapse, convulsions, and unconsciousness. Or it may come on gradually, starting with typical allergic symptoms and progressing to life-threatening heart and breathing problems.
Angina
A cramping or tightening sensation in the chest that results from lack of sufficient blood and oxygen to the heart muscle. Usually caused by plaque buildup within the arteries, angina pain typically begins below the breastbone and spreads across the shoulders, arms or jaw; an attack often rises and subsides within 15 minutes. Medically known as angina pectoris.
Antibiotic
A drug that kills or inhibits the growth of infection-causing bacteria. Some antibiotics are produced naturally by bacteria, fungi or other microorganisms; others are synthetic (artificially created). Common types of antibiotics include penicillins, erythromycins and cephalosporins.
Antidepressant
A drug that acts to elevate mood and alleviate symptoms of depression. Types of antidepressants include tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
Antihistamine
A drug that blocks the effects of histamine, a naturally occurring compound within the body that initiates symptoms of allergic reactions, including swelling, itching, sneezing, watery eyes and hives.
Antioxidant
Any substance that protects cells from the damaging effects of free radicals (highly reactive oxygen molecules). Some antioxidants are manufactured by the body; others, such as vitamins C and E, are obtained through diet or supplements.
Biofeedback
A technique that trains people to recognize and gain control of involuntary body processes by using visual and auditory cues. Muscle control, blood pressure, and relaxation can be regulated using biofeedback.
Bodywork
Any therapy in which a skilled practitioner manually works muscles or pressure points to promote proper circulation, energy flow, and muscle relaxation. There are many types of bodywork, including Alexander technique, Swedish massage and Hellerwork.
Calorie
Calories are used to measure both the energy potential in foods and the amount of energy used by the body to burn those foods. We get calories from the carbohydrates, proteins and fat in the foods we eat. Carbohydrates and proteins have four calories per gram; fat has nine calories per gram.
Capillaries
The tiny blood vessels that connect veins to arteries. Arteries pass oxygen-rich blood to the capillaries, where the gases are exchanged within tissue, and the capillaries then pass their waste-rich blood to the veins for transport back to the heart.
Carbohydrates (simple or complex)
One of the three major components of foods, along with protein and fat. Carbohydrates are carbon compounds that the body turns into glucose and burns as fuel. Simple carbohydrates are sugars; complex carbohydrates are starches. Carbs supply energy and usually contain vitamins, minerals and fiber. They are found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains.
Carcinogen
A substance for which there is significant evidence that it may cause cancer or lead to the growth of cancer cells. Aflatoxins, tobacco smoke and alcoholic beverages are believed to be carcinogenic.
Cartilage
A flexible dense tissue found in the joints, spine, throat, ears, nose and other areas. Cartilage is not as hard as bone is, but it does provide protection and support.
Collagen
A tough, fibrous protein that provides support throughout the body and helps form bones, cartilage, skin, joints and other tissue.
Colonoscopy
A detailed visual examination of the entire colon using a long flexible tube called a colonoscope.
Commission e
A special body of scientists, health professionals and lay experts formed in Germany in 1978. The commission, often likened to the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA), produces highly regarded monographs that detail the usefulness and safety of herbal remedies.
Computed tomography (CT) scan
A computer-enhanced X-ray that creates a detailed visualization of a cross section of the body. Its two-dimensional, high-resolution image can be used to detect tumors, accumulations of fluid and damaged or dead tissue, and to monitor treatment. Body parts typically scanned include the head and the chest.
Coronary artery disease
A narrowing or blockage of the blood vessels serving the heart, lessening the amount of blood and oxygen that reaches the cardiac muscle. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is normally caused by the gradual build up of arterial plaque known as atherosclerosis.
Coronary bypass surgery
A surgical procedure in which a vein, usually taken from the leg, is grafted onto a damaged or blocked coronary artery. This allows blood to "bypass" the damaged area and restores normal circulation flow through the heart.
Corticosteroids
Any of the natural or artificial steroids associated with the adrenal cortex. Corticosteroids are used in hormone therapy, as anti-inflammatory agents and in the suppression of immune responses.
Cruciferous
Cruciferous vegetables, a family of vegetables with cross-shaped flowers, are also called brassicas, or cabbage family vegetables. They include cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale, as well as mustard greens, turnips and rutabaga. These vegetables contain phytochemicals called indoles, which seem to offer protection against some forms of cancer. They are also rich in vitamin C.
Cryosurgery
A form of surgery in which the tissue to be operated on is frozen, usually using liquid nitrogen. Cryosurgery is used to treat a variety of disorders, including skin and prostate cancers and hemorrhoids.
Decongestant
A drug, substance or treatment that reduces nasal secretions, shrinks swollen nasal mucous membranes and improves airflow.
DHEA
Dehydroephiandrosterone, the most prominent hormone in the bloodstream, is found in very high concentrations in the brain, DHEA is secreted by the adrenal glands, skin, testicles and ovaries. It's needed by the body to produce other hormones and to maintain a consistent hormonal balance. In supplement form, DHEA has shown some promise in combating certain age-related diseases.
diabetes
A chronic disease in which the body is either unable to produce enough of the hormone insulin or unable to use insulin efficiently. This results in high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood and can lead to heart and kidney disease, nerve damage, vision loss and other complications. Insulin-dependent diabetes (type 1) usually appears before age 30; non-insulin-dependent diabetes (type 2) develops later and accounts for 90% of cases.
Diabetic neuropathy
Diabetes-related nerve damage that produces loss of sensation, numbness, tingling or burning; often occurs in the limbs.
Diuretic
A substance that draws water from the cells of the body, increasing the output of urine.
EGCG (epigallocatechin-gallate)
A type of flavonoid found in green tea, EGCG is a strong antioxidant and is known as one of the most potent cancer-fighting compounds. It is especially effective against lung, esophageal and skin tumors.
Endoscopy
A procedure in which a doctor inserts a small, flexible, lighted viewing scope through a body opening to examine interior cavities and organs, such as the esophagus, stomach or intestines.
enteric coating
A protective coating that allows a pill to pass intact through the stomach and into the small intestine, where the coating dissolves and the contents are absorbed by the body.
Enzyme
A protein that speeds up specific chemical reactions and processes in the body, such as digestion and energy production.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)
The building blocks that the body uses to make fats. You must get various kinds of EFAs through diet or supplements (such as fish oils and flaxseed oil) to assure proper health.
Eustachian tube
The tube within the ear that drains fluids and mucus from the ear down into the back of the throat. The eustachian tube equalizes middle ear pressure with the air pressure on the outside.
Extract
A pill, powder, tincture or other form of an herb that contains a concentrated, and usually standard, amount of therapeutic ingredients.
Fat
One of the three macronutrients found in foods. Dietary fats are vital to many of the body's functions.

Fats are composed of chains of fatty acids. These fatty acids are classified as either saturated or unsaturated, according to the number of hydrogen atoms they contain: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated. Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature. Highly polyunsaturated fats include corn, safflower and sesame oils, while olive and canola oils are highly monounsaturated fats.

Food Elimination Diet

Food Sensitivity Elimination Diet

Doing an elimination diet is a good way to pinpoint whether you are reacting to foods in a particular food group. While it takes about a month to follow the steps suggested below, you will be able to determine what foods might be responsible for your symptoms. Once you've eliminated these from your diet you may be able to maintain your symptom-free status forever.

1. Begin by making a real effort to eliminate all of the following foods from your diet for at least seven to 10 days.

• Dairy products, including cheese
• Egg and egg-containing products
• Gluten-containing products, such as wheat and wheat-containing products (including pasta), and barley, oat or rye grains
• Corn and corn-containing products
• Citrus fruits

Some quick substitution ideas for this period might include:
• For dairy: Use soy milk and soy cheese; rice milk, rice-based ice cream.
• For gluten or corn: Try rice, buckwheat, spelt, millet, potatoes or sweet potatoes.

2. After seven days, reconsider your symptoms. If they are completely unchanged, there is probably no food sensitivity component to your problem. Most people with food sensitivities, however, feel nonspecifically "better" after undertaking this program. This may mean not only the elimination of your predominant symptom, but also improved energy, better mental clarity, reduction of joint or muscle aches and improved digestion, including less gas and bloating.

3. The next step is to return one food group to your diet every three days. Be sure to keep a symptom diary. In it you can not only track your primary symptom but also record anything else you notice.

4. At the end of your three-week "return" period, you should have a good idea of the dietary culprit (or culprits).

5. For more information see the Food Elimination article in the Therapy section of the WholeHealthMD reference library

Once you've determined your key food sensitivity(ies), visit the Healing Kitchen for recipes specially created to meet your new nutritional needs.

Free radicals
Highly reactive and unstable oxygen molecules generated during normal body processes that can harm basic genetic material (DNA) as well as other cell structures and tissues.

Exposure to heat, radiation and environmental pollutants (including cigarette smoke), and drinking alcohol can also promote the formation of free radicals.

Free-radical damage can lead to heart disease, cancer, cataracts, arthritis, neurological diseases and other ailments. Antioxidants help minimize free-radical damage.

GDU (Gelatin Digesting Unit)
A dosage measurement for the pain and inflammation-reducing supplement bromelain. Potencies of bromelain are based on GDUs or MCUs (milk clotting units). One GDU equals 1.5 MCU. See "MCU."
Gram
A metric measure of weight often used for dosages. There are 1,000 milligrams (mg) in 1 gram, and 28.35 grams in an ounce.
Guided imagery
A mind-body technique that allows a person to imagine or visualize outcomes or feelings in order to provoke a physical response. This technique has been used very successfully to promote relaxation; studies are ongoing as to its effect on specific diseases or medical conditions.
Heme iron
Iron derived from animal sources. Heme molecules are found in hemoglobin and are responsible for carrying oxygen to tissues that give off large amounts of carbon dioxide. Heme iron is more efficiently absorbed into the bloodstream than non-heme iron, which comes from plants.
Hemoglobin
The oxygen-carrying component of red blood cells. Made of iron and protein, hemoglobin transports oxygen from the lungs to the cells and transports carbon dioxide from the cells back to the lungs.
Herb
A plant or plant part--the leaves, stems, roots, bark, buds or flowers--which can be used for medicinal or other purposes (such as flavoring foods).
high blood pressure
Medically known as hypertension, this condition occurs when the heart needs to work harder, exerting a higher pressure on the veins and arteries, to get the blood to circulate throughout the body. Aggravating causes include smoking, obesity, a high-sodium diet or genetic predisposition. Hypertension is defined as an average blood pressure measurement of 140 (systolic) over 90 (diastolic) or higher on at least two separate readings.
Histamine
A chemical produced by the cells of the skin, nasal and respiratory passages, the stomach and other areas. Histamines aid digestion by triggering stomach acid secretion. In response to pollen or other allergens, they can also cause inflammation, hives, itching, excessive mucus and constriction of the airways.
Homeopath
A physician who treats disease using minute doses of natural substances that would, in a healthy person, elicit the symptoms of the disease being treated.
Homocysteine
An amino acid that circulates in the blood. People who have elevated homocysteine levels are at increased risk of arterial blockage, resulting in a heart attack or stroke. Normally, three of the B vitamins (folate, vitamin B[6] and vitamin B[12]) assist in the conversion of homocysteine into other non-damaging amino acids.
Hormone
Any of various chemical messengers produced by the adrenal, pituitary, thyroid, ovaries, testes and other glands that have far-reaching effects throughout the body. Hormones regulate everything from growth and tissue repair to metabolism, reproduction and blood pressure.
Hydrogenation
The process of adding a hydrogen atom to an unsaturated fat to make it more solid and more resistant to chemical change, as in turning a liquid fat into margarine.
Hypertension
See "High Blood Pressure."
Inflammation
The body's response to irritation, infection, or injury, typically characterized by redness, heat, swelling, pain, and sometimes loss of function.
Infusion
The introduction of a fluid, nutrient or drug into the body either by injection or intravenous drip.

It is also defined as the process by which a substance is steeped or boiled to extract ingredients from it.

Insulin resistance
A condition in which the body's cells do not respond adequately to the hormone insulin. It can lead to higher blood sugar (glucose) levels, increased insulin production by the pancreas and possibly even to diabetes.
Interferon
Any of various virus-fighting proteins that are made by the body and that activate the immune response.
Intermittent claudication
A condition caused by poor circulation in the legs (usually from atherosclerosis) that is characterized by painful calf cramps, often after walking or other exercise. It is relieved by rest.
Lignans
Fiber compounds that have antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Found in flaxseed and flaxseed oils as well as in other seeds, grains and legumes.
MCU (Milk Clotting Unit)
A dosage measurement for the pain and inflammation-reducing supplement bromelain. (See also "GDU.")
Melanin
A black or dark-brown pigment (color) that occurs naturally in the skin, hair and eyes.
menopause
The cessation of menstruation, which is the monthly releasing of eggs by a woman's ovaries. This process is triggered by the gradual decrease in female hormones, particularly estrogen, and is said to be complete when a woman has not menstruated for 12 consecutive months.
Meridians
The 12 major channels that run up and down the body. In traditional Asian medicine, meridians are believed to carry chi. One of the central concepts of acupuncture is that points along these meridians can be used to restore proper function to their corresponding systems or organs.
Mineral
Inorganic elements that originate in the soil, some minerals act as nutrients. There are 16 nutrient minerals, which include calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc, copper, manganese, fluoride, chromium and molybdenum.

Minerals play a crucial role in the human body for enzyme creation, regulation of heart rhythm, bone formation, digestion, and other metabolic processes.

Mucous membranes
The pink, shiny skinlike layers that line the lips, mouth, vagina, eyelids and other cavities and passages in the body.
Mucus
A viscous, slippery secretion that moistens and protects the body's mucous membranes. Mucus typically contains the protein mucin, water, sloughed-off cells and inorganic salts.
Naprapathy
A type of therapy that manipulates ligaments, muscles and joints through manual or dietary measures to replenish the body's regenerative health.
Neti pot
A small pot, usually porcelain or plastic, with a thin spout that is used for nasal irrigation.
Neurotransmitter
Any of the various chemicals found in the brain and throughout other nervous system tissues that transmit signals among nerve cells.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)
A drug--such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen--that reduces pain and inflammation by blocking the body from producing prostaglandins (also see "Prostaglandins").
Nutritional supplement
A nutrient, which can be synthesized in the lab or extracted from plants or animals that is used medicinally.
Orbital cellulitis
An acute bacterial inflammation that affects the tissues around the eyes and sinuses. Symptoms include redness, swelling, pain, bulging and sometimes eye paralysis. Orbital cellulitis may damage the eye and facial nerves and in very rare cases can lead to blindness or even death.
Over-the-counter (OTC)
A drug that can be sold without a doctor's prescription.
Oxidative stress
The damage that results from free radicals within the body, oxidative stress is believed to be the cause of more than 60 degenerative diseases.

Free radical oxygen molecules are charged molecules that form naturally during normal cell respiration. They are known to do damage blood vessels, proteins, and other internal chemicals or structures.

PCOs (Procyanidolic Oligomers)
A group of antioxidant compounds, also called proanthocyanidins--found in pine bark, grape seed extract, green tea, red wine and other substances--that may help protect against heart and vascular disease.
Pine bark extract
A major source for procyanidolic oligomers (PCOs), pine bark extract has not been as well studied as grape seed extract but may have an additional benefit. One dose of pine bark extract a day may help prevent blood clots, but without the stomach irritation caused by aspirin. (See also "PCOs.")
Placebo
Also called a dummy pill, it is a substance that contains no medicinal ingredients. Often used in scientific studies as a control so its effects can be compared with those of the drug or supplement under study.
Polyp
An excrescence or tumor like growth that surfaces from mucous membrane.
Polyphenols
Phytochemicals that show promise as disease-fighters. Polyphenols act as antioxidants and, in the laboratory, have been shown to have antiviral and anticarcinogenic properties. Flavonoids, isoflavones and ellagic acid are all polyphenols.
Probiotics
"Friendly" bacteria, similar to that found in acidophilus supplements, that are normally present in the intestine and help to promote healthy digestion.
Prostaglandins
Hormone like chemicals occurring naturally in the body that produce a wide range of effects, such as inducing inflammation, stimulating uterine contractions during labor and protecting the lining of the stomach.
Protein
The basic building material of our bodies, protein consists of chains of amino acids. Some foods provide complete protein; that is, they have a full complement of essential amino acids. Foods from animal sources fall into this category. Among plant-derived foods, only soybeans contain complete protein; all other plant foods are deficient in one or more essential amino acids.
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)
Established by the National Academy of Sciences, the RDAs are standards that specify the amount of nutrients required daily for the maintenance of good health. They set the minimum intakes of vitamins, minerals and protein to meet the body's needs and prevent a deficiency.
Reference Daily Intakes (RDIs)
These dietary standards, based on the RDAs, make up one part of the daily values used on food labels to give the nutritional values for vitamins and minerals. In contrast to the RDAs, the RDIs are single values and do not vary according to age or gender.
Scurvy
A deficiency disease caused by a lack of vitamin C (less than 10 mg a day) in the diet. Symptoms include weakness, anemia, swelling, spongy and bleeding gums, and loosening of the teeth. Now occurs only rarely in the industrialized world.
Sea cucumber
A Chinese remedy derived from a cucumber-shaped marine animal that may help reduce pain and stiffness in arthritis sufferers.
Serotonin
A compound made from the amino acid tryptophan that serves as one of the brain's main neurotransmitters. Differing levels of serotonin affect mood, may promote sleep and can act to help inhibit pain.
Sinus irrigation
An age-old technique used to cleanse and moisturize the sinus cavities. Sinus irrigation can reduce painful swelling and pressure in the nasal passages and help wash away pollen, soot, dust, smoke or other allergens. It can also soothe sinuses irritated by a dry climate or by overheated or air-conditioned rooms.

Methods of sinus irrigation range from sniffing saline solution from an open palm to using a traditional neti pot for pouring saline in one nostril and out the other to attaching a special tip to a WaterPik device.

Sitz bath
A form of hydrotherapy where the patient immerses the perineal area of his or her body in a bowl of water or a tub to cleanse and relax the affected area. Sitz baths are helpful for treating conditions such as hemorrhoids and vaginal tears.
Soy isoflavones
A plant-based substance chemically similar to estrogen that is found in soybean products. Although isoflavones are weaker than estrogen, they can block human estrogen receptors in the cells, helping to prevent the development of such hormone-related diseases as breast cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease. They also seem to ease hormone-related symptoms such as menopause's hot flashes. The major isoflavones in soybeans include genistein and daidzein.
Standardized extract
A form of an herb that contains a concentrated but set (standardized) percentage of active ingredients. When used in supplements, standardized extracts help guarantee a consistent dosage strength, or potency, from one batch of the herb to the next.

Available for selected herbs, standardized extracts are produced in pills, tinctures or other forms.

stroke
A hemorrhage or blockage in a blood vessel, resulting in the insufficient delivery of blood and oxygen to parts of the brain. Although small strokes may occur without symptoms, many can cause some degree of paralysis as well as do damage to speech or to other bodily or mental functions.
Sublingual
Means "beneath the tongue." Taking some supplements sublingually, such as vitamin B12, that are formulated to dissolve in the mouth, provides quick absorption into the bloodstream without interference from stomach acids.
Swedish massage
A type of bodywork involving the stroking and kneading of the body's soft tissue to promote circulation and relaxation. Developed in Sweden by Per Henrick Ling in the nineteenth century and now the most popular form of massage in the U.S.
T-cells
Circulating immune cell produced in bone marrow that function to regulate, among other things, B-cell activity. One type of T-cell, the helper cell, boosts production of B-cell-derived antibodies.
TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation)
A method of relieving pain that involves sending painless electrical impulses from a machine to nerve endings through electrodes that are placed on the skin.
Tincture
A liquid usually made by soaking a whole herb or its parts in a mixture of water and ethyl alcohol (such as vodka). The alcohol helps extract the herb's active components, concentrating and preserving them.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
An ancient Chinese medical practice or system of therapy based upon the belief that an individual is strongly related to all natural elements. Practitioners consider the mental, spiritual and physical aspects of a person in order to make a relevant diagnosis.
Traditional medicine
An approach to healing that relies on customs and knowledge passed from one generation to the next, often based on thousands of years of practice. Examples are Chinese medicine and Ayurveda (practiced in India).
Triptans
A group of drugs that regulate the release of the brain chemical serotonin. Used for treatment of migraine headaches.
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