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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.

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Rash - A skin eruption, usually red spots or patches, often with minor irritation, as itching.
A rash may be symptomatic of a number of conditions, including blocked sweat glands, allergy, viral or bacterial infection, etc.

Reflex - An automatic, involuntary, or learned response to a stimulus.

Respiration - Inhaling and exhaling; the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the outside air and the lungs.

Respiratory arrest - A cessation of breathing.
Breathing may stop as a result of a variety of serious accidents. The most common causes of respiratory arrest are overdose of narcotics; electric shock, which can cause paralysis of the nerve centers that control breathing and stop or alter the regular beat of the heart; suffocation or drowning a form of suffocation, in which air to the lungs is cut off by water or spasms of the larynx; poisonous gas, such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, ammonia, or hydrogen cyanide; head injuries; and heart problems.

Respiratory system - The system by which oxygen is taken into the body and carbon dioxide is discharged, comprising the nose, throat, larynx, trachea, bronchi, and lungs.

Restorative - Aids in regaining normal vigor.

Retina - The light-sensitive organ at the back of the eye that recieves images from the lens that are transmitted through the optic nerve to the brain.

Rheumatism - Any of various conditions characterized by inflammation or pain in muscles, joints, or fibrous tissue.

Rickets - A deficiency diseas of children that often causes bone deformity.
Those who contract rickets tend to exhibit swollen joints or distortion of limbs and other deformities caused by softened and irregular bone growth that is the result of insufficient vitamin D to aid in the absorption of calcium and its merging into bone.
Vitamin D is formed in the skin from exposure to sunlight and is available in the diet in dairy products and in fish oils that are rich in vitamin D. In some areas, a lack of winter sunlight to aid in the formation of vitamin D contributes greatly to the deficiency; however, regular doses of cod liver oil can overcome the problem.

Rigor mortis - Stiffening of the muscles after death.

Salve - Any medicinal ointment applied to wounds, skin irritations, burns, etc., for purpose of soothing or healing; anything that soothes or heals.

Scapula - A shoulder blade.

Scapular - Of or pertaining to the scapula.

Scar tissue - Connective tissue that has formed to replace normal tissue damaged by disease or injury.

Schizophrenia - A type of mental illness characterized by a withdrawal from reality.
Schizophrenia generally begins in adolescents or young adults, and may be evidenced by withdrawal, hallucinations, or discussions with a nonexistent third party with references to the subject as if he or she were not there.

Sciatica - Descriptive of severe pain in the lower back extending along the path followed by the sciatic nerve down the length of the back of the thigh.

Scoliosis - An abnormal curvature of the spine.
Usually, the condition occurs late in life, resulting from a disease of the bones or muscles supporting the spinal column; however, it may be a congenital malformation of the vertebrae that can be corrected, at least in part, by surgery.

Sedative - Calms the nerves.

Seizure - A sudden attack of any kind, as by an epileptic fit, heart attack, convulsions, or a stroke.

Senility - A condition that encompases the governing factors and infirmities of old age.
Senility may be used to describe simply the condition of being old, but is more often used to express infirmities, especially the decline in mental faculties.
Senility may be characterized by memory lapse, especially for recent events; slowed speech; inability to concentrate; lethargy; lack of concern about personal appearance; lack of ability to perform routine daily tasks; loss of appetite; anxiety; insensitivity to others; irritability; or withdrawal. Severe mental decline may be manifest in impulsive or inappropriate behavior; incontinence; inability to walk; etc.
In general, these conditions are progressive, that is, once begun, they continue to worsen, a decline that may be rapid or extend over a period of many years.

Septic - Descriptive of that in which bacteria or other infectious substance is present.

Shin splints - A painful condition caused by swelling and inflammation of the membrane that joins the muscle along the lower leg bone to the bone. Shin splints are commonly a runner's affliction caused by running on a hard surface of failing to warm up properly.

Shock - Shock is the failure of the cardiovascular system, the system that circulates blood to all cells, to provide adequate blood to every part of the body.
The collapse of the cardiovascular system may be caused by any of three conditions: blood is lost due to hemorrhaging; vessels dilate and there is insufficient blood to fill them; the heart fails to act properly as a pump and circulate the blood.
No matter what the reason for the collapse, the results are the same: an insufficient blood flow to provide adequate nourishment and oxygen to all parts of the body. The body processes may slow down, reducing circulation and, without nourishment, organs begin to die, especially the brain.
The state of shock may develop rapidly or it may be delayed until hours after the even that triggers it. Shock occurs to some degree after every injury. It may be so slight as not to be noticed; or so serious that it results in death.
Some of the major causes of shock are: severe or extensive injuries; severe pain; loss of blood; severe burns; certain illnesses; allergic reactions; poisoning inhaled, ingested, or injected; exposure to extremities of heat and cold; emotional stress; or substance abuse.
The signs and symptoms of shock are both physical and emotional: dazed look; paleness in light skinned individuals and ashen or grayish color in dark skinned individuals; nausea and vomiting; thirst; weak, rapid pulse; cold, clammy skin; shallow, irregular, labored breathing; pupils dilated; eyes dull and lackluster; cyanosis, or a bluish tinge to the skin, in the late stages of shock.

Skeleton - The framework of bone that supports the softer body parts.
The human skeleton is composed of approximately two hundred bones, classified according to shape as long, short, flat, and irregular. The skeleton forms a strong flexible framework for the body. It supports and carries the soft parts, protects vital organs from injury, gives attachment to muscles and tendons, and forms joints to allow movement.
There are three major divisions of the human skeleton: the head, trunk and extremities.

Skin - The external covering of the body.
The outer layer of skin, or epidermis, is made up of layers of cells that primarily serve to protect and also contains the cells that determine skin color. The epidermis constantly changes; as new layers are formed, old ones are shed. The layer of skin below the epidermis is the dermis. The dermis contains the blood vessels, nerves, and specialized structures such as sweat glands (that help to regulate body temperature) and hair follicles. The fat and soft tissue layer below the dermis is called the subcutaneous.

Sleep - A natural state of rest characterized by a lack of voluntary thought or movement.
During sleep, the body passes through a number of alternating states between that of being almost awake and of REM, or rapid eye movement, that is dream sleep. It is during REM sleep, so named becaused of the erratic movement of the eyeballs, that dreams occur.

Sleep apnea - A stoppage of breathing during sleep.

Slipped disk - Descriptive of protrusion of any of the disks that cushion the vertebrae, or bones of the spinal column; a herniated disk.
The term slipped disk is actually a misnomer; the disk is actually herniated in that it bulges out from between the vertebrae.

Smell - Descriptive of the function of the olfactory nerves; to detect odor or aroma.

Sneeze - An involuntary action characterized by the sudden emission of air forcibly through the nose and mouth; a protective mechanism for expelling irritants from the respiratory system.

Soporific - Induces sleep.

Sore throat - See "Pharyngitis"

Spasm - The sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle, that may be repeated for some time.

Speech - The ability to create unique sounds for the sole purpose of communicating thought.

Spinal column - The spinal column, or backbone, is made up of thirty-three segments composed of vertebrae joined by strong ligaments and cartilage to form a flexible column that encloses the spinal cord.

Spinal cord - The network of nerve tissue that extends through the spinal column.
Nerves leaving the brain connect to the spinal cord, pass down through the spinal column, the opening in the center of the spine, 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.

Spine - The human spine consists of twenty-nine bones, called vertebrae, that provide the basis of a firm, flexible frame for the trunk of the body, and encases the spinal cord and its nerve roots.
The spinal vertebrae are separated and protected from each other by disks of cartilage that absorb the impact of any stress on the vertebrae as in walking or running.

Spleen - An abdominal organ that has several functions, primarily those of removing worn out or abnormal blood cells from circulation and in the manufacture of antibodies.

Sporadic - Recurring at irregular intervals.

Sprain - An injury due to stretching or tearing ligaments or other tissue at a joint.
A sprain is caused by a sudden twist or stretch of a joint beyond its normal range of motion. It may be a minor injury, causing pain and discomfort for only a few hours, or it may require weeks of medical care before normal use is restored.
A sprain is manifested by pain on movement, swelling, tenderness, and discoloration. At first the joint will probably be more comfortable if it is bandaged to limit movement and help keep the swelling down, but as soon as possible the joint should be moved and used.
Sprains present basically the same signs as a closed fracture. If it is not possible to determine whether an injury is a fracture or a sprain, it should be treated as a fracture and referred to a healer.

Spur - A pointed outgrowth on a bone, caused by illness or injury.

Sputum - Saliva, often mixed with other material, as mucus, that is spit from the mouth.
Excess mucus in the respiratory tract, usually the result of irritation or infection, stimulates nerve endings that set up a cough reflex to eject the offending material.

Stammer - To involuntarily hesitate or falter when speaking.
The condition is usually readily overcome by speech therapy that focuses mainly on relaxation and proper breathing.

Sterilization - Any condition that inhibits or destroys reproductive capability.
Sterilization may be caused by disease, disability, or surgical procedure.
In men, surgical sterilization is called a vasectomy, a relatively simple procedure that involves cutting through the tubes that carry sperm from the testes to the urethra.
In women, the most common procedure is cutting or blocking the fallopian tubes that carry the egg from the ovaries to the uterus.

Sternum - A bone at the front of the chest that travels downward from the collarbone and to which the ribs are attached.

Stimulant - Anything that has the effect of increasing the activity of a process or organ.

Stomach - The organ in the digestive system that is located between the esophagus, that delivers ingested food, and the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine. The stomach mainly churns ingested food and mixes it with digestive juices before passing it on to the duodenum for further digestion and absorption.

Stomachache - Pain in the region of the stomach.

Strain - An injury to a muscle or a tendon caused by stretching or overexertion.
In severe cases muscles or tendons are torn and the muscle fibers are stretched. Strains are commonly caused by a sudden, unusual or unaccustomed movement.
A strain may cause intense pain, moderate swelling, painful or difficult movement, and, sometimes, discoloration. Generally, rest is all that is required to allow the body to replace damaged tissue; however, severe or persisting discomfort should be referred to a healer for diagnosis.

Strangulation - Constriction that cuts off a vital flow, as of air to the lungs or blood to an organ.

Stress - Any force or influence that tends to distort the normal physical or mental state.
Physically, stress is produced by normal body action, as that of the vertebrae against the disks that separate them when one is walking or running, or by abnormal stimulation, such as disease, injury, extreme temperatures, etc. Mentally or emotionally, a certain amount of stress is inherent in every conscious thought or decision. Stress is recognized as a condition, however, only when it is sufficiently intense as to be beyond the ability of the body's regulating systems to cope with it.
Stress may be brought on by a number of conditions that vary with the individual. For most, major lifetime events may trigger an extreme response that manifests itself in the onset or worsening of a mental or physical disorder. Others may attach special importance to less significant events and overreact to them, as an adolescent who regularly suffers asthma attacks before tests.

Stricture - An abnormal constricting of a passage that prevents normal function.

Stroke - The sudden disruption of blood supply to an area of the brain; apoplexy.
Stroke may be caused by a clot formed somewhere else in the body that travels through the bloodstream to block an artery leading to the brain or in the brain, by cerebral hemorrhage brought on by the bursting of an artery in the brain, or by rupture of an aneurism in an artery leading to the brain.
The consequence of a stroke is the loss of function in those areas of the body controlled by the affected area of the brain. Such loss of function, such as memory, sensory perception, or motor skills, may be temporary, or it may be permanent.

Styptic - Acts as an astringent to arrest external bleeding from superficial cuts, scratches, etc.

Subconscious - Descriptive of those mental processes that occur without conscious recognition or with reduced perception, as those that are instinctive or reactive.

Subliminal - Descriptive of that which is below the level of consciousness.

Sudden death - The immediate and unexpected cessation of respiration and functional circulation.
The term sudden death is synonymous with cardiopulmonary arrest or heart-lung arrest. In the definition, the terms sudden and unexpected are extremely important. The death of a person with an organic disease such as cancer, or who is under treatment for a chronic heart condition and has gradual but progressive loss of heart function, cannot be corectly classified as sudden death. Cardiac arrest, when the heart stops pumping blood, may occur suddenly and unexpectedly for any number of reasons, such as heart attack, asphyxiation, suffocation, drowning, allergic reaction, choking, or severe injury.
A person is considered clinically dead the moment the heart stops beating and breathing ceases. However, the vital centers of the central nervous system within the brain may remain viable for four to six minutes more. Irreversable brain damage begins to occur to human brain cells somewhere between four and six minutes after oxygen has been excluded. This condition is referred to as biological death. Resuscitation in the treatment of sudden death depends upon this grace period of four to six minutes. After that period, even though the heart might yet be restarted, the chance of return to a normal functional existance is lessened.

Suffocation - Any condition that inhibits the flow of air into the lungs.

Suicide - The conscious taking of one's own life.

Sunburn - Inflammation and discoloration of the skin caused by excessive exposure to rays of the sun.
Despite the extreme discomfort of sunburn, most cases need only be treated with applications of medicinal ointment (numbweed, aloe vera) to help restore the moisture balance in the skin. Extreme cases, however, can involve serious damage to the skin and loss of body moisture. Any sunburn victim who suffers from chills, fever, or nausea should be placed in the care of a healer.

Sunstroke - Heatstroke caused by direct exposure to the sun.

Superficial - Near the surface; descriptive of that which expresses only limited intrusion, as a superficial wound.

Suppurative - Descriptive of the formation or presence of pus, as in a wound.

Suture - To join together the edges of an open wound by stitching; the stitch used to join the edges of a wound.

Symptom - A characteristic indicator of a disease or infection, either evident to the examiner or a sensation described by the subject, that, taken with other indicators, forms the basis for a diagnosis.

Syncope - Loss of consciousness caused by a temporary interruption in the flow of blood to the brain; fainting.

Syndrome - A number of indicators that, taken together, form a pattern for diagnosis.

Synovial fluid - The fluid present in the joints to lubricate the synovial membrane.

Synovial membrane - The membrane of the joints that, with synovial fluid, reduces the friction between two or more joined bones.

Tachycardia - Abnormally rapid heartbeat, caused by disease, medication, drugs, exercise, or emotional distress.

Tantrum - Uncontrollable rage or temper.

Taste - That one of the senses stimulated by contact with the taste buds in the mouth.
Basically, the taste buds allow one to distinguish among four different characteristics--sweet, sour or acid, salty, and bitter. The distinctive taste of a specific substance is a combination of the sensory perception of the taste buds, its aroma, and its texture.

Tendinitis - Inflammation of a tendon.
Although tendinitis may be associated with disease, it is most usually the result of physical activity.
One who engages in athletics or physical labor without proper conditioning or preparation is a candidate for a variety of injuries, including tendinitis.
Tendinitis is manifested in pain and tenderness in the affected area, which is relieved by resting.

Tendon - The tough, fibrous connective tissue by which muscle is joined to bone.

Thirst - An intuitive desire for fluid.
In order to maintain normal function, the body needs constant replenishment of fluids to replace that lost through the action of the lungs, sweat glands, and kidneys. A number of conditions, such as stress, heavy exercise, hemorrhage, or disease can increase the need.
The need for fluids is signaled by a dry feeling in the throat and mouth, because moisture evaporates rapidly from those areas when the body lacks water.

Thoracic - Descriptive of the chest or upper back.

Thoracic cavity - The cavity enclosed by the ribs, the thoracic portion of the vertebral column, the sternum, the diaphragm, and associated muscles.

Threadscore - A severe burn caused by Thread.
When the mychorrhizoid falls through the atmosphere, it becomes tremendously hot--hot enough to eat right through skin. The edges of a Threadscore are blackened and burned. Threadscore is treated like any other severe burn. It nearly always leaves scars.

Throat - That portion of the digestive tract that forms a passage from the nose and mouth to the esophagus that leads to the stomach and the trachea that leads to the lungs.

Thrombosis - Coagulation of the blood; the process of forming a blood clot in the heart or a blood vessel.

Thrombus - A blood clot that forms in the heart or a blood vessel.

Tibia - The larger of the two lower leg bones.

Tibial - Of or pertaining to the anterior lower leg (shin).

Tic - An intermittant, involuntary spasm or twitch, usually of the facial muscles.

Tincture - A dilute solution of a medicinal substance (dried or fresh herbs) in alcohol or in alcohol and water. They are employed because some herbs will not yield their properties to water alone of may be rendered useless by applications of heat. In other instances, an herb will more readily impart its active principles when prepared as a tincture.
Tinctures are more dilute than fluid extracts and more volatile than spirits.

Tinnitus - A buzzing or ringing in the ear.
Tinnitus may be caused by blockage of the Eustachian tubes, excessive wax in the ears, or a disorder of the auditory nerves.

Tissue - A collection of similar cells working together to perform a specific function: epithelial (skin, mucous membranes), connective (cartilage, bone, blood), nervous (nerves and brain), muscle (skeletal, smooth, cardiac).

Tonic - Anything that invigorates, refreshes, or restores the system.

Tonsillectomy - A surgical procedure for the removal of the tonsils.

Tonsillitis - Infection or inflammation of the tonsils.
The tonsils are two small lymph glands located on each side of the throat at the back of the mouth.
Tonsillitis is usually evidenced by a sore throat, fever, and difficulty swallowing. Often, there is evidence of swelling and inflammation of the organ. Treatment generally involves rest, relieving symptoms, and sometimes, antibiotics to clear the infection. The tonsils are seldom surgically removed except in extreme conditions.

Topical - Descriptive of that designated for a particular part of the body, as the applying of medication.

Torso - The trunk of the human body.

Toxin - Any of a variety of matter produced by microorganisms that cause infection and disease in humans.

Trachea - The tube that extends from the larynx to the bronchi in the respiratory tract; the windpipe.

Tracheotomy - A tracheotomy is performed when injury or disease causes an obstruction in the windpipe or makes it necessary to remove the larynx.

Trauma - A sudden affliction, either physical or psychological.
In the practice of medicine, trauma is generally descriptive of physical injury or the physical symptoms of shock.
In psychiatry, it is used to describe a distressing emotional experience that is difficult for the subject to deal with, and that may produce a lasting effect, as neurosis.

Tremor - An involuntary shaking of a part of the body.

Triage - A system of assigning a priority to the treatment of victims in a medical emergency based on such factors as urgent need and the chance for survival.

Trunk - The main part of the human body comprising all except the head and the extremities. The trunk is divided into upper and lower parts by a muscular partition known as the diaphragm.
The upper portion of the trunk is the chest, its cavity, and organs. The chest is formed by twenty-four ribs, twelve on each side, that are attached in the back to vertebrae. The seven upper pairs of ribs are attached to the breastbone in front by cartilage. The next three pairs of ribs are attached in the front by a common cartilage to the seventh rib instead of the breastbone. The lower two pairs of ribs, known as the floating ribs, are not attached in front.
The lower part of the trunk is the abdomen, its cavity, and organs. The pelvis is a basin-shaped bony structure at the lower portion of the trunk below the movable vertabrae of the spinal column, which it supports, and above the lower limbs, upon which it rests. The pelvis forms the floor of the abdominal cavity and provides deep sockets in which the heads of the thigh bones fit.

Tumor - Any growth of new tissue that is independent of its surroundings. A tumor may be benign or malignant.

Turgid - Descriptive of that which is swollen or abnormally distended.

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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.