Alternative Health & Holistic Medicine G-I

A glossary of terms including vitamins, minerals, herbs and supplements.

A-C | D-F | G-I | J-M | N-Q | R-T | U-Z

galactose A monosaccharide occurring in both levo (L) and dextro (D) forms as a constituent of plant and animal oligosaccharides (lactose and raffinose) and polysaccharides (agar and pectin). Galactose is the sugar derived from digesting lactose (‘milk sugar”).

gallbladder disease There are several different forms of gallbladder disease: 1) Gallstones without symptoms. About 20% of women and 8% of men will develop gallstones. In most of these cases, gallstones do not produce symptoms and thus usually do not require treatment. 2) Biliary colic. This condition occurs when a gallstone intermittently blocks the duct that drains the gallbladder (cystic duct). Biliary colic usually causes severe, steady pain that lasts from 15 to 60 minutes to up to 6 hours. 3) Inflammation of the gallbladder (acute cholecystitis). This condition occurs when a gallstone becomes stuck in the cystic duct, causing severe abdominal pain that lasts longer then 6 hours. It is the most common complication of gallstone disease. 4) Chronic cholecystitis. This condition develops when there is long term (chronic) inflammation of the gallbladder. The wall of the gallbladder may be thickened and rigid. 5) Common bile duct stones (choledocholithiasis). This condition occurs when a gallstone passes through the cystic duct into the common bile duct. About 8 to 15% of people who have gallstones also have common bile duct stones. Most people who have common bile duct stones do not have symptoms. However, people who do have symptoms may develop life-threatening complications, such as infection and inflammation of the bile duct or pancreas.

Gamma-linolenic acid – Nutrient that increases the rate at which the body burns fat for energy; anti-inflammatory properties and other healthful benefits.

Garcinia cambogia   Also known as mangosteen, malabar tamarind, brindall berries, Citrin or Citrimax. Active ingredient is hydroxycitric acid (HCA), which may inhibit liver enzyme activity.

Garlic (allium sativum)   One of the world's most popular food supplements, garlic has been used medicinally for thousands of years as protection against evil. Garlic has been found to contain 33 sulfur compounds, 17 amino acids, calcium, copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and Vitamins A, B1 and C.

gastronomy The study and appreciation of good food and good eating, and a culture's culinary customs, style and lore. Any interest or study of culinary pursuits as relates essentially to the kitchen and cookery, and to the higher levels of education, training and achievement of the chef apprentice or professional chef.

gene A natural unit of the hereditary material, which is the physical basis for the transmission of the characteristics of living organisms from one generation to another. The basic genetic material is fundamentally the same in all living organisms; it consists of chain-like molecules of nucleic acids—deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in most organisms and ribonucleic acid (RNA) in certain viruses—and is usually associated in a linear arrangement that (in part) constitutes a chromosome.

generalizability The extent to which the results of a study are able to be applied to the general population of people that is comparable to the population studied.

genetic engineering/genetic modification/genetic enhancement The selective, deliberate alteration of genes (genetic material) by man. This term has a very broad meaning including the manipulation and alteration of the genetic material of an organism in such a way as to allow it to produce endogenous proteins with properties different from those of the normal, or to produce entirely different (foreign) proteins altogether. Other words applicable to the same process are gene splicing, gene manipulation, or recombinant DNA technology.

genome The total hereditary material of a cell, containing the entire chromosomal set found in each nucleus of a given species.

Ginger   Also known as Gan Jiang and African ginger. Ginger provides dietary support for well being during travel and healthy digestive tract function.

Ginkgo biloba   Also known as the maidenhair tree, gingko is an herb native to China. Gingko became popular in the 1960's when technology isolated flavinoids as the active ingredient. These essential compounds help protect against free radical damage. To date, approximately 40 flavanoids have been identified in gingko. In addition to its antioxidant properties, gingko is also used to support increased blood flow to the brain.

Ginseng – An herb (Korean - Panax Ginseng) (Siberian - Eleutherococcus senticosus) (American - panax quinqefolium),. The most costly root, ginseng is a low-growing, shade-loving perennial herb of the Araliaceae family. It is cultivated in China, Japan, Korea and Russia and can be taken in capsule form or as a tea. The United States can also cultivate this root. A native Chinese herb used for thousands of years to help restore balance. Ginseng is one of the oldest herbs in human history. There are three types of ginseng: Panax Ginseng, American Ginseng and Korean/Asiatic Ginseng.

GLA   An omega-6 fatty acid commonly derived from Borage (Starflower) Oil, Evening Primrose Oil or Black Currant Oil.

Glucagon   A polypeptide hormone secreted by the alpha cells of the pancreas that increases the blood glucose level by stimulating the liver to change stored glycogen to glucose. It also increases the use of fats and excess amino acids for energy production.

Glucosamine – Glucosamine sulfate and n-acetyl glucosamine occur widely in the exoskeleton of arthropods and crustaceans as their biopolymer, chitin. Glucosamine is also a basic constituent of cartilage. Glucosamine is a natural sugar produced by the body and found in certain foods. Glucosamine stimulates the production of glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans, two essential building blocks of cartilage. In most cases, the joints produce sufficient Glucosamine to keep the cartilage in good repair, but if they fail to do so, it dries out, degenerates, cracks, and may even completely wear away. Left unprotected, the joints then become swollen, stiff, inflamed, tender, and painful--the condition known as osteoarthritis. Advocates believe that by taking artificially synthesized Glucosamine sulfate supplements, osteoarthritis sufferers can "jump start" the natural production of Glucosamine by their own bodies.

Glucosamine sulfate   A protein found in cartilage and in connective tissue. Glucosamine sulfate provides an important component for joint cartilage. Glucosamine supports healthy joint function.

Glucose   Often referred to as blood sugar. The body breaks down carbohydrates in foods into glucose, which services as the primary fuel for the brain and muscles.

glucose A sugar, most commonly in the form of dextroglucose, that occurs naturally, has about half the sweetening power of regular sugar and does not crystallize easily. Glucose comes from grape juice, honey and certain vegetables, among other things.

Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF)   This bioactive organic compound enhances insulin's action during sugar uptake. GTF is formed with chromium, niacin, and glutathione.

glutamateGlutamate is an amino acid. It is necessary for metabolism and brain function, and is manufactured by the body. Glutamate is found in virtually every protein food we eat. In food, there is "bound" glutamate and "free" glutamate. Glutamate serves to enhance flavors in foods when it is in its free form and not bound to other amino acids in protein. Some foods have greater quantities of glutamate than others. Foods that are rich in glutamate include tomatoes, mushrooms, parmesan cheese, milk and mackerel.

Glutamine – A non-essential amino acid, glutamine is considered to be a brain fuel. Glutamine has been used therapeutically for alcoholism, mild depression and to reduce the craving for sweets. Glutamine is very important in the functioning of the metabolism and muscle maintenance. Glutamine supplementation can help prevent muscle and other tissue breakdown by providing the body with nitrogen and fuel.  L-Glutamine is an exictatory neurotrasmitter and plays a pivotal role in nitrogen balance in the body. Glutamine/glutamic acid are non essential amino acids.

glycerin A syrupy type of alcohol derived from sugar which is used in food flavorings to maintain desired food consistency.

glycerol A colorless, odorless, syrupy liquid—chemically, an alcohol—that is obtained from fats and oils and used to retain moisture and add sweetness to foods.

Glycine   The simplest of all amino acids, gylcine, has been shown to be necessary for production of glutatione, creatine, and is a neurotransmitter. It is utlized for hemoglobin formation. Glycine is a non essential amino acid.

Glycogen   A compound produced by the liver from glucose and stored in the liver and muscles. It acts as an energy source for muscles and releases glucose from the liver to maintain blood sugar.

Goldenseal   Perparations are derived from the yellow root of a small oernnial okant native to eastern North America. It is one of the more widely used herbs. Goldenseal contains a number of importamt alkaloids, including hydrastine and berberine. Golden seal is used to treat traveler's diarrhea.

Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) approval mechanism for a process to manufacture a given food or food additive. It is implemented instead of specific regulations (such as those used to dictate processes in simple food manufacturing, as in beef packing), due to the newness of the technology and may later be superceded (due to further advances in the technology).

Gotu Kola   Principally Asian plant. It should not be confuse with Kola or cola, an unrelated caffeine-containing herb from Africa. For thousands of years, Gotu Kola has been a popular herb in India and Pakistan. The Gotu plant contains glycosides, which are useful for cell repair when used in external preparations. Gotu Kola is popular in herb formulas intended for mental and memory-improving activties.

grains Grains are the seeds or fruits of various food plants including cereal grasses. The examples of wheat, corn, oats, barley, rye and rice provide a partial list. Grain foods include foods such as bread, cereals, rice and pasta.

Grape Seed   One of nature's richest sources of antioxidant flavanoids and is potent bioflavanoid food supplement. The flavanoids found in Grape Seed are powerful neutralizers of free radicals and support healthy tissue and organs. Grape seed helps promote the antioxidant activity of vitamins C & E. Grape Seed also has anti-inflammatory properties.

GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) GRAS is the regulatory status of food ingredients not evaluated by the FDA prescribed testing procedure. It also includes common food ingredients that were already in use when the 1959 Food Additives Amendment to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act was enacted.

Green Tea – An herb (Camellia sinensis). Green tea originates in China, Japan and other parts of Asia. The leaf of the plant is used in creating the extract which is potent and bioflavonoid-rich. This herb is used primarily for its free-radical scavenging capabilities. The key ingredient EGCG, which stands for Epigallocatechin Gallate, protects against digestive and respiratory infections. Historical uses of the tea are reducing high blood pressure, inhibiting pathogenic bacteria that cause food poisoning and blocking the actions of carcinogens, ultraviolet light and metastasis.

Green tea extract   Also known as Chinese green tea. Green tea is widely used for its antioxidant properties. Its active ingredients include bioflavinoids, caffeine, and fluoride.

guar gum A substance made from the seeds of the guar plant which acts as a stabilizer in food systems. Is found as a food additive in cheese, including processed cheese, ice cream and dressings.

Guarana   Also known as Brazilian cocoa; native to South America. Guarana contains caffeine which has stimulating and invigorating properties.

HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) The underlying approach under HACCP for preventing foodborne illness and promote quality is to identify the danger spots and try to avoid them. Instead of putting the burden on government to discover that a food safety problem exists, HACCP shifts responsibility onto the industry to ensure that the food it produces is safe. Food producers will have to prevent bacterial contamination from occurring in the first place. HACCP works by the following principles:

hair analysis (hair element analysis, hair mineral analysis, hair-shaft analysis): An ostensibly diagnostic technique that involves laboratory analysis of a sample of hair. It allegedly can be a "useful guide" to bodily well-being.

Hawthorn   Perparations are derived from the flowers, leaves or berries of a thorny shrub native to Europe. Hawthorn contains procyanidins and other flavoniods, which provide important antioxidant functions in the body. Leaf and flower extracts have been shown to reduce blood pressure and increase blood flow to the heart by dilating the coronary artery. Hawthorn also helps stablize collagen, the protein found in abundance in body joints and connective tissue.

HDL cholesterol   Often called the "good cholesterol", HDL acts as a transporter of cholesterol from the tissues to the liver to be broken down and excreted.

health claims Claims that link food—or food components—in the overall diet with a lowered risk of some chronic diseases. Strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, only health claims supported by scientific evidence are allowed on food labels. Since this information is optional, many foods that meet the criteria don’t carry any health claim on their label.

healthcare (health care): Systems whose goal is to maintain or improve human health.

heart disease: Any heart or coronary-artery condition that adversely affects circulation.

helix A spiral, staircase-like structure with a repeating pattern described by two simultaneous operations (rotation and translation). It is one of the natural conformations exhibited by biological polymers.

herbal medicine (botanical medicine, herbology, phytomedicine): The use of natural plant substances to treat illness.

herbalism (medical herbalism): Ancient approach to "healing" characterized by using plants, or substances derived from plants, to treat a range of illnesses or to improve the functioning of bodily systems.

herbicides Herbicides are a class of crop protection and specialty chemicals used to control weeds on farms and in forests, as well as in non-agricultural applications such as golf courses, public tracts of land and residential lawns.

herbology: Purported science and art of using plants for healing.

Herbs – Plants containing many nutrients and phytochemicals, providing an array of health benefits. Herbs have been known for centuries, but are now becoming the basics of many modern medicines.

high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) HFCS are formulations generally containing 42 percent, 55 percent or 90 percent fructose (the remaining carbohydrate being primarily glucose) depending on the product application. HCFS are used in products such as soft drinks or cake mixes.

Homocysteine   An amino acid that results from methionine breakdown in the body. There is evidence that a high level of homocysteine in the blood is associated with an increased risk of developing coronary artery disease. Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid play a role in the maintenance of normal homocysteine levels.

Hormone   A chemical messenger. Hormones are secreted by a variety of glands in response to altered conditions in the body. The production of hormones such as melatonin, DHEA, and pregnenolone decreases as the body ages. Any of numerous substances (e.g., adrenaline, insulin, and melatonin) that are transmittable by the bloodstream to cells distant from their source and that have specific effects on such cells.

Horse Chestnut   Traditional remedy used for centuries to help maintain vascular integrity and to enhance circulation in the legs, which has been supported by recent research. It can be found growing abundantly in Europe and the United States as a shrub or tree.

Human Genome Project This project is, in simplest terms, a sequencing of the human genome. Information from the Human Genome Project is making it possible, for example, to identify the exact gene (or genes) that influences a person’s susceptibility to a disease, to develop new and better drugs, and to identify thousands of different polymorphisms. The full scope of the Human Genome Project’s potential to improve human health is only beginning to be appreciated.

Huperzine A   Present in a type of club moss that has been used in Chinese remedy called Qian Ceng Ta for centuries. Huperzine A had been reported to prevent a breakdown of acetycholinem an important substance needed by the nervous system to transmit information from cell to cell.

hybridization of crops The mating of two plants from different species or genetically very different members of the same species to yield hybrids possessing some of the characteristics of each parent. Those (hybrid) offspring tend to be more healthy, productive and uniform than their parents—a phenomenon known as “hybrid vigor.”

hydrogenation Hydrogenation is the process of adding hydrogen molecules directly to an unsaturated fatty acid from sources such as vegetable oils to convert it to a semi-solid form such as margarine or shortening. Hydrogenation contributes important textural properties to food. The degree of hydrogenation influences the firmness and spreadability of margarines, flakiness of pie crust and the creaminess of puddings. Hydrogenated oils are sometimes used in place of other fats with higher proportions of saturated fatty acids such as butter or lard. Evidence suggests that these type of fats do have negative health effects -see also trans-fats.

hydrotherapy: 1. (hydrotherapeutics) Scientific external use of water to treat certain diseases (e.g., hot baths to relieve pain). 2. (water therapy) A variety of methods whose categories are: (a) external hydrotherapies (e.g., whirlpool baths) and (b) internal hydrotherapy (e.g., colonic irrigation). Some alternativists depict water as a universal remedy provided by "Nature." Others say simply that it has powerful "healing properties."

Hydroxycitric acid – Naturally-occurring nutrient with the ability to inhibit the synthesis of carbohydrates into fat; also works as an appetite suppressant. Found in Relìv products under the brand name CitriMax®.

Hypertension   High blood pressure. Hypertension increases the risk of heart attack and stroke because it adds to the workload of the heart, causing it to enlarge and weaken. It may also damage the walls of the arteries. An arterial condition whose primary feature is chronically elevated blood pressure. Hypertension is the persistently elevated arterial blood pressure. It is the most common public health problem in developed countries. Emphasis on lifestyle modifications has given diet a prominent role for both the primary prevention and management of hypertension.

hypnotherapy: Generally, the use of hypnotism (induction of a sleeplike state) to treat chronic pain or to facilitate changes in behavior or disposition.

Hypoglycemia   A condition characterized by abnormally low blood glucose levels. Severe hypoglycemia is rare and dangerous. It can be cause by medications such as insulin, severe physical exhaustion and some illnesses.

I Ching (I Ging, Yi King, Book of Change, Book of Changes, Book of Metamorphoses): Chinese book of ancient origin that is considered a means of fortunetelling. It is part of the canon of Confucianism, the quasireligious philosophy that dominated China until the early twentieth century. "I Ching" combines two Mandarin words: yi, which means "divination," and jing, which means "classic" or "book." The I Ching features sixty-four hexagrams--drawings consisting of six lines each--which symbolize supposedly quintessential conditions, such as happiness, humility, innocence, and tranquillity.

Immune system   A complex systemthat protects the body from disease organisms and other foreign bodies. The immune system protects the body from invasion by making local barriers and inflammation. The system includes the humoral immune response and the cell-mediated response (antibodies). The cells and tissues which are responsible for recognizing and attacking foreign microbes and substances in the body.

immunoglobulin E The antibody in the immune system that reacts with allergens.

Immuno-OXO 7   A patented formula of 7-keto dehydroepiandrosterone, which is a derivative of the hormone DHEA.

incidence The number of new cases of a disease during a given period of time in a defined population.

Inositol – A nutrient that helps prevent the accumulation of fat in the liver; aids in the detoxification of metabolic wastes and toxins.

Inositol   Plays an important role in Lecithin formation and fat and cholesterol metabolism. It also helps remove fats from the liver.

insecticide Insecticides are a class of crop protection and specialty chemicals used to control insects on farms and forests, as well as non-agricultural applications such as residential lawncare, golf courses and public tracts of land.

insoluble fiber A type of dietary fiber found in wheat bran, cauliflower, cabbage and other vegetables and fruits which helps move foods through the digestive system and thereby may decrease the risks of cancers of the colon and rectum. Insoluble fiber may also help reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Insulin – A protein pancreatic hormone that is essential especially for the metabolism of carbohydrates and is used in the treatment and control of diabetes mellitus. A hormone secreted by the pancreas in response to elevated blood glucose levels. Insulin stimulates the liver, muscles and fat cells to remove glucose from the blood for use or storage. Diabetes mellitus is the inadequate secretion of insulin, which results in the inability of the cells to take in glucose or store glycogen.

integrated pest management (IPM) Integrated pest management is the coordinated use of pest and environmental information along with available pest control methods, including cultural, biological, genetic and chemical methods, to prevent unacceptable levels of pest damage using the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property and the environment.

intense sweeteners see low-calorie sweeteners

intervention: In healthcare, any attempt (particularly one that is professional), or mode of attempting, to modify a medical situation.

Iodine – A mineral necessary for normal cell metabolism. Required by the thyroid gland in the synthesis and secretion of hormones. Adequate levels of iodine in the body are esstenial for thyroid heakth and for the production of thyroid hormones that regulate the metabolic energy of the body and set the basal metabolic rate. Saltwater fish, shellfish, sea vegetables (seaweed) and iodized salt are good source of iodine.

Iron – A mineral essential to the formation of hemoglobin and myoglobin (which carries oxygen in the blood and muscles, respectively). A part of several proteins and enzymes in the body. A trace mineral and a major component of hemoglobin, which is essential for the transport of oxygen in the blood. There are two types of dietary iron: nonheme iron, which comprises about 90% of dietary intake and is poorly absorbed; and heme iron, which is derived primarily from the hemoglobin of meat and is well absorbed.

Isoflavones – Compounds found in soy which have been shown to significantly reduce serum cholesterol levels — the leading risk factor for heart disease — as well as alleviate menopausal symptoms in women and assist in combating numerous other serious health risks.

Isoleucine   One of the nine esstenial amino acids, isoleucine must be obtained from food or supplements, ad your body cannot maufacture it. It is necesscary for a variety if protein formations in the body.