Dictionary Of Health Terms


Absorption: A process by which food molecules enter cells after digestion.

Acesulfame potassium: A common artificial sweetener usually listed on food labels as acesulfame K.  Sold as Sunett®, it is 200 times as sweet as sugar, is not metabolized by the body and has virtually no calories. It is found in desserts, baked goods and soft drinks.
Acid indigestion: Abdominal discomfort, such as bloating or a sense of uncomfortable fullness, burping or heartburn.
Acidophilus: A bacterium that helps restore a positive balance in the intestine. Imbalance can be caused by disease or antibiotics, which may cause an overgrowth of yeast. Acidophilus is found in live-culture yogurt or as a supplement.
Acidosis: A medical condition in which the blood and other body fluids have a higher than normal acidity level.
Acupuncture: A therapy for easing pain that has been common for thousands of years in China, but in recent years has also become a mainstream therapy in the West. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently acknowledged that the use of acupuncture needles is no more “experimental” than that of surgical scalpels or hypodermic syringes. Acupuncture employs needles to unblock a path of “vital energy” (known as “qi”-pronounced “chee”-in Chinese) that practitioners believe flows through the whole body. When this flow gets blocked or unbalanced, illness occurs. To ascertain where to place needles, acupuncturists rely on a “map” of invisible channels�or meridians�through which the qi flows. By stimulating any of the roughly 365 dots, called acupuncture points, on this map, acupuncturists rebalance the flow of qi. It can boost standard therapies for many other conditions, including those for addiction, Stroke rehabilitation, headache, facial and neck pain, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, pain and Inflammation from osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and sports injuries as well as kidney pain and menstrual cramps.
Adaptations: Special characteristics that make an organism well suited for a particular environment.
ADD/ADHD (attention deficit disorder/attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder): This condition refers to a disorder that affects 3 to 5 percent of all American children, although adults can also have it. ADD/ADHD interferes with a person’s ability to stay focused on a task and to exercise age-appropriate behavior. Some of the warning signs of ADHD include failure to follow instructions, inability to organize, fidgeting, talking too much, abandoning projects, chores and homework before completion and trouble paying attention to and responding to details.
Additives: Substances, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), intentionally added to foods to improve taste, color, texture or shelf life.
Adrenal glands: Two glands, each lying atop a kidney, that regulate the removal of water from the body and the body’s response to stress. The glands’ outer layer, or cortex, produces steroid hormones such as cortisol (the stress hormone); the inner core, or medulla, produces the hormones epinephrine (or adrenaline) and norepinephrine.
Adrenaline: More commonly known as epinephrine, this hormone is secreted by the medulla or inner core of the adrenal glands, and is known as the “fear hormone.” As a part of the “flight-or-fight response,” the adrenals release epinephrine and norepinephrine, which in turn trigger a series of body changes. Hearing and vision become more acute, bronchi dilate to allow more air into the lungs, heart rate accelerates to pump more oxygen throughout the body, digestion halts and perspiration increases to cool the skin. In addition, endorphins are released to relieve pain in case of injury and blood cell production increases. These almost instantaneous changes provide the heightened reflexes and strength necessary in a crisis situation.
Allergic reaction (allergy): A condition caused by a reaction of the body’s Immune system to what it identifies as a foreign substance.
Allopurinol: A drug that is used to treat gout.
Alternative medicine: See Complementary Medicine.
Alzheimer�s disease: A form of premature senility for which the cause is unknown.
Amino acids: A large group of organic compounds that are the end product of protein metabolism, in turn used by the body to rebuild protein. Many amino acids are necessary to maintain life.
Amylase: An enzyme that hydrolyzes amylose (a form of starch), amylase breaks down carbohdrates in the bloodstream into smaller molecules of sugar that can be absorbed and used by the body’s cells.
Androgens: Male sex hormones produced by the testes in men and by the adrenal glands in both men and women.
Anemia: Literally defined as “too little blood,” anemia is any condition in which too few red blood cells are present, or the red blood cells are immature, too small or contain too little hemoglobin to carry the normal amount of oxygen to the tissues. Anemia is not a disease itself but can be a symptom of many different diseases.
Angina pectoris: A pain in the center of the chest, which may also travel into the neck, jaw and arms (especially the left arm). Angina, as it is more commonly known, is usually described as a crushing, heavy or gripping pain and is sometimes associated with breathlessness. It usually follows exercise, but may also be triggered by emotion, digestion of a heavy meal or going out in a cold wind. Angina is similar to a muscle cramp experienced during vigorous exercise and is caused by the heart muscles being deprived of adequate oxygen necessary for the task. One reason may be narrowing of the blood vessels, which supply the heart muscles with oxygen. Age is the primary cause for narrowing of blood vessels, but cigarette smoking accelerates this process.
Angioplasty: Corrective surgery performed on arteries or veins to improve blood flow.
Anorexia nervosa: An eating disorder characterized by a refusal to maintain a minimally normal body weight as a result of a distorted perception of body shape and weight. It is most common in teenage girls and young women.
Antibodies: Molecules produced by the body as a defense against foreign objects. Antibodies bind to specific antigens.
Antidepressant: A substance or a measure that prevents or relieves the debilitating effects of depression.
Antigens: Proteins on a foreign object such as food or a chemical that stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies. They, in turn, neutralize the impact of the foreign substance, protecting the body against illness.
Antihistamine: A pharmaceutical, over-the-counter drug or natural agent that opposes the action of histamine, which is released by the body in response to an allergic reaction, causing dilated capillaries, decreased blood pressure, increased gastric secretion and constriction of bronchial tubes.
Antioxidant: A chemical or other agent that inhibits or retards oxidation, whose by-products can cause premature aging, cancer, heart disease, arthritis and other diseases. Antioxidants are known to reverse, prevent or limit free-radical damage.
Antioxidant capacity: The amount of antioxidant contained in a given food, measured by the antioxidant score.
Antioxidant score: The measurement of a food�s ability to deactivate free-radical damage. To ascertain this, a sample of a food or a supplement (such as Vitamin C) is put in a test tube to measure how well and for how long it neutralizes Free radicals.
Arrhythmia: A disturbance in the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat, arrhythmia can be symptomatic of a serious disorder. However, it is usually of no medical significance except in the presence of additional symptoms. The heart’s rhythm is controlled by an electrical impulse generated by the sinoatrial node, often referred to as the heart’s natural pacemaker, which then travels to the atrioventricular node and then to the ventricles. An arrhythmia may be abnormally fast (tachycardia) or abnormally slow (bradycardia); some, such as ventricular fibrillation, make the heart Flutter.
Artery: A blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart.
Arthritis: An Inflammatory joint condition characterized by pain, swelling, heat, and redness and restricted movement. There are various types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Approximately 350 million people worldwide have arthritis.
Ascorbic acid: Also known as Vitamin C, this water-soluble vitamin is an antioxidant that has been shown to play a role in boosting the immune system. The recommended daily allowance (RDA is 60-75mg per day, but Linus Pauling and other complementary practitioners recommend considerably higher doses for preventing the common cold). Sources of vitamin C include strawberries, peaches, plums, tomatoes, celery, onions and cabbage.
Aspartame: An artificial sweetener composed of two amino acids (phenylalanine and aspartic acid) that tastes 160 to 220 times sweeter than sugar. Aspartame, which is marketed as NutraSweet® and Equal®, provides 4 calories per gram, but because so little is necessary, its contribution to calorie content is negligible.
Asthma: A Respiratory disorder characterized by difficulty breathing due to Inflammation and swelling of the airways. Other symptoms include coughing and excessive bronchial mucous. Examples of irritants include allergens, cold air, tobacco, pollution or smoke, as well as emotional stress or vigorous exercise.
Atherosclerosis: The slow, progressive buildup of hardened deposits called plaques on the inner walls of arteries, cutting down on the flow of oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to the heart. It is a major cause of coronary artery (heart) disease. Plaques are deposits of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other cellular sludge carried in the blood. Atherosclerosis is also typically a byproduct of poor health habits. When the level of cholesterol in the blood is high, there’s a greater chance that it will be deposited on artery walls. High blood pressure, high Insulin levels, smoking, obesity and physical inactivity also contribute to the risk of atherosclerosis, and thus, coronary artery disease. Some research also suggests that certain types of bacteria, such as Chlamydia pneumoniae, may play a role in narrowing coronary arteries. Atherosclerosis can also occur in the arteries that carry blood to the brain, increasing the risk of a stroke.
Atopic dermatitis: See Eczema.
Atrial fibrillation: A form of sustained Irregular heartbeat that affects about two million Americans every year. The atria (the heart’s upper chambers) send rapidly firing electrical signals that cause them to quiver, rather than contract normally, resulting in an abnormally fast and irregular heartbeat. Blood may pool in the atria, increasing the risk of blood clot formation, which in turn can cause a stroke.
Autoimmune disease: A condition in which an individual’s Immune system mistakenly attacks itself, targeting the body’s own cells, tissues and organs. (The word “auto” is Greek for self.) The immune system is a complicated network of cells and cell components or molecules that normally work to defend the body and eliminate infections caused by bacteria, viruses and other invading microbes. When the immune system is constantly challenged, it may become “trigger happy” and cannot distinguish between invading organisms and its own tissues. Autoimmune diseases include Multiple Sclerosis, in which the autoimmune reaction is directed against the brain; Crohn’s Disease, where it is the gut; and Thyroiditis, where it is the thyroid. In other autoimmune diseases such as systemic Lupus Erythematosus (lupus), affected tissues and organs may vary among individuals. One person with lupus may have affected skin and joints; another may have affected skin, kidneys and lungs. Ultimately, damage to certain tissues by the immune system may be permanent.
Ayurveda: A traditional Hindu system of using certain foods and herbs, as well as meditation, massage and yoga to stimulate the body to heal itself.
Ayurvedic medicine: A holistic, integrated, physiotherapeutic medical system that originated in India and is based upon balancing the elements (air, fire, water and earth). It is believed that when one or more of these elements is out of balance because of improper diet or lifestyle, various diseases and mental disturbances occur.


Basal metabolic rate (BMR): The rate of oxygen consumption by the body at complete rest and long after a meal.

Beet sugar: See Sugar.
Benign: A state that causes no bodily damage.
Beta-blockers: A large group of drugs that tend to slow the heart rate and the force of heart contractions and lower blood pressure.
Beta-carotene: Also known as pro-vitamin A, beta-carotene is a reddish-orange pigment found in fruits, vegetables, and other plants. Beta-carotene has two roles in the body. It can be converted into vitamin A (retinol) if the body needs more vitamin A. If the body has enough of this nutrient, instead of being converted, beta-carotene acts as an antioxidant, which protects cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Beta-sitosterol: A plant sterol found in rice bran, wheat germ, corn oils and soybeans. It is known for its ability to break down cholesterol deposits.
Betaine: A naturally occurring pro-vitamin found in a wide variety of plant and animal species, betaine accumulates in plant and animal cells where it attracts water, protecting them from dehydration. Betaine is widely used in many industries, such as food, animal feed and pharmaceuticals.
Bile: A fluid produced by the liver, bile is released into the small intestine and stored in the gallbladder to help digest fats.
Biliary stasis: A condition that occurs when the normal flow of bile is impaired, resulting in a backup in the liver. Jaundice is a symptom of biliary stasis.
Bioflavonoids: A category of antioxidants, this group of 4,000 pigments colors the flowers, leaves and stems of plants. In supplement formulas, bioflavonoids work best with vitamin C, which protects them from metabolic destruction in the body. Examples of bioflavonoids include quercetin and grape seed extract.
Biotin: A vitamin that functions as a coenzyme in the metabolism of amino acids and fats, biotin is found in the liver, kidneys, egg yolk, yeast, cauliflower, nuts and legumes.
Blood chemistry: A measure of various substances, including electrolytes, protein and glucose, and the number of red and white blood cells per cubic millimeter of blood. A complete blood count is one of the most routinely performed tests in a clinical laboratory, as well as one of the most valuable screening and diagnostic techniques to help evaluate health status.
Blood lipid profile: Results of blood tests that reveal a person’s total cholesterol, triglycerides and various lipoproteins. This test must be done with an overnight fast for accurate results. Also called a lipoprotein profile.
Blood pressure: The amount of force against the blood vessels to push blood to and from the heart. Every time the heart contracts or beats (systolic), blood pressure increases. When the heart relaxes between beats (diastolic), the pressure decreases. Blood pressure can fluctuate considerably, depending on factors such as diet and stress. Generally, healthy systolic values are under 130 and diastolic values are below 85, expressed as 130 over 85.
Blood sugar: The level of glucose detected in the bloodstream as determined by blood tests. Typically, normal blood glucose levels are between 70 and 110 mg/dL.
Body mass index (BMI): A measurement of a person’s weight in relation to his or her height. The value is associated with body fat and health risks. The formula for calculating your BMI is BMI = [Weight in pounds � Height in inches � Height in inches] x 703. Fractions and ounces must be entered as decimal values. The metric formula is BMI= Body Weight(kg)/height(m)2. A BMI between 19 and 24 is considered healthy; between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight; over 30 is considered obese.
Bone-density test: Also known as bone mineral density (BMD) test, this technology ascertains whether you have osteoporosis. Before the invention of bone densitometry, osteoporosis was detected through routine X-rays or a bone biopsy. Thus, osteoporosis was rarely diagnosed before a fracture had occurred and a minimum of 25 percent of the bone mass had already been lost. Today, a BMD test can tell whether you have osteoporosis before it is well advanced. The most common bone density test in use is called dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). This test involves lying on a table for 10 to 20 minutes while a small X-ray detector scans the spine, hips or both. The test is safe and painless and does not require injections.
Bromelain: The protein-digesting enzyme found in pineapple, bromelain has been associated with a number of health benefits, including aiding digestion, speeding wound healing and reducing inflammation. It is found in both the fruit and stem of the pineapple, but the enzyme in supplements comes from only the stem.
Bulimia nervosa: An eating disorder characterized by repeated episodes of binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives or diuretics, fasting or excessive exercise.
Bursitis: A painful inflammation caused by subjecting the body’s joints to overuse and stress due to repetitive movements or pressure. The body has more than 150 bursae, which are tiny, fluid-containing sacs that lubricate and cushion pressure points between bones and tendons and muscles near joints. Bursae allow movement without pain; when they become inflamed, movement or applied pressure hurts. Most often bursitis affects the shoulder, elbow or hip joint areas. But bursitis can also occur in the knee, heel and even in the base of the big toe. Bursitis pain usually goes away within a week or so with proper treatment, but recurrent flare-ups are common and frustrating.
C-reactive protein: A heart-specific marker in the blood. If elevated, it signifies an inflammatory or infectious cause of heart disease. Organisms such as chlamydia pneumonia, mycoplasma pneumonia, herpes and cytomegalovirus could trigger a chronic inflammatory process in blood vessel walls, leading to formation of plaque.
Caffeine: A natural stimulant found in many common foods and beverages, including coffee, tea, cola drinks and chocolate. It may enhance exercise endurance by stimulating fatty acid release but also causes fluid loss. Consuming too much caffeine can lead to headaches, trembling, rapid heart rate and other undesirable side effects. Excessive caffeine can also cause unstable blood sugar and therefore lead to binge eating.
Calcium: A mineral that builds and maintains bones and teeth, calcium is also essential for blood to clot and signals to be transmitted to the nerves. There are various forms of calcium that are available in supplement form, however, calcium hydroxyapatite, orotate and citrate are those most readily absorbed.
Calcium AEP: A mineral also known as colamine phosphate, calcium AEP is found naturally in our bodies. Complementary physicians use it to treat multiple sclerosis, type I diabetes and various types of cancer. It can be administered intravenously or orally.
Calcium gluconate: A natural substance injected during prolotherapy into weakened tendons and ligaments, stimulating the body’s own healing and growth processes. The joint then becomesstronger and more stable. The result is improved function, increased range of motion and endurance as well as pain relief.
Calorie: A unit by which energy is measured. Food energy is actually measured in kilocalories (1,000 calories=1 kilocalorie), abbreviated kcalories or kcal. Still, the common lay term is calorie. So an apple said to have 84 calories really contains 84 kcal. Low calorie foods include a whole egg (about 74 calories), a small apple with peel (about 84 calories) and a serving of 4 asparagus spears (about 14 calories).
Cancer: An abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells, it is not a single disease, but a term that encompasses more than 100 different and distinctive diseases. Cancer may be benign (meaning it does not spread to other parts of the body and is not life-threatening) or malignant (when cellsinvade and damage nearby tissues and organs and can spread to different areas of the body, a process called metastasis).
Candida: A genus of yeastlike fungi, including the common pathogen candida albicans.
Candida albicans: A common budding, yeastlike microscopic fungal organism, normally present in the mucous membranes of the mouth, intestinal tract and vagina, as well as on the skin of healthy individuals. Under certain conditions, it may cause superficial infections. In more severe cases, invasive systemic infections may occur in people with compromised immune systems.
Candidiasis: Any infection caused by a species of candida, usually candida albicans. Diaper rash, athelete’s foot, impetigo, vaginitis and thrush are common topical manifestations.
Cane sugar: See Sugar.
Capillary: The smallest blood vessel in a closed circulatory system, where materials carried by the blood are exchanged with those in surrounding tissues.
Carbohydrate: One of the nutrients that supply calories to the body. Compounds composed of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen arranged as monosaccharides (simple sugars) or multiples of monosaccharides (polysaccharides). Sources include grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and other plant foods. When completely broken down in the body, a gram of carbohydrate yields about 4 calories. The pH Miracle Program concentrates on vegetables and other nutrient-dense carbohydrates rather than refined, heavily processed carbohydrates such as white flour and sugar.
Carcinogen: A chemical that increases the chance of developing cancer.
Cardiac arrest: A condition in which damage to an area of heart muscle occurs because of an inadequate supply of oxygen. This is the result of the heart not pumping strongly enough to provide blood to vital organs. Causes include clot formation or spasm in one of the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle (a coronary artery).
Cardiac ischemia: A shortage of blood supply to an organ or tissue of the body. It’s usually the result of narrowing or obstruction in the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to nourish cells. If ischemia is severe and prolonged, it can lead to death of the affected tissue (infarction). Cardiac ischemia involves the heart muscle and is due to narrowing or occlusion of one or more of the coronary arteries. It often produces the symptom of angina (chest pain) when the blood supply can’t meet the demands placed on the heart by increased physical activity or other stress. In the case of severe or total obstruction of blood flow, death of heart muscle or heart attack may occur.
Cardiac risk: The chance of having a disease related to the heart. Blood measurement of total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL and LDL will be calculated to determine risk ratio as being high or low. Other risk factors include smoking, obesity, diabetes, stress, physical inactivity, increasing age and family history.
Cardiology: The medical specialty devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of the heart.
Cardiomyopathy: Heart damage that can lead to congestive heart failure. Most cases of cardiomyopathy have no known cause, although some cases run in families. Cardiomyopathy is not due to blood flow problems. Less common causes include infections (myocarditis), alcohol abuse and the toxic effect of drugs such as cocaine and some drugs used for chemotherapy.
Carnitine: See L-carnitine.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS): A condition that produces numbness, pain and, eventually, weakness in the hand and wrist. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist. (Carpal is from the Greek word karpalis, for wrist.) The tunnel protects the nerves and tendons that extend into the hand. When the tissues in the carpal tunnel become swollen or inflamed, they put pressure on the median nerve. Because this nerve provides sensation to the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers, pressure on it produces numbness, pain and hand weakness. Fortunately, most people who perform repetitive tasks with their hands will not develop carpal tunnel syndrome. However, proper treatment can usually relieve the pain and numbness and prevent permanent damage.
Central nervous system (CNS): The brain and spinal cord that control cell receptors, glands and muscles.
Cervical dysplasia: A pre-cancerous stage in which abnormal cells are detected in the outer layer of the cervix. Cancer of the cervix is one of the most common cancers of the female reproductive organs. Thanks largely to Pap smear screening, the death rate from cervical cancer has fallen 70 percent since the 1940s. In nearly all cases, the Pap test allows for the detection of the abnormal cells (dysplasia) in the outer layer of the cervix that haven’t invaded deeper tissues. If untreated, the abnormal cells may convert to cancer cells, which can spread in stages into the cervix, the upper vagina, the pelvic areas and other parts of the body. Cancer or pre-cancerous conditions that are caught at the pre-invasive stage are rarely life threatening and typically require only outpatient treatment.
Chelation therapy: A therapy that heals the body by removing toxic metals, whether Intravenously or by suppository. In chelation therapy, ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA) is administered and binds with metallic ions in the body, such as mercury, which are both then excreted through the kidneys.
Cholesterol: See Dietary cholesterol or Serum cholesterol.
Chromium: A trace mineral found naturally in the body. When the level of chromium is low, the body has a harder time regulating blood sugar levels, with resultant sugar cravings. Refined sugar also depletes the body of chromium. Supplementation is the best way to get more chromium, as only foods grown in chromium-rich soils will have adequate amounts. Both picolinate and polynicotinate are safe and effective forms of chromium.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS): A condition in which patients are not just tired, but bone-achingly tired, and feel terrible for a long time. Many also feel feverish, forlorn or forgetful. Although some people with CFS crave sleep, their sleep is often fitful. No one knows for sure what causes CFS, but some researchers theorize that the trigger is a viral infection, chronic stress or another other ongoing trauma that continually activates the immune System.
Circulation: The movement of blood through the blood vessels.
Cirrhosis: The scarring of an organ, particularly the liver.
Claudication: Cramping pains in the legs due to insufficient arterial blood supply to the muscles.
Coenzyme Q10: This powerful antioxidant protects the body from free-radical damage. One of its most important roles is to aid metabolic reactions, such as transforming food into energy. Meat and fish are good sources of coenzyme Q10, which is also widely used in supplement form to help prevent an array of health conditions such as heart disease, obesity, asthma, Alzheimer�s disease and allergies. It is also known as Ubiquinone, its name signifying its widespread function in the human body.
Coenzymes: Small organic molecules that work with enzymes to facilitate the enzymes’ activity. Many coenzymes have B vitamins as a part of their structures.
Colchicines: A category of drugs used to treat acute attacks of gout.
Cold-pressed oil: Oil that has been extracted by squeezing seeds in a press. Also known as expeller-pressed oil. This method differs from the standard, chemically induced method in which heat and hexane gas are used to extract oil. Using the cold-pressed method means the oil has no hexane molecules and no poisonous trans fatty acids. (Heating to 450�F in the extraction process changes the nature of the oil molecule from a normal cis fatty acid to an abnormal trans fatty configuration.)
Colitis: An inflammatory condition of the large intestine characterized by severe diarrhea, bleeding and ulceration of the lining of the large intestine or colon, weight loss and pain. Like Crohn’s disease, colitis is a form of irritable bowel syndrome. The disease may be dormant for long periods between episodes. Also known as ulcerative colitis.
Collagen: The protein material from which connective tissues such as muscles, tendons, ligaments and the foundation of bone and teeth are made.
Colloidal: A system in which finely divided particles, which are approximately 10 to 10,000 angstroms in size, are dispersed within a continuous medium in a manner that prevents them from being filtered easily or settled rapidly.
Complementary medicine: The best possible options chosen from all the healing arts, including both mainstream and alternative (or natural) therapies. Also known as alternative or integrative medicine.
Complex carbohydrates: Polysaccharides composed of straight or branched chains of monosaccharides (simple sugars).
Congestive heart failure: A condition in which the heart has become weakened and does not circulate enough blood to meet the needs of the body, causing shortness of breath and fatigue, as well as fluid retention in legs, ankles and feet. The term congestive refers to the fluid buildup that occurs with the disease. Congestive heart failure affects mainly older adults and is usually the end result of long-standing heart disease. It can also be a complication of a heart attack and uncontrolled high blood pressure. Once congestive heart disease has developed, it usually can’t be cured but it typically can be managed. In most cases, medication can improve symptoms and life expectancy.
Constipation: The condition of having infrequent or difficult bowel movements.
Copper: A mineral essential to cardiovascular function and control of cholesterol, sugar and uric acid levels in the body. Copper also helps increase bone strength, maintains immune function and performs various other key functions. Vegetarians tend to have copper deficiencies. Too much copper can increase free radical activity, which causes many health problems. A blood tests can determine copper levels and only such results should cause one to start supplementing with copper.
Coronary artery disease: See Heart disease.
Coronary-artery stent: A special wire mesh device inserted into an artery to keep it from becoming too narrow and thereby restricting blood flow.
Coronary bypass surgery: A procedure in which an artery is skirted or shunted, as with a blood-vessel graft, to relieve obstruction.
Coronary heart disease: A general term used to describe diseases affecting the heart or blood vessels, including but not limited to atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, heart failure, hypertension, orthostatic hypotension, shock, endocarditis and congenital heart disease.
Coronary occlusion: The clotting of blood within the coronary artery of the heart.
Cortisol: A steroid hormone also known as hydrocortisone that is secreted by the cortex of the adrenal gland. Many call it the “stress hormone” because when the body is under stress or blood sugar dips, cortisol levels rise. Elevated levels are associated with a number of diseases, as well as premature aging. Cortisol levels can be measured with a blood test.
Creatine: A nitrogen-containing compound that combines with phosphate to form the high-energy compound creatine phosphate in muscles. Creatine supplements enhance energy and muscle strength.
Creatinine: A value measured via a blood test and a urine sample that helps physicians determine the efficacy of calcium and protein metabolism, kidney function and other processes.
Crohn’s disease: One of the most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Painful and debilitating, it causes chronic inflammation of digestive tract. Crohn’s disease is much like ulcerative colitis�the two are so similar, in fact, that they’re often mistaken for one another. Both inflame the lining of the digestive tract, and the symptoms include severe bouts of watery diarrhea and abdominal pain. No one knows exactly what causes Crohn’s disease, although the body’s immune response and certain genetic and environmental factors may play a role.
Cyanocobalamin: See Vitamin B12.

Degenerative arthritis: See Osteoarthritis.

Degenerative joint disease: See Osteoarthritis.
Dehydroepiandrosterone: A hormone secreted by the adrenal gland. Elevating levels of DHEA with supplements has been shown to improve overall health and well-being, with marked improvements in conditions such as fatigue, autoimmune disease, heart disease, diabetes and immune weakness. It also slows the aging process.
Depo-Provera: The brand name for a form of female injected birth control. Depo-Provera is a hormone much like the progesterone a woman produces during the last two weeks of each monthly cycle. It stops egg release and provides other contraceptive effects.
Depression: A mood disorder that occurs in various degrees. Usually all types include demoralization; many people experience sadness and hopelessness, poor appetite and weight loss, insomnia, feeling worthless and guilty, and inability to concentrate. Mainstream physicians treat depression with psychotherapy and drugs; complementary doctors tend to rely on nutrients and dietary intervention.
Detoxification: The conversion of toxic chemicals to harmless chemicals by the liver.
Dextrose: A simple sugar obtained from sugar beets or sugar cane.
DHA: The acronym for Docosahexanoic acid.
DHEA: The acronym for Dehydroepiandrosterone.
Diabetes: A disorder characterized by high fasting blood sugar levels (126 mg/dL and higher) and the inability of the body to transport glucose to cells. See type I diabetes and type II diabetes.
Diastolic blood pressure: The point of least blood pressure, when the heart dilates between each heartbeat. It is the lower number in a blood pressure reading, expressed as the bottom part, or denominator, of the fraction. When you say your blood pressure is 110 over 70, 70 is the diastolic blood pressure.
Dietary cholesterol: Chemically, a compound composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms arranged in rings. It is found only in animal foods such as meat, eggs and dairy products, as well as shellfish. In the body, dietary cholesterol serves as a structural component of cell membranes and contributes to other functions. It had a bad rap for giving people high serum (blood) cholesterol levels until researchers determined that the liver contributes much more cholesterol to the body’s total count than does diet.
Dietary fiber: Plant cell walls and other non-nutritive residues that are not digested are generally called dietary fiber. Fibers include cellulose, pectins, gums, lignans, cutins and tannins.
Digestion: The process of breaking down food particles into molecules small enough to be absorbed by cells.
Disaccharides: Sugars composed of pairs of monosaccharides such as sucrose, lactose and maltose.
Diuretic: Any process or factor that increase urine output. Diuretic drugs are prescribed for the treatment of edema (the accumulation of excess fluids in the tissues of the body), which may be the result of underlying disease of the kidneys, liver, lungs or heart (e.g., congestive heart failure). Fluid retention can also be the result of sodium retention from a high-salt diet, excessive insulin production, hormone imbalances or food allergies. Diuretics are also used to treat high blood pressure and glaucoma. They act on the kidneys, modifying the absorption and excretion of water and electrolytes such as sodium and potassium.
Diverticulitis: A condition characterized by small pouches formed in the wall of the large intestine resulting from pressure within the colon. Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, fever and frequent urination. If early symptoms are ignored, perforation of the colon and peritonitis can occur. Consuming adequate amounts of fiber to ensure bowel regularity is the best prescription against developing diverticulitis.
Docosahexanoic acid: An essential Omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil, flaxseed oil, walnut oil and other nuts and seeds. It helps keep blood platelets from clumping, preventing the formation of clots that cause heart attacks. DHA has been coined the “brain fat” because it is responsible for brain and eye development in infants.
Echinacea purpurea: A herb used for enhancement of the immune system. It has been shown to be effective against viral, bacterial and fungal infections. Healing preparations made from the plant’s leaves, flowers and roots help the body fight infection by stimulating the mucous membranes, liver and lymph nodes. It is a recommended natural remedy for sinus infections, sore throat, tonsillitis, coughs, bladder problems and kidney infections. Echinacea also has wound-healing and germ-fighting properties.
Eczema: Also known as atopic dermatitis, eczema is a chronic skin condition whose cause is unknown.
EFA: An acronym for Essential Fatty Acids.
Eicosapentaenoic acid: An essential Omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil, walnut oil, and flaxseed oil. EPA helps keep blood platelets from clumping, preventing the formation of clots that cause heart attacks. Supplemental EPA effectively lowers cholesterol, helps regulate arrhythmias and blood pressure, helps diabetes, joint problems, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, skin disorders and much more.
Electrolytes: Salts such as sodium, calcium, potassium, chlorine, magnesium and bicarbonate in blood, tissue and other cells, electrolytes consist of various chemicals that can carry electric charges. Proper quantities and balance of electrolytes are essential to normal metabolism and function. Diuretics can cause loss of electrolytes, resulting in leg cramps and other symptoms.
Electrons: Negatively charged particles; components of atoms.
Elimination: The removal of indigestible materials from the digestive system.
Endocrine system: The glands that communicate with each other and affect other parts of the body by secreting hormones into the blood stream.
Endometriosis: A common and often painful disorder of the female reproductive system, in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus (the endometrium) becomes implanted in the outer surface of the uterus, the fallopian tubes or the ovaries. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond the reproductive organs and pelvic region. Endrometriosis is a common cause of fertility problems. Experts estimate that 10 to 15 percent of American women of childbearing age have endometriosis. The condition, which occasionally runs in families, is most likely to occur in women who haven’t had children and are between the ages of 25 and 40.
Endorphins: Any chemicals, resembling opiates, released by the body in response to stress or trauma, which react with the brain�s receptors to reduce the sensation of pain, much as a sedative does.
Enzyme: A Protein that acts as a catalyst for a biological reaction. For example, digestive enzymes facilitate the breakdown of food in Digestion.
EPA: The acronym for Eicosapentaenoic Acid.
Epidemiological: The area of medicine that deals with the study of large groups of people to determine the frequency of diseases and why they occur.
Epinephrine: A hormone also known as adrenaline.
Erectile Dysfunction: Also known as Impotence, this term is typically defined as the inability to obtain an adequate erection for satisfactory sexual activity. However, it actually refers to a range of disorders that includes Peyronie’s disease (curvature of the penis during erection), priapism (prolonged painful erection not associated with sexual desire) and premature ejaculation. Although impotence is more common in men over age 65, it can occur at any age. An occasional episode happens to most men and is perfectly normal. As men age, erections may take longer to develop, may not be as rigid or require more direct stimulation to be achieved. Men may also notice that orgasms are less intense, the volume of ejaculations is reduced and recovery time increases between erections. When erectile dysfunction proves to be a pattern or a persistent problem, however, it can harm a man’s self-image as well as his sex life. It can also be a sign of a physical or emotional problem that requires treatment.
Essential amino acids: Nine amino acids that the human body cannot synthesize and must be obtained from food.
Essential Fat: The kind of fat deemed absolutely necessary for the body to function properly but which cannot be produced by the body. Examples include the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Essential fatty acids: Polyunsaturated acids that are essential in the diet, they are commonly called EFAs and include linolenic (omega 3) and linoleic acid (omega 6). Sources of EFAs are seeds (including flaxseeds), oils (safflower, sunflower, corn) and deep-sea fish. They are necessary for normal functioning of the endocrine and reproductive systems and for breaking up of cholesterol deposits on arterial walls. EFAs play an important role in fat transport and metabolism and in maintaining the function and integrity of cellular membranes. A deficiency in EFAs causes changes in cell structure and enzyme function, decreased rate of growth, brittle and dull hair, nail problems, dandruff, allergic conditions and skin problems. Supplementation with EFAs has proven useful in treating high cholesterol, neurological disorders and other medical conditions. It also assists in weight loss.
Estradiol: Produced by the ovaries, it is the predominant estrogen before menopause, protecting bones and assisting cognitive function. Estradiol helps prevent hot flashes. When prescribed to treat menopausal symptoms, side effects include increased risk of endometrial cancer.
Estriol: The weakest form of estrogen, it balances estradiol and estrone. It is produced in large amounts during pregnancy. In addition to protecting the vagina and urinary mucosa, estriol has anticancer effects and is considered safe for use by women who are at high risk for breast cancer.
Estrogens: A class of female sex hormones produced by the ovaries that bring about sexual maturation at puberty and maintain reproductive functions.
Estrone: A weaker form of estrogen, this is the predominant form in the body after menopause. The most carcinogenic of all estrogens, it is stored and concentrated in fat cells.
Excretion: The removal of metabolic wastes from the body.

Fainting: Characterized by sudden pallor, loss of consciousness and, occasionally, slight twitching or convulsive movements, fainting can be caused by any condition restricting blood flow to the brain.

Fasting: A period when no food and only water is consumed. Fasting is usually recommended at least 12 hours before a blood test.
Fat: A concentrated form of energy, fat is one of the three sources of macro-nutrients in food and essential for life. Fat insulates the body�insuring temperature maintenance�supplies fatty acids and carries the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. When completely broken down in the body, a gram of fat yields about 9 calories. Total fat refers to the sum of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in food.
Fat-producing hormone: See Insulin.
Fatigue: The state of being tired or exhausted, fatigue represents a normal and important response to physical exertion, emotional stress or lack of sleep. It can also be a nonspecific symptom of a psychological or physiologic disorder. Pathological (illness-related) fatigue is not relieved by adequate rest, adequate sleep or removal of stressful factors.
Fatty acids: An acid originating from fats such as oleic, stearic and palmitic acid.
FDA: An acronym for the Food and Drug Administration.
Fermentation: The breakdown of complex molecules into simple molecules by enzymes.
Ferritin: An iron compound formed in the intestine and stored in the liver, spleen and bone marrow for eventual incorporation into blood molecules. Serum (or blood) ferritin levels are used as an indicator of the body’s iron stores.
Fiber: See Dietary fiber.
Fibrinogen: A protein present in the blood. It becomes fibrin during the blood-clotting process.
Fibrocystic breast disease: A common glandular upset resulting in the formation of many cysts in the breasts of women. It is characterized by dense, irregular and bumpy “cobblestone” consistency in the breast tissue, discomfort and tenderness or a sense of feeling full or dull. Discomfort generally improves after each menstrual period. The cause is not completely understood but is believed to be associated with ovarian hormones since the condition usually subsides with menopause.
Fibromyalgia: A chronic disease that affects muscles, joints and tendons. It is characterized by musculoskeletal pain, spasm, stiffness, fatigue and severe sleep disturbance. Common sites of pain or stiffness include the lower back, neck, shoulder region, arms, hands, knees, hips, thighs, legs and feet. Individuals with fibromyalgia, who are mostly women, can also experience a host of symptoms such as abnormal bowel function, pain, fatigue, anxiety and depression. Physical therapy, nonsteroidal anti- inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants can provide temporary relief.
Fight or flight response: A defense reaction that prepares individuals for conflict or escape by triggering hormonal, cardiovascular, metabolic and other physiological changes.
Fish oil: Oil from cold-water species of fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and cod, it contains Omega-3 fatty acids, and helps keep blood platelets from clumping, preventing the formation of clots that can cause heart attacks.
Fitness: The ability to carry out normal activities and still have enough energy and strength to overcome unusual challenges.
Folacin: See Folic acid.
Folate: See Folic acid.
Folic acid: A B vitamin also known as folate or folacin, necessary for growth and maintenance of health. A deficiency of folic acid may result in anemia. Studies suggest that neural tube defects, which occur in the fetus early in development, are a result of low folic acid levels in the mother’s body. These studies showed that an increase in the mother’s dietary folic acid before conception and during the first month of pregnancy reduced the risk of neural tube defects.
Food allergy: See Allergic reaction.
Food and Drug Administration: A government agency whose mission is to promote and protect the public health from dangerous (or as yet unproved as safe) food or drug products.
Food Intolerance: An adverse reaction to foods that does not involve the immune System, and is therefore less severe than a food allergy. A common food intolerance is lactose intolerance, caused by the inability to digest the lactose (milk sugars) found in dairy products.
Free radical: A highly reactive molecule that can bind to and destroy the body’s cellular compounds. Most free radicals in the body are toxic forms of oxygen molecules. Similar to the formation of rust (oxidized iron), oxygen in its toxic state can damage (oxidize) molecules in our bodies. The body tends to produce more free radicals with age, and they are believed to play a role in the onset of degenerative diseases, as well as heart disease and cancer.
Fructose: A simple sugar found in fruit, honey, corn and saps. It has the same chemical formula as glucose and therefore may be used as a source of energy like glucose or converted to glycogen and stored in the body.

Author: Robert Morgan, Certified Naturopath

Robert Morgan - "Bobby" is the past Health Education Director at CHI. A certified Naturopath, Iridologist, Energy Practitioner, Colonic Therapist, Master Raw Live Food, Chef, Author, International Lecturer, Teacher, and Cancer "Survivor". Dr. Bobby is dedicated to continuing to carry out the work of Creative Health Institute, the vision of Dr. Ann Wigmore, and all of the souls who have dedicated their lives to unconditional love, kindness, peace, and natural health.

4 thoughts on “Dictionary Of Health Terms”

  1. If you need to burn your stomach weight, you got to focus on three essential points: Diet, Cardiovascular and Compound Exercises. But, if you do this physical exercise right, you will work out the entire stomach area and also you will get the outcomes you want.

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