HERBAL-MEDICAL GLOSSARY, 1.2
The definitions below are pertinent to my use of those terms as an herbalist.
Those of you versed in medicine may find the emphasis sometimes peculiar. You
are used to employing those parts of anatomy, physiology and pharmacology that
explain phenomena treatable with Standard Practice Medicine. Clinical diagnosis
uses the physical sciences to help define conditions with medical implications,
even though much of both physiology and pharmacology deals with observations
that may not have medical treatment. It isn't unimportant, simply not
ACHENE A dry, one-seeded fruit, without a predictable opening and formed from
a single carpel. It usually one of many, like an unshelled Sunflower seed.
ACHLORHYDRIA The lack of free hydrochloric acid in the stomach; more broadly,
inadequate or suppressed secretions. Without enough acid, proteins are not
broken down, butterfats are not digested, Vitamin B12 may not be absorbed, and
there is a long-term risk for the potential of food sensitivities to undigested
ACID In our context, a substance having a pH below that of neutral water (7.0)
when in solution. Most metabolic waste products are acidic. Sour. See pH
ACIDOSIS Specifically, the abnormal buildup of acids in the body, classically
caused by diabetes or kidney disease. Broadly, the potential caused by
increased protein intake or metabolism, coupled with inadequate intake (or
loss) of alkali.
ACUTE A type of disease or disorder having a sudden onset with severe
symptoms, and generally a short or self-limited duration (such as a head cold
or sprain). The opposite of chronic.
ADENITIS An inflammation of one or several lymph nodes, or related lymphoid
ADRENAL CORTEX The outer covering of the two adrenal glands that lie atop each
kidney. Embryonically derived from gonad tissue, they make steroid hormones
that control electrolytes, the management of fuels, the rate of anabolism, the
general response to stress, and maintenance of nonspecific resistance.
ADRENAL MEDULLA The inner part of the adrenals, derived embryonically from
spinal nerve precursors, they secrete epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine;
used locally as neurotransmitters, sensitive receptors can be mobilized totally
by the adrenal medullas.
ADRENALIN Called epinephrine in the U.S., this is a substance secreted into
the bloodstream and reacted to by specialized receptors throughout the body,
initiating a "code blue" or flight-or-fight response. Many receptors are a
regular part of sympathetic function, and respond to their own local relative,
norepinephrine or noradrenalin, in the course of normal autonomic nervous
system interplay. See: SYMPATHETIC, PARASYMPATHETIC, LIMBIC
ADRENERGIC Functions that are dominated by epinephrine (the blood hormone) or
norepinephrine (local sympathetic adrenergic nerve stimulus)
ADRENOCORTICAL Pertaining to the adrenal cortex.
ALOPECIA The loss of hair.
AERIAL The parts of plants growing above ground.
ALKALINE In our context, a substance having a pH above that of neutral water
(7.0) when in solution. Signified as pH (potential of Hydrogen), alkaline
fluids, such as the blood (pH about 7.4), have the ability to neutralize acids
(solutions below pH 7.0). Metabolic wastes are acids, and the alkaline reserve
of the blood neutralizes them until they are excreted. See pH
ALKALOID One of a varied family of alkaline, nitrogen-containing substances,
usually plant-derived, reacting with acids to form salts. Normally intensely
bitter, alkaloids form a body of substances widely used in drug and herbal
therapy. They are usually biologically active and have a toxic potential. The
term is more pharmaceutical and medical than chemical since alkaloids come from
a variety of otherwise unrelated organic compounds. (Examples: caffeine,
ALTERATIVE A term applied in naturopathic, Eclectic, and Thomsonian medicine
to those plants or procedures that stimulate changes of a defensive or healing
nature in metabolism or tissue function when there is chronic or acute
diseases. The whole concept of alteratives is based on the premise that in a
normally healthy person, disease symptoms are the external signs of activated
internal defenses and, as such, should be stimulated and not suppressed.
Sambucus (Elder), as an example, acts as an alterative when it is used to
stimulate sweating in a fevered state. Without a fever or physical exertion,
Sambucus tea will increase intestinal, lung, and kidney secretions. With fever
or exercise, the buildup of heat from combustion, and the dilation of
peripheral blood supply, it takes the defense response to the next stage of
breaking a sweat. You might have sweated eventually anyway, but you may be one
of those people who doesn't perspire easily, and a diaphoretic such as Sambucus
will act as an alterative for you by stimulating the next stage of defenses
sooner than you would have on your own. The term alterative is sometimes
inaccurately used as a synonym for "blood purifier," particularly by nature-
cure neo-Thomsonians such as Jethro Kloss and John Christopher. "Blood
purifier" is a term better applied to the liver, spleen, and kidneys, not to
some dried plant.
ALTERNATE Having plant parts, particularly leaves, arranged alternately along
a stem, as opposed to in pairs or whorled.
AMEBIASIS Having an amoebic infection, usually in reference to amoebic
dysentery, caused by the parasitic amoeba, Entameba histolitica.
AMENORRHEA Absence or suppression of menses. Primary amenorrhea is the
failure to begin menses by age 16, secondary amenorrhea is tardy menses (from
pregnancy, stress, dieting, illness or intensive physical training) in the
previously menstruating woman.
ANABOLIC Promoting anabolism. Specifically, an agent or function that
stimulates the organization of smaller substances into larger ones. Examples:
making a starch out of sugars, a protein out of amino acids, or making
triglycerides out of fatty acids are anabolic functions. Anabolic steroids are
internal or external substances that will induce increased body size or mass.
The opposite of catabolic.
ANALGESIC A substance that relieves pain. (Examples: aspirin, Balsam Poplar.)
ANESTHETIC A substance that decreases nerve sensitivity to pain. Examples:
nitrous oxide, Peppermint.
ANGINA PECTORIS A painful chronic heart condition, characterized by an
oppressive sensation, difficulty breathing, and pain in the chest or arms.
Attacks are often triggered by exertion or a sudden adrenergic discharge, and
the underlying cause is insufficient blood supply to the heart muscles
ANGINA, VASOMOTORIA Like the previous, but less dangerous and more frequently
caused by purely neurologic stimulus. The pain is more spasmodic and there is
usually little actual blood vessel blockage.
ANGIOTENSIN A substance formed in tissues or blood vessels when there needs to
be local or even massive vasoconstriction. The primary precursor is renin,
made by the kidneys, and elevated when the blood seems dehydrated or low in
volume; the next substance needed for this reaction is a liver protein,
angiotensinogen; when both are present in the blood, local factors can then
form this pressor substance. Excess production is often implicated in high
ANORECTIC An agent that suppresses appetite for food.
ANOREXIA Having little or no appetite for food.
ANTIBODY These are immunologic proteins, usually made from immunoglobulins,
that are capable of binding to, and rendering inactive, foreign substances that
have entered the skin envelope and have been deemed dangerous. They may be
synthesized anew in the presence of a previously encountered substance
(antigen); they may be present in small amounts at all times in the
bloodstream; or they may be present in the tissues in a more primitive form
designed to react to a broad spectrum of potential antigens. The latter may be
responsible for some allergies.
ANTICHOLINERGIC An agent that impedes the impulses or actions of the nerves or
fibers of the parasympathetic ganglia, competing with, and blocking the release
of acetylcholine at what are called the muscarinic sites. Cholinergic functions
affected are those that induce spasms and cramps of the intestinal tracts and
allied ducts. Examples: Atropine, Datura, Garrya.
ANTICOAGULANT A medication or natural compound that slows or prevents the
formation of blood clots. Examples: Heparin (endogenous), Dicumarol and
warfarin (drugs), Melilotus (coumarin-containing).
ANTIDEPRESSANT Literally, substances meant to oppose depressions or sadness,
and generally heterocyclic types such as Elavil, MAO inhibitors like
phenelzine, or lithium carbonate. This category of substances formerly
included stuff like amphetamines and other stimulants. The only plants in this
program that could fit the current definition for antidepressant activity would
be Hypericum, Peganum and perhaps Oplopanax.
ANTIFUNGAL An agent that kills or inhibits fungi, and, in my usage here, an
herb that inhibits either a dermatomycosis like ringworm or athlete's foot, or
one that inhibits Candida albicans either externally as a douche or internally
as a systemic antifungal. Examples: Nystatin, griseofulvin, Tabebuia.
ANTIGEN A substance, usually a protein, that induces the formation of
defending antibodies. Example: bacterial toxins, Juniper pollen (in
allergies). Auto-immune disorders can occur when antibodies are formed against
normal proteins created within the body.
ANTIHISTAMINE An exogenous agent that inhibits the release of histamine, the
amino acid derivative that stimulates vasodilation and permeability under many
circumstances, particularly tissue irritation. The most common type of
antihistamine, the H1 receptor antagonist, produces many moderate side effects,
and the H2 receptor antagonist cimetidine is even more problematic. That they
are so commonly used can lull both physician and patient into trivializing
their iatrogenic potential. Histamines, which are most abundant in the skin,
respiratory, and GI tract mucus membranes, help heal; using antihistamines to
inhibit the healing response for the whole body simply in order to lessen the
acute but physiologically superficial symptoms of something like hay fever is
to risk many subtle side effects.
ANTIMICROBlAL An agent that kills or inhibits microorganisms.
ANTIOXIDANT A substance that prevents oxidation or slows a redox reaction.
More generally, an agent that slows the formation of lipid peroxides and other
free-radical oxygen forms, preventing the rancidity of oils or blocking damage
from peroxides to the mitochondria of cells or cell membranes. Examples :
Vitamin E, Larrea (Chaparral), Gum Benzoin.
ANTIPHLOGISTINE An agent that limits or decreases inflammation; an anti-
inflammatory or antihistamine.
ANTISPASMODIC A substance that will relieve or prevent spasms, usually of the
smooth muscles of the intestinal tract, bronchi, or uterus.(Examples:
ANTIVIRAL An agent that experimentally inhibits the proliferation and
viability of infectious viruses. In our domain of herbal medicines, some
plants will slow or inhibit the adsorption or random initial attachment of
viruses, extend the lifespan of infected target cells, or speed up several
aspects of immunity, including complement, antibody, and phagocytosis
responses. Herbal antivirals work best on respiratory viruses such as
influenza, adenoviruses, rhinoviruses, and the enteric echoviruses. Touted as
useful in the alphabet group of slow viruses (HIV, EBV, CMV, etc.), they really
help to limit secondary concurrent respiratory infections that often accompany
ANTIPHLOGISTINE An agent that limits or decreases inflammation; an anti-
inflammatory or antihistamine.
APOCRINE Secretory glands, especially found in the armpit and groin, that
secrete oily sweat derived from shed cell cytoplasm, and which contain aromatic
compounds that possess emotional information for those nearby. Examples: The
smell of fear, the scent released after orgasm, the odor released by
annually-frustrated Chicago Cubs fans.
APTHOUS STOMATITIS Little ulcers or canker sores on the surface. of the
tongue, lips, and cheek mucosa. In adults, they are often related to gastric
reflux and dyspepsia.
AROMATICS Chemically, molecules containing one or more benzene rings, but in
our usage, plant compounds which, upon contact to the air, form gases which can
be smelled: volatile oils. (Examples: menthol, Peppermint oil.)
ARRHYTHMIAS An abnormal or irregular rhythm, usually in reference to the
ARTERIAL Blood that leaves the heart. When it leaves the right ventricle, it
is venous blood; and when it leaves the left ventricle, through the aorta, it
is fresh, hot, oxygenated red stuff. After it has passed out to the
capillaries and started to return, it is venous blood.
ARTERIOSCLEROSIS The condition of blood vessels that have thickened, hardened,
and lost their elasticity-"hardening of the arteries." Aging and the formation
of blood-derived fatty plaques within or directly beneath the inner lining of
the arteries are the common causes. Many of the large arteries aid blood
transport from the heart by their rebound elasticity, "kicking" it out; smaller
ones have muscle coats that need to contract and relax in response to nerves.
All this is compromised when there is arteriosclerosis.
ARTHRITIS Literally, inflammation of one or more joints, usually with pain and
sometimes with changes in the structure. Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition
of loss in the organization of joint cartilage, with gradual calcification of
the gristle, formation of spurs, and impaired function. Rheumatoid arthritis
is an auto-immune disorder, with chronic inflammation and eventual distortion
of the joints; the victim experiences a lessening of good health, worsening
metabolic imbalance, allergies, and general stress (emotional, physical, and
ASCITES An abnormal buildup of serous fluid, usually in regards the viscera.
Although many infections and serious metabolic disorders can induce it, the
most common cause is trauma and surgery.
ASTHENIC having little tone or strength, especially in regards the nervous
system or the skeletal muscles.
ASTHMA, EXTRINSIC Asthma triggered by pollen, chemicals or some other
ASTHMA, INTRINSIC Asthma triggered by boggy membranes, congested tissues, or
other native causes...even adrenalin stress or exertion
ASTRINGENT An agent that causes the constriction of tissues, usually applied
topically to stop bleeding, secretions, and surface inflammation and
distension. Some, such as gallotannins, may actually bind with and "tan" the
surface layer of skin or mucosa. Examples: a styptic pencil, Oak Bark.
ATONIC Having poor tone or diminished strength.
ATOPIC A type of inherited allergic response involving elevated immunoglobulin
E. Sometimes called a reagin response, it means that you have hay fever,
bronchial asthma, or skin problems like urticaria or eczema. It can be
acquired, sometimes after hepatitis or extended contact with solvents or
alcohol, but if your mama sneezed and your daddy itched, you will probably have
one form or another of the above stuff at different times of your life.
Solution: since you can't change your stripes, keep in balance and avoid, if
possible, the distortions of constant medications, both prescription and
ATROPINE An alkaloid derived from Belladonna (Atropa belladonna) and related
plants that blocks some cholinergic or parasympathetic functions. It has been
used to stop the cramps of diarrhea and is still found in some OTC cold
remedies, since it dries up secretions. The main current medical use is in eye
drops used to constrict the pupil.
AUTOIMMUNITY The state of having acquired an immunologic memory that says a
normal cell membrane is "other", and having forming antibody responses against
it. A viral infection or organic chemical (hapten) may have started the
response, but surviving healthy cells may have so close a charge pattern
(epitope) that acquired immunity keeps on as if the cell was still "other". Any
physical stress that causes the target tissue to become inflamed or replicate
rapidly to heal can restimulate the auto-immune response.
AWN A terminal or lateral bristle on a seed or plant organ.
AXIL The upper angle formed by a leaf or branch with a stem. Things that pop
out in the axils are called AXILLARY.
AZOTEMIA The abnormal presence of urinary waste products in the blood.
BACTERIOSTATIC Slowing or stopping the proliferation of bacteria.
BASAL METABOLISM The basic rate of combustion by a person, usually measured
after sleep and while resting.
BALSAMIC Soft or hard plant or tree resins composed of aromatic acids and oils.
These are typically used as stimulating dressings and aromatic expectorants and
diuretics. This term is also applied loosely to many plants that may not exude
resins but which have a soothing, pitchy scent. Examples: Balsam Poplar,
BASAL At or near the base, and, if leaves, those that sprout directly from the
root or crown.
BELLS PALSY An inflammatory condition of the facial, nerve, with paralysis,
distortion and diminished tears.
BENIGN PROSTATIC HYPERTROPHY, or HYPERPLASIA (BPH) The benign buildup in the
prostate of "warts" or epithelial neoplasias that can block or interrupt
urination, and which are usually concurrent with moderate prostate enlargement.
They cause a dull ache on urination, ejaculation, and/or defecation. The
diagnosis is medical, since the same subjective conditions can result from
cancer of the prostate. BPH is common in men over fifty and can be the result
either of diminished production of complete testosterone or poor pelvic
circulation. Alcohol, coffee, speed, and antihistamines can all aggravate the
BETA BLOCKERS Drugs used to slow the response to epinephrine only (as released
hormonally by the adrenal medulla), usually to attempt controlling high blood
BILIARY COLIC See CHOLECYSTITIS, CHOLECYSTALGIA, etc.
BILIOUSNESS A symptom-picture resulting from a short-term disordered liver,
with constipation, frontal headache, spots in front of the eyes, poor appetite,
and nausea or vomiting. The usual causes are heavy alcohol consumption, poor
ventilation when working with solvents, heavy bingeing with fatty foods, or
moderate consumption of rancid fats. The term is genially archaic in medicine;
people who are bilious are seldom genial, however.
BILIRUBIN A waste product of hemoglobin recycling, it is primarily excreted in
feces, oxidizing into that familiar brown color (except for beets).
BILIRUBINEMIA The presence of abnormally high bilirubin in the blood, usually
signifying hepatitis, with jaundice due next week.
BIODIVERSE The state of life interdependency that is possible when large and
small plants, soil organisms, insects, and fuzzy beasts exist in the ebb and
flow created by the natural environment. Cut down the trees once and you
lessen the biodiversity drastically. Wait fifty years and cut again and you
have a small fraction of the life-form variety that you started with; the old
diversity will never return...never.
BIOMASS The actual amount of existing material within a species or genus.
BIOSPHERE Literally, the part of the earth that supports life; more broadly, a
large community of life-forms sharing a similar environment, such as a rain
forest or prairie grassland.
BIPINNATE A pinnate compound leaf whose leaflets, in turn, are stems that have
BITERNATE A compound leaf divided in threes, whose leaflets are in turn di-
vided in pairs.
BITTER TONIC A bitter-tasting substance or formula used to increase a
deficient appetite, improve the acidity of stomach secretions and protein
digestion, and slightly speed up the orderly emptying of the stomach. A good
bitter tonic should possess little, if any, drug effect, only acting on oral
and stomach functions and secretions. Dry mouth, bad gums, teeth problems with
bad breath in the morning, and weak digestion, often with constipation, are the
main deficiency symptoms. A bitter tonic has little effect in normal
digestion. Example: Gentiana
BORBORYGMUS The bubbling, gurgling passage of gas across the transverse
colon...NOT a small North African rodent.
BPH Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy, or Hyperplasia.
BRACTS Reduced or modified leaflets that are usually parts of flowers or an
inflorescence, generally subtending or beneath the floral parts.
BRADYCARDIA A distinctly slow heartbeat, which may be a normal idiosyncrasy or
with causes ranging from regular strenuous exercise to abnormally slow heart
stimulus to the side-effects of medication. Bradycardia is usually defined as a
pulse below sixty beats a minute, or seventy in children.
BRADYKININ A plasma polypeptide that tends to lower blood pressure and
increase capillary permeability.
BRAIN FEVER Cerebral hyperemia. See POE, EDGAR ALLEN
BRICK DUST The presence of reddish brown sediment in the urine, indicating
uric acid, hippuric acid and creatinine excess in the blood...an anabolic
greaseball who needs more liquids and alkali and who has over-acidic urine. It
can be symptomatic of more serious problems as well.
BROMIDES A binary salt of bromine, formerly used as a simple sedative. Given
so freely and with no intent of affecting a healing, it became synonymous with
a useless treatment only meant to shut up the patient. Excessive bromide use
can cause some pronounced neurologic disturbances... they disappear with
cessation of the drug.
BRONCHITIS Inflammation of the mucus membranes on the bronchi, usually caused
by an infection, sometimes by allergies or chemical irritations.
BRONCHORRHEA Excess mucus secretions by the bronchi; a runny nose of the
BUFFERING SYSTEM The several blood factors that enable the acid waste products
of metabolism to be carried in the alkaline blood without disrupting its
chemistry. These include carbolic acid, carbonates, phosphates, electrolytes,
blood proteins, and erythrocyte membranes.
BURSITIS Inflammation of a bursa, the lubricating sac that reduces friction
between tendons and ligaments or tendons and bones. The more common localities
for bursitis are the shoulders, the elbows, the knees, and the big toe (a
CALYX The outer set of sterile, floral leaves; the green, clasping base of a
CANDIDIASIS Generally, a disorder caused by Candida (Monilia) albicans. This
is a common yeast-like fungus found in the mouth, vagina, and rectum, as well
as on the outside skin. It is a common cause of thrush in infants and vaginal
yeast infections. In recent years much attention has been given to the
increased numbers of people with candidiasis in the upper and lower intestinal
tract. This condition is now known to occur as a result of extended antibiotic
therapy and anti-inflammatory treatment. Most anti-inflammatory drugs are
really immunosuppressants, and the normal, stable competition between fungus
and bacteria is altered by the antibiotic use; this rather benign and common
skin and mucosal fungus can then move deeply into the body. Although both
therapies are of major importance in managing disease, they are often
prescribed or requested trivially, and both are centerpieces to the increased
reliance on procedural medicine (surgery). The drug industry is paralyzed by
the cost of marketing new drugs, whereas surgical procedures need far easier
peer and FDA acceptance. Procedural medicine normally needs antibiotic AND
CAPlLLARY The smallest blood or lymph vessel, formed of single layers of
interconnected endothelial cells, sometimes with loosely attached connective
tissue basement cells for added support. Capillaries allow the transport
across their membranes and between their crevices of diffusible nutrients and
waste products. Blood capillaries expand and contract, depending upon how much
blood is needed in a given tissue and how much is piped into them by the small
feeder arteries upstream. They further maintain a strong repelling charge that
keeps blood proteins and red blood cells pushed into the center of the flow.
Lymph capillaries have many open crypts, allowing free absorption of
interstitial fluid that has been forced out of the blood; these capillaries
further tend to maintain a charge that attracts bits of cellular garbage too
large to return through the membranes of exiting venous capillaries.
CARBOS Carbohydrates, like starch or sugar.
CARDIOGLYCOSIDES Sugar-containing plant substances that, in proper doses. act
as heart stimulants. Examples; digitoxin, strophanthin.
CARDIOTONIC A substance that strengthens or regulates heart metabolism without
overt stimulation or depression. It may increase coronary blood supply,
normalize coronary enervation, relax peripheral arteries (thereby decreasing
back-pressure on the valves), or decrease adrenergic stimulation. Examples:
magnesium, Crataegus, Selenicereus.
CARDIOPATHIES Heart diseases, usually needing medical intervention.
CARPEL A simple pistil or one of the modified leaflets forming a compound
CATABOLIC The part of metabolism that deals with destruction or simplification
of more complex compounds. Catabolism mostly results in the release of energy.
Examples: the release of glucose by the liver, the combustion of glucose by
CATARRH Inflamed mucous membranes, an older term that usually implied excess
secretions, particularly with congestion.
CAULINE Belonging to the stem, as in cauline leaves emerging from the stem
CELIAC Pertaining to the abdomen.
CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM A collective term for the brain, spinal cord, their
nerves, and the sensory end organs. More broadly, this can even include the
neurotransmitting hormones instigated by the CNS that control the chemical
nervous system, the endocrine glands.
CERUMINOSIS Too much beeswax. See: BEESWAX, NONE OF YOUR
CERVICAL VENOSITIES Enlarged varicose veins on the cervix of the uterus, often
accompanying ulcerations or long-term pelvic congestion. A symptom only of
congestion or impaired circulation, they can occur in both semi-trivial and
CERVICO-OCCIPITAL HEADACHE A headache of the neck and side of the head...a
CHOLANGITIS Inflammation of only bile ducts. This word and the next three
describe conditions that may be, subjectively, all the same.
CHOLECYSTALGIA Cramps or tenesmus of the gall bladder or bile ducts.
CHOLECYSTITIS Inflammation of the gall bladder and ducts, sometimes from the
presence of passing stones, sometimes following fasting or anorexia, sometimes
because of a spreading intestinal tract infection....sometimes just because you
eat three avocado sandwiches before going to bed.
CHOLELITHIASIS Having gall stones.
CHOLESTEROL A fatty substance produced predominantly by the liver, and
necessary for building cell membranes, insulating the CNS, covering fats for
blood transport, forming bile acids, oiling the skin and making steroid
hormones. Blood cholesterols are not derived from food (digestion breaks them
down) but are intentionally synthesized by the liver, in response to seeming
need. Elevated cholesterols are the result of certain types of stress or
metabolic imbalances, and the liver makes more than the tissues need. Although
not a direct cause, high consumption of fats and proteins will convince the
liver to kick into a fat/protein or anabolic stance...THEN it may oversecrete
cholesterols, perhaps thinking you are putting food away for the winter.
CHOLINERGIC Pertaining to functions primarily controlled by the
parasympathetic nervous system. See PARASYMPATHETIC
CHOREA A neuromuscular condition, with twitching and spastic muscle control.
CHOREA, SYDENHAM'S A disease or syndrome of children, usually following or
companion to rheumatic fever, and having involuntary movements, anxiety and
impaired memory. It usually clears up in two or three months.
CHRONIC A disease or imbalance of long, slow duration, showing little overall
change and characterized by periods of remission interspersed with acute
episodes. The opposite of acute.
CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME (CFS) is a recently designated semi-disease, often
attributed to EBV (the Epstein-Barr virus) or CMV (Cytomegalovirus) infections,
characterized by FUOs (Fevers of Unknown Origin) and resulting in the patient
suffering FLS (Feels Like Shit). In most of us, the microorganisms involved in
CFS usually provoke nothing more than a head cold; in some individuals,
however, they induce a long, grinding, and debilitating disorder, characterized
by exhaustion, depression, periodic fevers...a crazy-quilt of symptoms that
frustrates both the sufferer and the sometimes skeptical physician. MCCOY
(Multiple Chemical Sensitivities) are another syndrome that is often lumped
with CFS, and they may often be two faces of the same condition. I am not
using all these acronyms to mock the conditions, but in irony. There is too
much ASS(Acronym Safety Syndrome) in medicine, reducing complex and
frustrating conditions to insider's techno-babble, somehow therein trivializing
otherwise complex, painful and crazy-making problems. The widest use of
acronyms (AIDS, HIV, CFS, MCCOY, MS etc.) seems to be for diseases hardest to
treat, least responsive to procedural medicine, and most depressing to discuss
with patients or survivors.
CHYLOMICRONS These are organized blobs of fats, synthesized in the submucosa of
the small intestine out of dietary fats, phospholipids, specialized proteins
and cholesterol, carried out of the intestinal tract by the lymph, and slowly
released into the bloodstream. In the capillaries, the triglycerides inside
the chylomicrons, recognized by their protein markers, are absorbed into the
tissues for fuel or storage, and the outside cholesterol and phospholipid
transport-cover continues through the blood to be absorbed by the liver for its
use. This sideways approach takes (ideally) a large part of dietary fats into
the lymph back alleys, spreading their release into the bloodstream out over
many hours, thereby avoiding short-term blood fat and liver fat overload. To
synthesize the maximum amount of dietary fats into chylomicrons, you need
well-organized emulsification and digestion of lipids by the gallbladder and
CIRRHOSIS, LAENNECS The most common type of cirrhosis, caused by chronic
alcoholism and a lousy diet (or malabsorption).
CIRCUMBOREAL Plants that are found worldwide, encircling the lands around the
CISTERNA CHYLI A sac in the back of the pelvic region that drains the lymph
from the intestinal tract, pelvis and legs, and acts as the beginning of the
thoracic duct. See LACTEALS, THORACIC DUCT
CLONIC Smooth muscle spasms or colic that alternate rhythmically with a rest
state...like birthing contraction or waves of nausea.
CMV (Cytomegalovirus) This subtle, worldwide microorganism is a member of the
herpes virus group. It is large for a virus, contains DNA, and has a complex
protein capsid. It forms latent, lifelong infections, and, except for
occasional serious infections in infants and malnourished youngsters, seldom
produced a disease state. With increased use of immunosuppression therapies
for conditions ranging from arthritis to cancer to organ transplants, the
incidence of adults with major infections of CMV increases yearly.
CNS Central nervous system.
COLIC Cramping or spasms of a smooth muscle tube, such as the uterus
(menstrual cramps) the ureters (passing kidney stones) or the stomach
(stomachache). Also called tenesmus.
COLIFORM BACTERIA Intestinal bacilli that are gram-negative, sugar-digesting,
and both aerobic and anaerobic. They are usually from the family
Enterobacteriaceae; Escherichia coli is the best known of the group.
COLITIS Colon inflammation, usually involving the mucus membranes. Mucus
colitis is a type with cramps, periods of constipation, and copious discharge
of mucus with feces. Ulcerative colitis has pain, inflammation, ulceration,
fever, and bleeding, all interspersed at various times - a long and serious
COLLAGEN The fibrous insoluble structural protein that forms almost a third of
our total body protein and holds everything together. Too much collagen is
what makes a steak tough.
COLLOID Gooey substances, usually proteins and starches, whose molecules can
hold large amounts of a solvent (usually water) without dissolving. In
lifeforms, virtually all fluids are held suspended in protein or starch
colloids (hydrogels). Examples: cell protoplasm, lime Jell-O.
COLOSTRUM The first breast milk after birth, containing minerals and white
blood cells. This is followed gradually by true milk.
COMPLEMENT A large body of blood proteins (over 20), initiated in the liver,
and intimately involved in nearly all aspects of immunity and nonspecific
resistance. They form two types of self-mediated cascade reactions to
antigens, antibody-antigen complexes, dead tissue and the like, and are almost
solely able to initiate the rupture and killing of bacteria. The protein
strings they form around foreign substances are the main "hooks" used for
absorption by macrophages as they digest and clean up.
CONGESTION Thick and boggy tissues, usually resulting from excess
inflammation, or irritation that is unremitting. It is characterized by the
accumulation of an excess volume of fluid, with impairment of venous and
lymphatic drainage, and the buildup of unremoved cellular waste products.
COMPOUND Leaves that are made up of leaflets, such as pinnate and palmate
CONJUNCTIVA The mucus membrane which covers the underside of the eyelids and
the front surfaces of the eyeball.
CONJUCTIVITIS An inflammation of the conjunctiva, either from environmental
irritation, allergies, viral or bacterial infections.
CONSTITUTIONAL Deriving from basic hereditary strengths and weaknesses, and
including early environmental factors.
CONTUSIONS A bruise, characterized by a trauma in which the skin is not broken
but underlying blood vessels are busted, causing a deep or lateral hematoma,
with disorganized blood and interstitial fluid buildup. see EXUDATE
CORDILLERA The mountain ridge that spans North America, from Mexico through
the Rocky Mountains into Alaska.
CORM The fleshy, bulblike, solid base of a stem, often rising out of a tuber
CORPUS LUTEUM A temporary endocrine gland formed at ovulation from part of the
former egg follicle, and the source of progesterone. See PROGESTERONE,
CORTICOSTEROIDS Natural steroid hormones or synthetic analogues, usually taken
for suppressing inflammation (and immunity) and therefore having cortisone-like
functions, or taken as analogues to adrenocortical androgen...or even
testosterone, in order to impress the other gym members, make varsity by your
junior year or to join the WWF and get newbie-mangled for two years by The
Hangman or even the Hulkster Himself. Then, if your gonads don't fall off and
your back holds up you get promoted to Good Guy, have your chance to Take A
Name and finally wear your chosen costume...a spandex violet nurse's uniform.
COUGH, HECTIC The dry and unproductive coughing in early bronchitis, when the
mucosa is irritated but still too infected to secrete mucus
COUGH, PAROXYSMAL Attacks of uncontrollable coughing or "whooping", often
relating to whooping cough or bronchiectasis, but they can also be caused by
the smoke from burning plastics and (memories of yesteryear) hash oil.
COUGH, REFLEX A cough induced by intestinal, gastric or uterine irritation,
and not from respiratory causes.
COUNTERIRRITANT A substance applied to the skin to produce an irritating,
heating, or vasodilating effect, in order to speed local healing by increasing
circulation of blood, radiating the heat inward to inflamed tissues deep below
the skin. It can also be used to induce reflex stimulation to seemingly
unrelated internal organs. (see DERMATOMES)
CREATININE It is the waste product of creatine, an enzyme found in large
amounts throughout the tissues, and mainly excreted in the urine. The parent
compound creatine enables the body to use the "blue flame" of anaerobic
combustion (as opposed to the yellow flame of oxidation). Elevated creatinine
in the blood may be an early symptom of kidney disease.
CRENELATED (or CRENATE) Leaves having rounded, scalloped teeth along the
CROHN'S DISEASE Also called regional enteritis or regional ileitis, this is a
nonspecific inflammatory disease of the upper and lower intestine that forms
granulated lesions. It is usually a chronic condition, with acute episodes of
diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and loss of weight. It may affect
the stomach or colon, but the most common sites are the duodenum and the lowest
part of the small intestine, the lower ileum. The standard treatment is,
initially, anti-inflammatory drugs, with surgical resectioning often necessary.
The disease is autoimmune, and sufferers share the same tissue type (HLA-B27)
as those who acquire ankylosing spondylitis.
CRUDE DRUG A dried, unprocessed plant, and referring to one that was or is an
official drug plant or the source of a refined drug substance. A CRUDE
BOTANICAL, on the other hand, is one of our herbs that has no official
standing. Examples: Digitalis leaves (crude drug), White Sage (crude
CYSTITIS An inflammation, often infectious, of the urinary bladder. It usually
arises from a distal infection of the urethra or prostate.
CYSTORRHEA Mucus in the urine, usually following infection or from chronic
congestion of the bladder mucosa.
CYTOKINE Also lymphokine, a broad term for a variety of proteins and
neuropeptides that lymphocytes and macrophages use to communicate between
themselves, often from long distances. They stimulate organization and
antibody responses, seem to induce the bone marrow to proliferate the type of
white blood cells needed for immediate resistance, and generate sophistication
and fine tuning for an overall strategy of resistance. A lymphocyte FAX.
CYTOPROTECTANT A substance or reaction that acts against chemical or
biological damage to cell membranes. The most common cytoprotectant actions are
on the skin and the liver (hepatoprotectant), although there has been recent
research involving lymphocyte T-cell cytoprotectants.
DECIDUOUS A plant that drops its leaves in the fall or, in some cases, during
DECOMPENSATION The failure of the heart to maintain full and adequate
DELIRIUM TREMENS (DTs) A distinct neurologic disorder suffered by
late-in-the-game alcoholics, characterized by sensory confusion (is it red or
sour, hot or loud, smelly or wet, am I thinking or screaming); part of the
problem is the result of diminished myelination of nerves and decreased brain
antioxidant insulation (cholesterol), with nerve impulses "shorting out" across
temporary synapses. It sounds ugly.
DEMULCENT An agent that soothes internal membranes, traditionally separated
from external soothing agents, emollients.
DERMATOMES As spinal chord nerves branch out into the body, some segments fan
out across the skin; these are the nerves that monitor the surface and are the
source of senses of touch, pain, hot, cold and distension. All this
information is funneled back in and up to the brain, which learned early on to
correlate WHAT information comes from WHERE. Think of the brain as the CPU,
with the spinal chord nerves uploading raw binary data; the brain has to make a
running program out of this. It must form a three-dimensional hologram or
homunculus from the linear input, and retranslate it outwards as binary data.
The surface of the forearm, as an example, has sensory input gathered from
several different and very separate spinal chord nerves. The brain will
origami-fold these separate data streams into FOREARM. If you were to inject
novacaine into the base of the left first sacral nerve (LS1), you would find
that a whole section of skin became numb. So well defined a section that you
could outline in charcoal the demarcation between sensation and numbness. This
section would be a long oval of of numbness around the left buttock, under to
the groin, perhaps part of the thigh...and the left heel. That spinal nerve is
solely responsible for carrying sensation from that zone of skin...that
dermatome; your brain mixes all the dermatomes together to get a working
hologram of your total skin surface. That particular nerve also brings and
sends information about the uterus, abdominal wall and pelvic floor. If you
are a woman suffering pelvic heaviness and suppressed menses, a hot footbath
might be enough S1 (heel dermatome) stimulation to cross-talk over to the S1
pelvic functions...and heat up the stuck uterus. Much of acupuncture,
Jinshinjitsu, and zone and reflex therapy (not to mention Rolfing) uses various
aspects of this dermatome crossover phenomena (by whatever name) and zone
counterirritation was widely used in American standard medicine up
until...penicillin. It was still being described in clinical manuals as late
as 1956, although with the mention that it was only used infrequently and with
a "mechanism not understood" disclaimer.
DIABETES Properly diabetes mellitus, it is a disease characterized by high
blood sugar levels and sugar in the urine. Diabetes is really several
disorders, generally broken down into juvenile onset and adult onset. The
first, currently called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM or Type I),
is somewhat hereditary, and results from inadequate synthesis of native insulin
or sometimes from auto-immunity or a virus, and occurs most frequently in
tissue-types HLA, DR3, and DR4. These folks tend to be lean. The other main
group is known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM or Type II).
It is caused by a combination of heredity, constitution, and lifestyle, where
high blood sugar and high blood fats often occur at the same time, and where
hyperglycemic episodes have continued for so many years that fuel-engorged
cells start to refuse glucose, and the person is termed insulin resistant.
These folks are usually overweight, tend to have fatty plaques in their
arteries, and usually have chunky parents.
DIAPHORETIC A substance that increases perspiration, either by (1) dilating
the peripheral blood vessels, (2) directly stimulating by drug action the
nerves that affect the sweat glands, or by (3) introducing a volatile oil into
the bloodstream that performs both tasks.
DIARRHEA A watery evacuation of the bowels, without blood.
DIASTOLIC The lower number of a blood pressure reading signifying the
myocardial and arterial relaxation between pump strokes. Too close to the
higher number (systolic) usually signifies inadequate relaxation of the heart
and arteries between heartbeats.
DIE-OFF The phenomenon of killing so many infectious organisms so quickly that
the amount of dead biomass itself causes liver overload, allergic reactions, or
a mild foreign-body response. It can occur with antibiotic therapy, treatment
of candidiasis, and even with use of some herbal antivirals. Outside of
prescription antifungals, it is seldom acknowledged as a medical problem. If
you use a liver stimulant, diaphoretic, and diuretic, you will increase the
efficiency of transport, catabolism, and excretion, and lessen the effects of
DISTENTION An excess expansion of a tissue or organ, either from inflammation,
injury or, as in the Bean Syndrome, gas.
DIURETIC A substance that increases the flow of urine, either by increasing
permeability of the kidneys' nephrons, decreasing the reabsorption of filtered
serum back into the blood exiting the nephron, increasing blood supply into the
nephrons, or increasing the blood into each kidney by renal artery
DIVERTICULOSIS Having congenital pouches of the type found in many organs,
particularly the colon, that are benign, but, being little cul-de-sacs, are
likely to become inflamed from time to time. Diverticulitis is the term for
DUODENUM This is the beginning of the small intestines, and it empties the
stomach. It is 9 or 10 inches long, holds about the same amount of food as the
digestive antrum or bottom of the stomach, and, through a papilla or sphincter,
squirts a mixture of bile and pancreatic juices onto the previous stomach
contents. These juices neutralize the acidic chyme; the pancreatic alkali and
bile acids form soap to emulsify and aid fat digestion; and the duodenum walls
secrete additional fluids and enzymes to admix with the pancreatic enzymes to
initiate the final upper digestive investment. The duodenal wall secretes
blood hormones to excite gallbladder and pancreas secretions, and, if
overwhelmed, can inhibit the stomach from sending anything else down for a
while, until they can catch all their collective breath.
DURAL HEADACHES Perhaps the most common type; those resulting from
autotoxicity or an excess of blood metabolites, such as from liver dysfunction
DYSCRASIA Presently a term referring to inadequate synthesis of blood proteins
by the liver, especially clotting factors. Formerly the term described an
improper balance between blood and lymph in an organ or a whole person.
Archaically, it referred to an imbalance between the four humors: blood,
phlegm, yellow bile, and the postulated black bile.
DYSENTERY Severe diarrhea, usually from a colon infection, and containing
blood and dead mucus membrane cells.
DYSMENORRHEA Painful menstruation.
DYSPEPSIA Poor digestion, usually with heartburn and/or regurgitation of
DYSPLASIA Abnormal tissue growth...classically midway between hyperplasia
(overgrowth) and neoplasia.
DYSPNEA Air hunger with pained breathing. It occurs normally from physical
exertion, and abnormally either from impaired respiration, emotional distress,
or a breakdown in nerve responses
DYSURIA Painful urination.
EBV Epstein-Barr Virus, a relative of the herpes virus, is the cause of
infectious mononucleosis, an African malignancy called Burkitt's lymphoma, and
at least part of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. A very common virus, most of the
time it only causes a head cold.
ECLECTICS The name commonly applied to the American School Physicians, a
distinct group of Medical Doctors who trained in their own schools, and were
licensed as M.D.s. They specialized in low-tech, nonhospital rural health
care...the famous country doc with a black bag. Besides standard medical
procedures, they used a more wholistic approach to disease, sometimes terming
themselves Vitalists. They grew out of the settlement and usurpment of the
Ohio and Missouri Valleys, with a sparse population and no organized hospitals,
relied on methods that were not invasive (unless emergencies dictated), used
therapies that relied on strengthening natural resistance (no hospitals, just
someone's sod hut) and made particular care to explain and prepare the family
or neighbors for THEIR part in caring for the patient...long after the
physician left. Scudder, John King, Felter, Ellingwood and Clyce Wilson were
some of the more famous Eclectics, and John Uri Lloyd was the most famous
pharmacist/ pharmacologist within the profession. The Eclectic movement lasted
from 1840 to 1937...when the only remaining medical school, unwilling to change
to a Flexner Curriculum (as had the rest) closed its doors in Cincinnati. They
lost the licensing wars and are no more. Their tradition was exported by
practitioners in Germany and Mexico, and the German Eclectics, transformed by
that peculiar culture into wild-eyed Nature Curists such as Ehret and Lust,
started the nucleus for the Naturopathic movement in Yellow Springs, Ohio
(next-door to Goddard College) in 1947, helping to found the initial form of
the National College of Naturopathic Medicine...10 years after, and 50 miles
away from the last Eclectic Medical School. Without benefit of Tanna Leaves or
Charleton Heston and an armful of pickled mummy-organs, Eclecticism was reborn
into the body of Naturopathy.
ECTOMORPH A thumbnail description of the somatotype who is dominated by the
ectoderm, specifically the skin, nervous system, and endocrine glands. Less
arcane, a tall and thin person, with long limbs, narrow chest, and a somewhat
oversensitive nervous system.
ECZEMA A chronic dermatitis, more common in those with thin skin or allergies
of an atopic or IgE-mediated type, and often clearly and distinctly aggravated
by emotional stress.
EDEMA A localized or systemic condition in which the body tissues contain an
excessive amount of fluid. Systemic edema can be as mild as premenstrual water
retention (I mean mild by comparison) or involve loss of blood proteins or
kidney and heart failures. Local edema is the result of extensive or extended
inflammation, with blood protein leakage and the loss of interstitial colloid.
EHT Essential Hypertension...the early, mesomorphic stages of high blood
pressure, caused mostly by thick blood and accompanying sodium retention.
ELECTROLYTES In my context, acids, bases, and salts that contribute to the
maintenance of electrical charges, membrane integrity, and acid-alkaline
balance in the blood and lymph.
EMPHYSEMA A pulmonary condition with loss of elasticity in the alveoli and the
interalveolar septa...the meat-foam and their interleaving sheaths that you
fill up when you breathe. If a septum gets too stretched over time, several of
the little sacs will coalesce together, decreasing the surface area for oxygen
and carbon dioxide exchange. If enough of these sacs lose their separateness,
like small soap bubbles joining to make a few larger ones, breathing gets
harder because each breath accomplishes less interchange of gases, resulting in
emphysema. Caused by years of bad asthma, tobacco smoking, chemical damage,
and other chronic lung disorders, it can be halted but not reversed. The first
breath you take defines forever the number of the alveolar bubbles...they
cannot be regenerated if they coalesce together.
ENDEMIC Confined to a limited geographic or ecologic niche.
ENDOGENOUS From within the body, either a native function or the product of
the extended colony...normal flora in the colon are considered endogenous.
ENDOMETRIOSIS The presence of endometrial tissue outside of the uterus. The
endometrium is the mucus membrane inner lining of the uterus, with glandular
cells and structural cells, both responding to estrogen by increasing in size
(the proliferative phase); if there is endometrial tissue outside of the
uterus, the tissue expands and shrinks in response to the estrus cycle, but the
normal shedding of the menstrual phase can be difficult. The most common type
of endometriosis is found in the fallopian tubes; the abnormal fallopian
endometrial tissue can shed and drain into the uterus, but it hurts! It's
funny, but little tiny ducts, like the ureters, bile ducts, and fallopian tubes
really cramp. The colon and uterus are big muscular tubes and, when cramped
up, cause rather strong pain. When one of those little bitty things gets
tenesmus, your face gets white (or light tan), you start to sweat, shiver, and
revert to a fetal position. Endometriosis that occurs around the ovaries or
inside the belly and therefore can NEVER drain is a purely physical and medical
condition, but fallopian presence of endometrium usually reaches its peak in
the early thirties. It can be helped by ensuring a strong estrogen and
progesterone balance, thereby decreasing the tendency to form clots in the
tubes, and to experience severe cramps every month
ENTERIC pertaining to the small intestines.
ENTERITIS Inflammation of the small intestines.
ENTIRE A leaf with a straight, untoothed margin.
EOSINOPHILIA A group of conditions having the characteristic elevation of
eosinophils. These somewhat mysterious granulocytic leukocytes (white blood
cells filled with cottage cheese) are definitely involved in parasite
resistance, seem to initiate strong inflammation under some conditions, can
facilitate clotting by inhibiting heparin, yet also are a part of the process
of healing and inflammation control as an infection winds down. Eosinophilia
is on one hand an inherited condition associated with atopic dermatitis
(common, relatively benign, and irritating as hell), but, when acquired from
chemical contact, drug reaction or spontaneously surfaced auto-immune response,
it can destroy muscles, nerve, lungs, even kill. It caused the notorious
string of chemical reactions that was triggered by tainted Japanese tryptophan.
EPIPHYTE An air plant, growing on or with other plants but not in any way
EPSTEIN-BARR VIRUS A large, ubiquitous, and normally benign, herpes-like virus
with both DNA and capsid. It is sometimes implicated in mononucleosis and at
least two types of lymphomas. Recently it has been become connected with the
symptom picture called chronic fatigue syndrome (as has been CMV) and can
produce many ill-defined (but subjectively distressful) symptoms, including
fatigue, fevers of an unknown origin (FUO...love those acronyms!), and
emotional lability. Immunosuppression, from whatever cause, allows the syndrome
to occur. Many people in and out of medicine have come to regard it as both
another form of Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCCOY, naturally) and a sequel
to excessive medical use of immunosuppressant anti-inflammatories.
ESOPHAGUS The dense, muscular tube, 9 to 10 inches long, that extends from the
back of the throat (pharynx) to the stomach.
EXOGENOUS Arising from the outside; the opposite of endogenous
EXPECTORANT A substance that stimulates the outflow of mucus from the lungs
and bronchial mucosa.
EXTRASYSTOLES A premature contraction of the heart. It can be caused by
nervousness, indigestion, a tired and enlarged heart - anything up to overt
organic heart disease.
EXUDATES The feral and congested fluids built up in a bruise or infection.
Unlike a transudate, which is merely edema from lymphatic congestion, exudates
contain dead cells, erythrocytes, white blood cells and often pus.
FAUCES The throat.
FIBROIDS Also called a leiomyoma or fibromyoma (or myofibroma, for that
matter), it is an encapsulated tumor made up of disorganized and irregular
connective tissue. A uterine fibroid is benign, there may be one or many,
they grow slowly, have unknown causes, and may or may not cause painful menses
or mid-cycle bleeding. Much depends on where they are in the uterus and
whether or not they extend far enough into the cavity to impair and thin out
the endometrium. If they do, they cause distress.
FLATUS Intestinal or stomach gas. If it rises upwards, it is an eructation
(burp or belch); if it descends, causing borborygmus (love that word), you are
FLAVONOIDS From flavus, Latin for yellow. A 2-benzene ring, 15-carbon
molecule, it is formed by many plants (in many forms) for a variety of
oxidative-redox enzyme reactions. Brightly pigmented compounds that make many
fruits and berries yellow, red, and purple, and that are considered in European
medicine to strengthen and aid capillary and blood vessel integrity, they are
sometimes (redundantly) called bioflavonoids.
FLUIDEXTRACT An extract of an herb that is made according to official (and
unofficial) pharmaceutical practice, with a strength of 1:1. That means each
ounce of the fluidextract has the solutes found in an ounce of the dried herb.
Advantageous for some herbs (such as Arctium or Taraxacum), where the active
constituents retain the same proportions as in the plant, even though reduced
to a very small volume of menstruum, it is deadly for others (such as Hydrastis
or Lobelia), whose constituents may have wildly varying solubility, and whose
fluidextract will contain only the most soluble constituents and lack others
completely. The gradual disappearance of herbal preparations in Standard
Medicine in the 1930s can partly be attributed to the almost complete reliance
on fluidextracts. Some manufacturers (notably Lilly and SK&F) sold Tinctures
(1:5 strength and meant to, at the least, contain EVERYTHING in the plant) that
were made from diluted fluidextracts. Some fluidextracts were even made from
dilutions of what were termed Solid Extracts....heat-evaporated tars, easy to
store, easy to make in huge labor-minimal batches, where 100 pounds of Blue
Cohosh could be reduced to 25 pounds of solid extract. This convenience pitch,
with many constituents oxidized by heat, others never even extracted, could be
diluted four times to sell as a fluidextract, TWENTY time to market as a
tincture. These practices by American pharmaceutical manufacturers, with eyes
perhaps on the larger drug trade (the use of crude drugs being a diminished
part of their commerce, yet needing MANY different preparations...and being
labor-intensive and profit-minimal...and sort of old-fashioned) ended up
supplying terminally impaired products. Their value being reduced, physicians
relied more and more on mainstream pharmaceuticals...and the medical use of
whole plant preparations died.
FOMENTATION A hot, wet poultice used on painful, inflamed areas. The usual
form is a towel dipped in tea and applied hot or warm to the swollen tissue,
being changed when it cools.
FUNCTIONAL An imbalance of response, without permanent tissue damage, and
GANGLIA (singular: ganglion) Colonies of neurons outside the brain and spinal
cord sometimes acting to control local functions. These latter are little
affected by normal stress conditions. (Example: the solar plexus, made of two
GARBLE Rummaging through and cleaning out herbs; sorting.
GARDNERELLA Formerly Haemophilus, this is an anaerobic bacteria that is a main
contributor to bacterial vaginosis. It is sometimes sexually transmitted, but
can stick around for years as a passive part of the vaginal flora, only to
flare up. It seems to occur in up to a quarter of relatively monogamous women
and in half of women with multiple male partners. As bacterial vaginosis,
Gardnerella is one of the three main causes of vaginal discharges, along with
Trichomonas and Candida albicans. Antibiotic therapy for male partners seems
of only marginal value, and the distinguishing characteristic of the infection
is nearly no Lactobacillus vaginal presence, the main part of the flora that
retains the lactic acid and peroxide balance so important in a healthy vagina.
Live culture yogurt, as both food and douches help the problem.
GASTRALGIA A stomach ache.
GASTRIC Pertaining to the stomach.
GASTRIC ULCER A usually chronic condition, started by irritation, with
congestion in time, leading to edema, blistering, and the formation of an
ulcer. Hylobacter infections seem to prolong and aggravate the condition, but
the presence alone of the bacteria, without functional impairment, will not
begin the disease. Possessing a certain "workaholic" panache...even boasted of
in some business circles as if to validate one's work ethic, it nonetheless is
fatal if untreated.
GASTRITIS Inflammation of the stomach lining, with either congested and boggy
or inflamed membranes. It may be caused by bacteria and yeast or chemical
irritation like alcohol, but most frequently it is the result of emotional
stress and inappropriate patterns of eating.
GASTROENTERITIS Inflammation of the stomach and small intestines. It is more
likely to be infectious than simple gastritis and is often accompanied by fever
and general malaise.
GASTROESOPHAGEAL REFLUX The involuntary regurgitation of stomach contents or
surface acids into the throat, with heartburn; it can be simple or serious.
GIARDIASIS An intestinal tract infection caused by Giardia lamblia, a
flagellate protozoa now common to much of the world. Brought in by hikers and
the hoards of grazing cattle, wintering over in beavers, elk and moose, it is
one of the few parasites to be encountered in the mountains and north country.
It is not normally a very serious infection, but for some reason certain people
experience great debility.
GLAUCOMA An eye disease, usually chronic and slow, with increased pressure of
fluid within the eye causing degrees of impairment to the optic nerve, and
slowing circulation between the eye chambers sufficient to also contribute to
lens deposits and corneal opacities. When under adrenalin stress or under the
effect of most stimulants, pupils dilate, the eyeball changes shape, and
pressure within the eye increases. This may not itself start glaucoma, but
adrenergic stress will surely make it worse.
GLOSSITIS Inflammation of the tongue.
GLUCAGON A hormone produced by the alpha cells of the pancreas that increases
the release of sugar by the liver: it is hyperglycemic. The substance produced
by the beta cells, insulin, induces many tissues (muscles particularly) to
absorb glucose through their membranes and out of the blood; it is
GLUCOSIDE A plant compound containing a glucose and another substance (the
bioactive part). A special-case glycoside.
GLYCOSIDE A plant compound containing one or more alcohols or sugars and a
biologically active compound. The sugar part is called a glycone, the other
stuff is called an aglycone. The important things to remember about some
glycosides is that they may pass through much of the intestinal tract, with the
hydrolysis of the molecule only occurring in the brush borders of the small
intestine. The result is that the bioactive part, the aglycone, is absorbed
directly into the bloodstream, and is often not floating around the intestinal
tract contents at all. Quinones are irritating and even toxic when ingested,
but when taken as glycosides, they are absorbed directly into the bloodstream,
where they are not dangerous (in moderation), and get excreted in the urine,
where they inhibit infections. Plants like Madrone, Uva Ursi, and Manzanita
work in this fashion. Some plant-derived heart medicines are only safe in
proper doses because they, too, are glycosides, and they can be carried safely
bound to proteins in the bloodstream, whereas if the aglycone were in the free
form in the gut it might be either toxic or be digested directly into an
GLYCOSURIA Sugar in the urine, from hyperglycemia, diabetes, or most simply,
GOITER, EXOPHTHALMIC The physical symptoms often associated with Grave's
disease or thyrotoxicosis, with an inflamed, sometimes enlarged thyroid gland
and, most noticeably, protruding eyes.
GOUT A disease that causes episodes of acute arthritis and inflammatory
swelling in one or more joints. Gout usually starts in a well-used, oft
traumatized joint like the right big toe or knee, and usually starts in the
night, during the time that Traditional Chinese Medicine calls "liver hour,"
2:00 to 4:00 A.M. (allowing for daylight saving time). The inflammation is
caused by uric acid crystals that have lodged in the joint's white blood cells
and results from the condition called hyperuricemia. Most folks with gout have
a hereditary tendency to poorly excrete uric acid in urine as they get older,
and it stays in the blood until. . . gout.
GRAM-POSITIVE/NEGATIVE Gram's Method is a staining procedure that separates
bacteria into those that stain (positive) and those that don't (negative).
Gram-positive bugs cause such lovely things as scarlet fever, tetanus, and
anthrax, while some of the gram negs can give you cholera, plague, and the
clap. This is significant to the microbiologist and the pathologist; otherwise
I wouldn't worry. Still, knowing the specifics (toss in anaerobes and aerobes
as well), you can impress real medical professionals with your knowledge of the
secret, arcane language of medicine.
GRANULOCYTES These are a group of white blood cells that have many and
well-pigmented granules, and derive from the bone marrow myeloblasts. The
granules are sources of digestive, immunologic, and inflammatory proteins. The
classic granulocytes are neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils, but one
should also include mast cells. Also, macrophages, which start out as
agranulocytic monocytes but get lots of granules when they grow up.
GU Genital-urinary tract...of particular application to males.
HEMORRHAGE Bleeding, pure and simply. Menses is not blood but the carefully
orchestrated excretion of excess endometrium. If the membranes fail to
vasoconstrict and bleed further, THAT is hemorrhage.
HEMATURIA The presence of blood in the urine.
HEMOLYSIS The breakdown of senescent red blood cells into recycleable
constituents, with particular importance given to the reuse of the heme part of
HEMOLYTIC Promoting the breakdown of red blood cells; a normal process, hectic
and skillfully balanced, the term is usually applied to excess conditions or
toxic substances that degrade the bonds between healthy red blood cells and
their hemoglobin coat or cause the liver and spleen to hypercatabolize
otherwise healthy erythrocytes.
HEMOPATHY A disease of the blood.
HEMOPTYSIS Coughing up blood or pulmonary bleeding. If simply resulting from
excessive coughing, where bleeding is from prolonged tracheal or pharynx
irritation and minute mucosal hemorrhage, it can be self-treatable ...anything
else and start worrying
HEMORRHOIDS Enlarged veins protruding into the anorectal area, either internal
or externally visible. They are either the result of poor sphincter tone and
portal congestion, or sphincter hypertonicity, skeletal muscle and adrenergic
HEMOSTATIC A substance that stops or slows bleeding, used either internally or
HEPATIC Pertaining to the liver.
HEPATITIS An inflammation of the liver. It can be caused by an infection or
by a simple liver toxicity, such as a three-day binge with ouzo, metaxa, and
HEPATOCYTES A functional or parenchymal liver cell, specializing in enzyme
HEPATOMEGALY An enlarged liver. Hepatosplenomegaly is both an enlarged liver
and spleen. Hepatosplenopalestrinamegaly is an enlarged liver, spleen and 17th
century Italian composer.
HERPES ZOSTER See SHINGLES
HIATUS HERNIA An upwards protrusion of the stomach through the diaphragm
wall. It is particularly common in women in their fourth and fifth decades.
HISTAMINE The defense substance responsible for most inflammation. It is
synthesized from the amino acid histidine and is secreted by mast cells,
basophils, and blood platelets. It stimulates vasodilation, capillary
permeability, muscle contraction of the bronchioles, secretions of a number of
glands, and attracts eosinophils, the white blood cells that are capable of
moderating the inflammation. Mast cell histamine release is what usually
HIV Human immunodeficiency virus, the retrovirus that is at least partially
responsible for AIDS. At this time it is not clear what other disorders
besides AIDS may come from HIV infections. AIDS is a syndrome, partially
(perhaps totally) produced by HIV. As with EBV, it is quite possible that the
virus may cause only moderate immunosuppression in some people, while in others
it will progress further to AIDS. The jury (all of them/us) is still out.
HOMEOPATHY Almost two centuries old, it is a system of medicine in which the
treatment of disease (symptom pictures) depends on the administration of minute
doses (attenuations) of substances that would, in larger doses, produce the
same symptoms as the disease being treated. Homeopaths don't like that
"disease" word, preferring to match symptoms, not diagnostic labels. Although
by no means harmless, homeopathic doses are devoid of drug toxicity. Many
practitioners these days prefer high, almost mythic potencies, sometimes
resorting to a virtual "laying on of hands" to attain the alleged remedy. When
M.D.s used homeopathy frequently (turn of the century), there were violent
battles between low potency advocates and the high potency charismatics. Some
preferred low potencies or even mother tinctures (herbs!), which I find quite
reasonable (naturally), such as Boericke. Others sought ever higher and higher
potencies, tantamount to dropping an Arnica petal in Lake Superior in September
and extracting a drop of water at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River the
following April. Kent and Clarke were such homeopaths. Philosophically, to
me, we are all surrounded in a subtle tide of unimaginably complex pollutants
and organochemical recombinants...all low and middle potency homeopathic
attenuations...our milieu itself is Mother Nosode...how can we be expected to
respond to elegant but unimaginably subtle influences when our very bones
radiate a low-potency gray noise. If you have no idea what I am talking about,
just consider it a family argument.
HONEYMOON CYSTITIS Urethral irritation from excess sexual activity...or as a
famous French writer described it, "the plentiful rubbing together of bacons."
HYALURONIDASE An enzyme made by traumatized cartilage (to soften and
regenerate itself when injured), sperm cells (to dissolve the protective layer
around an ovum), the spleen (to speed up hemolysis), added to an IM injection
(so it doesn't get surrounded by connective tissue and never disperse) and
produced by some really nasty bacteria so they can dissolve connective tissue
and get deep into the body. Hyaluronic acid is the target, and it is a basic
mucopolysaccharide rivet, keeping large masses of polymerized compounds in the
state of constant colloid jello (or more technically, a hydrogel facilitant).
HYBRID This is produced by a cross-fertilization between two species. This
happens a lot more often than botanists would like, since a species is presumed
to have distinct genetic characteristics and shouldn't do this hybridizing
thing as often as it does. Most of the dozen or so species of Silk Tassel are
really genetically the same, and the three hundred species of Aconite worldwide
are all capable of hybridizing as well.
HYDROCELE An organized mass of serous or lymphatic fluid, usually encapsulated
by connective tissue. An internal blister. The term is usually applied to a
hydrocele of the testes, but a breast cyst is also a hydrocele.
HYPERCORTICAL Overly anabolic; used here to describe the constitutional, not
HYPEREMIA Excessive presence of blood, usually arterial; and the resultant
increase in heat and metabolic rate. Hyperemia can be a pathology, blowing out
blood vessels and the like; used here to describe the chronic or subclinical
condition of functional vascular excess and excitation.
HYPEREXTENSIONS The excessive extension of a limb or joint, usually followed
by pain and some inflammation.
HYPERGLUCONEOGENESIS Also hyperglyconeogenesis. The state of excessive
synthesis of glycogen (storage starch) or glucose by the liver, derived from
non-sugar sources, such as amino acids, lactate and the glycerol remnants from
triglyceride breakdown. In strictly subclinical terms it signifies a yinny,
catabolic excess, wherein building materials are less desirable than FUEL, and
it is singularly difficult to buff up in any way. There are disease states
where this can occur...starvation would induce it as well, but I am not
addressing this aspect, since I don't consider this to be the realm of
HYPERGLYCEMIA Elevations of blood glucose, either from the various types of
diabetes, excessive sugar intake (short term) or from adrenalin or stimulant
HYPERGLYCOGENOLYSIS The tendency, usually by the liver, to convert glycogen
into glucose at too rapid a rate for metabolic needs.
HYPERKINETIC Too physically active, jittery, peripatetic.
HYPERLIPIDEMIA Elevated blood fats, either from heredity, from having so many
calories in the diet that they are ending up as liver-synthesized storage fats,
from an excessively anabolic metabolism...and from a constellation of less
common disease causes.
HYPERNATREMIA An excess of sodium in the blood...a short-lived condition since
the body retains water until the concentration is back to normal...and the
blood volume (as well as blood pressure) has increased.
HYPERSECRETION Oversecretion of fluids by a gland. It may occur from
irritation, infection, or allergy, as in the nasal drooling in a head cold or
hay fever, or, as in gastric hypersecretion, from a functional imbalance in the
chemical and neurologic stimulus of the stomach lining.
HYPERTHYROID Elevated thyroid levels, either functional and constitutional in
nature or the more profound state of thyrotoxicosis and overt disease.
HYPERURICEMIA Having elevated blood uric acid, either from a rapid rate of
cell breakdown and synthesis (such as might occur from fasting, heavy training,
trauma or any number of major diseases), a high consumption of organ meats,
glandular supplements or spirulina, or the inability (usually hereditary) to
excrete uric acid in the urine as fast as it is produced, even though
production itself is not elevated. See URIC ACID.
HYPOCHONDRIUM The regions of the belly below the ribcage and to the sides, as
in left or right hypochondrium.
HYPOCORTICAL Having low adrenocortical function.
HYPOGLYCEMIA Low blood sugar. It can be an actual clinical condition (rather
rare), but the term is usually applied to LABILE blood sugar, where the highs
are socially acceptable, if zappy, but the lows cause headaches, depression
...and sugar cravings...which only kick the sugars UP (adrenalin stimulates a
quick emergency release of sugar from the liver, and soon THAT is overlapped by
the first wave of dietary sugar from whatever you ended up actually eating)
...which forces the sugars DOWN (from the insulin secreted because of a sudden
rise in blood sugar)...etc. This is a subclinical condition that usually goes
nowhere, at least clinically, but can drive you (or your companion) crazy. Some
normal and healthy foods produce a VERY quick and VERY short elevation of blood
sugar, and can leave you hanging if you have this type of metabolism; fruits,
potatoes and carrot juice are LOUSY. On the other hand, legumes, particularly
beans, supply slow and extended release of calories over many hours
...partially because of high levels of soluble fiber, partially because of
slow, even laborious digestion. If you can't handle legumes too well, or you
have a daily "bean threshold" and any beans or peanuts or soya past that amount
causes lots of gas or semi-allergic reactions, simply adding such nutritionally
useless non-legumes as Psyllium Seed and Chia Seed to some of your common foods
will add enough soluble fiber to REALLY slow down sugar spiking.
HYPOTENSION Low blood pressure. Not always a bad thing unless you need 11
hours of sleep or faint if you stand too quickly.
HYPOTESTOSTERONISM Having either low secretion levels of testosterone by the
testes, having low functional effects because of poor circulation, having
competition by less active testosterone metabolites, or having high levels of
adipose-released estradiol (former testosterone) in obesity that ends up
suppressing testosterone. There are, of course, organic diseases that can cause
HYPOTHALAMUS A part of the diencephalon of the brain, it is a major actor in
the limbic system. This is a functional, not anatomic, system in the brain
that influences and is influenced by emotions. Call the limbic system an ad
hoc committee that decides how things are going today, based on the past, the
present, the potential, and the myriad informational inputs from the somatic
body. The hypothalamus gathers the data and sets the levels of the pituitary
thermostat. The pituitary does what the hypothalamus tells it to do, and our
whole chemical nervous system responds to the pituitary, which responds to the
hypothalamus, which, along with the rest of the limbic system, decides the kind
of day we need to get ready for. And to think that some doctors used to (and
still) scoff at a "psychosomatic disorder."
HYPOTHYROID Having deficient thyroid levels, either from overt thyroid disease
like myxedema, a generally low metabolism from functional causes, or subsequent
to emotional depression or the use of depressant drugs.
HYPOXIA Lack of sufficient oxygen, such as occurs at high altitudes.
IATROGENIC Illness, disease, or imbalances created by medical or nonmedical
treatment that were not present before treatment. In medicine the therapy is
blamed (not the therapist) and changed to something else. In alternative
medicine it may be called a "healing crisis" and deemed good for you. Beware:
if the therapy makes you feel worse in a new way, it is almost always the wrong
IBS Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
IgE Immunoglobulin E is a type of antibody produced by IgE plasma cells. These
are specialized B-cell lymphocytes that make free-floating antibodies for what
is termed humoral resistance. IgE is peculiar for several reasons. It is not
made to be specific against only one antigen like other gamma globulins, but
instead can bind with a number of dangerous proteins. Further, IgE travels to
mast cells, sticks to their surfaces, and when antigens get stuck to the IgE,
the mast cells secrete inflammatory compounds like histamine. Since IgE is a
generalist, coded for a number of potential toxins, not just a single
substance, it can decide that Juniper pollen and cat dander are antigens...and
you have an allergy. Elevated production of IgE is often inherited, which is
why allergies run in a family-and why, once you have an allergy, the mast cells
and IgE can decide that, for the duration, a whole bunch of other stuff causes
hypersensitivity reactions, stuff that wouldn't normally bother you without an
ILEOCECAL Pertaining to both the last section of the small intestine (the
ileum) and the beginning of the large intestines, the ascending colon or cecum.
EXAMPLE: Ileocecal valve
ILEUM The lower two-thirds of the small intestine, ending in the ileocecal
valve and emptying into the cecum of the colon. The last foot of the ileum is
the only absorption site available for such important dietary substances as
vitamin B12, folic acid, some essential fatty acids, fat soluble vitamins, and
recycled bile acids.
IMMUNITY The ability to resist infection and to heal. The process may involve
acquired immunity, (the ability to learn and remember a specific infectious
agent), or innate immunity (the genetically programmed system of responses that
attack, digest, remove, and initiate inflammation and tissue healing).
IMMUNOSTIMULANT An agent that stimulates either innate or acquired immunity.
In the U.S., immunotherapy is relegated to experimental medicine, but a number
of plant substances are used in Europe as immunostimulants. The presumption of
immunostimulation is that you increase native resistance and let it run its
course. American Standard Practice, with all good intentions, tends to
aggressive procedures, and feels empowered only when intervening against, not
with, physiologic responses. Medicine is the only approach to many problems,
but in the U.S. we all tend to forget that our brand of standard practice is
uniquely aggressive and invasive amongst the industrialized nations. There are
other ways...which is presumably why you have this glossary in the first place.
IMMUNOSUPPRESSANT An agent that acts to suppress the body's natural immune
response. This is totally understandable in tissue and organ transplants, and
in some dangerous inflammatory conditions, but nearly all anti-inflammatory
medications are immunosuppressant, including cortisone, antihistamines, and
even aspirin. Some medical radicals are convinced that the chronic viral and
fungal disorders of our age are partially facilitated by such medications.
INCONTINENCE The inability to retain urine in the bladder for a reasonable
length of time. It is can be caused by urethral irritation, loss of tone to
the basement muscle of the bladder (the trigone), scarification or growths on
the urethral lining, nerve damage, or emotional stress.
INDOLENT A sluggish and unresolving condition, often with ulcerations and
INFLUENZA A specific type of acute viral respiratory infection, with one virus
(many strains) and a short, nasty stay. A few thousand people die from it
every year, but humans alive at present have almost universal partial
resistance. It was not so during WWI, when it first began to spread. It was
variously called Spanish Influenza, La Grippe, and Influenza (Italian for
Influence)...everyone blamed some other country for it. The Turks and
Armenians took a break from mutual mutilation and blamed it on each other,
since it killed as many people as the 1,000,000 fatalities THAT bit of genocide
fostered. It ran across the world like some Bergmanesque horseman, and killed
at least 20 million people before it petered out around 1925. The villages of
Northern New Mexico, filled with grim and genetically toughened Spanish
settlers, survivors of terrible weather, 300 years of isolation, the
Inquisition, and Anglo carpetbaggers, suffered fatalities that reached 40% in
some places. The flu is new.
INGUINAL NODES The lymph nodes on both sides of the groin and next to the
INSULIN-DEPENDENT DIABETES Also called Juvenile-onset Diabetes, IDDM
(Insulin-Dependent Diabetes) and Type I, it is a deficiency condition wherein
the pancreas does not manufacture enough insulin or what it makes is formed
improperly. It is usually inherited, although it may not surface until
pregnancy, recovering from a life-threatening illness, boot camp or some other
profound metabolic stress. It can have a not-hereditary source, since it may
enigmatically follow after a viral disorder, or can occur spontaneously as an
auto-immune condition. The percentage of folks with non-hereditary Type I
diabetes is constantly increasing (or the other group is stable, but total
numbers are increasing). Radical environmentalists and tree-hugging Gaiaists
Pagans (I'm using the dialectic current to the pro-business backlash of the
1990s, when Green is out, and White-With-Green i$ in) claim this is another
aspect of massive though subtle pollution from organochemical soup, which even
some Real Doctors admit can cause increased auto-immune disease. (SOMETHING is
causing it, at any rate, not simply cola drinks.)
INSULIN-RESISTANT DIABETES Also called NIDDM (Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes)
and Type II (Type II), it generally means you make your own insulin, you eat
too many calories, your storage cells are filled and are taking no more fuel,
your liver is stuck in a rut and keeps making more glucose out of everything
you eat, your brain has no control over its consumption of glucose, but you
have run out of places to put it so you pee it out, sweat it out, etc. etc.
Also called Adult-onset Diabetes. An Internist may cry out in dismay at this
simplification, and there are many subtle distinctions between the various
types, as well as a number of distinct hereditary considerations. This,
however, is the glossary of an herb program, and this is the common picture of
the Type II person that herbs will help.
INTERSTITIAL FLUID The hydrogel that surrounds cells in soft tissues. It is a
mucopolysaccharide starch gel, and the serum that leaves the blood capillaries
flows through this gel, some to return to the exiting venous blood, some to
enter the lymph system. There is an old medical axiom: the blood feeds the
lymph, and the lymph feeds the cells. Interstitial fluid that flows through
the starch colloid is this lymph.
INTRINSIC Arising from the nature of a thing...native or inherent. Intrinsic
asthma, as an example, arises from congestive inflammation, neurohormonal and
auto-allergic conditions of the lung and bronchial membranes themselves, not
from EXTRINSIC causes, like Juniper pollen or a bee sting.
INTRINSIC FACTOR One of two proteins secreted from the lining of the stomach
whose sole purpose is (it seems) to cradle B12 in a pre-fitted styrofoam mold
and (A) carry it through the Seven Levels of Digestive Hell until it reaches
those few absorption sites in the last foot of small intestine that understand
its "Special Needs" (sounds either sexually kinky or the airplane dinner label
on kosher food for flying Hassidim jewelers) and finally (B) slip it from one
protein to the other, and thence into the cell membranes where its handed over
to (C) the specialized blood protein that can carry it safely to the final
target tissues (3 times out of 4, the bone marrow). Apparently cyanocobalamin
(B12) has parts that fall off, radicals that twirl around in five directions on
three charge potentials, and is as durable as a 49 cent water pistol. And, if
we have an ulcer, chronic enteritis or long-standing steatorrhea, we either get
B12 shots (and hope the liver still makes that blood carrier) or walk vaguely
around with pernicious anemia and a hematocrit of 16.
IRITIS, RHEUMATOID An autoimmune (rheumatoid factor) inflammation of the iris.
This is a face of rheumatoid arthritis seldom diagnosed, along with rheumatoid
otitis. Although antiinflammatory drugs may be necessary, I would recommend
starting off with simple things like Arctium , Rumex crispus and Taraxacum,
along with alkalizing teas such as Nettles, Red Clover and Alfalfa (oops...I
mean Urtica, Trifolium and Medicago). If they don't help enough you can STILL
take the drugs.
IRITIS, VIRAL A viral infection of the iris. It appears red, swollen, and
pupil contraction and relaxation is erratic and pulled. The usual cause is a
herpes infection, often resident in the trigeminal nerve, and reoccurring
during times of stress or sympathetic to a larger viral condition.
IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (IBS) This is a common and generally benign condition
of the colon, taking different forms but usually characterized by alternating
constipation and diarrhea. There is often some pain accompanying the diarrhea
phase. The bowel equivalent of asthma, its main cause is stress, often
accompanied by a history of GI infections. Adrenalin stress slows the colon
and causes constipation, followed by a cholinergic rebound overstimulation of
the colon. It is also called spastic colon, colon syndrome, mucous colitis,
even chronic colitis. True colitis is a potentially or actually serious
ISOTONIC Having the same salinity as body fluids. You can make a quart of
water isotonic by adding a slightly rounded measuring teaspoon of table salt to
a quart of water.
JAUNDICE The presence of bilirubin deposits in the skin, whites of the eyes
and mucosa. Bilirubin, the unrecycleable waste products of hemoglobin, are
normally excreted in the bile, get carried down the intestinal tract and color
our feces its usual comfortable brown. If the bile ducts are blocked, or blood
breaks down too quickly, or the liver itself is diseased (it performs much of
the recycling), then the yellow/orange/brown bilirubin has nowhere to go but
out the urine (making it the standard hepatitis color) and into the skin.
Jaundice ain't bad...its the causes that one should worry about.
KLEBSIELLA A bacteria genus of the Enterobacteriaceae. K. pneumoniae is
implicated in much pneumonia, particularly when it is a secondary infection
following a simple chest cold.
LACHRYMITIS (also Lacrimitis) Inflamed lacrimal or tear ducts.
LACTEALS Specialized lymph formations found in the small intestine mucosa.
Together with enzymatic activities in the submucosa, they collect digested fats
into stable transport bubbles called chylomicrons, and draw them up into the
lymph system. There they are gradually leeched into the blood as the lymph
passes upwards through the body, the remainder discharged into the venous blood
with the lymph...12-24 hours later. Time-Released fat capsules. Fats lower
the blood charge and make it sticky, which can interfere with vascular
capabilities; the sideways bypassing of the blood in this manner spreads the
fats out over long periods. The rest of the digested constituents can happily
flow up to the liver through the portal system, unsludged, and the liver itself
has little lipid stress to face. If fats are poorly digested in the upper
intestinal tract, the floating bubbles are larger, broken down too slowly to be
well absorbed into the lymph system, and the portal blood...and liver...get
sludged. Ever wonder why a bunch of lousy pizza can give you hemorrhoids the
next day? Sludgy portal blood and backed-up venous drainage from the legs is
LACTOBACILLUS A genus of gram-positive, acid-resistant bacteria in the
Lactobacillaceae family. We know of lactobacillus because of its use in making
yogurt and the conventional wisdom of taking it in one form or another after
antibiotic therapy, but it is an integral part of the colon and mouth flora,
and is the critical acidifying agent in vaginal flora. There is a growing body
of rather ignored data showing the value of regular consumption of a
lactobacillus-containing food in immunosuppression, slow virus, and candidiasis
LANCEOLATE A leaf that is lance-shaped.
LARYNGITIS Inflammation of the larynx, usually implying hoarseness or aphonia.
LATERAL At or on the side, usually from a stem.
LDL Low Density Lipids. The levels are usually indicative of liver function
and metabolic tendencies, and the relative proportions of LDL, VLDL and HDL
show relationships between caloric intake, anabolic energy, skeletal muscle
metabolism and adipose tissue health. They are not innately wrong, anymore
than is cholesterol; all are ABSOLUTELY necessary for health. It's all a
matter of proportion, and the relationship between consumption and tissue
LEAFLET A small leaf that is part of a compound leaf.
LEUKOCYTES White blood cells, of whatever race or creed.
LEUKOCYTOSIS Having abnormally high numbers of white blood cells, usually the
result of a non-viral infection.
LEUKOPENIA Having abnormally low numbers of white blood cells.
LIMBIC SYSTEM A functional, not physical, system in the brain, generally
considered to mediate emotions with metabolism.
LIMBIC/HYPOTHALAMUS Broadly the accumulative process of emotional and
metabolic evaluation, as carried on by the various parts of the brain that are
part of the ad hoc "evaluations" committee (the limbic system) and those
changes in metabolism that, based on the evaluations, are acted out in the
whole body by the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus, the main part of the system
with tools, acts through a blood translator, the pituitary gland.
LINIMENT A liquid containing therapeutic agents for topical application. It
may be an alcohol, oil, or water preparation.
LIPID A descriptive term, rather than chemical one, for fats. Broadly, it
means true fats (like triglycerides), lipoids (like phospholipids) and sterols
LIPOTROPIC FACTORS Various compounds and processes that enable the liver to
metabolize fats properly or prevent the formation of cholesterolic stones in
the gall bladder by supporting the continued emulsification of gall bladder
bile. EXAMPLES: Lecithin, choline, Aristolochia
LITHIASIS Having stones, usually in reference to the kidneys and urinary
tract, sometimes to the gall bladder apparatus. Technically this can also
refer to salivary gland calculi and impacted precipitants in the seminal
vesicles or prostate.
LOCHIA The uterine discharge following birth, changing from reddish the first
few days, to yellowish or clear after a couple of weeks. Many traditional
skills of a midwife or partera center around evaluating the qualities and
progress of lochia.
LUMBAR REGION The lower back, five segments of the spinal chord and column,
between the sacrum and thoracic regions.
LUTEINIZING HORMONE (LH) This is a sugar-bearing protein manufactured by the
anterior pituitary. Like a lot of the pituitary hormones, it surges on and
off, since constant secretion would overload and deaden receptors. In women,
it builds up after menses, stimulating the release of estrogen from the
ovaries. Estrogen in turn stimulates the hypothalamus to increase its
stimulation of LH from the pituitary, until, a day or two before ovulation,
they produce a guitar-amp feedback, and the cells that produce LH start to
surge follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). The egg pops, being replaced by the
corpus luteum, which produces progesterone for the next eleven to twelve days.
Progesterone inhibits and lowers LH levels, as well as inhibiting levels of
estrogen already being produced by the young follicles that will produce next
month's egg. In men, LH is responsible for stimulation of testosterone,
although FSH and the testes hormone inhibin are responsible for both the
production of sperm and controlling testosterone.
LUTEINIZING-HORMONE RELEASING HORMONE (LH-RH) The same substance as
Follicle-Stimulating-Hormone Releasing Hormone (FSH-RH), both of which are
actually Gonadotrophin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH or GRH). Confused? Imagine
being an endocrinologist 20 years ago. These (This) are (is) a peptide
secreted into the little portal system that drains from the hypothalamus to the
pituitary. If it is surged hourly and not too strongly, the pituitary secretes
LH and the ovaries secrete estrogen. If it is surged hourly and strongly, the
estrogens rise drastically, the pituitary secretes FSH, you pop an egg, start
the corpus luteum and begin progesterone secretion. The surge is now slowed to
every four or five hours, not too strongly, and the pituitary secretes LH every
four or five hours...and the ovaries make progesterone. The same hypothalamic
hormone triggers different pituitary responses based on AMPLITUDE and
LYMPH Pertaining to the lymph system or lymph tissue, the "back alley" of
blood circulation. Lymph is the alkaline, clear intercellular fluid that
drains from the blood capillaries, where the arterial blood separates into
thick, gooey venous blood and lymph. It bathes the cells, drains up into the
lymph capillaries, through the lymph nodes for cleaning and checking against
antibody templates, up through the body, and back to recombine with the venous
blood in the upper chest. Blood in the veins is thick, mainly because part of
its fluid is missing, traveling through the tissues as lymph. Lymph nodes in
the small intestine absorb most of the dietary fats as well-organized
chylomicrons. Lymph nodes and tissue in the spleen, thymus, and tonsils also
organize lymphocytes and maintain the software memory of previously encountered
antigens and their antibody defense response. Blood feeds the lymph, lymph
feeds the cells, lymph cleanses the cells and returns to the blood.
LYMPH NODES The central drainage and metabolic organs strung along the lymph
vessels. The mesenchymal structure is native, being present at birth. The
functional cells have all migrated there, some recently from the marrow,
spleen, thymus or blood, others have resided since a few months after birth.
Much of the antibody memory is stored in these nodes, and having only venous
blood supply, lymph nodes are constantly shunting metabolized substances back
into the blood, so the final lymph drainage from the thoracic duct into the
left subclavian vein (or the right subclavian) contains fluid already screened
and cleansed by many nodes.
LYMPHADENITIS Inflammation or swelling of one or more lymph nodes. It may be
an acute response or chronic, but signals the drainage into those nodes of
microbes, their waste products, or the immuno-complexes produced upstream,
whether from infection or allergy. A few infections can target or inhabit
lymph nodes such as typhoid and EBV. Some people, with a past history of
infection in a specific tissue (such as chronic sore throat as a kid) will have
developed a LARGER sized node, hard and permanently palpable. These are
hypertrophic or "shotty" nodes, and of no more importance than pumped-up
muscles or old scar tissue.
LYMPHANGITIS Inflammation of one or more lymph nodes and/or lymph vessels,
usually part of an acute infectious condition.
LYMPHATIC Pertaining to the lymph system...sometimes more broadly to include
LYMPHOMA A neoplasia of the lymph tissue, such as Hodgkin's Disease. Although
it is frequently useful to stimulate immunity when a person is undergoing
chemotherapy for cancer, since the resultant immunosuppression is a major side
effect of the treatment, in lymphatic cancer this the POINT of the
therapy...let it be.
MACROPHAGE This is a mature form of what is released from the marrow as a
monocyte. A macrophage lives long, can digest much detritus, and is able to
wear particles of odd food on its outer membrane. This allows T-cell and
B-cell lymphocytes to taste the particle (an epitope) and form an antibody
response. Further, these macrophages, traveling as monocytes, will take up
permanent residence in many tissues, providing them with immunity. They line
the spleen, form the cleansing Kupffer cells in the liver, make up the "dust
cells" that protect the lungs, protect the synovial fluids of the joints, and
form the microglial cells that provide protection to the brain and nerve
tissues. On and on, the macrophages clean up messes and acting as the
intermediates between innate and acquired immunity.
MALABSORPTION Improper utilization of needed and available nutrients, either
from impaired digestive function (such as B12 being unabsorbed because of
gastritis), impaired absorption (poor Vitamin E absorption because of an
inflamed ileum) or impaired transport (the diminished blood proteins of the
advanced alcoholic). There are other causes as well, but you get the idea.
MALAISE A fretful and low energy state, often considered an early sign of
infection or low fever. Ask someone with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Multiple
Chemical Sensitivities...they'll tell you how it feels.
MAO INHIBITION The suppression of monoamine oxydase (flavin-containing amine
oxydase). MAO is critical in modifying nerve-ending storage of certain
mono-amines (in this case, epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine...another
type of MAO works on histamines), and MAO inhibitor drugs were, along with
tricyclics, the first wave of anti-depressants. The problem was that if you ate
brie cheese or chopped chicken livers while taking the drugs you could get a
nosebleed or cerebral aneurysm...a double adrenergic whammy, since some foods
are also strongly MAO-inhibiting. Although most current manuals (Merck's and
Harrison's among others) consider these first generation drugs as safer and
preferable to the recent Prozac and such, fashion am fashion, with docs as much
as patients. Most of the patients a doctor sees are People That See Doctors
(most Americans have infrequent medical contact). Some come with clippings in
hand, a few find out about new stuff before their doctor does (they only have
ONE patient..themselves) and the pressure for gilt-edged newness is hard to
resist all around. The only herb I know of with any consequential MAO
inhibition is Hypericum, and its effect, although not to be ignored, is less
than French semi-soft cheeses.
MAST CELLS These are a group of cells that line the capillaries of tissues
that come in contact with the outside, like skin, sinuses, and lung mucosa.
They, like their first cousin basophils, are produced in the red bone marrow
and migrate to the appropriate tissues, where they stay. They bind IgE, supply
the histamine and heparin response that gives you a healing inflammation, and
MATRIX The intercellular substance of a tissue. It forms the primary mass in
some cartilage, bones, and the lens of the eye...where living cells are so
separated they communicate with e-mail.
MENARCHE The beginning of the reproductive phase of a woman's life. It
usually begins with night sweats, continues a few months later with estrogen,
followed by ovulation, then the full cycle and the growth of secondary sexual
characteristics...in various order. Also called adolescence or puberty, it is
mirrored in reverse at the end of the reproductive years as menopause.
MENOPAUSE The several years, in the late forties or early fifties, when the
great birth reservoir of potential ovarian follicles has been reduced to only a
few, many with innately poor hormone-sensitivities (which is perhaps why they
are still remaining...they never heard the clarion call of FSH). As fewer
follicles are capable of fully-programmed function, corpus luteal fragilities
start to show as diminished progesterone levels...later, even the pre-ovulatory
estrogens start to diminish. The pituitary, sensing first the progesterone
wobbles, then, maybe a year later, the erratic estrogens, tries to jump start
the ovaries, sending increasing levels of Luteinizing Hormone (LH)...with
diminishing results. Since the brain (hypothalamus) is actually controlling
things, it is sending out higher levels of pituitary stimulating hormones,
which the pituitary matches with its blood-carried trophic or gonadotropic
hormones...in this case, LH. What the pituitary hears from the hypothalamus is
TYPE of brain chemical, MAGNITUDE of chemical, and, as much of this is being
pulsed, FREQUENCY of the chemical. At a certain point, the
gonadotropic-releasing-hormone sent out by the hypothalamus is so loud and
frequent that the pituitary starts sending out things like TSH
(thyroid-stimulating hormone) and somatotropins (growth hormone) as well as
LH...hot flashes, changes in food cravings, sleep cycles, skin
texture...whatever. Like old partners in an ancient dance whose music is
ending, the hormonal imbalances are the reverse of those experienced by the
woman years ago in menarche. As above, so below. When the dust settles, the
metabolic hormones have found a new interaction, anabolic functions have been
transferred from the ovaries to the adrenal cortex, and that reservoir of
stored estradiol still present in the "Womanly Flesh" of the breasts, thighs,
hips and buttocks, started many years ago, maintains a low blood level,
diminishing over the following years, easing some of the estrogen-binding
tissue into the change.
MENOPAUSE, SURGICAL A term rather callously used to describe the cessation of
ovarian hormones as a result of a radical hysterectomy...or what the British
more honestly refer to as castration.
MENORRHAGIA Excess bleeding at menses, in duration or amount. Causes are
many, although chronic menorrhagia and PMS is usually the result of deficient
progesterone secretions (days-per-month) or constant adipose-released estradiol
from obesity or recent substantial weight loss. Uterine fibroids can
contribute, as can menopausal breakthrough bleeding or flooding, coagulation
disorders, and most serious metabolic disease can produce menorrhagia as one of
many symptoms. My rule of thumb as an herbalist is, if botanicals fail to
control the bleeding directly (hemostatics) or attempting to reestablish a good
folliculization for the next month's corpus luteum does not help, there may be
a metabolic problem or an overt reproductive pathology. In menopausal
menorrhagia, however, the conditions are transitional and in flux...it is hard
to use such absolute statements.
MENSTRUUM The solvent used in extraction. For a dry tincture, the menstruum
might be 50% alcohol and 50% water. The menstruum for mint tea is hot water.
MESENCHYMAL CELLS Literally, those derived from embryonic mesoderm;
practically, those in a tissue that give it structure and form. The opposite
MESENTERIC Pertaining to the great fold that holds the small intestines, blood
vessels and lymph in a great curtain, connected with the back of the abdominal
MESOMORPH In somatotyping, a mesoderm-muscle-structural dominant person. The
Incredible Hulk syndrome.
METABOLISM The sum total of changes in an organism in order to achieve a
balance (homeostasis). Catabolic burns up, anabolic stores and builds up; the
sum of their work is metabolism.
METABOLITES A by-product, waste product, or endotoxin produced as the result
of metabolism, both normal and defensive.
METRORRHAGIA Uterine bleeding at times other than menstrual
MITOSIS The classic four-phased cellular division of somatic cells, wherein
(when the dust settles) two new daughter cells contain full chromosomal
information of the parent, complete nuclei, and half the cytoplasm. This is
distinct from cloning (as in the bone morrow) and the chromosome splitting of
miosis (ovum and sperm).
MITTELSCHMERZ Abdominal pains that occur midway between menstrual periods and
which are caused either by ovulation or the normal short pre-ovulatory surge of
MONONUCLEOSIS Properly, infectious mononucleosis, a viral infection of the
lymph pulp most frequently caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. The spleen, lymph
nodes, and (sometimes) the liver are involved. The general symptoms are fever,
sore throat, exhaustion, and abnormal white blood cells.
MS Multiple Sclerosis
MUCOEPITHELIAL Tissues with mixed characteristics of both mucous membranes and
epidermis, found around the entrances into the body.
MUCOPURULENT A discharge of mixed mucus and pus, usually from congested and
moderately infected membranes.
MUCOUS MEMBRANES (MUCOSA): The mucus-secreting skin that lines (and protects
against the environment) all openings, cavities or entrances into the body,
such as the intestinal tract, lungs, urinary tract, sinuses, vagina, etc.
MUCOUS COLITIS A form of colitis that is less inflammatory and closer in
nature, if not identical with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, with cramps, intestinal
guarding followed by soft or hard stools and various amounts of mucus. There
are usually periods of constipation
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS A chronic, usually progressive disease of the central
nervous system, with the gradual patchy disorganization of the protective
myelin cells. It is almost certainly an auto-immune disorder, although viral
infections sometimes seem to initiate the condition, and physical trauma is
often seen to anomalously precede the first symptoms.
MUMPS An acute infectious disease, caused by a paramyxovirus, and most common
in children. Although it usually infects the parotid glands, and is often only
a mild condition, it CAN spread to the testes or ovaries, particularly when
contracted by unresistant adults, and a mild child's infection that is not
properly honored by R&R always holds the potential for pancreatic or meningeal
MYALGIA Tenderness or pain of the muscles themselves; muscular rheumatism.
MYENTERIC PLEXUS Broadly, the several neuron masses, ganglia, and nerve fiber
plexus that lie in the walls of the intestinal tract, particularly the small
intestine. They monitor and stimulate local muscle and glandular functions as
well as blood supply, with little interface or control by the central nervous
system or the autonomics. Each synapse away from the CNS gives greater
autonomy, and these nerves only listen to God ... and food. This means the
small intestine is relatively free of stress syndromes.
MYOCARDIUM The middle, muscular layer of the heart.
MYXEDEMA Puffiness and fluid retention resulting from thyroid hypofunction,
either organic (serious, and often complicated by pituitary or adrenalcortical
deficiencies) or functional (often a bipolar depressive thyroid phase).
NARCOLEPSY A chronic neurologic condition characterized by reoccurring and
inexplicable drowsiness and sleep. There is no organic cause and no seeming
changes in EEG readings.
NARCOTIC A substance that depresses central nervous system function, bringing
sleep and lessening pain. By definition, narcotics can be toxic in excess.
NDGA Nordihydroguaiaretic acid, a substance found in abundance in the
oleoresins of Larrea (Chaparral) and the Guaiacum genus (Lignum Vitae). It is
strongly antioxidant to lipids and is antifungal, antimicrobial and
antibacterial. Both plants contain a constellation of related compounds and do
not have the potential kidney toxicity found in pure NDGA...and the reason it
is no longer used as an EDTA-type edible oil stabilizer in food manufacturing.
NECROSIS Death of tissue or cells, either from infection or the loss of normal
circulation and autotoxicity.
NEOPLASIA The presence of abnormal cells forming a growth or tumor, unable to
perform their normal functions, and replacing healthy cells.
NEPHRITIS Inflammation or infection of the kidneys, as opposed to lower
urinary tract inflammations such as cystitis or urethritis, which are usually
comparatively mild. Nephritis can be a far more serious condition, and usually
requires medical care.
NEURALGIA Pain, sometimes severe, that manifests along the length of a nerve
and arises within the nerve itself, not in the tissue from which the sensation
seems to arise.
NEURASTHENIA Tiredness or exhaustion, often in excess of what would seem
appropriate from purely physical causes.
NEURITIS Nerve inflammation, usually with an abnormal amount of pain, and
often part of a degenerative process.
NEUROGENIC Sensations or conditions derived solely from the nervous system
NEUROPATHIES A disease of the central or peripheral nervous systems. In more
common reference, a neuropathy is primarily a disorder of peripheral nerves.
CNS diseases are often life threatening; neuropathies are generally disorders
of the control and sensory nerves out in the body.
NEUTROPHILS Another name for polymorphonuclear leukocytes, the most common
type of blood-carried white blood cell, and the first mobile resistance cell to
come to the rescue in injury.
NITROGENOUS A compound or molecule that contains nitrogen; in my context, a
substance that is or was a part of protein metabolism.
NUCLEOPROTEIN A molecule that is formed from a structural protein that is
combined with nucleic acid, and generally found in cell nuclei and other
proliferative points in cells. Upon cell death, nucleoproteins, unlike others,
cannot be catabolized and recycled efficiently; instead, part of the protein is
degraded to purines, and thence to uric acid. Uric acid, unlike recycleable
urea, is an excretory dead end.
NURSE LOGS In old-growth forests, these are ancient downed trees that rot so
slowly that they themselves become the fungus and growth media for new and
growing trees and other life-forms.
OIL, FIXED These are lipids, esters of long-chain fatty acids and alcohols, or
generally related oily stuff. If you drop some fixed oil on a blotter, it just
stays there-forever. (Example: olive oil.)
OIL, VOLATILE The aromatic, oxygenated derivatives of terpenes that can be
obtained from plants (in our case), usually by distillation. Unlike a fixed
oil that has no scent (unless rancid), volatile oils are all scent. (Example:
oil of Peppermint.)
OPHTHALMIA Severe eye inflammation, including conjunctivitis, iritis, severe
hay fever, etc.
OPTHALMALGIA Very simply, eye pain.
OPPOSITE Plant parts, usually leaves, that form pairs at nodes.
ORBITAL HEADACHE A headache around the eyes. There are supra-orbital headaches
and suborbital headaches as well...the difference escapes me.
ORCHITIS Inflammation of the testes, manifested by swelling and tenderness,
usually infectious, sometimes the result of trauma.
ORGANIC DISEASE A disease that started as, or became, impairment of structure
or tissue. The smoker may have coughing and shortness of breath for years, and
suffer from functional disorders; when the smoker gets emphysema, it is an
OSTEOPOROSIS The softening of bone mass and the widening of the bone canals.
This occurs with both age and diminished physical activity. Since women live
longer, they are more likely to show such signs. (WARNING! Tirade Ahead!) There
is little doubt that the condition is increasing among American women, and is
starting to show itself at an earlier age. This is called "improved diagnostic
methods" (harumph). The statistics that show the rise to be strongest in women
that have used steroid hormone therapies in their earlier years seems to have
escaped the notice of current Medical Conventional Wisdom. This states that ALL
women need medical care against osteoporosis going into menopause, and the
primary treatment is...steroid hormones (this year, at least). I know this may
sound smarmy, coming from some long-in-the-tooth hippy male, but I would be far
more impressed if SERIOUS attention was given to carefully defining the
parameters of a woman's risks. The road of medicine is strewn with four
decades of well-intended universal hormone approaches to women's
health...embarrassedly forgotten. The idea of universal HRT for a whole
generation of menopausal women seems like a frightening experiment in medical
fascism and band-wagon hubris. There is no attention given as to WHY our future
elders are suddenly stricken with a medical problem. Were birth-control pills,
made up of synthetic digestion-proof steroid analogues, a major cause? Has our
food become simply inadequate and over-processed? Have the decades of exposure
by women to xeno-estrogens that are derived from degraded insecticides had more
effect than even those claimed by environmental watch-dog groups, i.e. the rise
in breast and prostate cancer, the halving of the sperm count in Caucasian
males and the little-dicked alligators reported from Florida? Is the synthetic
flavor in that pink bubble gum to blame? Perhaps its the fumes released from
the early Barbies? FDS? There must be some reason, but the present medical
answer is only HRT and (if politics allow) Jane Fonda tapes.
OTITIS MEDIA Inflammation, infectious or sterile, of the middle ear. In
children this is often complicated by fluid buildup behind the eardrum. This
raises the anxiety levels of conscious parents, debating the three-decade-old
question, "Antibiotics?". They may fear the realistic (and unrealistic)
effects of the drug, weighed against the anguish of a center-of-attention
complaining child and the knee-jerk agitation they feel (particularly the
mother...see OXYTOCIN). Then, when three months of antibiotic therapy doesn't
work for some children (and they now show the brand-new signs of having become
allergic..."No connection with the antibiotics at all" sez the pediatrician),
the parents have descended to another level of Parent Bardo..."Tubes in his
ears?!" You can guess my feelings. I am not, however, suggesting ignoring your
pediatrician. There is, at the present, many strong, if minority, medical
currents against these approaches...you may have a Ped. that starts with
antibiotics the first day and practically pre-schedules a three-month-away
intubation visit...Let Your Fingers Do The Walking (see YELLOW PAGES). Another
BabyDoc may not want to use antibiotics UNLESS other measures have failed and
there is the extended presence of pus behind the eardrum. Turning away from
such conservative an approach can hurt the kid...and is giving the careful
physician a session in Negative Reinforcement Therapy. "Antibiotics uber
alles!" proclaims a banner in the waiting room next visit, and there may be a
case displaying the newest line of Swatch Eartubes.
OXYTOCIN A short-lived, fast acting hormone, made by the hypothalamus of the
brain, along with its close relative vasopressin (anti-diuretic hormone),
stored in the posterior pituitary, and released into the blood as needed. It
stimulates certain smooth muscle coats, constricts certain blood vessels and
facilitates the sensitivity of some tissues to other hormones and nerves. The
main tissues affected are the uterus, including endo- and myometriums, vagina,
breasts (both sexes), erectile tissue (both sexes), seminal vesicles, and with
special-case effects on uterine muscle contractions in both birth and orgasm,
the vascular constriction that lessens placental separation bleeding, and the
let-down reflex that nursing mothers have when babies cry (or kittens mew...or
PALMATE Having a leaf shaped like a hand.
PANCREAS This is a gland situated above the navel in the abdominal cavity that
extends from the left side to the center, with its head tucked into the curve
of the duodenum. It is 6-8 inches long, weighs 3 or 4 ounces, secretes
pancreatic enzymes and alkali into the duodenum in concert with the gallbladder
and liver, and secretes the hormones insulin and glucagon into the blood.
Insulin acts to facilitate the absorption of blood glucose into fuel-needing
cells, and glucagon stimulates a slow release of glucose from the liver,
primarily to supply fuel to the brain. That most cherished organ uses
one-quarter of the sugar in the blood and has no fuel storage. Pancreatic
enzymes are basically those that digest fats, carbohydrates and proteins into
their smaller components of fatty acids+glycerol, maltose, and amino acids...as
well as curdling milk (thought you might want to know).
PANICLE A compound flower head that forms a raceme.
PAPILLAE Small raised bumps or nipples on a tissue surface. Lingual papillae
are taste buds.
PARASYMPATHETIC A division of the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system that
controls normal digestive, reproductive, cardiopulmonary, and vascular
functions and stimulates most secretions. This subsystem works as a direct
antagonist to the sympathetic division, and organ functions balance between
PARASYMPATHOMIMETIC A substance that mimics some major aspects of
parasympathetic function. EXAMPLES: Amanita muscaria mushrooms, Pilocarpine,
PARATHYROIDS These are several minute glandular masses embedded in the lower
edge of the thyroid gland. They produce Parathyroid Hormone, part of the
calcium-phosphorus control system. Calcium levels in the blood MUST be within
a narrow band of safety. If free calcium drops too low, PTH acts on the
kidneys and blocks calcium loss in urine, amplifies calcium absorption into the
portal blood (from food and from submucosal storage) and stimulates release of
calcium from bone storage. When levels are back up, the hormone backs off.
Oddly enough, the thyroid gland secretes its virtual antagonist, calcitonin,
which, when calcium levels are too high, stimulates the urine excretion, bone
retention and digestive resistance to calcium, and when the blood levels drop,
recedes. The body finds calcium levels to be so critical that it has in place
TWO separate, mutually antagonistic negative feedback systems...like a binary
star system. (Be thankful I didn't bring in the calcium maintenance of
minerocortical steroid hormones or vasopressin)
PARENCHYMAL These are cells in a tissue or tissues in an organ that are
concerned with function. These are the characteristic cells or tissues that do
the actual stuff. The importance to us is that parenchymal tissues expend much
vital energy in their functions and are less tolerant of a degraded environment
than the structural mesenchyme. A congested and impaired organ like the liver
of a heavy drinker has so much regular dysfunction that eventually the more
tolerant and metabolically less particular mesenchymal cells become more
common, and the distressed, overworked, and metabolically compromised
parenchymal cells become a minority. The structural cells can multiply with
ease in a poor environment, the more delicate functional cells cannot-and you
end up with the type of cirrhosis sometimes termed mesenchymal invasion
disease. The point of this is that the sooner you return an organ or tissue
back to the healed state, the more likely you are to have a healthy balance
between the structural and functional.
PARESTHESIA Numbness, prickly sensations without point specificity, or
abnormal hypersensitivities, all local to one part of the body, and without an
obvious cause. Your foot falling asleep is paresthetic, but not
paresthesia...the cause is you sat funny.
PAROTID A pair of salivary glands tucked into the notch in front of each ear
and emptying through parotid ducts by each upper 2nd molar. Although the fluid
has some of the thick viscous lubricant nature of saliva from the glands in the
floor of the mouth, the parotids secrete high levels of ptyelin and amylase
(starch-digesting enzymes) lysozymes (antimicrobial enzymes) and a group of
proteins loosely called parotin that stimulate epithelial and nerve cell
growth...a lot more here than just spit.
PATHOLOGY Disease, particularly one with clear and obvious changes in
structure or function; the study of same.
PEDICEL The stem of a flower within a floral cluster.
PEDUNCLE The stem or stalk of a single flower or a whole floral cluster.
PELVIC INFLAMMATORY DISEASE (PID) Also called salpingitis, the term is applied
to infections of the fallopian tubes that follow or are concurrent with uterine
and cervical infections. Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are the most common
organisms, and the infection is usually begun through sexual contact, although
metabolic imbalances, subtler systemic infections like a slow virus, the local
insult of herpes or candidiasis, the sequela of medication or recreational
drugs, birth control pills, even an IUD...all can alter the vaginal flora and
induce inflammation sufficient to allow an endogenous organism to start the
infection. PID after birth, on the other hand, is usually the result of staph
or strep infections infecting injured membranes.
PEMPHIGUS An acute or chronic disease of adults, with a singular or constant
series of skin eruptions. The causes are not known, although both viruses and
auto-immune reactions can be implicated. There are so many distinct types that
it is probably not a distinct pathology but a symptom, like nausea, that occurs
from many causes. Pemphigus of the mouth, lips and throat is rather common in
the aged, particularly in those taking many management medications, and reduced
to the spiritual poverty of "rest homes". These need constant treatment (herbs
work as well as medications), else the difficulty of eating, what with dry
mouth, sore gums, gas and chronic constipation (from medications and adrenergic
stress) coupled with SLBF (Soft Light Brown Food) and NOW the added insult of
mouth sores can start the subtle downwards spiral of entropy and asthenia.
PEPTIC ULCER A stomach or duodenal ulcer, caused by excess or untimely
secretions of gastric acid and pepsin, poor closure of the pyloric sphincter
and digestive acid leakage into the duodenum, or poorly mucin-protected
membranes resulting from infection or allergen irritation
PERIAPICAL ABSCESS An abscess or pus pocket around the apex of the root of a
tooth...sometimes called a gumboil
PERIODONTITIS see PYORRHEA
PERIPHERAL At the edges, especially circulation or nerves. Peripheral
functions are usually controlled and modified more by local conditions than
systemic (central) controls.
PETIOLE A leafstalk or stem, or an unexpanded section.
PG INHIBITOR Usually, a PGE inhibitor like aspirin, and usually intended to
lessen joint inflammation and uterine spasms.
PGE Short for Prostaglandin E, presumably the fifth subtype discovered, and
usually separated into PGE1 and PGE2. These two, if made by the kidneys, slow
sodium reabsorption; if within the uterus, induce a stronger response from less
stimulus; if made in the stomach lining inhibit gastric secretion; if secreted
by macrophages, target tissues become more accessible to infiltration...and
inflammation. These are the two prostaglandins whose levels are meant to be
stabilized by gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) supplements. See PROSTAGLANDIN
pH The potential of hydrogen. A "neutral" pH is expressed as 7.0 (water),
with greater being alkaline and lesser being acidic. Expressed logarithmically
like the Richter's Scale, 6.9 pH is twice as acidic as 7.0. 9.0 is ten times
as alkaline as 8.0, etc., all based on the presumed amount of hydrogen ion
(acidity) present. This is a chemical literality, not to be confused with the
vitalist and cyto-hologrammic implications of Acid and Alkaline metabolism or
foods. A complex protein has a literal pH close to neutral. Run it through
your body and it gets broken down into an incredible array of amino acids,
ending up as nitrogenous acid waste products. The more rapid the metabolism,
the more acids are produced...the ashes of life are acids. The literal pH of
the life media, such as blood, lymph and cytoplasm...and most food, is
alkaline. This acid/alkaline is a concept only applicable "in vivo"; pH
defines acid/alkaline "in vitro".
PHAGOCYTOSIS The act of absorbing and digesting fragments, detritus, or whole
organisms, as an amoeba does. Granulocytes do this in the body.
PHARYNGITIS Inflammation of the pharynx, either from irritation or infection.
A sore throat.
PHLEGM Mucus in the throat or bronchi.
PHOSPHATURIA The presence of excess phosphates in the urine. This occurs
in...and can even cause, alkaline urine (it's normally acidic), resulting in
cloudy urine, small particle sedimentation, and the more common kinds of kidney
PHOSPHOLIPIDS Fats containing phosphorous, and, along with cholesterol, the
primary constituents of cell membranes.
PHOTOSENSITIVE Reacting poorly to sunlight, either by skin reactivity or by
forming abnormal sunlight-mediated serum metabolites
PHYTOSTEROLS Plant lipids, with little other than dietary value, but often
excitedly referred to as "Hormone Precursors", using incorrect but well-meaning
pseudo-science. See: STEROIDS, PLANT
PHYTOTHERAPY Botanical or herbal medicine, often with a heavy emphasis on
studies and monographs and their medical implications (with virtually none from
North America), and with a philosophy of "little drug" medical uses and the
reliance on the European phytopharmaceutical industry (where the studies came
from). No judgment here; this approach is of great value to physicians, since
it offers clear implications for medical use. This approach is, however,
medical and mechanistic, not vitalist and wholistic
PILOCARPINE A plant alkaloid and the primary bioactive substance reducible
from Pilocarpus spp. (Jaborandi leaves). It is an almost pure
parasympathomimetic (cholinergic), inducing lowered blood pressure and
stimulating glandular secretions...EVERYWHERE. It stimulates sweating as well,
a sympathetic cholinergic response. Anyway, it is used in eye drops these days
to contract the pupil, lower ocular fluid pressure and take some of the stress
off glaucoma. The refined alkaloid is better in the eyes, but the dried leaves
are the usual complex agents of herb use and have some therapeutic values in
low doses. Good Lobelia or Asclepias will work similarly and are both safer,
fresher and more predictable as botanicals.
PINNAE The leaflets or primary division of a pinnate leaf.
PINNATE A compound leaf, having the leaflets arranged on each side of the
PINNATIFID A leaf that is pinnately cleft, but into lobes that do not reach
the midrib, and not into separate leaflets.
PINNULE A division of a pinna.
PINWORMS Also Threadworm, this is a widespread parasitic nematode, usually
benign, but having a rural, white trash, skanky stigma. It mates and
reproduces in the intestines of several mammals (including us) and the female
exits the anus, usually at night, to shed its eggs and expire. The eggs become
like dust motes, kids and puppies scratch their butts, the eggs spread into
other mammals, until only a thermonuclear device or
burning/razing/earth-salting will clear out a heavy infestation. It's also the
only worm likely to be encountered in temperate zones and the high country.
PISTILLATE A female flower that has pistils but no stamens.
PITUITARY An endocrine gland somewhat behind the eyes and suspended from the
front of the brain. The front section, the anterior pituitary, makes and
secretes a number of controlling hormones that affect the rate of oxidation;
the preference for fats, sugars, or proteins for fuel; the rate of growth and
repair in the bones, connective tissue, muscles, and skin; the ebb and flow of
steroid hormones from both the gonads and adrenal cortices. It does this
through both negative and positive feedback. The hypothalamus controls these
functions, secreting its own hormones into a little portal system that feeds
into the pituitary, telling the latter what and how much to do. The
hypothalamus itself synthesizes the nerve hormones that are stored in the
posterior pituitary, which is responsible for squirting them into the blood
when the brain directs it to. These neurohormones act quickly, like adrenalin,
to constrict blood vessels, limit diuresis in the kidneys, and trigger the
complex responses of sexual excitation, milk let-down in nursing, and muscle
stimulus in the uterus (birthing, orgasm, and menstrual contractions),
prostate, and nipples.
PLATELET AGGREGATION Platelets are the small, rather uniform fragments of
large bone marrow cells that aid the blood in coagulation, hemostasis,
inflammation, and thrombus formation. Mild subclotting and sticking is a
common early condition that can lead to thrombosis, atherosclerosis, and
strokes, and can be helped by an aspirin a day, better fat digestion, and
PLEURISY An inflammation of the serous membranes that both surround the lungs
and line the inside of the chest cavity; the two membranes supply fluid
lubrication between the expanding and contracting lungs and the body. Most
pleurisy (and usually the milder form) follows or accompanies bronchitis or
late winter chest colds...sort of pulmonary cabin fever. It may be dry
pleurisy (with few secretions and sharp sticking pain that prevents any but
moderate inhalation), or acute or effusive pleurisy (with fever, coughing, and
built up serous fluids...usually tossed off as bronchitis). Some types are
part of serious cardio-pulmonary disorders and/or chronic disease.
PMS Premenstrual Syndrome. This is STARTED by some predictable neurohormonal
imbalances. On the other hand, the individual woman's symptoms are very
idiosyncratic, since the neurohormonal interplay CAN effect virtually any
tissue. What it DOES effect is a matter of constitution, lifestyle, and the
other collateral stresses of that PARTICULAR woman. The most common imbalance
occurs when progesterone, the temporary hormone made by the post-ovulatory
ovaries, is unable to sustain adequate levels for the "normal" 11-12 days. This
is all an ornate adagio dance: when estrogen is the dominant hormone (from just
after menses to ovulation), some of the cells effected by it are enabled to
become progesterone sensitive. When progesterone is present and dominant (from
ovulation to shortly before menses), some of the cells effected by it are then
enabled to become estrogen-sensitive when IT comes around. There are always
moderate sources of estrogen during the progesterone weeks, but healthy
progesterone levels suppress their effect. If progesterone drops too early,
these sources start to "show" before menses. Some functions are ALWAYS
estrogen-sensitive...others need the normal length of progesterone stimulation
to THEN become sensitive. A premenstrual estrogen rise will always cause an
unbalanced constellation of effects. Progesterone helps prevent water
retention, inflammation, blood sugar yo-yos and excess prolactin, while
stimulating growth hormone and thyroid levels to maintain a generally
anabolic-dominant metabolism. Withdraw it too early and you MAY get
inflammatory and edemic and need an IV maple syrup drip, while prolactin rises
and dopamine/adrenergic energy dominates. You might get migraines, increased
cerebrospinal fluid pressure, feel variously aggressive, nervous,
weepy/anxietous, or like an inflated pig bladder. It seems that, whatever your
personal metabolic weakness, PMS will find it. PMS is an almost purely
constitutional reaction, and holds an exciting potential wherein a woman can
have a clear window for viewing her working strengths and weaknesses.
DISCLAIMER: A guy is writing this. dis-DISCLAIMER: M.D. guys used to say it
was all in your head, that you secretly were mourning an infertile month, that
it made you unsuitable for a serious profession (like becoming an M.D.
guy)...etc. after ugly etc.
PNEUMONIA Inflammation, usually infectious, of the lungs. Unless the result
of only moderate chemical or smoke irritation, it is a potentially
life-threatening condition. There are so many defenses against an infection
this deep in the body that the very presence of pneumonia signals a pathogen of
great virulence or impaired or exhausted immunity...or all three.
PNEUMONITIS Inflammation of the lungs, from whatever cause. It may be
concurrent with pneumonia or pleurisy...or the result of a defensive lineman
knocking the air out of the quarterback...two days later.
POLYURIA Excess urination. The excreted wastes may stay unchanged but they
are dissolved in a far higher volume of water. The causes range from diabetes,
kidney disease, elevated thyroid function and the aftermath of diuretic-treated
heart failure to booting a half keg of generic beer at a frat blowout
PORTAL CIRCULATION This is a type of circulatory bypass used when substances
in blood or fluid need to be kept out of the general flow. A portal system
begins in capillaries and ends in capillaries, and nothing leaves it
undocumented. The hypothalamus sends hormones into the portal system between
it and the pituitary, and the pituitary responds to it by secreting its own
hormones, but dissolving the hypothalamus ones. Blood that leaves the
intestinal tract, spleen, and pancreas (partially) goes into the liver's portal
system and does not leave that organ until it has been thoroughly screened and
POSTPARTUM After birthing.
PRESSOR An agent, neurologic or hormonal, that increases blood pressure.
PROGESTERONE This is the hormone secreted after ovulation by the corpus
luteum. It is a steroid (a cholesterol with a funny hat), enters receptive
cells to stimulate their growth, and acts as an anabolic agent. Estrogen
should be viewed as the primary coat underneath all the cycles during a woman's
reproductive years, with progesterone, its antagonist, surging for ten or
twelve days in ovulatory months. Most of the actions of progesterone cannot
occur without estrogen having previously induced the growth of
progesterone-receptive binding sites. In the estrus cycle, estrogen stimulates
the thickening of membranes (the proliferative phase), and progesterone
stimulates their sophistication into organized and secreting mucosa (the
secretory phase). The new secretions contain anticoagulants, antimicrobials,
and rich mucus fluids. If there is pregnancy, the uterine membranes are fully
structured for the long haul; if menses occurs, the thickened tissues can erode
away without clotting, becoming infected, or flowing poorly. If there is not
enough estrogen, the corpus luteum will not mature. If the corpus luteum is
weak, menses becomes disorganized, clotty, and painful. It is also the first
part of the cycle to become disorganized in early menopause, since the
available ovarian proto-follicles have been reduced over the years to only a
few. In earlier years, dozens of potential follicles may attempt maturity
each month, with only the strongest one able to reach dominance, form a corpus
luteum and an ovum...the rest disintegrating. In a manner of speaking, the
better the follicle, the better the corpus luteum and (presumably) the sounder
the ovum. Since the number of potential follicles is fixed at birth, by early
menopause those that still remain contain a high number of hormone-resistant
and unsound proto-follicles, resulting in more and more cycles having less
predictable estrogen and especially progesterone levels.
PROSTAGLANDIN A group of a dozen or more fatty acid derivatives made by many
tissues for paracrine (local) hormone use. Because they are only meant for
local use, the same compound may serve opposite purposes in different
tissues...inhibiting inflammation in the stomach lining while increasing
PROSTATE This is a walnut-sized gland that surrounds the beginning of the
urethra in men. It secretes the alkaline transport fluid that mixes with sperm
from the testes to form semen. The prostate needs adequate anabolic steroid
stimulation for its health and growth, especially testosterone. Because of
diminished healthy hormone levels, pelvic congestion, and decreased blood (and
hormone) circulation, or because of sexually transmitted or urinary tract
infections, a male may get prostatitis. (See BPH.)
PROSTATITIS Inflammation of the prostate. The causes may be varied, ranging
from infection to portal congestion to cancer to increased adipose estradiol
release in the middle-aged male...to over-use.
PROTEINURIA The presence of protein in the urine, sometimes a symptom of
kidney compromise. See ALBUMINURIA
PROTEOLYTIC An enzyme or agent that speeds up the breaking down or digestive
hydrolysis of proteins into smaller proteins, peptides, polypeptides,
oligopeptides, amino acids, and all that delicious nitrogenous slurry-stuff.
PSORIASIS A chronic skin condition with dull red lesions of the skin that come
and go for many years. Usually painful or itchy, they tend to be worse in the
winter and are often helped by increased exposure to the sun or moderate UV
treatment. It is, at least to some degree, an inherited condition,
auto-immune, and sometimes accompanied by joint pain.
PULPITIS Inflammation, usually infectious, of the pulp of a tooth.
PURINES These are waste products or metabolites of nucleoproteins. They are
not recycleable and are broken down further to the primary excretable form, uric
acid. High purine presence in a tissue signifies a recent high turnover in
nucleoproteins from injury or cell death, which is why some purines, such as
allantoin, will stimulate cell regeneration. Many plants contain allantoin,
most noticeably Comfrey. Some foods are heavy purine producers and can elevate
serum uric acid levels. These include organ meats, seafood, legumes, and such
politically correct foods as spirulina, chlorella, and bee pollen. Caffeine and
theobromine are purine-based alkaloids and can mildly increase uric acid, but
they pale beside algae, pollen, and glandular extracts from the chiropractor.
PYELITIS An inflammation of the kidney pelvis, the interface between the
urine-secreting inner surface of the kidney and the muscular ureter that drains
into the bladder. It can be caused by kidney stones or an infection that has
progressed up from the lower urinary tract. It alone is a serious
condition...the next stage, pyelonephritis, since it involves the whole kidney,
is still worse.
PYORRHEA Broadly, any discharge of pus, but usually referring to periodontitis
or Pyorrhea alveolaris, with inflammatory and degenerative conditions in the
gums, jaw bone and cementum. There may be alveolar bone resorption, teeth loss
and receding gums...and hefty dental and oral surgery bills. These costs may
be valid, but there is some thought in some radical dental circles that there
is overdiagnosis of the condition.
PYOGENIC MEMBRANE The granular emergency membrane that lines and isolates
PYRROLIZIDINE ALKALOID A type of alkaloid found in many plants of the
Composite and Borage families, once termed a Senecio alkaloid. Some of the
pyrrolizidine group have been shown to cause several types of liver
degeneration and blood vessel disorders. Several deaths have been attributed
to improperly identified plant usage of a Senecio, and some of the desert
Boraginaceae annuals and Senecio annuals are overtly toxic. Young leaves and
spring roots of Comfrey hybrids should be avoided as well. Not all PAs are
toxic, but those that are can produce an insidious time bomb, causing
spontaneous necrosis in the liver hepatocytes of a perfectly healthy person.
RACEME A flowering spike or cluster where the flowers are borne along the
peduncle on pedicels of similar length.
RALES Abnormal sounds in the lungs, either from excess secretions or the
narrowing of the bore by inflammation or congestion.
RAY FLOWERS The margin flowers on a composite head, usually sterile, that
resemble single petals. (Example: the white "petals" of a Daisy.)
RAYNAUDS either SYNDROME or DISEASE. The first is less severe, characterized
by blanching spasms of blood vessels leading to the hands and feet, initiated
by cold, moisture, even emotional stress and low blood sugar. Sort of a finger
migraine. After the spasm relaxes, the tissue distal becomes red, hot, even
painful. R. Disease is more serious and perhaps deriving from different causes
as well. The spasms may not subside, the effected tissues can become purplish,
and in extreme cases, gangrenous.
RBC Red blood cells or erythrocytes
REFLEXED Turned down or curved backwards.
REGRANULATION Granulation is the forming of connective tissue fibroblasts,
epithelium and inflammatory cells around the nucleus of new capillaries in
tissues that have been burned or scraped. This delicate tissue is often
reinjured, and regranulation becomes a slower process, with more formation of
scar tissue. Some plant resins will quickly stimulate the process, increase
the complexity of healing, and lessen fibroblast scar formation.
REGURGITATIONS, MITRAL Backflow of blood from the left ventricle of the heart
(pumping arterial blood outwards to the aorta) into the left atrium (receiving
oxygenated blood from the lungs) because of faulty closure of the mitral
(bicuspid) valve that guards between the two chambers.
REGURGITATIONS, TRICUSPID Backflow of blood from the right ventricle (pumping
deoxygenated thick venous blood into the lungs) into the right atrium
(receiving used blood from the rest of the body) because of faulty closure of
the tricuspid valve that guards between the two chambers.
RENAL Pertaining to the kidneys
RESINS These are wax-containing plant oils, often secreted to fill in injured
tissues, much like a blood clot, sometimes used to protect leaves from loss of
water through evaporation or to render them unpalatable. (See BALSAMICS.)
RHEUMATISM Used broadly, rheumatism is a term meant to describe subjective
sensations and not a specific disease, such as chronic joint inflammation,
osteo- or rheumatoid arthritis...almost any chronic dull ache associated with
the aging process
RHEUMATOID Broadly, having dull aching in joints, muscles, eyes, and so forth.
In a more literal sense, it is having an autoimmune response, usually between
certain IgM and IgE antibodies, that may have started as a bacterial infection
or as some autoimmune reaction. The severity is increased under emotional,
physical, dietary, and allergic stress-or any stress. Hans Selye showed a few
years ago that once a chronic disease response occurs, any stress above
metabolic tolerance will aggravate the chronic disease, which is why some
people, stressed by cold, wet weather, must avoid it; but someone else is
stressed by legumes, still another person gets upset (and stressed) by watching
too much CNN. You know best what stresses you; it's not fair to ask a doc to
find it out for you. Rheumatoid arthritis is so named because it somewhat
resembles the joint inflammations that can occur in rheumatic fever, a
completely different disease caused by a strep infection.
RHINITIS Inflammation of the sinus membranes, sometimes extending to the eyes
and ears. It may be caused by a head cold, hay fever, or a chemical irritant.
ROULEAU A group of red blood cells arranged together like a roll of coins,
usually only noticed on a slide under a microscope. Since red blood cells in a
reasonably healthy person should have a mutually repelling membrane charge,
this means that something like an inflammatory response or an elevation of
liver-synthesized lipids (LDLs and VLDLs) is occurring. Inflammation makes the
blood "sticky," and the lipids from the liver lower the charges. Remember, of
course, that I am talking about subclinical imbalances...such things as rouleau
can accompany some pretty gnarly diseases. Our kind of rouleau can give you a
headache or make your hands and feet cold because it's hard to push rolls of
coins through little bitty capillaries.
SACRAL NERVES These are five pairs of CNS nerves that exit through the sacral
foramen and sacral hiatus, and bring information in and out of the spinal cord.
Much of their function relates to the sciatic nerve, and they bring information
in from the skin sensory zones (dermatomes) of the heel, back of the legs,
buttocks, and the pelvic floor.
SALICYLATES Esters or salts of salicylic acid, such as aspirin, and including
glycoside forms such as salicin. They are widely used as topical irritants and
(especially) as anti-inflammatory and analgesic agents and prostaglandin
SALMONELLA A widespread genus of gram-negative motile-rod bacteria, some of
them can cause moderate GI infections, while several can produce metabolites in
food that cause serious toxic reaction when the food is eaten
SALPINGITIS Inflammation of the fallopian tubes. (See PELVIC INFLAMMATORY
SAPONIN Any plant glycoside with soapy action that can be digested to yield a
sugar and a sapogenin aglycone. Many (but not all) saponins can be toxic and
speed up hemoglobin degradation. Some herbs with important saponin
constituents are Yucca and Agave.
SCAPE A long flower-bearing stem or peduncle that arises from the ground. It
is leafless, or the leaves are reduced to bracts.
SCIATICA This is neuralgia of the sciatic nerve. These are the two largest
nerves in the body, composed of the tibial and common perineal nerves, bound
together and containing elements of the lowest two lumbar and upper three
sacral spinal cord nerves. Sciatica is felt as severe pain from the buttocks,
down the back of the thighs, often radiating to the inside of the leg, even to
the point of paresthesia or prickly numbness. Although tumors can cause the
problem, far and away the most common causes are a lower back subluxation
(responding to adjustment) or pelvic congestion and edema (responding to
laxatives, exercise, and decreasing portal vein and lymphatic congestion).
SEBACEOUS GLAND Oil secreting glands, mostly clustered around hair follicles.
The oil, sebum, is released into the oil glands from the disintegrated
cytoplasm of shedding holocrine cells that line the alveolar surfaces. The
nature of the secretion is often a direct reflection of the state of the body's
SEBORRHEA A disorder of the sebaceous glands, with changes in the amount and
quality of the oils secreted. Although it can occur in any part of the body,
seborrhea of the scalp (dandruff) is most common.
SEMINAL VESICLES These are a couple of spongy glands, l.5 to 2 inches long,
that secrete high-sugar, acidic, and thick, ropy colloid into the ductus
deferens (containing sperm from the testes) during ejaculation. The two fluids
empty into the prostate, where they are mixed with alkaline prostatic fluids to
SENSORS cells or tissues that monitor the internal and external environment,
either neurologically or chemically, and can initiate compensatory action or
communicate to other parts that can react.
SEPAL A leaf or segment of the calyx.
SEPSIS Like septicemia, an infection that has moved deeply into the body,
involving the subcutaneous or submucosal layers, connective tissue, lymph
SEPTICEMIA The presence of pathogenic bacteria or other microbes in the blood
stream...a serious business, since most defenses are focused outside the
bloodstream and the infection has bypassed them either due to its virulence,
the depth and severity of the original focal infection or the weakened state of
the body's immunity and life energy. Blood poisoning.
SEPTUM A membrane wall separating two or more cavities, such as the one
between the nasal fossae and those separating the air sacs (alveoli) of the
SEROUS MEMBRANES Membranes that line many internal organs and cavities,
secreting a thin, lymph-like fluid, that lubricates and slowly circulates.
SGOT and SGPT Liver enzymes that are normally only present in minute
quantities in the blood, they become elevated under a variety of circumstances,
SHIGELLOSIS An acute, self-limiting intestinal infection, with diarrhea,
fever, and abdominal pain, caused by one of the Shigella genus of gram-negative
bacteria. The infection is contracted through food prepared by infected
individuals or by direct contact with them. Raw sewage contamination can also
be a source.
SHINGLES Also called Herpes zoster. It is caused by the chickenpox virus, and
usually occurs in middle-age, beginning as inflammation, sharp pain and finally
vesicles, erupting at the edges of posterior ganglia of the trunk or face.
Usually lasting two or three weeks, it is often triggered by stress or a
concurrent viral infection, and can return again in some individuals.
SINUSITIS Inflammation of the sinuses, with causes ranging from dust to hay
fever. Obstinate cases can be caused by chronic sinus infections or the
continued exposure to allergens from food, pets or environmental irritants.
SPLEEN The large organ lying to the left of, below, and behind the stomach.
This organ is partially responsible for white blood cell formation (red blood
cells in childhood), and it is lined with resident macrophages that help it
filter the blood, remove and recycle old and dead red blood cells, and send
this all up to the liver in the portal blood. The liver, in fact, does most of
the recycling of splenic hemoglobin derivatives. The spleen initiates much
resistance and immunologic response, being made mostly of lymph pulp, and it
stores and concentrates a large number of red blood cells. These can be
injected into the bloodstream for immediate use under flight or fight stress,
since the spleen is covered with capsule and vascular muscles that constrict in
the presence of adrenalin or sympathetic adrenergic nerve stimulus.
SPLENITIS Inflammation of the spleen, caused by a variety of conditions
ranging from exposure to hemolytic chemicals, systemic infections lodged in the
spleen, even cancer.
SPLENOMEGALY For practical purposes a term interchangeable with splenitis,
since neither will have the usual symptoms associated with inflammation.
Splenomegaly is often associated with viral hepatitis, mononucleosis, typhoid
fever and abnormally high levels of red blood cells or platelets.
STAMENS The male, pollen-producing organs in flowering plants. A staminate
flower is only male, with pistillate (female) flowers on the same or different
plants. Most flowering plants have both parts on the same flower, although
they may mature at different times to avoid self-pollination.
STAPH This is short for Staphylococcus, a genus of micrococci bacteria with
many members that can cause disease. They are gram-positive, nonmotile bacteria
that are aerobic-(unless they need to be anaerobic). Staph of various types are
responsible for boils and carbuncles; they may be involved in impetigo, toxic
shock syndrome, endocarditis, osteomyelitis, and urinary tract infections, as
well as some food poisoning. They stay around hospitals and veterinary clinics
waiting to get you. They are also a normal part of the mouth, throat, and skin
flora in a third to a half of all of us, causing no problems, but just waiting.
Staph has always been with us. Some even eat our antibiotics for breakfast.
STASIS Static, atonic, unable to resolve or initiate change, resulting in
lymphatic and venous stasis, congestion or stagnation...such as an intestinal
STEATORRHEA The presence of undigested fat in the feces. This may be the
result of failing to inoculate fatty foods with enough surfactant (biliary
soap) to digest them, the failure of the lower small intestine to absorb them,
or simply too much fat for even normal digestion to handle. Sometimes this can
indicate liver, gall bladder or lipid metabolism diseases. Usually the causes
are subclinical and treatable with less invasive approaches...like herbs.
STEROID HORMONE These are fats similar to, and usually synthesized from,
cholesterol, starting with Acetyl-CoA, moving through squalene, past
lanosterol, into cholesterol, and, in the gonads and adrenal cortex, back to a
number of steroid hormones. Nearly all of the classic hormones are proteins or
smaller peptides; they don't get inside a cell (the membrane keeps them out);
instead, they bind to, and initiate, cell changes from the outside. The
exceptions are the thyroxines (from the thyroid) and the steroid hormones. They
move into the cell, bind with receptors, and initiate changes in the way a cell
regenerates itself or synthesizes new compounds. Because the steroid hormones
stimulate cell growth, either by changing the internal structure or increasing
the rate of proliferation, they are often called anabolic steroids. Estrogen,
an ovarian steroid, when secreted into the bloodstream, will be bound within a
short time by internal receptors inside those cells that need estrogen for
their growth; the unused portion is partially broken down, mostly in the liver,
and partially stored in a less active form by adipose tissue. Since
luteinizing hormone from the pituitary is surged in pulses an hour apart, the
estrogen is also surged from the reacting ovaries, and by the time more
estrogen is available, the binding cells need more; their program of synthesis
has run out and needs to be started again. Of course, most steroid hormone
reactions are less measured than this, but you get the idea.
STEROIDS, PLANT The previous subject is obviously an endless one, but as this
is the glossary of an herbal nature, let me assure you, virtually no plants
have a direct steroid hormone-mimicking effect. There are a few notable
exceptions with limited application, like Cimicifuga and Licorice. Plant
steroids are usually called phytosterols, and, when they have any hormonal
effect at all, it is usually to interfere with human hormone functions. Beta
sitosterol, found in lots of food, interferes with the ability to absorb
cholesterol from the diet. Corn oil and legumes are two well-endowed sources
that can help lower cholesterol absorption. This is of only limited value,
however, since cholesterol is readily manufactured in the body, and elevated
cholesterol in the blood is often the result of internal hormone and neurologic
stimulus, not the diet. Cannabis can act to interfere with androgenic
hormones, and Taraxacum phytosterols can both block the synthesis of some new
cholesterol by the liver and increase the excretion of cholesterol as bile
acids; but other than that, plants offer little direct hormonal implication.
The first method discovered for synthesizing pharmaceutical hormones used
a saponin, diosgenin, and a five-step chemical degradation, to get to
progesterone, and another, using stigmasterol and bacterial culturing, to get
to cortisol. These were chemical procedures that have nothing to do with human
synthesis of such hormones, and the plants used for the starting materials -
Mexican Wild Yam, Agave, and Soy were nothing more than commercially
feasible sources of compounds widely distributed in the plant kingdom. A
clever biochemist could obtain testosterone from potato sterols, but no one
would be likely to make the leap of faith that eating potatoes makes you manly
(or less womanly), and there is no reason to presume that Wild Yam (Dioscorea)
has any progesterone effects in humans. First, the method of synthesis from
diosgenin to progesterone has nothing to do with human synthesis of the corpus
luteum hormone; second, oral progesterone has virtually no effect since it is
rapidly digested; and third, orally active synthetic progesterones such as
norethindrone are test-tube born, and never saw a Wild Yam.
The only "precursor" the ovaries, testes and adrenal cortices EVER need
(and the ONLY one that they can use if synthesizing from scratch) is something
almost NONE of us ever run out of...Low Density Cholesterol. Unless you are
grimly fasting, anorectic, alcoholic, seriously ill or training for a
triathlon, you only need blood to make steroid hormones from. If hormones are
off, it isn't from any lack of building materials...and any product claiming
to supply "precursors" better contain lard or butter (they don't)...or they
are profoundly mistaken, or worse.
The recent gaggle of "Wild Yam" creams actually do contain some Wild Yam.
(Dioscorea villosa, NOT even the old plant source of diosgenin, D. mexicana...
if you are going to make these mistakes, at least get the PLANT right) This is
a useful and once widely used antispasmodic herb...I have had great success
using it for my three separate bouts with kidney stones...until I learned to
drink more water and alkalizing teas and NEVER stay in a hot tub for three
hours. What these various Wild Yam creams DO contain, is Natural Progesterone.
Although this is inactive orally (oral progesterone is really a synthetic
relative of testosterone), it IS active when injected...or, to a lesser degree,
when applied topically. This is pharmaceutical progesterone, synthesized from
stigmasterol, an inexpensive (soy-bean oil) starting substance, and, although
it is identical to ovarian progesterone, it is a completely manufactured
pharmaceutical. Taking advantage of an FDA loophole (to them this is only a
cosmetic use...they have the misguided belief that it is not bioactive
topically), coupled with some rather convincing (if irregular) studies showing
the anti-osteoporotic value of topical progesterone for SOME women, a dozen or
so manufacturers are marketing synthetic Natural Progesterone for topical use,
yet inferring that Wild Yam is what's doing good.
I am not taking issue with the use of topical progesterone. It takes
advantage of the natural slow release into the bloodstream of ANY steroid
hormones that have been absorbed into subcutaneous adipose tissue. It enters
the blood from general circulation the same way normal extra-ovarian estradiol
is released, and this is philosophically (and physiologically) preferable to
oral steroids, cagily constructed to blast on through the liver before it can
break them down. This causes the liver to react FIRST to the hormones,
instead of, if the source is general circulation, LAST. My objection is both
moral and herbal: the user often believes the hormonal effects are "natural",
and that the Wild Yam
somehow supplies "precursors" that her body can use if needed, rejected if not.
This implies self-empowerment and the honoring of a woman's metabolic choice...
something often lacking in medicine. This is a cheat. The creams supply a
steady source of a pharmaceutical hormone (no precursor here) normally only
available by prescription, but are SOLD as if the benefits come from the Wild
Yam extract, seemingly formulated with the intent of having Wild Yam the most
abundant substance so it can be listed first in the list of constituents. I
have even seen the pharmaceutical Natural Progesterone labeled as "Wild Yam
Progesterone- " or "Wild Yam Estrogen precursor" or, with utter fraud, "Wild
Yam Hormone". To my knowledge, the use of Mexican Yam for its saponins ceased
to be important by the early 1960's, with other processes for synthesizing
steroids proving to be cheaper and more reliable. I have been unable to find
ANY manufacturer of progesterone that has used the old Marker Degradation
Method and/or diosgenin (from whatever Dioscorea) within the last twenty years.
Just think of it as a low-tech, noninvasive and non-prescription source of
progesterone, applied topically and having a slow release of moderate amounts
of the hormone. Read some of the reputable monographs on its use, make your
choice based solely on the presence of the synthetic hormone, and use it or
don't. It has helped some women indefinitely, for others it helped various
symptoms for a month or two and then stopped working, for still other women I
have talked to it caused unpleasant symptoms until they ceased its use. Since
marketing a product means selling as much as possible and (understandably)
presenting only the product's positive aspects, it would be better to try and
find the parameters of "use" or "don't use" from articles, monographs, and best
of all, other women who have used it. Then ask them again in a month or two
and see if their personal evaluation has changed. If you have some bad uterine
cramps, however, feel free to try some Wild Yam itself...it often helps. Unless
there is organic disease, hormones are off is because the whole body is making
the wrong choices in the hormones it does or doesn't make. It's a
constitutional or metabolic or dietary or life-stress problem, not something
akin to a lack of essential amino acids or essential fatty acids that will
clear up if only you supply some mythic plant-derived "precursor". End of
STHENIC Strong of body or function, even to an excess.
STIPULES A little leafy appendage formed at the juncture of a leaf and the
STOLONIFEROUS A plant that tends to form lateral roots, sometimes green and
potentially stemming, sometimes blanched and tending to root from the
STOMATITIS Inflammation of he mouth, usually with sores or ulcers. The causes
STRANGURY Painful, sporadic and drop-by-drop urination, caused by the presence
of kidney stones, chronic inflammation such as interstitial cystitis, or
urethral scar tissue. This is not a specific disease, but a symptom, like
nausea or a sore joint.
STREP A genus of gram-staining chain-forming cocci bacteria. Some are
responsible for common and potentially serious human infections, ranging from
scarlet fever and strep throat to bacterial endocarditis and pus pockets. Most
of the disease-potential streps are also a normal part of the skin, mouth and
upper respiratory flora.
SUBACUTE Having characteristics of both acute and chronic. This is the state
in a disease when most of the aches and pains have subsided and you are likely
to overdo things and not completely recover. The chest cold that lingers for
weeks as a stubborn cough is a subacute condition, as is the tendonitis that
lingers because you won't stop playing tennis long enough to completely heal.
SUBCLINICAL This is our turf, the period of time when a potential disease is
still potential, and a functional imbalance or tendency has not caused any
organic disruption. Those years of poor digestion, heartburn, and the
systematic suppression of upper intestinal function by adrenalin stress have
not become overt gastritis, ulcers, or IBS. You have symptoms of distress
(subclinical) but no real, ripened clinical disease. Some medical authorities
(usually administrative docs from the spokesman and quack-patrol ranks of
industry, academia or agency) actually insist that there is no such thing as a
subclinical condition...you are either SICK or NOT SICK and presumably well.
Sort of like the mechanic saying that the car works or doesn't work...four
quarts low on oil, but it WORKS. Only when it is five quarts low and has a
seized-up engine is there a need for a mechanic.
SUBCUTANEOUS Below the surface of the skin, but probably above the following
term...well anyway, definitely lower than the TOP of the skin
SUBDERMAL Below the surface of the skin, and probably below the previous term,
which should really be suprasubdermal. Well, anyway, definitely higher up than
SUCCUS ENTERICUS Intestinal Juice. These are enzyme-rich secretions produced
by the lining of the upper small intestines. Apparently the enzymes produced
compensate for any pancreatic enzymes that are deficient for that particular
SYMPATHETIC A division of the autonomic or involuntary nervous system that
works in general opposition to the parasympathetic division (q.v.). Many of
the sympathetic functions are local, specific, and involve secretion of
acetylcholine, like any other of your normal nerves...stimulating or
suppressing a specific muscle, gland, or whatever. A certain number of these
nerves, however, unlike any others in the body, secrete epinephrine (adrenalin)
and norepinephrine (noradrenalin). These are called adrenergic. Since the
adrenal medulla also secretes the same substances into the bloodstream as
hormones, all the muscles or glands that are affected by the adrenergic
sympathetic nerves also react in toto to the epinephrine secreted into the
blood. This forms the basis for a potentially lifesaving emergency fight or
flight response and is meant for short, drastic activities. A chronic excess of
the adrenergic response, however, is a major cause of stress-and a major
contributor to many types of chronic disease. The more you use a particular
nerve pathway or induce a particular group of functions, the more blood, fuel
storage, and mitochondria are produced to strengthen that group of actions.
Using adrenergic energy excessively gives literal dominance to those things
that are stimulated or suppressed, and the effects of adrenalin stress linger
in the body after the adrenalin is long gone. Since one of the first
subjective symptoms of subclinical malnutrition, metabolic imbalances, and
environmental pollution is irritability of the central nervous system,
hypersympathetic function acts as an intermediate between poor diet, pollution,
SYMPATHOMIMETIC A substance that mimics at least part of adrenalin or
catecholamine responses. The term is a little biased towards the minority of
sympathetic functions that are adrenergic. A better name might be
adrenalomimetic, epinephromimetic, catecholamimetic...or speedomimetic.
Examples: coffee, ephedrine, amphetamines.
SYSTOLIC The measurement of arterial blood pressure at the point of heart
contraction (greatest pressure); the higher of the two BP numbers, with
diastolic (q.v.) being the lower.
TACHYCARDIA Abnormally fast heartbeat.
TANNINS A group of simple and complex phenol, polyphenol, and flavonoid
compounds, bound with starches, and often so amorphous that they are classified
as tannins simply because at some point in degradation they are astringent and
contain variations on gallic acid. Produced by plants, tannins are generally
protective substances found in the outer and inner tissues, often breaking down
in time to phlebotannins and, finally, humin. All of the tannins are
relatively resistant to digestion or fermentation, and either decrease the
ability of animals to easily consume the living plant, or, as in deciduous
trees, cause shed parts of the plant to decay so slowly that there is little
likelihood of infection to the living tree from rotting dead material around
its base. All tannins act as astringents, shrinking tissues and contracting
structural proteins in the skin and mucosa. Tannin-containing plants can vary a
great deal in their physiological effects and should be approached
TENESMUS The painful expelling cramps of the tubular smooth muscles and ducts.
Normal peristalsis of various types produce no pain or sensation (except for
the dreaded borborygmies); only the energetic expulsion contraction can induce
referred pain. Examples: Nausea, gas pain, uterine cramps, gall bladder pain.
TERNATE Divided into threes.
TESTOSTERONE The principal reproductive androgen of males, largely responsible
for sexual maturation, some libido, and a range of metabolic reactions that,
while supplying short-term strengths, creates a long-term fragility and
brittleness if not in balance with less garish but more sustainable metabolic
buffers. It is secreted by the Leydig cells of the testes, as well as smaller
amounts in the adrenal cortices of both sexes. It is made under the direction
of LH from the pituitary, and, if oversecreted, can be inhibited by
sperm-producing cells, diminished pituitary support, and a rise in blood levels
of its waste-product, stored in adipose tissues...estradiol
TERPENES Any of a group of hydrocarbons that are made up of building blocks of
isoprene (C5H8) or similar five-carbon units, with a monoterpene made up of two
units (example: limonene and pinene), a sesquiterpene made up of three units
(example: humulene, a Hops aromatic), and a diterpene made up of four units.
The terpenes, in our context, are the primary constituents in the aromatic
fractions of our scented plants.
T4 Also termed tetraiodothyronine, the nickname is thyroxine. Secreted by the
thyroid along with T3(triiodothyronine...confusingly shortened to thyroxine),
this thyroxine is mostly conjugated in the blood by TBG (thyroxine-binding
globulin), whereas the more active T3 tends to float free. T4 is broken down
to T3 and forms a stable feeder reserve, preventing rapid shifts in its more
THOMSONIAN MEDICINE That school of medical philosophy and therapy founded by
the American messianic nature therapist Samuel Thomson (b. 1769). Thomson's
great axiom was, "Heat is life, and cold is death." He lived in New England,
which explains some of this. He and the later Thomsonians made great use of
vomiting, sweating, and purging to achieve these ends...crude by present
standards, but saner than the standard practice medicine of the times. The
Thomsonians split vehemently from the early Eclectics before the Civil War; the
latter, larger group preferred to train true professional physicians as M.D.s.
The first group disavowed any overt medical training ("physicking") although
the small medical sect of Physio-Medicalists, with several medical schools of
their own and some east-coast physician converts, used Thomsonian precepts
within an otherwise orthodox armamentarium. Their training, however, became
less rigorous and more charismatic in time, and, unlike the Eclectic Medical
Schools that, with one exception, chose to change to an A.M.A-supported
curriculum to stay in business (thereby selling their souls), the
Physio-Medicalist schools were too radical and erratic, and faded into history
as their graduates were left, finally, with only Michigan allowing them to
practice. Many of the practices of Jethro Kloss (Back to Eden) and John
Christopher are neo-Thomsonian, and much of what still goes on in the old guard
of alternative therapy is what Susun Weed calls the "Heroic Tradition" (no
compliment intended). Rule of thumb: If you see Lobelia and Capsicum together
in a formula, along with recommendations for colonics, it's probably something
Sam Thomson did first.
THORACIC DUCT This is the body's main lymph collecting vessel. It starts in
the little collecting bladder in the abdomen (the cisterna chyli), moves up the
center of the body in front of the spinal chord, alongside the esophagus and
aorta to the neck, where it drains into the left subclavian vein. It drains
the lymph from the entire body, except the head, right thorax and arm, which
collects lymph separately and drains into the right subclavian vein. Lacking
the ability to contract and expand, the thoracic duct relies on its valves and
the kinetic energy of breathing and nearby arterial pumping to drain lymph
THROMBOSIS The formation of a blood clot within the circulatory system. It
may form in the roughened vein wall in a varicosity, form around
arteriosclerotic plaques, or result from trauma and surgery. The tendency
rises with thick blood, age, obesity and in those once physically active and
THYROGLOBULIN The iodine-containing protein that is stored in the thyroid
gland. It is converted into circulating thyroxines when the thyroid is
stimulated by TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) from the pituitary (in turn
stimulated by the hypothalamus, where thyroxine levels are actually monitored).
THYROTOXICOSIS A pathologic thyroid hyperfunction. It is sometimes referred
to as exophthalmic goiter. An overt disease, sometimes life-threatening, it is
very different from the moderately elevated basal metabolism some
constitutional types manifest under stress.
TINCTURE An extract, usually herbal, and usually made with a mixture of water
and alcohol, although there were official tinctures that also used acetic acid,
chloroform and glycerin. Only a few tinctures are still official in the U.S.,
including Tincture of Arnica and Compound Tincture of Benzoin. In herb
commerce, the term should really only be appropriate when the extract at least
RESEMBLES the formerly official methods for making plant extracts. The
strength should be listed, usually as a ratio (1:5 being the most common) or a
percentage (20%...the same strength as 1:5). Green Tinctures of fresh plants,
are usually appropriate when defined as 1:2 or 50%. The alcohol percentage
should be given, and, if below 45%, is made incorrectly. Dry plant tinctures,
the norm, are official when percolated (usually), although maceration was and
is allowed as an alternative method. The term Tincture is still pharmaceutical
in implication, so the FDA periodically objects to its use in the herb
industry. Nonetheless, if it is IMPLIED, it should reasonably resemble the
former pharmaceutical media. Glycerin, although a very inferior solvent, is
used as a substitute for moral reasons by some manufacturers, and others try to
make do with low percentages, like 25%...others use Vinegar for making their
"tinctures". There are many alternative methods for preparing herbs in
concentrated forms, in ours and other cultures (the Unani honeys, the pills
used in Ayurveda and TCM), but trying to emulate a tincture with other media
results in inferior products...and a moral waste of Plant Energy. Methods and
recommended strengths are outlined in my pamphlet HERBAL MATERIA MEDICA See:
TINEAS A dermatomycosis; any number of skin fungus infections, such as
ringworm, athlete's foot, and so forth. It is generally slow to acquire and
hard to get rid of.
TINEA VERSICOLOR A chronic skin fungus, often without symptoms...except the
light skin splotches of infected surfaces that don't tan. It seems easily
transmitted from one part of the body to another or one person to another. It
is also called Pityriasis Versicolor.
TINNITIS A ringing in the ears. It may be caused by viral infections of the
middle and inner ear, allergies, stress, even drugs or environmental agents.
Tenacious for some people, it often seems to occur when you have lots of things
to do and little tolerance anyway.
TMJ The temporomandibular joint. These are the two joints that connect the
jawbone to the skull under the zygomatic arch. TMJ syndrome involves pain in
the joint, clicking in the joint from degradation of the sinovial fluids, and
sharp, shooting pain when chewing. The two main causes are malocclusion
(improper tooth alignment) and tension. Some people grind their teeth, others
clench their jaws, perhaps from the inability to say what is felt.
Chiropractors and osteopaths love helping these folks, some even specializing
in TMJ work.
TOMENTOSE Having woolly hairs.
TONIC A substance taken to strengthen and prevent disease, especially chronic
disease. Formerly, tonics were widely available both as over-the-counter and
prescription formulas. Unfortunately, the increased sophistication of medicine
has led to the abandonment of preventative or strengthening approaches that
utilize the innate abilities of an organism (like ourselves) to right itself
with a little prodding in the correct direction. The last several decades have
seen increased focus on disease-at-a-time medicine, with more and more patients
receiving treatment at acute care facilities like hospitals and clinics,
circumstances that delegate against preventative or tonic approaches. Tonics
tend to stimulate deficient functions, therefore are best suited for functional
disorders, not organic ones.
TRACHEA The cartilage tube that brings air from the larynx to the two bronchi
that enter the lungs. It is lined with mucus membranes and ciliated epithelia.
TRIFOLIATE Having three leaflets in a compound leaf, like a clover.
TRIGEMINAL NEURALGIA Facial neuralgia or tic doulourex. This is pain of the
gasserian ganglion or one or more branches of the trigeminal nerves. It is
felt as pain along the side or top of the head, the scalp and around the
eyes...a skin headache...and sometimes accompanied by facial muscle cramps. It
is usually initiated by trigger points, with blood sugar irregularities and
substance sensitivities often lowering their threshold of irritation.
TRIGONE This is the triangular basement muscle of the urinary bladder. It
differs in structure and nerves from the top of the bladder, the detrusor
muscle, which expands as the bladder fills, and contracts during urination
under parasympathetic nerve stimulus. The trigone does not expand, is under
sympathetic nerve stimulus, and supplies the rigidity and sphincter support for
the urethra in front and the ureters in back.
TRIMESTER The three three-month sections of a pregnancy.
TRIPINNATE Thrice pinnately compound leaf.
TUBER A short, fleshy, underground part of a stem or root. Example: potato,
TURBINATES The three nasal conchae, bone ridges that help spiral and flutter
inhaled air, increasing the efficiency of heating, moistening and cleansing
UMBEL A flowering head where the pedicels (individual flower stems) all spring
from one point, usually the end of the peduncle. Compound umbels, found in
some Umbelliferae, have umbels branching from peduncle umbels that themselves
are branching from the main stem.
UNIPOLAR Having only one polarity; primarily in reference to individuals who
only manifest a manic or depressive phase in personality or thyroid bipolarity.
URATE The salts of uric acid, found in the urine, some kidney stones, and
(unfortunately) in gouty joints.
URETERALGIA Spasm or pain of the ureters, the ducts that milk urine from the
kidneys to the bladder.
URETHRITIS Any inflammation of the urethra, whether from external irritation,
overly acidic or scalding urine, passage of stones, or an active infection of
the canal. (See CYSTITIS.)
URIC ACID The final end product of certain native or dietary proteins,
especially the nucleoproteins found in the nucleus of cells. Unlike the much
smaller nitrogenous waste product urea, which is mostly recycled to form many
amino acids, uric acid is an unrecycleable metabolite. It is a bent nail that
won't restraighten, and it must be excreted: nucleoprotein to purine to uric
acid to the outside in the urine or the sweat. (See GOUT, PURINES.)
URINARY TRACT (UT) The kidneys and the lower urinary tract, which includes the
ureters, bladder, and urethra.
U.S.P.-N.F United States Pharmacopoeia and National Formulary. The U.S.P. was
first published in 1820 and ever ten years thereafter until the Second World
War, after which it has been revised every five years. It has always been meant
to define the physical, chemical, and pharmaceutical characteristics of the
most accepted and widely used drugs of the time, and to set the standards for
purity. The N.F was first published in 1888, and, up until 1980, in the same
year as the United States Pharmacopoeia. Since 1980, both have been issued in
the same volume. The National Formulary was originally intended as a list of
the official recipes for pharmaceutical formulas; characteristics of those
drugs or plants used in the formulas or that were still recognized as secondary
drugs; and the substances needed for the manufacturing of drugs but that were
not active, like gelatin or pill binders. With the decreased use of tonics and
less invasive medications after the Second World War, the National Formulary
became primarily a text defining the inactive substances used in drug
manufacturing; the United States Pharmacopoeia now lists the active substances;
and all the rich heritage of tonics, elixirs, bitters, syrups, and alternate
preparations has disappeared from the short memory span of Standard Practice
Medicine. If an herbalist wanted to practice as a pharmaceutical antiquarian,
the U.S.P.s and N.F.s of the years between 1890 and 1950 would supply virtually
every needed formula and herbal preparation that a Western herbalist would ever
need-it's all there (-and all forgotten). To a great degree, the contemporary
herbal renaissance is reinventing the wheel.
UTI Urinary Tract Infection.
VAGINITIS An inflammation of the vagina, either from simple tissue irritation
or from an infection
VAGINOSIS A vaginal infection characterized by a smelly discharge and the
presence of Gardnerella, Mycoplasma, and other anaerobic bacteria, with the
lack of Lactobacillus species.
VAGUS NERVE Also called the pneumogastric nerve, this is the tenth cranial
nerve, with many fibers leading to parasympathetic ganglia in internal organs,
and can be considered the presynapse starter for the upper parts of the
VARICOSITIES Enlarged veins or an engorged complex of smaller vessels.
VASCULAR Pertaining to blood vessels
VASCULITIS Inflammation of one or more blood vessels
VASOCHOLINERGIC An agent that stimulates blood flow to the viscera, and more
closely mimicking the balance of circulation induced by parasympathetic states.
This is one way to oppose excessive adrenergic circulatory states.
VASOCONSTRICTOR A nerve, agent or substance that narrows blood vessels.
VASODILATION, PERIPHERAL The increase of blood into the skin, resulting from
the relaxation of the small arterioles that lead into the capillary beads at
the edges of the body. This is a gentle way to lessen early high blood
pressure, decreasing the difficulty of pushing columns of arterial blood
through miles of capillaries.
VASODILATOR Nerves, hormones or substances (like herbs) that induce the
relaxation of blood vessels.
VASONEUROSIS Spasms and cramps of blood vessels that are caused by neurologic
factors. Also called angioneurosis
VENEREAL WARTS Caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) and also known as
condylomata acuminata, anal warts, and genital warts. It is nearly always
transmitted from person to person by sexual contact, can increase the risk for
women of cervical cancer, and occurs in near epidemic proportions in sexually
active teenage women.
VENOSITY An area where there is a buildup of excess venous blood, with
enlarged veins and tissue congestion
VENOUS Pertaining to the veins, or more broadly to include both venous AND
VENOUS STASIS Having congested venous blood and lymph. Usually a larger
condition effecting tissue or organ function, as opposed to the more vascular
implications of venosities and varicosities.
VESICAL IRRITATION In my context, irritation of the bladder and urethra.
VINCENTS INFECTION Trench Mouth or NUGS. It is usually a symptom of extreme
physical stress, nutritional deficiencies and heavy metal poisoning (but not of
the type accrued from excess exposure to Metallica or Scorpion)
VLDL Very Low Density Lipids. These are blood transport fats, consisting
mainly of triglycerides (made from sugar by the liver) and loosely covered in
specialized proteins and phospholipids so they don't dissolve in the blood and
the target tissues can recognize them. Chronic elevation occurs when the
tissues cannot absorb them or the liver is overwhelmed by carbohydrates...such
as in alcoholism, some hepatitis, and diabetes.
WBC White Blood Cells, including those of innate immunity, including
basophils, neutrophils, eosinophils, monocytes, macrophages (and others) and
those of acquired immunity, the various types of lymphocytes. Also called
WHEAL An inflammatory response to mild skin irritation, with a well-defined,
raised redness, lasting for perhaps an hour and then disappearing. The cause is
usually atopic allergies in an IgE-excess person, although mild, subclinical
adrenocortical deficiency can be another factor.
XEROPHYTE A plant that is adapted to, and needs, dry desert climate or is
particularly hardy in periodic droughts.
Copyright 1995 by Michael Moore