The Complete Herbal
Guide to Medical Terms

A-Z of Medical Terms



A to Z of Alternative Therapies
A to Z of Botanical Terms
A to Z of Herbs
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A to Z of Vitamins and Minerals

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Allergic Rhinitis

Irritation of the mucous membrane of the nose by allergens such as grass and tree pollen and fungal spores.

Symptoms: stuffiness, nasal discharge and sneezing.


Alzheimers is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive cognitive deterioration together with declining activities of daily living and neuropsychiatric symptoms or behavioural changes. It is the most common type of dementia.

Symptoms - At the early stage of the disease there is a tendency to become less energetic or spontaneous. As the disease progresses to the middle stage, the person might still be able to perform tasks independently, but may need assistance with more complicated activities. As the disease enters the later stages the person becomes unable to perform even the simplest of tasks on their own and needs constant supervision. They may even lose the ability to walk or eat without assistance.
Article - Natural help for memory and brain function


Absence of menstruation when it would normally appear. Causes include hormone deficiency, starvation and anorexia, stress, depression and disorders of the hypothalamus.


Weakness in a blood vessel wall, causing swelling, which may burst, resulting in a haemorrhage and severe problems if this is in an important vessel in the brain or aorta.


Central constricting chest pains, caused by the heart muscle not getting enough oxygen. It my herald a heart attack.


Inflammation of the appendix, which is potentially life threatening.

Symptoms: pain in the lower right part of the abdomen which is worse when the area is touched.


Inflammation of the joints or spine, with swelling, pain, redness, heat and warmth of the skin, and restriction of movement. It can be caused by osteoarthritis, and tuberculosis.

Herbal Remedies for Arthritis


Narrowing of the airways in the lung which causes distressing and potentially life-threatening breathing difficulties. It normally appears in childhood, and is caused by a sensitive response to allergens present in the environment, as well as stress, exercise and infection. Also present my be eczema and hay fever.

Herbal Remedies for Asthma


Build up of cholesterol on the walls of the arteries which results in a reduced blood supply to the heart muscle.


Wasting of part of the body due to ageing, lack of use, malnutrition or ilness.


Wasting of part of the body due to ageing, lack of use, malnutrition or ilness.


Bed Sore

See Ulcer


Inflammation of the eye lid.


An infection of a gland or hair follicle with inflammation and pus.


Inflammation of the upper airways in the lungs which can be caused by infections. If the condition spreads into the bronchioles it can lead to lack of oxygen. Bronchitis can be fatal and is a common killer among the elderly, particularly in those who smoke, live in damp housingor in a cold and damp climate, and who suffer from other respiratory infections.

Symptoms: coughing, wheezing, chest pain, pain on coughing, pus-containing mucus.
Herbal Remedies for Bronchitis


Injured tissue can leak blood even if there is no open wound, and this area appears discoloured, going from black and blue to brown and yellow as the injury heals.


Burns are caused by dry heat, electrical current and chemicals, and can cause serious damage to tissue. If burns are deep, the tissue may not be able to regenerate.



Stones formed by the deposit of mineral salts, found in the urinary tract (gravel) and in the gall bladder.


Tumours and growths which can invade surrounding tissues and disrupt or destroy them. Cancerous cells can be spread through the tumours or growths. Common causes of cancer include smoking, nuclear radiation, ultraviolet (sun) light, viral infections, and the presence of cancerous genes.


Infection by candida albicans, which can effect the mouth, throat, vagina, skin and stomach. It can cause conditions such as thrush and pulmonary disease.


Inflamed and infected hair follicles and the surrounding tissue. Carcinoma cancer.


Itchy, round inflammatino of the skin which is usually caused by cold weather and a feficiency in circulation of the blood.


Infection of the small intestine by a bacteria, which can vary from relatively mild cases of vomiting and diarrhoea to severe caes of dehydration and death. Epidemics of cholera which occur in overcrowded conditions with poor sanitation can kill up to 50% of those effected.


Disorder of the nervous system with jerky uncontrolled movements.


Liver disease, which can be caused by alcohol abuse or viral hepatitis, although this is not always the case. Liver tissue is damaged and dies, which can prove fatal.


Mild infection of the upper respiratory tract.

Symptoms: coughing, sneezing, sore throat and occasionally fever.


Severe pain which is caused by a spasmin one of the organs of the abdomen, such as the intestine or uterus.


Inflammation of the membrane of the inside of the eyelid and front of the eye.

Symptoms: redness and swelling of the eyes, and the eyes are very watery.


Condition when the sufferer does not or is not able to pass faeces, which become dry, hard, and difficult and painful to pass. Regularity of bowel and bowel habit varies greatly between individuals. Attention to diet, eating more roughage and taking regular exercise can increase bowel frequency, as can laxatives and enemas. Some life-threatening conditions can cause constipation, including tumours, and it can also be present in other conditions.


Turberculosis of the lungs.


Rapid muscular contractions, spasms and relaxations in the limbs and body, which are caused by brain disturbance as in epilepsy, extreme fever and meningitis.


Prolonged, painful muscular contractions which usually occur in the limbs but can also occur in some of the internal organs. It can be caused by a salt deficiency because of heavy sweating. Other cramps, such as writer's cramp, are caused by excessive and repetitive use of an action using the same muscles.

Crohn's Disease

Condition of the bowel where the colon wall becomes thickened and chronically inflamed, and possibly ulcerated. It can lead to serious blockage of the intestine.

Symptoms: abdominal pain, diarrhoea, weight loss.


Condition which features a partial obstruction to the larynx, usually in young children, making breathing difficult with a crowing sound, and sometimes accompanied by coughing and fever. Diptheria is one cause of the condition, and very occasionally croup can be life threatening.


Lack of oxygen in body tissues which leaves the skin with a bluish tinge.


Inflammation of the bladder, usually caused by a bacterial infection, which is more common in women.

Symptoms: painful urination, frequent need to urinate, fever, blood in the urine.
Herbal remedies for cystitis



State with confusion, agitation, anxiety, fear, illusions and sometimes hallucinations, which can be caused by fever, poinsoning, strss, shock or poor nutrition.


Condition which features gloominess, sadness and even deep despair, along with other potential symptoms such as loss of libido and appetite, sleep disturbances, lack of energy, hopelessness,and suicidal feelings.

Herbal remedies for depression


Types of eczema.

Herbal Remedies for Dermatitis


Increased frequency and looseness of bowel movement which involves the passing of very soft or liquid faeces. The condition is usually caused by food poisoning, along with irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, dysentery among many others. Severe diarrhoea can be dangerous because of loss of salts and fluid, particularly in the very young.


Serious, infectious disease which can cause respiratory and gastric problems, and even damage the heart and nervous system. the disease, which is caused by a bacteria, is commonest among children and can be fatal, although it is possible to be immunised against the disease.


Infection of small pouches in the wall of the colon, with localised, persistent pain, and possible vomiting and fever. Symptoms can be similar to the early stages of cancer.


Old term for oedema or fluid retention.


Infectious disease which involves ulceration of the lower bowel, causing severe diarrhoea with mucus and blood. there is more than one form of the disease, but it is spread via infected food, water or by contact with an already infected individual. Accompanying symptoms can include indigestion, nausea, anaemia, weight loss, cramp and fever.


Painful menstruation, which can be accompanied by dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache and fainting. Causes can include infectinos, endometriosis and tumours.



Inflammation of skin. There are several different kinds of the condition, although it is usually caused by allergies or stress.

Symptoms: a red rash and itchiness, possibly blisters which weep and become encrusted.
Herbal Remedies for Dermatitis


Inflammation of the inner lining of the heart, usually because of rheumatic disease.


A neurological condition. It can be caused by trauma to the head, brain tumours, cerebral haemorrhage and metabolic problems such as hypoglycaemia. An attack can often happen without warning.

Symptoms: seizures, convulsions, possible loss of consciousness.


A skin condition, caused by bacteria.

Symptoms: inflammation and redness, can also manifest fever, pain and a feeling of heat as well as tingling.



A rise in the temperature of the body; frequently a symptom of infection

Herbal Remedies for Fever


An abnormal opening in the body, which may occur between organs or glands and the exterior. These can be caused by various factors including injury, infection, following surgery, or a baby may be born with the condition.


Wind or gas with gastrointestinal tract distension.

Herbal Remedies for Flatulence



Stones which form in the gallbladder and can cause severe pain and also obstruct the bile duct and cause jaundice. They appear to be caused by cholesterol stopping being soluble, and contain a proportion of calicium salts, and may form around a foreign body.



Condition where the stomach and intestine become inflamed. The cause is usually a virus. Dehydration is a problem, especially in children.

Symptoms: diarrhoea and possible vomiting.


Infection of the gums which can cause the gums to deteriorate and the teeth become loose and possibly fall out.


Enlargement of the thyroid gland.

Symptoms: nervousness, weight loss, and palpitations.


Condition where the pressure inside the eyeball is increased, possibly causing severe pain and blindness.

Symptoms: red eyes, cornea appearing cloudy.


Chronic urethral discharge in men.


Common sexually transmissable disease which is usually spread viy sexual intercourse. If left untreated the disease can lead to arthritis, heart problems and conjunctivitis. It is possible for a mother to pass the disease to her baby during childbirth.

Symptoms: pain on urinating with a discharge of pus, possible inflammation of organs such as the testicles and prostate in men, and the uterus and overies in women.


Condition caused by an excess of uric acid which leads to inflammation of effected joints, arthritis and destruction of the joint. The kidney may also be damaged with the formation of stones. Deposits can reach the stage where they prevent further movement of the joints and they end up set in one position.


Small stones which can form in the urinary tract, which are formed from calcium salts and crystalline matter. Expulsion of the stomes from the kidney usually causes great discomfort and pain, and there may also be blood in the urine.



Also known as piles. Inflammation of veins and varicose veins located at the end of the bowel in the wall of the anus. They are usually caused by constipation or persistent diarrhoea, especially in middle and older age, and may be exacerbated by a sedentary lifestyle. Pregnant women also commonly get haemorrhoids.

Symptoms: can include bleeding and pain.


Halitosis is a common ailment, presenting an unpleasant breath odour.


An allergic reaction to allergens in the air, such as grass pollen and fungal spores. Hayfever can lead to asthma, and eczema may also be present.

Symptoms: can include nasal discharge, sneezing, watery eyes and itchiness.


A headache is literally a pain in the head; sometimes neck or upper back pain may also be interpreted as a headache. It ranks amongst the most common local pain complaints. The medical community has identified over three hundred different types of headaches which can be caused by a variety of things and can be a symptom of something more serious. See also migraine.



Having too much cholesterol in the blood is not a disease in itself, but can lead to the hardening and narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis) in the major vascular systems.



Condition which is is difficult to define and can be caused by emotional excitement.

Symptoms: can include seizures, paralysis and spasms of limbs, mental disorders, amnesia.



See Irritable Bowel Syndrome.


Infectious disease, caused by a bacteria, where rashes with blisters are normally found around the nose and mouth. The condition usually effects children, and the rash is highly infectious.


A response of body tissues to injury or irritation; characterized by pain and swelling and redness and heat


Highly infectious viral disease which affects the respiratory tract. It can be responsible for serious lung infections. The disease can be fatal, and the elderly or those with heart conditions are particularly vulnerable. The illness is sometimes mixed up with colds, but influenza is a much more serious condition.

Symptoms: can include headache, weakness, fever, aches and pains, and loss of appetite




Inflammation of the coloured part of the eye, which can lead to blindness.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is also known as IBS, Spastic Colon, Mucous Colitis, Spastic Colitis, Nervous Stomache and Irritable Colon. It is a multi-faceted disorder where symptoms result from what appears to be a disturbance in the interaction between the gut or intestines, the brain, and the autonomic nervous system that alters regulation of bowel motility (motor function) or sensory function.


Symptoms: abdominal pain, abdominal discomfort, a change in bowel pattern, more/less frequent bowel movements, diarrhea, constipation



Liver condition which leads to bile pigment in the blood which makes the skin look yellow, as well as the whites of the eyes. There can be various causes, including obstructive where the bile does not reach the intestine because of a gallstone, red blood cells being destroyed by haemolysis, and liver disease such as hepatits.




Infection of the middle ear which controls balance.


Inflammation of the lining of the larynx and vocal cords, which is usually due to a viral infection, although there can be other causes including overuse of the voice, heavy smoking, chemical irritants and bacteria. It can also accompany infections of the upper respiratory tract such as colds and include coughs, difficulty in swallowing and pain.


Sticky whitish vaginal discharge, sometimes caused by infections such as thrush and gonorrhoea.



Infectious disease which is caused by a parasitic organism transmitted to man by mosquitoes. The disease features recurrent bouts of fever and anaemia, shivering and sweating.


Inflammation of the breast.

Meniere's Disease

Condition which may be associated with tinnitus.

Symptoms: giddiness which may cause nausea and vomiting, and deafness.


Condition with a throbbing headache. The sufferer normally feels exhausted after an attack.

Symptoms: severe headache, an aura with flashing lights, nausea and vomiting, and temporary paralysis or pins and needles in a limb or even lip.

Motor Neurone Disease

Disease with degeneration of the nerves which control muscle.

Symptoms: atrophy of muscles, twitches, and later difficulty walking and swallowing.

Multiple Sclerosis

Progressive disease, which effects the nerves, although there can be periods of remission.

Symptoms: pins and needles in the limbs, urgency and frequency of urination, hands which do not work properly, and painful eyes.


An acute infection of the parotid glands, which are situated in front of and below the ear, caused by a virus.



Inflammation of the kidney, which can be caused by infection.


Nerve pain, which includes sciatica, pain affecting the face and intercostal pain in the chest, which can have a variety of causes.



Fluid retention within the human body, which can be quite localised due to injury of effect the whole body which can be caused by heart or kidney failure. Fluid can collect in the chest cavity, abdomen or lungs (when it is called pulmonary oedema. Oedema can have many causes including cirrhosis of the liver, heart and kidney failure, acute nephritis, allergies, drugs and starvation. Women can also suffer from oedema during menstruation, which manifests itself as swollen legs or ankles.


Aching joints and other joint problems caused by wear and tear on the joint, and there is commonly pain on movement. It is usually a problem in the elderly, but may be caused by injury.


Increased density and hardness of bone.



The rapid and forceful beating of the heart, of which the sufferer is aware.


Paralysis, although the term is now only used for certain specific conditions such as cerebral palsy.

Parkinson's Disease

Degenerative disease.

Symptoms: tremor in the limbs, shuffling gait, blank expression, muscular rigidity, pill-rolling movement in the fingers.


Inflammation of the outer membrane of the heart.


Inflammation of the pharynx, a cavity at the back of the mouth.


Condition where the wall of a varicose vein becomes inflamed.


Inflammation of the pleura (the lining of the lung), which can be caused by an infection. Often associated with pneumonia, or disease of the lung, diaphragm, chest wall or abdomen, including conditions such as tuberculosis, abscesses or bronchial carcinoma.

Symptoms: severe pain from deep breathing and breathlessness.


Infection of the lungs, caused by bacteria, viruses or a fungus, resulting in inflammation and the filling of the lungs iwth pus and fluid. The lungs are starved of oxygen.

Symptoms: chest pain, coughing, breathlessness, fever, possible cyanosis.


Polio virus which can cause paralysis.


When an organ or tissue moves from its normal place in the body because the supporting tissues have weakened. This can occur in the vagina or uterus because of injury during childbirth.


Skin disease, which has no known cause. The disease normally begins around the elbows and knees. There may be a genetic element, and the condition is associated with stress and anxiety.

Symptoms: scaly, itchy skin, redness.


Inflammation of the kidney and its pelvis caused by bacterial infection. Pyelonephritis that develops slowly and can lead to renal failure if untreated; often associated with a kidney stone or with narrowing of the urinary passageways.

Symptoms: intense pain in one flank, intense back pain, high fever, shaking chills, nausea and vomiting, cloudy urine, bloody urine, unusually "strong" or foul-smelling urine, may need to urinate more often than normal, pain or discomfort during urination




General term to describe pain in the joints and muscles.


Childhood disease caused by vitamin D deficiency and characterised by soft bones which become deformed.


Skin disease with red flushed areas, especially in women during the menopause.


Scarlet fever

Infectious disease, which normally strikes in childhood, and is caused by a bacteria.

Symptoms: sore throat, vomiting, fever, and possible widespread red rash.


Pain in the sciatic nerve which is felt in the back of the thigh, leg and foot. Often caused by a prolapsed disc in the spine.


Pertaining to scurvy (scorbutus) or affected by it.


A form of tuberculosis affecting the lymph nodes, especially of the neck, that is most common in children and is usually spread by unpasteurized milk from infected cows. Also called struma .


Disease caused by vitamin C deficiency. Can be fatal.

Symptoms: swollen bleeding gums, bleeding into joints, ulcers, anaemia, fainting, diarrhoea.


Inflammation of the sinus of the nose and head.

Symptoms: blocked nose, pain, and possible fever.


Highly infectious disease, which is caused by a virus. The sufferer remains infectious until the scabs are gone. The fever can return with delirium. The disease had been all but eradicated, the last reported case was in 1977.

Symptoms: fever, vomiting, headaches, pain in other parts of the body, red spots which become filled with pus.




The need to urinate but only a little is passed with pain, which is sometimes severe. It can be caused by gravel, cancer, cystitis or inflammation.


See scrofula.


An infectious, sexually transmitted disease which is caused by a bacteria. The second stage is usually reached within a couple of months and the third stage can take many years to reach. Syphilis can be transmitted across the placenta from the pregnant woman to her unborn child.

Symptoms: (first stage) ulcer, hardening of the lymph nodes throughout the body: (secondary stage) fever, pains, enlarged lymph nodes, a faint rash usually on the chest: (tertiary stage) tumour-like growths throughout the body, damage to the heart, brain or spinal cord, blindness, mental disability, tabes dorsalis.



Infection by a yeasty, fungal infection. The infection can be passed by sexual contact, although it may also be caught spontaneously.

Symptoms: itchiness, redness, milky discharge.


A persistent ringing, buzzing or humming in the ears, which can be caused by ear wax, some drugs and by damage to the ears by loud noises.




Several infections which are caused by a bacteria of which pulmonary tuberculosis of the lungs is best known. The pulmonary disease, which can be carried without symptoms, may lay dormant for years. The disease can also be contracted through contaminated food and may effect the abdominal lymph nodes leading to peritonitis. The disease is usually vaccinated against in developed countries.

Symptoms: fever, wasting, night sweats, coughing up blood.



A cavity in the skin surface or mucous membrane which may become inflamed and fail to heal, this can include bed sores and varicose ulcers, which are caused by defective circlulation, as well as duodenal ulcers, gastric ulcers and peptic ulcers.


Colitis ulceration of the colon with pain, painless diarrhoea which may contain blood and mucous. It can lead to cancer of the colon if it persists for may years.


Inflammation of the passage from the bladder through which urine passes.

Symptoms: discharge of pus from just behind the clitoris in women or the penis in men, itchiness, alteration in bladder habit, and possibly a fever.


Rash, much like nettle rash. The condition is usually caused by an allergy to shellfish or other foods, to some drugs, as well as stress and exposure to certain plants such as nettles and poison ivy.

Symptoms: raised weals, swelling and itchiness.

UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)

Any infection of any of the organs of the urinary tract, including but not restricted to cystitis, pyelonephritis, urethritis.


Varicose Veins

Veins which become stretched, distended and twisted. Superficial veins in the leg are often affected although it may occur elsewhere. Causes can include obesity, pregnancy, inflammation of the wall of a vein with secondary thrombosis, and congential defective valves.


Kinds of wart, including that commonly caught by children on their feet, although they can appear on other parts of the body. They can be highly contagious.



Nail-bed infection .

Whooping Cough

Infectious disease caused by a bacteria which affects the mucous membranes of the air passages. The ilness can be dangerous to children and young infants, but they can be immunised.

Symptoms: fever, catarrh, a characteristic cough (short coughs punctuated by a 'whooping' drawing in of breath), possible nosebleeds and vomiting.




Important Disclaimer
The information on this web site is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any diseases. Any information presented is not a substitute for professional medical advice and should not take the place of any prescribed medication. Please do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consultation with your physician.

A to Z of Alternative Therapies
A to Z of Botanical Terms
A to Z of Herbs
A to Z of Herbal Actions
A to Z of the Language of Flowers
A to Z of Latin Names
A to Z of Vitamins and Minerals