Holistic Dictionary - Medical Terms
Holistic Dictionary of Medical Terms
ACUTE any ailment of short duration e.g. all infectious diseases. (Acute ailments may become chronic if unresolved) An acute ailment is self-limiting and of short duration i.e. it will usually either weaken you or make you stronger (build your immunity). Often contrasted with chronic.

AETIOLOGY the same as causation. (American spelling 'etiology')

ALLOPATHY the dominant medical system in the West (and elsewhere) using the doctrine of opposites

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.

ANAL WARTS Also called Condylomata acuminata. A sexually transmitted viral infection, caused by human papillomavirus. See VENEREAL WARTS

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 blood pressure

ANORECTIC An agent that suppresses appetite for food

ANOREXIA Having little or no appetite for food

ANTIBODY 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 acetycholine 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. Our only plants that could fit the current definition 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 freeradical 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 antiinflammatory or antihistamine.

ANTISPASMODIC A substance used to relieve or prevent spasms of the smooth muscles of the intestinal tract, bronchi, or uterus.(Examples: barbiturates, Garrya.)

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 immunosuppression.

ANTIPHLOGISTINE An agent that limits or decreases inflammation; an antiinflammatory 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 adult humans, 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 heart.

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 dietary).

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 external agent.

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 mother sneezed and your father itched, you will probably have one form or another of the above symptoms at different times of your life. Solution: since you can't change your genetics, keep in balance and avoid, if possible, the distortions of constant medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.

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 dilate 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.

BID = Twice a day

Chronic of long duration (does not mean 'really bad') e.g. eczema, IBS, ME, PMT, asthma. (Chronic ailments may have acute episodes) Chronic ailments are those that don't usually resolve of their own accord, unlike acute ailments.

Concurrently 'happening at the same time as' Concurrent symptoms: apparently differing sets of symptoms occurring at the same time.
Concurrent remedies: a remedy taken alongside or at the same time as another remedy

Constitutional (also known as 'classical', 'totality', 'Hahnemannian', 'Kentian') means the remedy is prescribed for the perceived whole of the patient; includes symptoms and characteristics often with special attention to the emotional and psychological qualities. It is the epitome of 'Holistic' medicine.

Dyscrasia an abnormal or physiologically unbalanced state of the body

Keynotes are highlights of a remedy's best known characteristics, symptoms and modalities. In the Materia Medica some words or sentences are in CAPITALS, bold print or italics; these are usually the remedy's keynotes. Keynotes give us clues to choosing a remedy. Especially in acute prescribing.

Lay homeopath is any homeopath who isn't also qualified as a medical doctor.

Modalities are the modifying and qualifying factors of a remedy, i.e. what makes someone's symptoms: Better or ameliorated from (using the symbol " > " or abbreviation 'amel') OR Worse or aggravated from (using the symbol " < " or abbreviation 'agg.') These factors may apply to weather, movement, activity, time of day, desires and aversions, to foods, thirst, being touched, being held, etc. When choosing a remedy, the modalities are taken into consideration for acute conditions or for chronic cases.

OTC over the counter. i.e. bought from a shop, pharmacy etc.= non prescription medicines

Palliation temporary lessening of symptoms without cure or addressing the true nature of the problem

Pluralist in homeopathy it refers to one who does not adhere to the principle of single dose/single remedy, but who uses more than one remedy at a time

Polypharmacy a homeopathic term referring to the giving of several different remedies, sometimes in different potencies in the same dose. The opposite of 'constitutional' or single prescribing

Presenting symptoms the symptoms the patient initially considered most important and which they 'presented' to the homeopath

Prostrated completely exhausted, wiped out, too weak to even speak, cannot get up, lying flat

Purgative strongly laxative in effect, causing purging, violent diarrhea

QID = Four times a day

Repertory is a book with a list of all the symptoms organised into headings with associated remedies

Rubrics are symptom-categories found in the repertory. Each rubric (symptom) is followed by a listing of all the remedies that have either produced this symptom in a healthy person (a proving) or that has cured this symptom in an ill person

SID or QD = It is a Latin abbreviation of 'Semel in Die' used in drug dosing, it means 'once a day'

Simillimum a homeopathic term referring to the 'single' homeopathic remedy that matches the whole of a patients symptomology and characteristics in its entirety

Tautopathic, tautopathically using the 'same' substance potentised as a remedy (rather than a 'similar' substance)

Tenesmus a continual or recurrent inclination to evacuate the bowels. Tenesmus often involves the bladder as well.

TID = Three times a day

Totality the picture of disease that includes ALL symptoms, including the mental, general and particular

Unicist in homeopathy it refers to one who adheres to the principle of single remedy/single dose
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