Vaginitis

Vaginitis
Vaginitis

Vaginitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the vagina and vulva, most often caused by a bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infection.

Description

Vaginitis, vulvitis, and vulvovaginitis are general terms that refer to the inflammation of the vagina and/or vulva (the external genital organs of a woman).

These conditions can be caused by bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infections; or by any type of allergic or irritation reaction to such things as spermicidal products, condoms, soaps, and bubble bath. A type of vaginitis that is caused by a low estrogen level is called atrophic vaginitis.

Valerian

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is one of about 200 members of the Valerianaceae family. This plant is native to Europe and west Asia; it is naturalized throughout North America.

A common name for this hardy perennial is garden heliotrope. Valerian has been valued for its soothing qualities for at least a millennium. The name valerian may have come from the Latin valere meaning “to be strong” or “to be in good health.” Chaucer called the herb setewale.

Other common names include all-heal, vandal root, and Capon’s tail. The Greek doctor Galen called a particularly odorous species of valerian “phu,” referring to the distinctively unpleasant smell of the dried root. The strong odor appeals to earthworms, intoxicates cats, and attracts rats.

Vanadium

Vanadium
Vanadium

Named after the Scandinavian goddess of youth and beauty, vanadium is a trace element that has gained attention in recent years as a possible aid in controlling diabetes.

While such macrominerals as calcium , magnesium, and potassium have become household names because they make up over 98% of the body’s mineral content, certain trace minerals are also considered essential in very tiny amounts to maintain health and ensure proper functioning of the body. They usually act as coenzymes, working as a team with proteins to facilitate important chemical reactions.

Even without taking vanadium supplements, people have about 20–25 micrograms (mcg) of the mineral in their bodies, which is derived from an average balanced diet. Despite the fact that vanadium has been studied for over 40 years, it is still not known for certain if the mineral is critical for optimal health. Whether taking extra amounts of vanadium is therapeutic or harmful is even more controversial.

Varicose veins

Varicose veins
Varicose veins

Varicose veins are dilated, tortuous, elongated superficial veins that appear most often in the legs.

Varicose veins, also called varicosities, are seen most often in the legs, although they can be found in other parts of the body. Most often, they appear as lumpy, winding vessels just below the surface of the skin.

There are three types of veins: superficial veins that are just beneath the surface of the skin; deep veins that are large blood vessels found deep inside the muscles; and perforator veins that connect the superficial veins to the deep veins. The superficial veins are the blood vessels most often affected by this condition and are the veins that are visible when the varicose condition has developed.

Vegetarianism

Vegetarianism
Vegetarianism

Vegetarianism refers to voluntary abstinence from eating meat. Vegetarians refrain from eating meat for various reasons, including religious, health, and ethical ones. Lacto-ovo vegetarians supplement their diet with dairy (lactose) products and eggs (ovo). Vegans (pronounced vee-guns) do not eat any animal-derived products at all.

Origins

The term vegetarian was coined in 1847 by the founders of the Vegetarian Society of Great Britain, but vegetarianism has been around as long as people have created diets. Some of the world’s oldest cultures advocate a vegetarian diet for health and religious purposes. In India, millions of Hindus are vegetarians because of their religious beliefs.

One of the ancient mythological works of Hinduism, the Mahabharata, states that, “Those who desire to possess good memory, beauty, long life with perfect health, and physical, moral and spiritual strength, should abstain from animal foods.” The yoga system of living and health is vegetarian, because its dietary practices are based on the belief that healthy food contains prana.

Venom immunotherapy

Bee sting
Bee sting

Venom immunotherapy is the process of injecting venom to treat various conditions. The most common form of venom immunization is bee venom therapy (BVT), with honeybee venom or stingers used to treat conditions.

BVT is one form of apitherapy, which is the therapeutic use of products made by honeybees. Other products used in apitherapy include bee pollen and royal jelly.

Origins

Apitherapy is thousands of years old. In ancient Egypt, venom from bee stings was used to treat arthritis. Hippocrates, the Greek physician known as the “father of medicine,” used bee stings for treatments several centuries before the birth of Christ. Descriptions of apitherapy are found in 2,000-year-old Chinese writings, the Bible, and the Koran.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A
Vitamin A
Vitamin A is one of four fat-soluble vitamins necessary for good health. It serves an important role as an antioxidant by helping to prevent free radicals from causing cellular damage.

Adequate levels are important for good eyesight, and poor night vision may be one of the first symptoms of a deficiency. It is also necessary for proper function of the immune, skeletal, respiratory, reproductive, and integumentary (skin) systems.

General use

An adequate level of vitamin A unquestionably contributes to good health. It is essential for the proper function of the retina, where it can act to prevent night blindness, as well as lower the odds of getting age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the most common cause of blindness in the elderly.

Vitamin B12

Cobalamin, also known as B12, is a member of the water-soluble family of B vitamins. It is a key factor in the body’s proper use of iron and formation of red blood cells.

The nervous system also relies on an adequate supply of cobalamin to function appropriately, as it is an essential component in the creation and maintenance of the myelin sheath that lines nerve cells.

Other roles of cobalamin include working with pyridoxine (vitamin B6 and folic acid to reduce harmful homocysteine levels, participating in the metabolization of food, and keeping the immune system operating smoothly.

Vitamin B complex

Vitamin B Complex
Vitamin B Complex

The vitamin B complex consists of 12 related water-soluble substances. Eight are considered essential vitamins because they need to be included in the diet. Four are not essential because the body can synthesize them.

Although these vitamins are chemically distinct, they are grouped together because they are found with one another in the same foods. Since they are water-soluble, most are not stored for any length of time, and must be replenished daily.

The eight vitamins have both names and corresponding numbers. They are:
  • B1 (thiamin)
  • B2 (riboflavin)
  • B3 (niacin)
  • B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • B6 (pyridoxine)
  • B7 (biotin)
  • B9 (folic acid)
  • B12 (cobalamin)

Vitamin C

Vitamin C
Vitamin C
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is naturally produced in fruits and vegetables. The vitamin, which can be taken in dietary or supplementary form, is absorbed by the intestines.

That which the body cannot absorb is excreted in the urine. The body stores a small amount, but daily intake, preferably in dietary form, is recommended for optimum health.

Certain health conditions may cause vitamin C depletion, including diabetes and high blood pressure. People who smoke and women who take estrogen may also have lower vitamin C levels. In addition, men are more likely to be vitamin C depleted, as are the elderly. High stress levels have also been linked to vitamin C deficiency.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D
Vitamin D

Vitamin D, also known as calciferol, is essential for strong teeth and bones. There are two major forms of vitamin D: D2 or ergocalciferol and D3 or cholecarciferol.

Vitamin D can be synthesized by the body in the presence of sunlight, as opposed to being required in the diet. It is the only vitamin whose biologically active formula is a hormone.

It is fat-soluble, and regulates the body’s absorption and use of the minerals calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D is important not only to the maintenance of proper bone density, but to the many calcium-driven neurologic and cellular functions, as well as normal growth and development.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E
Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant responsible for proper functioning of the immune system and for maintaining healthy eyes and skin.

It is actually a group of fat soluble compounds known as tocopherols (i.e., alpha tocopherol and gamma tocopherol). Gamma tocopherol accounts for approximately 75% of dietary vitamin E. Vitamin E rich foods include nuts, cereals, beans, eggs, cold-pressed oils, and assorted fruits and vegetables.

Because vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin, it requires the presence of fat for proper absorption. Daily dietary intake of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin E is recommended for optimum health.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K
Vitamin K

Vitamin K originates from the German term koajulation. It is also known as antihemorrhagic factor, and is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins necessary for good health.

The others are vitamins A, D, and E. The primary and best-known purpose of vitamin K is support of the process of blood clotting. Prothrombin and other clotting factors are dependent on vitamin K for production.

It also plays a role in bone health, and may help to prevent osteoporosis. Appropriate growth and development are supported by adequate vitamin K.

Vomiting

Vomiting
Vomiting

Vomiting is the forceful discharge of stomach contents through the mouth.

Vomiting, also called emesis, is a symptomatic response to any number of harmful triggers. Vomiting is a forceful expulsion, and is different from regurgitation — the effortless return of stomach contents to the mouth. Although unpleasant, vomiting is an important function because it rids the body of harmful substances.

Vomiting is a complex process resulting from the coordinated interaction of nerve pathways, the brain, and muscles of the gastrointestinal system. The primary vomiting trigger point in the brain is called the area postrema.

Warts

Warts, also called verrucae, are small benign growths usually caused by a viral infection of the skin or mucous membrane. The virus infects the surface layer of skin. The viruses that cause warts are members of the human papilloma virus (HPV) family, of which there are many different strains.

Warts are not cancerous but some strains of HPV, usually not associated with warts, have been linked with cancer formation. Warts are contagious from person to person and from one area of the body to another on the same person.

Particularly common among children, young adults, and women, warts are a problem for 7–10% of the population. There are close to 60 types of HPV that cause warts, each preferring a specific skin location.

Wasabi

Wasabi
Wasabi

Wasabi (Wasabia japonica) is an edible plant member of the Cruciferae family, which includes cabbage, turnips, and mustard. Wasabi shares the anticancer benefits of this family.

Native to Japan where it has been cultivated since the tenth century, it is still considered a staple condiment in that country. Traditional preparation involves using a sharkskin grater called an oroshi.

Wasabi’s culinary popularity and chemical bioactivity make it valuable medicinally and industrially. Demand for wasabi has created a relatively short supply, higher prices, and new commercial opportunities.

White willow

White willow (Salix alba)
White willow (Salix alba)

White willow (Salix alba) is a large tree that grows in Central and Southern Europe, Asia, and North America.

Also known as European willow or baywillow, this tree prefers to root near streams and rivers and grows to a height of 35–75 ft (11–25 m). In the spring, the slender branches first sprout tiny, yellow flowers and then long, thin green leaves.

White willow belongs to the Salicaceae family. There are over 300 species of willow, but only several species are used medicinally: white willow (S. alba), purple willow (S. purpurea), violet willow (S. daphnoides), and crack willow (S. fragilis).

Wild oat

Wild oat
Wild oat

Wild oat (Avena sativa) is a member of the grass family native to Scotland. There are approximately 25 varieties of the oat plants, and oat is now grown throughout the world.

Avena sativa is the species that is used in herbal remedies. The mature seed of the oat plant is used as a cereal grain. However, much of the plant is used to maintain good health and to remedy disease conditions.

Before maturity oat seeds are in a liquid phase, and they are collected for use in tonics that treat nervous conditions. Wild oat is usually in this stage for two weeks during August.

Wintergreen

Wintergreen
Wintergreen

Though several different plants are called by this name, true wintergreen is Gaultheria procumbens, a lowgrowing species of shrub common in sandy coastal regions and woodlands of eastern North America from Georgia to New Foundland.

It is a member of the heath, or Ericaceae, family. Other names by which wintergreen is known include aromatic wintergreen, boxberry, Canada tea, checkerberry, deerberry, ground berry, mountain tea, partidgeberry, spice berry, teaberry, and wax cluster.

Wintergreen plants have creeping underground stems from which small reddish stalks grow, normally less than 6 in (15 cm) high. Wintergreen leaves are spoon-shaped and less than 0.5 in (1 cm) in length. They are bright green, shiny, and have a leathery appearance. They are attached in tufts near the tip of a rigid, slender stalk.

Wigmore diet

Wigmore diet
Wigmore diet

The Wigmore diet is named for its creator, Ann Wigmore. She devised a nutritional system called the Living Foods Program, based on a combination of wheatgrass juice, live sprouts, and fresh raw foods. It is thought that this dietary regimen, which is sometimes called raw nutrition, detoxifies and rebuilds the body.

Persons following the Wigmore diet also avoid using denatured processed commercial foods or anything containing chemicals, especially pesticides. Although the Wigmore diet is essentially a vegetarian diet, its distinctive feature is its emphasis on eating foods in their uncooked state.

Origins

The Wigmore diet was developed during the 1960s by Ann Wigmore, a woman who was born in Eastern Europe in 1909 and emigrated to the United States after World War I. She credited her grandmother with teaching her natural healing methods.

Whooping cough

Whooping cough
Whooping cough

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious disease that causes classic spasms (paroxysms) of uncontrollable coughing, followed by a sharp, high-pitched intake of air, which creates the characteristic whoop of the disease’s name.

Whooping cough is caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis. B. pertussis causes its most severe symptoms by attaching itself to those cells in the respiratory tract that have cilia.

Cilia are small, hair-like projections that beat continuously, and serve to constantly sweep the respiratory tract clean of such debris as mucus, bacteria, viruses, and dead cells.

When B. pertussis interferes with this normal, janitorial function, mucus and cellular debris accumulate and cause constant irritation to the respiratory tract, triggering coughing and increasing further mucus production.

Wheat germ

Wheat germ
Wheat germ

Wheat germ is the embryo of the wheat kernel. It is separated from wheat being milled for flour. Wheat germ is sodium and cholesterol free, and dense in nutrients.

It is rich in vitamin E, magnesium, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, thiamine, and zinc. It is also a source of coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) and PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid). Two tablespoons of wheat germ contains 65 calories, 6 grams protein, 2 grams of unsaturated fat, and 2 grams of fiber.

General use

Wheat germ is a food source, and is part of the breads and cereals food group. Its high vitamin and mineral content make it an extremely nutritious food. Wheat germ contains the following nutrients.

Wheat grass therapy

Wheat grass
Wheat grass

Wheat grass, sometimes written as wheatgrass or wheat-grass, is a young green wheat plant (genus Agropyron) harvested before it develops grain kernels and turns the traditional yellow color associated with wheat stalks.

Wheat grass is commonly prepared as a juice, and is consumed either alone, or as a mixture with other juices.

Wheat grass is a source of many nutrients. Differences between samples of wheat grass due to variable growing conditions, quality of seed, and other factors including dose amounts and form will produce variable amounts of nutrients in any single dose of wheat grass.

White peony root

White peony root
White peony root

Peonies are members of the same botanical family as the buttercup, Ranunculaceae, and belong to the genus Paeonia. They originated in Asia, and have been cultivated in both Japan and China for at least several centuries, perhaps even a millennium. Peonies are an early ground-breaker, producing reddish shoots as early as April in the Northern Hemisphere.

They are a tall plant, ranging from 1–5 ft (30–150 cm) in height. Their branching stems produce glossy deep green leaves that taper to a point on each end, and grow up to 5 in (12.5 cm) in length. The peony root is brownish in color and tuberous.

The peony flowers are produced at the tips of the branching stems. Beginning as globular buds that produce a sweet, sticky exudate that attracts ants (that do no harm), these buds slowly open into large, showy flowers with diameters up to 10 in (20.5 cm) wide. The peony is an extremely long-lived plant, especially for a flowering one. It is not uncommon for peonies to live for a hundred years.

Wheezing

Wheezing
Wheezing

Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling sound associated with labored breathing.

Wheezing occurs when a person tries to breathe deeply through air passages (bronchia) that are narrowed because of muscle contractions or filled with mucus as a result of: allergy, infection, illness, or irritation. Wheezing is experienced by 10-15% of the population.

Wheezing most commonly occurs when a person is exhaling. It is sometimes accompanied by a mild sensation of tightness in the chest. Anxiety about not being able to breathe easily can cause muscle tension that makes the wheezing worse.

Witch hazel

Witch hazel
Witch hazel

Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is a deciduous tree or shrub that is native to Atlantic North America, and it is now also cultivated in Europe and Asia. The shrub can reach a height of 15 ft (4.6 m).

It flowers in the fall, producing vivid yellow flowers. Witch hazel is also known as hazel nut, snapping hazel, spotted alder, tobacco wood, winterbloom, and hamamelis water.

Native Americans used witch hazel leaves and bark as a poultice to reduce swelling and inflammation. Those are among the uses of this herb that has long been among the best known and widely used home remedies.

Wormwood

Wormwood
Wormwood

Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) is a perennial that is native to Europe and parts of Africa and Asia but now grows wild in the United States. It is extensively cultivated.

Also called shrub wormwood, Artemisia absinthium is a member of the daisy or Asteraceae family. The species name, absinthium, means “without sweetness.” Many species of the genus Artemisia have medicinal properties.

Wormwood grows alongside roads or paths. This shrubby plant is 1-3 ft (0.3-0.9 m) tall and has gray-green or white stems covered with fine hairs. The yellowish-green leaves are hairy and silky and have glands that contain resinous particles where the natural insecticide is stored. Wormwood releases an aromatic odor and has a spicy, bitter taste.

Wounds

Wound
Wound
A wound occurs when the integrity of any tissue is compromised, for example, when skin breaks, muscle tears, burns, or bone fractures. A wound may be caused by an act, such as a gunshot, fall, or surgical procedure; by an infectious disease; or by an underlying condition.

Description

Types and causes of wounds are wide ranging, and health care professionals have several different ways of classifying them. They may be chronic, such as the skin ulcers caused by diabetes mellitus, or acute, such as a gunshot wound or animal bite.

Wounds may also be referred to as open, in which the skin has been compromised and underlying tissues are exposed, or closed, in which the skin has not been compromised, but trauma to underlying structures has occurred, such as a bruised rib or cerebral contusion.

Yarrow

Yarrow
Yarrow

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is an aromatic member of the Asteraceae (Compositae) family. This perennial European native with lovely, fern-like foliage is also named millefoil, or thousand leaves, because of its finely-divided leaves.

There are many species and subspecies of yarrow, including a similar native American variety known as A. Millefolium var. lanulosa. Yarrow is naturalized through-out North America and can be found growing wild in meadows, fields, and along roadsides.

Introduced to North America by early colonists, yarrow soon became a valued remedy used by many tribes of indigenous people. American Shakers gathered yarrow for use in numerous medicinal preparations. The plant was listed in the official U.S. Pharmacopoeia from the mid- to late nineteenth century.

Cheese

Cheese
Cheese

Despite the high fat content of most forms of cheese, cheese remains an American favorite. Dairy cases are filled with different varieties of cheeses, and classic foods such as pizza, cheeseburgers, and tacos, all of which use some form of cheese, guarantee generations of cheese lovers.

The first cheese was said to have developed by accident, when milk was allowed to ferment. Whether the first cheese was formed from Mongolian yak’s milk, the African camel’s milk, or the Middle Eastern ewe’s milk is unknown and still debated.

But the results, after thousands of years, remain the same: the earliest coagulating curds of milk carried in a shepherd’s pouch have become a tempting treat, with many different types from which to choose.