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A Healer's Glossary

DISCLAIMER - This is really only for personal use as a reference during role-play. It is NOT intended to be used to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any real medical condition. Any risk or liability is your own.

G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q
A-F | R-T | U-Z


Gangrene - Death of body tissue.
Gangrene is usually caused by a reduction or complete absence of blood to a section of tissue, although bacterial infection that destroys tissue may play a critical part in its formation.
Gangrene may be the result of burns, freezing, physical injury, a blood clot, bacteria, or any other condition that interferes with the flow of blood and destroys tissue.

Gastritis - Inflammation of the stomach lining.

Gland - Any organ that secretes a substance to be used elsewhere in the body.

Gluteal - Of or pertaining to the buttocks.

Goiter - Enlargement of the thyroid gland that appears as a swelling at the side or front of the neck.
Goiter may be caused by a diet deficient in the iodine necessary for the production of thyroid hormone; by an excess of of foods that inhibit the production of thyroid hormone, as cabage or soya; or by a cause unknown.
The swelling is the result of a futile attempt by the gland to produce more hormone by enlarging the cells within the gland.

Gout - Inflammation of a joint caused by excess uric acid in the bloodstream.
Gout is the result of the body's inability to properly process uric acid, a chemical normally found in the blood and urine. Excess uric acid may crystalize and be deposited in the skin, joints, and kidneys.
An attack of gout is the body's response to the crystal deposits. The initial attack is usually concentrated in a single joint; subsequent attacks may involve several joints. Attacks are very painful and the area becomes extremely sensitive, followed by redness, warmth and swelling.

Gynecology - The branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the female reproductive system.

Hallucination - A false sense of perception.
A hallucination can affect the senses of sight, hearing, taste, or smell; they range from something as simple as a flash of light to a detailed and clearly identifiable sight or sound.
Hallucinations may be symptomatic of a mental disorder or the result of physical illness. Recurring and often terrifying hallucinations may accompany high fever, alcholoism, drug abuse, or severe injury. Disease or tumor of the brain may cause hallucinations related to a particular sense depending on the area of the brain affected.

Hangover - Characterized by nausea, headache, etc. from drinking too much alcoholic liquor.

Hay fever - An allergy to pollen manifested by cold-like symptoms; polinosis.

Headache - Pain in the head.
Headaches are a notice from the body that something is wrong. Many headaches are due to dehydration; constipation; stress; and eyestrain.

Hearing - The sense which allows us to recieve and distinguish various sounds. Sound is basically made up of vibrations of varying magnitude, transmitted through a solid, a gas, or a liquid.
In the human body, the outer ear (pinna) percieves or "collects" sound waves and vibrations from the air and directs them through the ear canal to the eardrum (tympanic membrane). The vibrations of the eardrum travel through the middle ear where they are amplified and passed to the inner ear cochlea where tiny hairs are excited according to the magnitude of the vibrations. Finally, the auditory nerve picks up the signals from the hairs in the cochlea and passes them on to the brain where they are distinguished as sounds.

Heartburn - A burning sensation usually centered in the middle of the chest near the sternum. Heartburn is not normally associated directly with the heart, but is caused by the reflux, or bubbling up, of acidic stomach fluids so that they enter the lower end of the esophagus.
Because the reflux can increase the heart rate and heartburn does exhibit symptoms similar to angina, a healer should be consulted if symptoms persist or bouts of heartburn are frequent.

Heat exhaustion - A condition marked by weakness, nausea, dizziness, and profuse sweating that results from physical exertion in a hot environment. Compare heatstroke.

Heatstroke - A condition marked especially by cessation of sweating, extremely high body temperature, and collapse that results from prolonged exposure to high temperature.

Hepatic - Of or pertaining to the liver. A medicine that produces an effect on the liver.

Hyperventilation - Abnormally rapid or deep breathing, causing an excessive loss of carbon dioxide, that can make one light-headed or dizzy, or cause a loss of consciousness.

Hypothermia - An abnormally low body temperature.
Hypothermia is a general cooling of the entire body--the inner core of the body is chilled, so that the body cannot generate heat to stay warm.
The condition usually occurs from immersion in cold water, but may be produced by exposure to extremely low air temperatures or to temperatures between thirty and fifty degrees Fahrenheit accompanied by wind and rain. Also contributing to hypothermia are fatigue, hunger, and poor physical condition.
Exposure begins when the body loses heat faster than it can be produced. When the body is chilled, it passes through several stages: the urge to move about and excercise in order to stay warm; shivering as an involuntary effort by the body to preserve normal temperature in the vital organs; deprivation of judgement and reasoning powers; feelings of apathy, listlessness, indifference, and sleepiness; a loss of muscle coordination. Coolness becomes more rapid as the internal body temperature is lowered; eventually hypothermia will cause coma and death.

Ichor - Dragon circulatory fluid. Ichor is thinner than blood and based on copper rather than iron, giving the stuff its dark green color. Fire lizards, tunnel snakes, and wherries also have ichor.

Incision - A wound produced by a sharp cutting edge, such as a knife or razor. The edges of such wounds are smooth without tearing or bruising. If such a wound is deep, large blood vessels and nerves may be severed. Incised wounds bleed freely and are often difficult to control.

Infection - The presence of an organism, such as a bacterium or virus, that can have a harmful effect on the body.
Indicating any organism that can cause disease.
The disease caused by such organism.

Inflamation - Redness and swelling, accompanied by heat and pain.
Inflammation is the way that living tissue responds to infection--it is symptomatic of the body's protective mechanism at work.

Influenza - A contagious viral infection of the upper respiratory tract.
Influenza is characterized by symptoms similar to a cold, often accompanied by a fever, chills, aching muscles, headache, and a feeling of general malaise. The flu is unique in its ability to circumvent the immune system, that is, once a population has been infected, the structure of the virus changes so that existing antibodies are not effective in fighting the next attack.
Because influenza spreads so rapidly throughout a community, it has been surmised that the virus is transmitted by airborne particles from an infected person.
Influenza is unpleasant, but seldom serious except for those with a condition that is aggravated by flu symptoms, as a respiratory infection or heart condition.
Treatment for the flu is basically the same as for a bad cold; bed rest, extra fluids, and aspirin or aspirin substitute to reduce fever and muscle aches.
An association has been made between administering aspirin for a viral infection and Reye's syndrome in children; therefore, aspirin should not be given to a child with influenza.

Infusion - Frequently called teas. Usually the softer substances of the herb, such as the blossoms of leaves, are prepared as infusions. Boiling water is poured over the herb, and the solution is allowed to steep (stand) for a certain amount of time. Infusions are never allowed to boil.

Inguinal - Of or pertaining to the groin.

Intestines - The lower part of the alimentary canal, extending from the stomach to the anus; the large and small intestines.

Jaundice - A condition caused by bile pigments in the blood, manifested by a yellowing of the skin and other tissue, and caused by disease or other abnormality.
Often a disease causing the yellowing of the skin is itself called jaundice.

Joint - The juncture of two or more bones.

Joint-ache - See rheumatism.

Kidney - One of a pair of abdominal organs that removes waste and waste matter from the blood and excretes them as urine.

Laceration - A wound with rough or jagged edges. The flesh has been torn or mashed by blunt instruments, machinery, or rough edges such as a jagged piece of metal.
Because the blood vessels are torn or mashed, these wounds may not bleed as freely as incised wounds. The ragged and torn tissues, with foreign matter that is often forced or ground into the wound makeit difficult to determine the extent of the damage. The danger of infection is great in lacerations.

Laryngitis - Inflammation of the larynx.
The larynx is the voice box, located in the upper part of the respiratory tract. Infection of the larynx is manifested by a hoarse or grating voice or, occasionally, a complete loss of speech.

Lesion - An alteration in the condition of tissue, that may be caused by injury, disease, abnormal growth, etc.

Lethargy - An unnatural lack of energy; sluggishness.

Ligament - Tough fibrous tissue that holds bones together at joints and supports body organs.

Liniment - A liquid or semiliquid alcoholic, oily, or saponaceous preparation or a consistency thinner than an ointment for application to the skin with friction, especially as an anodyne or a counterirritant.

Liver - The largest gland in the body, located in the upper part of the abdominal cavity.
The liver performs a number of functions, including the manufacture of substances necessary for blood clotting, the processing of nutrients absorbed by the small intestine, and the removal of toxic substances from the blood.

Lumbago - Rheumatic pain in the lower back; often used to describe any back pain.

Lumbar - Of or pertaining to the lower back.

Malady - Any condition that exhibits symptoms of illness or disease.

Malaise - A general feeling of discomfort or physical decline that may indicate the onset of disease.

Malignant - Descriptive of that which is a danger to health and well-being; likely to cause death.

Mastitis - An inflammation of the breast, especially of a nursing mother.

Mastoid bone - The bone directly behind the ear, identifiable as a rounded bump.

Menses - The blood and cellular debris associated with an unfertilized egg that flows from the uterus when pregnancy does not occur after ovulation, approximately monthly during a female's reproductive years.

Menstruation - The process of discharging the menses.

Mucilaginous - Imparts a soothing quality to inflamed areas.

Muscle - Tissue made up of fibers that have the ability to contract.
It is through the contraction of muscle that all movements of the body are produced.
Voluntary muscles, also known as striated muscles, are, with one notable exception, consciously controlled by the individual.
Involuntary muscle, also known as smooth muscle, such as those found in the blood vessels, digestive system, respiratory system, etc. are not under conscious conrol.
The exception to this ordering of muscles is a group of heart muscles (cardiac muscles) that are striated, but controlled by the motor nerves rather than the conscious will.

Narcolepsy - A disorder characterized by sudden, uncontrolled lapses into deep, but brief, sleep.
Attacks may be related to another condition, although they often occur with no other symptoms: the subject simply falls into a deep sleep and awakens refreshed.

Narcotic - A drug, as morphine, fellis juice; used to relieve pain and induce sleep. Narcotics are often addictive and should be used with caution.

Nausea - A feeling that one wants to vomit.
Nausea may be brought on by anything that interferes with the normal flow of nutrients through the digestive tract, whether direct, as in the case of reaction to tainted food or infection, or indirect, as by an emotional or psychological response.
Nausea may be manifested as discomfort or a burning sensation in the abdomen or chest, excessive secretion of saliva, sweating, blurred vision, or feelings of weakness.

Necrosis - Death of tissue in the midst of healthy tissue.
Necrosis takes place when cells are destroyed by infection or when they are cut off from their blood supply. It may occur in an area of the body served by vessels that have been injured or blocked, in areas of the heart following a heart attack, or in the midst of a tumor that has outgrown its blood supply.

Nervine - Reduces nervouse tension or excitement; nourishes the nervous system.

Nervous system - The network of cells that recieve and transmit signals to coordinate the various parts of the body and the organs controlling the body functions.
The main parts of the nervous system consist of the brain and spinal cord. The brain is a collection of nervous centers. Leaving the brain, the nerves join to the spinal cord, pass through the opening in the center of the backbone or spinal column and branch off to all parts and organs of the body.
There are mainly two types of nerves entering and leaving the spinal cord: sensory nerves that convey sensations such as heat, cold, pain, and touch from different parts of the body to the brain; and motor nerves that convey impulses from the brain to the muscles causing movement.
The nervous system consists of two separate systems by function: the voluntary and the involuntary. The voluntary system is under control of the will, that is, movements and actions that are deliberate. The involuntary nervous system is a series of nerve centers in the chest and abdominal cavity along the spinal column. Each of these nerve centers is connected with the spine and the brain and controls vital organs and vital functions. This system is not under the control of the will; through it involuntary muscles are stimulated to function without regard to the state of consciousness.

Neuritis - Any inflammation of a nerve.
Neuritis may be brought on by infection, by pressure on the nerve, by exposure to toxins, by loss of the nerve's blood supply, or by lack of vital substances in the diet.
Neuritis can cause discomfort ranging from tingling to severe pain, a loss of sensation and muscle control, or even paralysis.
Treatment varies depending on the cause.

Nosebleed - Bleeding from the nose caused by a rupture in the vessels in the inner lining of the nose.
Nosebleeds are usually caused by a blow to the nose, repeatedly blowing the nose, or long periods of breathing dry air. Occasionally they may by symptomatic of a more serious condition, as high blood pressure or a tumor.
Most nosebleeds can be stopped by leaning forward to avoid swallowing blood and pinching the soft portion of the nose for a few minutes, or by applying cold packs to the bridge of the nose.
Nosebleeds that are difficult to stop or recur regularly should be referred to a Masterhealer.

Nutritive; nutrient - Nourishing.

Obesity - The condition of being significantly overweight.

Obsession - That which engages a person's consciousness to an abnormal degree.
Obsession may take the form of irrational concerns, repetitive actions, doubts, or fears that the subject cannot avoid or dismiss.
Obsessions may be linked, as in the case of one who repeatedly checks to see that the doors are locked because of an obsession with security.
An obsession may be a symptom of a psychiatric illness or brain disorder.

Obstetrics/gynecology - Obstetrics is the branch of medicine that deals with conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth. Gynecology is concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the female reproductive system. Because of the close relationship between the two fields, they are often practiced as a single specialty.

Occipital - Of or pertaining to the back of the head.

Ointment - A fatty substance (mixed with dried or ground herbs, simmered, then strained) applied to the skin for healing or cosmetic purposes. Compare salve; unguent.

Open wound - See abrasion, amputation, avulsion, incision, laceration, puncture wound.

Orbit - Eye socket.

Orbital - Of or pertaining to the eye.

Oxygen - A colorless, odorless gas that occurs free in the atmosphere.
Oxygen, essential to the body, is absorbed from the lungs into the bloodstream, where it is carried by the red blood cells to be discharged to the tissues.
The brain is most sensitive to oxygen deprivation and is permanently damaged if its supply is cut off for more than a few minutes.

Pain - Severe discomfort that may be physical, as that caused by disease or injury, or emotional, as that caused by grief or depression.
The mechanics of pain are not thoroughly understood, but it is pain that assists greatly in the diagnosis of disease or injury as by location, type, or duration of the pain.

Palate - The roof of the mouth, that consists of a firm hard palate in the front and a fleshy soft palate in the back, toward the throat.

Palliative - Descriptive of medication that alleviates pain or other symptoms, but does not have the power to heal.

Palpate - To examine or explore by touching (as an organ or an area of the body), as a diagnostic aid.

Palpitation - Rapid beating, especially of the heart.

Palsy - Any of a number of diseases characterized by tremors, weakness of the muscles, or an odd gait and attitude; paralysis.

Pancreas - A large gland located near the stomach at the back of the abdominal cavity that secretes enzymes to aid in digestion and hormones to regulate the level of sugar in the blood.

Pancreatitis - Inflammation of the pancreas. The condition is characterized by a number of symptoms including abdominal pain, nausea, fever, accelerated heartbeat, and clammy skin.

Paralysis - Impairment or loss of muscle function.
Paralysis may be caused by disease or injury to the muscle itself or to the part of the nervous system that directs it and may range in severity from impairing a single muscle or nerve to affecting a large part of the body.
Disease of the muscle itself commonly leads to weakness, rather than total paralysis. Any blockage of impulses from the nerves to the muscles, whether caused by direct injury or by disease may cause either weakness or lead to total paralysis, depending on the condition. Recovery, too, depends on the underlying cause, as in some situations there is total remission while in others there is virtually no hope for recovery.

Paranoia - A mental disorder characterized by delusions of persecution and grandeur.
Paranoia is characterized by suspicions that otherwise innocent acts are direct personal attacks, coupled with an exaggerated feeling of self worth that the subject feels is unrecognized or unjustly ignored by others.

Paraplegia - Paralysis of the lower parts of the body.
Paraplegia, usually caused by damage to the spinal cord, may affect only the use of the lower limbs, or it may encompass the lower trunk as well, causing dysfunction of the bladder and rectum. Compare quadriplegia.

Parasite - A plant or animal that lives in or on another from which it gains sustenance or protection without returning any benefit, and perhaps doing harm to its host.

Patella - Kneecap.

Patellar - Of or pertaining to the anterior knee joint.

Pectoral - Pertaining to the thorax or chest; relieves affections of the chest and lungs.

Pediatrics - The branch of medical science that deals with the diseases and care of children.

Pelvis - The pelvis is a basin-shaped bony structure at the lower portion of the trunk. The pelvis is below the movable vertebrae of the spinal column, which it supports, and above the lower limbs, upon which it rests.
Four bones compose the pelvis: the two bones of the backbone and the wing-shaped hip bones on either side. The pelvis forms the floor of the abdominal cavity and provides deep sockets in which the heads of the thigh bones fit.

Peptic ulcer - Descriptive of any erosion or open sore in the lower end of the esophagus, the stomach, or the duodenum, the first portion of the small intestine.
The onset of ulcers may be subtle, exhibiting symptoms that can be taken for indigestion; however, when the symptoms appear after every meal, during stress, and occasionally, just before meals, a healer should be consulted.

Pharmaceutics, pharmacy - The craft of the precise preparation and dispensing of medicines.

Pharmacology - The study and acquired knowledge of the nature and action of drugs.

Pharyngitis - Inflammation of the pharynx, the passage that connects the back of the mouth and nose with the larynx and esophagus; sore throat.

Phlegm - Thick, sticky mucus secreted in abnormal quantity in the respiratory passages.

Physiology - Study of the processes and function of the body.

Pneumonia - Inflammation of the lungs, in which the air sacs in the lungs, the alveoli, fill with fluid and white blood cells.
Pneumonia may be caused by bacteria, virus, fungi, or other microorganisms. Any foreign matter, such as a chemical, food, or vomit, that is inhaled may carry an agent that causes infection. Any type of drug or disease that inhibits the immune system may make one susceptible to an attack of pneumonia.
Pneumonia commonly occurs when resistance is lowered, as by another infection, or a disease that affects the entire body. It may be brought on when the body's defenses are strained from fighting the ravages of a cold, influenza, asthma, etc. Any condition that requires confinement to bed for a long period increase susceptibility to pneumonia, especially in the elderly.
Pneumonia is usually characterized by chest pain, fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing. Pneumonia caused by a viral infection may be preceded and accompanied by the symptoms normally associated with a cold or flu. Other forms of pneumonia may strike suddenly with chills, shivering, an abrupt rise in temperature, shallow breathing, and the discharge of dark yellow or bloody sputum.
General treatment for pneumonia should be with the advice of a healer, and usually involves bed rest, plenty of fluids, and a soft diet. If the condition is secondary to another, treatment of the primary condition is important in order to strengthen the body's immune system. Bacterial pneumonia may be treated with antibiotics.
In very serious cases, or where there is continued labored breathing, hospital care may be necessary.

Poisoning - The introduction into the body of any substance in a quantity that is harmful or destructive.
Poisoning may be deliberate or it may be accidental. It may be caused by an otherwise non-toxic or even beneficial substance, as a medication in combination with another substance, or in a large quantity or overdose, that makes it harmful. It may come in the form of a pollutant in the air or a bacterial growth in tainted food.
Poisoning can produce unpleasant symptoms, such as abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, sweating, or a feeling of weakness. It can also cause delirium, loss of consciousness, difficulty in breathing, blindness, paralysis, and death.
Certain poisons may be neutralized or passed off by the body while others, ingested in small quantities, accumulate in the system until they become damaging. Some cases of poisoning have no lasting effect while others cause scarring or other conditions that remain and may get worse with time.
Treatment of poisoning may be as simple as cleansing the offending substance from the body or administering an antidote, or it may require extended treatment to correct the resulting damage.

Polyp - A projecting growth of mucous membrane, usually not malignant but sometimes a sign of other problems in the affected area of the body.

Popliteal - Of or pertaining to the posterior knee joint.

Posterior - Toward the back (rear) of the body. The back or rear. Compare dorsal.

Poultice - Used locally to relieve inflammation or to cleanse and heal an affected area. They may be applied warm at body temperature or hot according to the condition being treated.
Poultices may be prepared with herb leaves or herb powder. If the leaves are used, they are steeped in hot water and spread between two pieces of cloth. This is applied to the affected part and then covered with a dry towel. If a hot poultice is used, the towel should be covered with a hot water bottle to retain the heat. From time to time the poultice is moistened with water, as it should not be allowed to become dry. Every three or four hours the poultice is replaced with a fresh one, and the process is continued until results are achieved. However, some conditions require more frequent poulticing.
The herb powder form is often used in place of the leaves. Enough of the herb powder for several poultices is placed in a double boiler. Hot water is stirred into the powder until it attains the consistency of a paste. The mixture is then spread inside a folded cloth, and the same procedure is followed as with the leaves.

Pregnancy - The state of being pregnant. The state of being with young. Typical human pregnancy lasts around nine months.

Prognosis - A prediction of of the probable course of a disease or disability and the forecast for recovery.

Psychiatry - The branch of medicine dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional diseases and disorders.

Psychology - The science that deals with human behavior; the study of mental and emotional processes.

Psychosis - A severe personality disorder in which contact with reality is seriously impaired.
Psychosis may be the result of malfunction of the mind without apparent organic cause, or it may be caused by injury or disease.

Psychosomatic - Desciptive of a physical ailment that originates in a mental or emotional disorder.

Puncture wound - A wound produced by pointed objects such as needles, splinters, nails, or pieces of wire that pass through the skin and damage tissue in their path. The small number of blood vessels cut sometimes prevents free bleeding. The danger of infection in puncture wounds is great due to this poor drainage.
There are two types of puncture wounds:
A penetrating puncture wounds causes injured tissues and blood vessels whether it is shallow or deep.
A perforating puncture wound has an entrance and exit wound. The object causing the injury passes through the body and out to create an exit wound which in many cases is more serious than the entrance wound.

Pus - A yellowish-white fluid in which dead white blood cells, dead tissue, etc. are suspended; the result of an infection.

Pustule - A small eruption on the skin filled with pus.

Quadriplegia - Paralysis of the arms, legs, and the trunk of the body below the level of an associated injury to the spinal cord.
Cardiovascular complications may develop from any injury that damages the spinal cord above the fifth cervical vertebra because of an associated block of the sympathetic nervous system. A major cause of death from such an injury is respiratory failure. Throughout therapy for quadriplegia, constant psychological support from attending nurses benefits the patient and family and encourages healthy communication. Compare paraplegia.

Quarantine - The isolation of those who have been exposed to a communicable disease. The purpose of a quarantine is to limit exposure to a dangerous, communicable disease so as to prevent its spread to others, especially when there is danger of an epidemic (i.e., Moreta's plague), or rapid spread throughout the community.

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Sources for this glossary were:

Anderson, Kenneth; Anderson, Lois E.; Glanze, Walter D. Mosby's Medical, Nursing, & Allied Health Dictionary, fourth edition. USA: Rand McNally, 1994.

Bremness, Lesley. Herbs. Great Britain: Dorling Kindersley Ltd., 1994.

Lucas, Richard Melvin Miracle Medicine Herbs. West Nyack, New York: Parker Publishing Company, Inc., 1991: xiii-xvi.

McCaffrey, Anne. The White Dragon. New York: Ballantine Books, 1978: 232, 240-268, 292.

Nye, Jodie Lyn (with Anne McCaffrey). The Dragonlover's Guide to Pern, second edition. New York: Ballantine Books, 1997.

Radcliffe, J. The New International Webster's Pocket Medical & First Aid Dictionary of the English Language. USA: Trident Press International, 1997.

Webster dictionaries, various.

Wolfe, Frankie Avalon. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Herbal Remedies. USA: Alpha Books, 1999-2001.