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Glossary

Abdomen

The medical term for your belly. Your abdomen contains the body’s digestive organs between your diaphragm and your pelvis.

 

Abdominoperineal Resection

Surgical removal of the anus, rectum and sigmoid colon, resulting in the need for a permanent colostomy.

 

Acid Reflux

A painful condition in which acids regurgitate from the stomach into the esophagus. Can also be referred to as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

 

Adenoma

A glandular lesion which is thought to be the precursor to colorectal cancer.

 

Adhesion

A band of scar tissue that connects two surfaces of the body that are normally separate.

 

Aerophagia

The digestive term for swallowing too much air.

 

Air Contrast Barium Enema

An X-ray examination of the entire large intestine (colon) and rectum in which barium and air are introduced gradually into the colon by a rectal tube. This test, along with a flexible sigmoidoscopy, is recommended every five years, starting at age 50. These tests screen for colorectal cancer and polyps.

 

Alimentary Canal

The medical term for your entire digestive tract. The passage through which food passes, including the mouth, esophagus, stomach, intestines and anus. The word “alimentary” comes from the Latin word for nourishment. The alimentary canal is also referred to as the GI Tract.

 

Alkaline

Having a pH greater than 7. Having a relatively low concentration of hydrogen ions.

 

Allergy

Occurs when a person's immune system reacts to substances in the environment to which it has become hypersensitive. These substances are known as allergens and are found in house dust mites, pets, pollen, insects, moulds, foods and some medicines.

 

Amino Acids

Amino acids are the fundamental constituents of all proteins. They are organic compounds that contain both: an amino group (-NH2), and a carboxyl group (-COOH). Breakdown of the proteins in the body yields amino acids, specifically the following: alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, proline, serine, threonine, tryptophan, tyrosine, valine.

Some of these amino acids can be synthesised by the human body but Essential Amino Acids must be obtained from protein in the diet.

 

Amylase

An enzyme produced in the pancreas and salivary glands that helps in the digestion of starches from the diet. Amylase levels may be increased in people with pancreatitis or salivary problems like Sjogren’s Syndrome.

 

Amyloidosis

A group of diseases that results from the abnormal deposition of a protein called amyloid in tissues and organs.

 

Anal Fissure

A split or crack in the lining of the anal opening. An anal fisure usually caused by the passage of very hard or watery stools.

 

Anastomosis

A surgical joining of two ducts, blood vessels or bowel segments to allow flow from one to the other.

 

Aneurysm

The abnormal enlargement or bulging of a blood vessel. Can be caused by damage or weakness in the blood vessel wall.

 

Angiogram

A technique that uses dye to highlight blood vessels within an area of the body.

 

Antibiotic

A medicine (such as penicillin or its derivatives) that inhibits the growth of or destroys microorganisms.

 

Anus

The opening of the rectum at the end of the digestive tract through which solid waste leaves the body.

 

Appendectomy

Surgical removal of the appendix generally to treat appendicitis.

 

Appendicitis

Inflammation of the appendix that requires immediate medical attention.

 

Appendix

A small, worm-shaped organ located where the large intestine and small intestine join. It has no known purpose in the human body.

 

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is made from cider or apple must and has a pale to medium amber colour. Unpasteurized or organic apple cider vinegar contains mother of vinegar, which has a cobweb-like appearance and can make the vinegar look slightly congealed. It is used in salad dressings, marinades, vinaigrettes, food preservatives, and chutneys, among other things. It is made by crushing apples and squeezing out the liquid. Bacteria and yeast are added to the liquid to start the alcoholic fermentation process, and the sugars are turned into alcohol. In a second fermentation process, the alcohol is converted into vinegar by acetic acid-forming bacteria (acetobacter). Acetic acid and malic acid give vinegar its sour taste.

 

Arthritis

Inflammation of one or more of the joints in the human body. The main symptoms are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

 

Ascending Colon

The part of the large intestine that run upwards; it is located after the cecum.

 

Ascites

Fluid in the abdomen.

 

Autoimmune Disease

A disease in which the body produces antibodies that attack its own tissues, leading to the deterioration and in some cases to the destruction of such tissue.

 

Bacillus Laterosporus

Bacillus laterosporus is a hearty strain of bacterium that fights many types of harmful organisms, including candida.

 

Banding

A technique via endoscopy that the dilated blood vessels in the esophagus can be removed by putting rubber bands on and eventually fall off to the disappearance of those vessels.

 

Barium

A substance that, when swallowed or given rectally as an enema, makes the digestive tract visible on X-rays (also referred to as a "contrast medium").

 

Barrett’s Esophagus

A pre-cancerous condition of the esophagus caused by chronic acid reflux.

 

Benign

Non-cancerous.

 

Bezoar

A clump of food or hair in the digestive tract. Bezoars can cause obstructions in the stomach that keep food from passing into the small intestine.

 

Bifidobacterium Bifidum

A bacteria species of the Bifiodobacterium genus that keeps unwanted bacteria out, eases digestion, and boosts the immune system. It plays an important role in immune function and allergy response; and encourages normal, healthy looking skin.

 

Bifidobacterium Lactis

Bifidobacterium lactis is a bacterium that neutralizes gliadin, the wheat protein responsible for gluten sensitivity. Gliadin also damages the intestinal lining and can cause leaky gut.

 

Bile

A thick alkaline fluid that is made in your liver and stored in your gallbladder. Bile is important for the digestion of fats. Bile is ejected into the duodenum via the common bile duct, that is - it does not flow continuously but is released at intervals.

 

Bile Ducts

A network that transports digestive fluids from the liver and gallbladder to the intestines.

 

Biliary System

The gallbladder and bile ducts.

 

Bilirubin

Bilirubinan orange-yellow pigment formed in the liver by the breakdown of haemoglobin and excreted in bile.

 

Biopsy

The cellular study (usually under a microscope) of tissue removed from a living body.

 

Bladder

A muscular membranous sac in the abdomen which receives urine from the kidneys and stores it for excretion.

 

Bowel

Another term used to refer to the intestines. The large intestine may be called the colon or the large bowel.

 

Bronchoscope

A flexible instrument used to examine airways.

 

Cannulas

Tubes which hold the laparoscope and instruments, and allow access to the abdominal cavity for performance of laparoscopic surgery.

 

Carbohydrates

Any of a large group of organic compounds occurring in foods and living tissues and including sugars, starch, and cellulose. They contain hydrogen and oxygen in the same ratio as water (2:1) and typically can be broken down to release energy in the body.

 

Carcinoma

A malignant/cancerous growth that tends to invade surrounding tissue and metastasize (travel to and grow in) to other regions of the body. The tumour is generally firm, irregular and nodular with a well-defined border.

 

CAT Scan

Computerized Axial Tomography - an X-ray technique that produces a film showing a detailed cross-section of tissue.

 

Cecum

This pouch marks the beginning of the large intestine and is located in the lower right part of the abdomen. The appendix is connected to the cecum.

 

Celiac Disease

A disease resulting from the abnormal reaction by the body's immune system to gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley, oats and other foods. In people who have celiac disease, the immune system causes damage to the small intestine and prevents the proper absorption of nutrients from food. Symptoms include diarrhea, anemia, and weight loss.

 

Cholangioscopy

The examination of the bile ducts via endoscopy.

 

Cholecystectomy

A surgical procedure used to remove gallstones from the gallbladder.

 

Cholecystitis

Inflammation of the gallbladder.

 

Chyme

The partially digested food that passes from your stomach into the upper part of your small intestine for further digestion.

 

Cirrhosis

A slowly progressing disease in which healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue, eventually preventing the liver from functioning properly. The scar tissue blocks the flow of blood through the liver and slows the processing of nutrients, hormones, drugs and naturally produced toxins. It also slows the production of proteins and other substances made by the liver.

 

Cleanse

To clean or rid of something unpleasant or defiling.

 

Clinical Trial

A research program conducted with patients to evaluate a new medical treatment, drug or device.

 

Colectomy

The surgical removal of part or all of the colon, performed to treat cancer of the colon or severe, chronic ulcerative colitis.

 

Colitis

Also, referred to as ulcerative colitis, is a disease that causes inflammation and sores, called ulcers, in the top layers of the lining of the large intestine. The inflammation usually occurs in the rectum and lower part of the colon, but it may affect the entire colon. Colitis rarely affects the small intestine except for the lower section, called the ileum.

 

Colon

The main part of the large intestine, the last three or four feet (except for the last eight inches, which is called the rectum). Also known as the "large intestine" or "large bowel."

Colon Cancer

A malignant/cancerous tumour arising from the inner wall of the large intestine. Although the exact causes of colon cancer are not known, it appears that both hereditary and environmental factors play a role in its development. The early stages of cancer may have no symptoms and therefore, regular screening is important.

Colonoscopy

An outpatient procedure in which a physician inserts a colonoscope (a long, flexible instrument about 1/2 inch (approximately 130mm in diameter) in the rectum and advances it to the large intestine (colon) to view the rectum and entire colon.

 

Colorectal Cancer

A malignant tumour arising from the inner wall of the large intestine (the colon). Risk factors for cancer of the colon and rectum (colorectal cancer) include colon polyps, long-standing ulcerative colitis, and genetic family history. Most colorectal cancers develop from polyps. Removal of colon polyps can prevent colorectal cancer. Colon polyps and early colon cancer can have no symptoms. Therefore, regular screening is important, starting at age 50 (or earlier, if added risk factors are present). Diagnosis can be made by barium enema or by colonoscopy, with biopsy confirmation of cancer tissue. Surgery is the most common treatment for colorectal cancer.

 

Colostomy

The surgical creation of an opening between the surface of the skin and the colon. Also referred to as a large intestine stoma.

 

Colostomy Bag

A removable, disposable bag that attaches to the exterior opening of a colostomy (stoma) to permit sanitary collection and disposal of bodily wastes.

 

Constipation

Difficult, infrequent or incomplete passage of stools. Constipation is usually caused by inadequate fibre in the diet or a disruption of regular routine or diet. Lack of water intake can also be a contributing factor. Constipation can also be caused by overuse of laxatives. Constipation is rarely the sign of a more serious medical condition.

 

Corticosteroids

Anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. These powerful drugs often produce dramatic results but may also cause severe side effects when used over a long period.

 

Crohn’s Disease

A chronic inflammatory disease that involves all layers of the intestinal wall. It primarily affects the lower part of the small intestine (ileum) but it may also affect any part of the large or small intestine, stomach or esophagus. Crohn's disease can disrupt the normal function of the bowel in many ways.

 

Descending Colon

The part of the large intestine that runs downwards after the transverse colon and before the sigmoid colon.

 

Diabetes

A serious disease in which the body cannot properly control the amount of sugar in your blood because it does not have enough insulin. It can cause excessive thirst and the production of large amounts of urine. The three main types of diabetes are type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes.

 

Diaphragm

Thin, dome-shaped muscle that separates the abdomen from the chest. When the muscle contracts, the dome flattens, increasing the volume of the chest. It plays a major role in breathing, as its contraction increases the volume of the thorax and so inflates the lungs.

 

Diarrhea

A condition in which bowel movements are passed more often than usual and in a liquid state.

 

Digestion

The process in the alimentary canal by which food is broken up physically, as by the action of the teeth, and chemically, as by the action of enzymes, and converted into a substance suitable for absorption and assimilation into the body.

 

Digestive Disease

When a digestive disease occurs, it causes the malfunctioning of the digestive system, so that it is no longer turning food into fuel for energy, maintaining the body structure or eliminating waste products properly. Digestive diseases range from the occasional upset stomach, to the more life-threatening colon cancer, and encompass disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, liver, gallbladder and pancreas.

 

Digestive Enzyme

Substances produced by the human body to assist in the digestion of food. These enzymes are secreted by the various parts of the digestive system and they help to break down food components such as proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

 

Digestive System

Also referred to as the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), the digestive system is the system of the body that processes food and gets rid of waste. Comprised of the esophagus, small intestine, colon, rectum and anus.

 

Digestive Tract

The series of organs in the digestive system through which food passes, nutrients are absorbed, and waste is eliminated. It consists of the esophagus, stomach, small intestines and large intestine, rectum, and anus.

 

Disaccharides

Carbohydrates that consist of two linked monosaccharide units. The most common disaccharides include maltose, lactose and sucrose. (Note that the -suffix "ose" indicates that these are sugars.)

 

Diverticulitis

This digestive disease is caused by inflammation of finger-like pouches that form inside the colon. These pouches, or diverticula, tend to develop in older people.

 

Duodenal Ulcer

Duodenal ulcers are caused by the action of acid and pepsin on the duodenal lining (mucosa) of a susceptible person. They are usually associated with an increased output of stomach acid. Symptoms may include pain in the upper abdomen (especially when the stomach is empty), which may disappear for weeks or months. Vomiting may also occur. Complications may include bleeding, perforation, and obstruction due to scarring.

 

Duodenum

The first part of the small intestine; it is C-shaped and runs from the stomach to the jejunum

 

Dysphagia

A medical term for difficult or painful swallowing.

 

Edema

Fluid retention.

 

Elastase

An enzyme found in fluids produced by the pancreas. It aids in the digestion of several proteins, including elastin. Elastin is an elastic substance in the lungs and other organs that is part of their structural framework. Elastase is normally inhibited by a substance called alpha-1 antitrypsin.

 

Electrogastrography (EGG)

A diagnostic test that measures electrical activity in the stomach using electrodes placed on the skin.

 

Encephalopathy

Confused thinking and forgetfulness caused by poor liver function, and the diversion of blood flow away from your liver.

 

Endoscope

A long, narrow, flexible tube with a small light and camera at one end.

 

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

A procedure in which a tube is placed down the patient's throat, into the stomach, then into the small intestine. Dye is injected and the ducts of the gallbladder, liver and pancreas and can be seen on X-ray. The procedure may be performed to diagnose and treat problems in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, and pancreas, including gallstones, inflammatory strictures (scars), leaks (from trauma and surgery), and cancer.

 

Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS)

A procedure that combines both endoscopy and ultrasound and allows a doctor to obtain images and information about the digestive tract and the surrounding tissue and organs.

 

Endoscopy

A procedure that uses a flexible, lighted tube to see the inside of the digestive tract for diagnostic or preventive purposes. The instrument is introduced into the body through a natural opening like the mouth or anus. This method is referred to by different names depending on the area of examination, such as: esophagoscopy (esophagus), astroscopy (stomach), upper endoscopy (small intestine), sigmoidoscopy (lower part of the large intestine), and colonoscopy (entire large intestine).

 

Endosonography

Also called ultrasound, is a diagnostic tool used to visualize the gastrointestinal organs. High-frequency sound waves are used to produce images and precisely identify abnormalities, such as tumours of the esophagus, stomach, pancreas or rectum. In the rectum, ultrasound can be used to locate the exact position of the tear in a muscle, even before bowel incontinence becomes a problem.

 

Enema

Injection of fluid into the rectum and colon to induce a bowel movement.

 

Enteroscope

A tool used to examine the inside of the intestines.

 

Enzyme

Enzymes are types of proteins that, in small quantities, increase the rate of biological reactions without being used-up in the reactions themselves. Enzymes form within living cells and may act either within the cell or outside it. Many enzymes are unstable and are easily de-activated by heat or by other chemicals. Certain enzymes are essential for normal functioning and development of the human body. Failure in the production or activity of even a single enzyme can lead to serious problems / disorders.

 

Epidural Catheter

A small tube (catheter) passed into the space between the spinal cord and spinal column. Pain medication is then delivered through the tube, numbing the lower abdomen.

 

Epiglottis

The flap at the back of the tongue that keeps chewed food from going down the windpipe to the lungs. When you swallow, the epiglottis automatically closes. When you breathe, the epiglottis opens so that air can go in and out of the windpipe.

 

Essential Amino Acids

An amino acid that cannot be synthesized from scratch and therefore must be supplied from the diet.

 

Esophageal Manometry

A test used to measure the strength and coordination of the esophagus during swallowing to identify the source of problems in the upper digestive system.

 

Esophagus

The long tube or “food pipe” between the mouth and the stomach. It uses rhythmic muscle movements (called peristalsis) to force food from the throat into the stomach.

 

Familial Polyposis

A rare condition, tending to run in families, in which the moist layer of tissue lining the colon (mucosa) is covered with polyps.

 

Fatty Acids

Fatty Acids are the basic constituents (parts) of many important lipids (fats), including e.g. triglycerides. In terms of their chemistry, fatty acids are organic acids that have long straight hydrocarbon chains and an even number of carbon atoms. In the same way as amino acids, some fatty acids can be synthesized (formed) in the body but others, called "essential fatty acids" must be obtained from the diet, i.e. ingested within foodstuffs - including beverages. Examples of fatty acids include: palmitic acid, oleic acid, stearic acid.

 

Faecal Diversion

Surgical creation of an opening of part of the colon (colostomy) or small intestine (ileostomy) to the surface of the skin. The opening provides a passageway for stools to exit the body.

 

Faecal Impaction

Faecal comes from the term faeces, which is another word for stool. A faecal impaction is the accumulation of hard stool inside the rectum that obstructs a normal bowel movement.

 

Faecal Incontinence

Inability to retain stools, resulting in bowel accidents.

 

Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)

Stool testing for blood, which is recommended every year starting at age 50, in addition to the flexible sigmoidoscopy test every five years, to screen for colon cancer and polyps.

 

Fasting

To be deprived of or limit all or some kinds of food.

 

Fermentation

Fermentation in food processing is the conversion of carbohydrates to alcohols and carbon dioxide or organic acids using yeasts, bacteria, or a combination thereof, under anaerobic conditions.

 

Fistula

An abnormal connection that forms between two internal organs or between two different parts of the intestine. This is a common complication of Crohn's disease.

 

Flatulence

The presence of too much gas or air in the stomach or intestines that is emitted through the anus.

 

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

A routine outpatient procedure in which a physician inserts a sigmoidoscope (a long, flexible instrument about 130mm (½ inch) in diameter in the rectum and advances it to the large intestine (colon) to view the lining of the rectum and the lower third of the large intestine (sigmoid colon).

 

Fluoroscopy

A continuous X-ray technique that allows the physician to observe how an organ performs its normal function; for example, how the esophagus works during swallowing.

 

Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

These are digestive health issues that cannot be explained by an infection, an inflammation, or a structural problem. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an example of a functional digestive problem.

 

Fungus

Any of a group of unicellular, multicellular, or syncytial spore-producing organisms feeding on organic matter. Includes moulds, yeast, mushrooms, and toadstools.

 

Gallbladder

A small pear-shaped organ located beneath the liver on the right side of the abdomen. The gallbladder’s primary functions are to store and concentrate bile, and secrete bile into the small intestine to help digest food.

 

Gallstones

Pieces of solid material that develop in the gallbladder when substances in the bile, primarily cholesterol, and bile pigments form hard, crystal-like particles.

 

Gas

A product of digestion that is made primarily of odourless vapours — carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and sometimes methane. The unpleasant odour is due to bacteria in the large intestine that release small amounts of gases containing sulphur.

 

Gastrectomy

A surgical procedure in which all or part of the stomach is removed.

 

Gastric

Pertaining to the stomach.

 

Gastric Cancer

Also referred to a stomach cancer, gastric cancer is a disease in which cancer cells are found in the lining of the stomach. Gastric cancer can develop in any part of the stomach and may spread throughout the stomach to other organs.

 

Gastric Ulcer

A hole in the lining of the stomach corroded by the acidic digestive juices which are secreted by the stomach cells. Ulcer formation is related to H. pyloridus bacteria in the stomach, anti-inflammatory medications, and/or smoking cigarettes.

 

Gastrin

A hormone that causes the stomach to produce acid, too much of which can cause stomach and duodenal ulcers.

 

Gastrinoma

Tumour that develops in the pancreas or duodenum. It can be associated with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. Gastrinomas secrete the hormone gastrin.

 

Gastritis

An inflammation of the lining of the stomach from any cause, including infection or alcohol.

 

Gastroesophageal Reflux

The return of stomach contents back up into the esophagus. This frequently causes heartburn because of irritation of the esophagus by stomach acid.

 

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

A condition in which stomach acid and contents back up into the esophagus, producing symptoms of heartburn or regurgitation.

 

Gastrointestinal

Relating to the stomach and intestines.

 

Gastrointestinal Tract (GI Tract)

Also referred to as the GI tract or alimentary canal. Is the tube in the body processes food and gets rid of waste. The part of the digestive system consisting of the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine.

 

Gastroparesis

Full or partial paralysis of the stomach. It is a disease in which the stomach cannot empty itself of food in a normal fashion. This can happen in diabetes.

 

Glands

An organ in the human body which secretes particular chemical substances for use in the body or for discharge into the surroundings.

 

Gluten

A mixture of two proteins present in cereal grains, especially wheat, which is responsible for the elastic texture of dough.

 

H2 Blockers

A group of digestive disease drugs that relieve acid reflux and pain by suppressing the production of stomach acid.

 

Haemolytic Jaundice

Occurs when there is excessive destruction of red cells (erythrocytes) in the blood. This situation may be referred to by the medical term "icterus".

 

Haemorrhoids

Swollen blood vessels which line the anus opening, caused by excess pressure from the straining during a bowel movement, persistent diarrhea or pregnancy.

 

Heartburn

Also known as "pyrosis". Heartburn has nothing to do with the heart. It is an uncomfortable feeling of burning and warmth occurring in waves, rising up behind the breastbone (sternum) toward the neck. It is usually due to gastroesophageal reflux, which is the backing up of stomach acid into the esophagus.

 

Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori)

A bacterium believed to be a major cause of peptic ulcers.

 

Hemorrhoidectomy

Surgery to remove haemorrhoids.

 

Hepatitis

A disease in which the liver is inflamed. A viral infection is usually the cause of hepatitis, although sometimes toxins or drugs are the cause.

 

Hepatocellular Jaundice

Is caused by diseased liver cells - e.g. in hepatitis, when the liver is not able to utilize bilirubin so it accumulates in the blood.

 

Hernia

The protrusion of an organ or tissue outside of the body cavity inside which it is normally located. The most common type of hernia is the hiatal hernia, in which the stomach passes, partly or completely, into the chest cavity through the hole ("hernia") for the esophagus (which is also known colloquially as the "windpipe" or "gullet"). The usual medical treatment for hernias (espec.ially painful ones) is surgical repair.

 

Hiatal Hernia

Abnormal bulge or protrusion of a portion of the stomach through a hole in the diaphragm where the esophagus and the stomach join.

 

HIDA Scan

Also called cholescintigraphy, a HIDA Scan is a test where radioactive material, called hydroxy iminodiacetic acid (HIDA), is injected into the patient. The test is used to diagnose certain conditions of the liver and gallbladder

 

Ileocolectomy

Surgical removal of a section of the terminal ileum and colon lying close to the ileum (the lowermost part of the small intestine).

 

Ileostomy

The surgical creation of an opening between the surface of the skin and the ileum, the lowermost section of the small intestine.

 

Ileum

The last part of the small intestine before it reaches the cecum and the colon.

 

Immune System

The body's defence, through organs and processes, against infectious organisms, toxins and other invaders. Organs include the thymus, bone marrow, and lymph nodes.

 

Incontinence (bowel)

Loss of bowel control.

 

Inflammation

The body's attempt at self-protection; the aim being to remove harmful stimuli, including damaged cells, irritants, or pathogens - and begin the healing process. Initially, it is beneficial when, for example, your knee sustains a blow and tissues need care and protection. However, sometimes inflammation can cause further inflammation; it can become self-perpetuating. More inflammation is created in response to the existing inflammation.

 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Diseases which cause inflammation of the bowel. IBD includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

 

Inguinal Hernia

Abnormal bulge or protrusion that can be seen and felt in the groin area (area between the abdomen and thigh). An inguinal hernia develops when a portion of an internal organ, such as the intestines, along with fluid, bulges through a weakened area in the muscular wall of the abdomen.

 

Insulin

Is a protein hormone produced by the beta cells in the islets of Langerhans within the pancreas. Secretion of insulin is stimulated by a high concentration of sugar in the blood. Insulin is important for regulating the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Lack of sufficient insulin causes diabetes mellitus - in which excessive amounts of sugar are present in both the blood and urine. Diabetes mellitus can be treated with injections of insulin.

 

Intestinal Flora

The complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract of humans and other animals.

 

Intestines

The part of the alimentary canal located between the stomach and the anus. There are two types of this part of the body – small intestine and large intestine.

 

Intolerance

An inability to eat a food or take a drug without adverse effects.

 

Intravenous Pyelogram (IVP)

A technique to evaluate the function of the urinary tract by injecting dye into the tract and then viewing its flow by X-ray.

 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Also called spastic colon, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a condition in which the colon muscle contracts more readily and causes abdominal pain and cramps, excess gas, bloating and a change in bowel habits that alternate between diarrhea and constipation.

 

Jaundice

A yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes that occurs when levels of the pigment bilirubin are abnormally high. This happens whenever the flow of bile from the liver to the gallbladder is blocked, when the liver is severely diseased, or when too much bilirubin is produced by excessive red blood cell destruction

 

Jejunostomy Tube

A feeding tube that is inserted in a surgical procedure through the abdomen into the part of the small intestine called the jejunum. Nutrients are put into the tube to feed the patient who is unable to swallow.

 

Jejunum

The long, coiled mid-section of the small intestine that connects the duodenum to the ileum.

 

Juice

The liquid obtained or extracted from or present in fruit or vegetables and the fibre is discarded.

 

Kefir

Kefir or kephir, alternatively milk kefir, or búlgaros, is a fermented milk drink made with kefir "grains" and has its origins in the north Caucasus Mountains. It is prepared by inoculating cow, goat, or sheep milk with kefir grains.

 

Kegal Exercises

Exercises performed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.

 

Kidney

Either of a pair of organs that are located in the rear of the abdomen cavity. The kidneys regulate fluid balance in the body and filter out waste products from the blood in the form of urine.

 

KimChi

Kimchi, also spelled kimchee or gimchi, is a traditional fermented Korean side dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings. In traditional preparations, kimchi was stored underground in jars to keep cool and unfrozen during the winter months.

 

Lactase

An enzyme that converts lactose into its more digestible simple sugar components: glucose and galactose. The lactase enzyme is available in liquid form to add to milk or in tablet form to take with solid food.

 

Lactobacillus Bulgaricus

Lactobacillus bulgaricus is a bacterium that creates natural antibiotics in your gut that fight invading organisms. It also releases acids that neutralize toxins and promote balance.

 

Lactobacillus Casei

Lactobacillus casei is a bacterium that supports digestion, the immune system, and soothes the bowels.

 

Lactobacillus Gasseri

Lactobacillus gasseri is a bacterium that supports digestion, balanced blood sugar, and encourages a normal body weight.

 

Lactococcus Lactis

Lactococcus lactis is a bacterium that helps digestion and encourages a normal gut environment, especially helping to defend against leaky gut.

 

Lactobacillus Plantarum

Lactobacillus plantarum is a bacterium that produces L. lysine, an amino acid that supports calcium absorption, hormone production, and boosts the immune system. It’s often used for bowel disorders. Commonly found in many fermented food products as well as anaerobic plant matter.

 

Lactobacillus Salivarius

Lactobacillus salivarius is a bacterium that fights unwanted microbes in the mouth and the small intestine.

 

Lactose

A disaccharide sugar composed of galactose and glucose that is found in milk.

 

Lactose Intolerance

The inability to digest lactose, the sugar primarily found in milk and dairy products.

 

Laparoscopy or Laparoscopic Surgery

"Minimally invasive" surgery in which small (usually 5- to 10-millimeter) incisions are made. The laparoscope and surgical instruments are inserted through these incisions. The surgeon is guided by the laparoscope, which transmits a picture of the internal organs on a monitor.

 

Large Intestine

This digestive organ is made up of the ascending (right) colon, the transverse (across) colon, the descending (left) colon, and the sigmoid (end) colon. The appendix is also part of the large intestine. The large intestine receives the liquid contents from the small intestine and absorbs the water and electrolytes from this liquid to form faeces, or waste.

 

Laxative

Medications that increase the action of the intestines or stimulate the addition of water to the stool to increase its bulk and ease its passage. Laxatives are often prescribed to treat constipation.

 

Leaky Gut

Where toxins or other substances are absorbed into the bloodstream via a porous ("leaky") bowel. This condition may cause of a wide range of problems and long-term conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome and multiple sclerosis (MS).

 

Lipase

Enzyme produced in the pancreas and secreted into the small intestine that aids in the digestion of certain fats from food.

 

Liver

This is your largest digestion and most complex organs in the body which performs more than 5,000 life-sustaining functions. The liver sits in the upper right part of your abdomen and is located above and in front of the stomach. The liver is responsible for filtering toxins from the blood, and makes bile and some blood proteins.

 

Liver Disease

More than 100 types of liver disease have been identified including hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver tumours. When liver disease develops, the liver’s ability to perform its metabolic, detoxification and storage functions is impaired.

 

Liver Function Tests (LFTs)

Also known as hepatic enzymes or liver blood tests, they can show evidence of conditions affecting the normal functioning of the liver, gallbladder or bile ducts.

 

Lymph Glands

One of many small organs in the body that produce the white blood cells needed for the body to fight infection.

 

Lymphatic System

The network of vessels through which lymph drains from the tissues into the blood.

 

Lymphocytes

A form of small leucocyte (white blood cell) with a single round nucleus, occurring especially in the lymphatic system.

 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

A test that produces images of the body without the use of X-rays. MRI uses a large magnet, radio waves and a computer to produce these images.

 

Malabsorption

The inability to absorb the essential nutrients in your food from your intestines.

 

Malignant

Another term for cancerous.

 

Mesentery

Membranous tissue which carries blood vessels and lymph glands, and attaches various organs to the abdominal wall.

 

Mineral

A solid, naturally occurring inorganic substance. Essential minerals for humans are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, sodium, potassium and chloride.

 

Motility

This term refers to the ability of your digestive system to move what you eat through the system. Digestive health requires a complex system of nerves and muscles to propel the products of digestion from the throat all the way through to a bowel movement.

 

Mouth

The first part of the digestive system, where food enters the body. Chewing and salivary enzymes in the mouth are the beginning of the digestive process (breaking down the food).

 

Mucoid Plaque

The mucus-like material and food residue that coats the gastrointestinal tract of most people.

 

Nausea

A queasy feeling which leads to stomach distress, a distaste for food and an urge to vomit. Nausea is not a disease, but a symptom of many disorders. It can be brought on by systemic illnesses such as influenza, medications, pain and inner ear disease.

 

Nitrates

Substances found in some foods, especially meats, prepared by drying, smoking, salting or pickling. Nitrates are thought to be cancer-causing substances that contribute to the development of stomach cancer.

 

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

A class of drugs that are effective in reducing inflammation and pain without steroids. Examples of these drugs include aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen.

 

Obstructive Jaundice

Obstructive jaundice happens when bile made in the liver fails to reach the intestines due to obstruction of the bile ducts. Such obstruction may be due to gall stones or to cholestasis.

Symptoms include: dark urine, pale faeces and itching.

 

Occult Blood

Blood in the stools that is not always visible to the naked eye. This type of bleeding is detected by performing a laboratory test on a stool sample.

 

Organic

Produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or other artificial chemicals.

 

Osteoarthritis

Degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone, most common from middle age onward. It causes pain and stiffness, especially in the hip, knee, and thumb joints.

 

Pancreas

An enzyme producing gland located below the stomach and above the intestines. Enzymes from the pancreas, help in the digestion of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in the small intestine. This part of the digestive system also produces insulin which regulates blood sugar.

 

Pancreatic Cancer

Growth of abnormal cells in the pancreas.

 

Pancreatitis

A rare disease in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. The pancreas, a gland which produces enzymes to digest food, is located next to the duodenum and behind the stomach. The most common causes for pancreatitis are gallstones and alcohol consumption. There are two forms of pancreatitis, acute and chronic. The acute form occurs suddenly and may be a severe, life-threatening illness with many complications. Usually, the patient recovers completely. A chronic form of the disease may develop if injury to the pancreas continues, such as when a patient persists in drinking alcohol, bringing severe pain and reduced functioning of the pancreas that affects digestion and causes weight loss.

 

Paracentesis

The removal of the accumulation of fluid in the abdomen.

 

Parasite

An organism which lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the other's expense.

 

Pathology

The study of the characteristics, causes and effects of a disease.

 

Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA)

A method of administering pain medication directly into a patient's circulatory system through a vein (usually in the arm or hand) or directly to the nerves that perceive lower abdominal pain (epidural area). Delivery of pain medicine is activated by the patient pushing a request button.

 

Parenteral Nutrition

A feeding method in which nutrients go directly into the bloodstream through a catheter placed into a vein.

 

Pediococcus Acidilactici

Undigested food can rot in your gut; Pediococcus acidilactici is a bacterium that helps put a stop to it. One study found that it also helps keep harmful organisms from damaging the gut environment.

 

Pepsin

A type of enzyme that is secreted in your stomach to break down food proteins.

 

Peptic Ulcer

A breach in the lining (mucosa) of the digestive tract. They are caused by digestion of the mucosa by pepsin and acid.

 

Peptic Ulcer Disease

A disorder in which sores or ulcers form on the tissue lining the stomach or the first part of the small intestine (duodenum).

 

Peptones

Peptones are large protein fragments that result from the action of enzymes on proteins in the initial stages of breaking-up proteins.

 

Peristalsis

The means by which food is propelled (using a wave-like movement) through the esophagus in a series of muscular contractions. This same process is used by the intestines to propel digested food and waste. Peristalsis is involuntary - you cannot control it. It is also what allows you to eat and drink while upside- down.

 

Peritoneum

The inside lining of the entire abdomen.

 

Peritonitis

Inflammation of the peritoneum is called peritonitis.

 

Polypeptides

Polypeptides are substances whose molecules consist of three or more amino acids linked together by peptide bonds. (Note that the prefix "poly-" indicates "many", implying a structure consisting of multiple units attached together). An example of a polypeptide is a protein because all protein molecules are polypeptides.

 

Polyps

Small, non-cancerous growths on the inner colon lining that may develop into cancer. Colon polyps and the early stages of cancer can have no symptoms. Therefore, regular screening is important.

 

Portal Hypertension (colon)

An increase in the pressure within the portal vein (the vein that carries blood from the digestive organs to the liver.) This increase in pressure is caused by a blockage of blood flow through the liver. Increased pressure in the portal vein causes large veins to develop across the esophagus and stomach to bypass the blockage. These varices are fragile and bleed easily, causing internal bleeding.

 

Prebiotic

A non-digestible food ingredient that promotes the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestines.

 

Probiotic

A substance which stimulates the growth of microorganisms, especially those with beneficial properties (such as those of the intestinal flora).

 

Proctosigmiodectomy

An operation that removes a diseased section of the rectum and sigmoid colon.

 

Proteins

Proteins are a category of compounds formed from the elements carbon (C), hydrogen (H), Oxygen (O) and Nitrogen, and in some cases also Sulphur (S) and Phosphorus (P). There are many different protein molecules - all have complex structures formed by one or more chains of linked amino acids.

 

Proton Pump Inhibitors

Drugs that suppress acid production in the stomach.

 

Protoscope

A tool used to examine the anus and rectum.

 

Pulmonary

Relating to the lungs.

 

Pulse Oximerty

Photoelectric device which measures the percent of oxygenation in the blood using a clip on the finger. Also measures the heart rate.

 

Radiology

A branch of medicine that uses radioactive substances and visual devices to diagnose and treat a wide variety of diseases.

 

Raw Food

Is the dietary practice of eating only uncooked, unprocessed foods that have not been heated above 40–49 °C (104–120 °F).

 

Rectal Bleeding

A symptom of digestive problems rather than a disease. Bleeding can occur as a result of a number of different conditions, many of which are not life-threatening. Most causes of bleeding are related to conditions that can be cured or controlled, such as haemorrhoids. However, rectal bleeding may be an early sign of rectal cancer so it is important to locate the source of the bleeding.

 

Rectal Prolapse

Dropping down of the rectum outside the anus.

 

Rectal Tube

A rectal tube, also called a rectal catheter, is a long slender tube which is inserted into the rectum in order to relieve flatulence which has been chronic and which has not been alleviated by other methods.

 

Rectopexy

Surgical placement of internal sutures (stitches) to secure the rectum in its proper position.

 

Rectum

The chamber connected to the large intestine which receives solid waste (faeces) from the descending colon to be expelled from the body. The area where the large intestine meets the anus.

 

Regurgitate

The act of bringing swallowed food up again to the mouth.

 

Reverse Peristalsis

Is the reverse of the involuntary smooth muscle contractions of peristalsis. It usually occurs as a precursor to vomiting. Local irritation of the stomach, such as bacteria or food poisoning, activates the emetic centre of the brain which in turn signals an imminent vomiting reflex.

 

Rheumatoid Arthritis

A chronic progressive auto-immune disease causing inflammation in the joints and resulting in painful deformity and immobility, especially in the fingers, wrists, feet, and ankles.

 

Saccharomyces Boulardii

A yeast probiotic strain that restores natural flora in the large intestine and small intestine and improves intestinal cell growth. It has proved effective in treating inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease. It’s been shown to have anti-toxin effects, be antimicrobial, and reduce inflammation.

 

Saccaromyces Cerevisiae GSMB

GSMB works differently than most immune products. It is an immune system modulator and works by forcing your immune system to awake and “work”. GSMB serves to activate your immune system. The GSMB molecule is a very special type of beta 1,3-1,6 D glucan molecule, yet infinitely superior, infinitely more powerful and up to 12 times more potent than all tested beta-glucans on the market. This is due to the manufacturing process in which the GSMB molecule is extracted, defined, encapsulated and exposed, all of which are carried out in a proprietary and unique manner. GSMB also differs from all other 6 beta-glucans on the market due to the extended frequency and length of its molecular chains. Furthermore, other special natural molecules and catalysts, which are only found in GSMB, activate even more receptors on immune competent cells. Other simple beta glucan-products are not able to do this. GSMB-Formula is more active than lentinan (from medicinal mushrooms) and up to twelve (12) times more potent than regular beta glucans. Regular beta glucans are 100 times more potent than mannans (from aloe).

 

Salivary Glands

Glands located in the mouth that produce saliva. Saliva contains enzymes that break down carbohydrates into smaller molecules.

 

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is finely cut cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria, including Leuconostoc, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus. It has a long shelf life and a distinctive sour flavour, both of which result from the lactic acid that forms when the bacteria ferment the sugars in the cabbage.

 

Sclerotherapy

A procedure in which a chemical irritant solution is injected into a vein to sclerose, or harden it by causing scar formation. This forces blood flow to nearby healthy blood vessels. Sclerotherapy may be performed to treat haemorrhoids, oesophageal varices, and varicose and spider veins.

 

Secretin

A hormone made in the small intestine that aids in digestion.

 

Secretin Stimulation Test

Test that measures the ability of the pancreas to respond to the hormone secretin.

 

Shunt

The joining between two veins to reduce pressure and stop bleeding varices.

 

Sigmoid

The part of the large intestine, or colon, that leads down into the rectum. When your doctor examines this part of your colon with a scope, it is called a sigmoidoscopy.

 

Sigmoid Colon

The part of the large intestine between the descending colon and the rectum.

 

Sigmoidoscope

An endoscope used to examine the last one-third of the colon.

 

Sjogren’s Syndrome

Sjogren’s syndrome is a relatively common autoimmune disease that mainly affects the eyes and salivary glands, but can affect different parts of the body. Immune system cells, called lymphocytes, and autoantibodies attack the body’s moisture-producing glands. This results in dryness of the mouth, eyes or other tissues.

 

Small Intestine

This part of the digestive system is part of the gastrointestinal tract following the stomach and followed by the large intestine, and is where much of the digestion and absorption of food takes place. This part is composed of duodenum and ileum and jejunum. As food travels through the small intestine it is further broken down by enzymes, and nutrients from the food are absorbed into the bloodstream.

 

Smoothie

A thick beverage made from blended raw fruit or vegetables with other ingredients such as water, ice, dairy products or sweeteners. The fibre is not discarded.

 

Sphincter

A circular muscle that normally maintains constriction of a natural body passage or orifice and which relaxes as required by normal physiological functioning.

 

Sphincteroplasty

Also referred to as a rectal sphincter repair, a sphincteroplasty is the most common procedure used to correct a defect in the anal sphincter muscles. There are two anal muscles that control bowel movements, similar to two round doughnuts, one inside of the other. If a defect exists in the complete circle of muscle, the problem can be corrected with this surgery. During the sphincteroplasty, the two ends of the muscle are cut and overlapped onto one another, then sewn in place. This procedure then restores the complete circle of muscle.

 

Stent

A device that keeps tubes or vessels open.

 

Stoma

An artificial opening of the intestine to outside the abdominal wall.

 

Stomach

A sack-like, muscular organ that is attached to the esophagus. Both chemical and mechanical digestion takes place in the stomach. When food enters the stomach, it is churned in a bath of acids and enzymes.

 

Stomach Cancer

A disease in which cancer cells are found in the lining of the stomach. Stomach cancer can develop in any part of the stomach and may spread throughout the stomach to other organs.

 

Stomachic

Improving the function of the stomach, promoting the appetite or assisting digestion.

 

Stool

Faeces discharged from the bowels.

 

Streptococcus Thermophilus

Streptococcus thermophilus is an essential lactic acid bacterium that promotes healthy tissue in the small intestine. It discourages nitrates, like those in spinach, celery, and cured meats from turning into harmful nitrites. And, it breaks down a protein in cheeses, casein, which is known to cause allergies.

 

Strictures

The irregular narrowing of a passage or duct.

 

Thrombosis

A blood clot.

 

Total Abdominal Colectomy

Surgical removal of the entire colon.

 

Trachea

Also known as the 'windpipe,' the trachea is a major connector that carries air to the lungs. It not part of the digestive system.

 

Transverse Colon

The part of the large intestine that runs horizontally across the abdomen.

 

Ulcer

A break in the lining of the stomach or in the first part of the small intestine (the duodenum), a result of an imbalance between digestive fluids (hydrochloric acid and pepsin) in the stomach and the duodenum. Much of that imbalance is related to infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).

 

Ulcerative Colitis

A disease that causes inflammation and sores, called ulcers, in the top layers of the lining of the large intestine. The inflammation usually occurs in the rectum and lower part of the colon, but it may affect the entire colon. Ulcerative colitis rarely affects the small intestine except for the lower section, called the ileum.

 

Ultrasound

A test used to diagnose a wide range of diseases and conditions in which high-frequency sound waves, inaudible to the human ear, are transmitted through body tissues. The echoes vary according to the tissue density. The echoes are recorded and translated into video or photographic images that are displayed on a monitor.

 

Upper GI Tract

The area of the digestive system that includes the esophagus, stomach and duodenum.

 

Urea Breath Test

A test used to detect urease, an enzyme produced by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a type of bacteria that usually infects the stomach or duodenum (first part of the small intestine).

 

Urinary Tract

The series of channels by which the urine passes from the renal pelvis out of the body.

 

Urine

A watery, typically yellowish fluid stored in the bladder and discharged through the urethra. It is one of the body's chief means of eliminating excess water and salt, and also contains nitrogen compounds such as urea and other waste substances removed from the blood by the kidneys.

 

Vagus Nerve

Also called cranial nerve ten, the vagus nerve regulates the function of numerous organs of the body from the throat and voice box to the trachea (windpipe), lungs, heart, and most of the intestinal tract. It also brings sensory information to the brain from the ears, tongue, and throat.

 

Variceal Bleeding

A complication of cirrhosis caused by portal hypertension. Increased pressure in the portal vein causes large veins to develop across the esophagus and stomach to bypass the blockage. These varices are fragile and bleed easily, causing internal bleeding.

 

Varices

The irregular dilation or swelling of a vein or veins that develop across the stomach and esophagus that cause internal bleeding.

 

Vegan

A person who does not eat any food that comes from animals and who often also does not use animal products.

 

Vegetarian

A person who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or by-products of slaughter.

 

Villi

Hair-like structures that line the small intestine and absorb nutrients from food. They protrude from the epithelial lining of the intestinal wall. The villi increases the internal surface area of the intestinal walls. Increased surface area allows for increased intestinal wall area that is available for absorption.

 

Vitamin

Any of a group of organic compounds which are essential for normal growth and nutrition and are required in small quantities in the diet because they cannot be synthesized by the body.

 

Vomiting

The forcible expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth which occurs with symptoms of nausea. Vomiting is not a disease but a symptom of many disorders.

 

Wildcrafted

Plants that have been grown wild in nature without human intervention.

 

Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome

A rare disorder of the gastrointestinal system caused by a tumour called a gastrinoma. Gastrinomas most often occur in the pancreas. The tumour secretes the hormone gastrin, which increases acid levels in the stomach, leading to severe, recurrent ulcers of the esophagus, stomach, and intestines.

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