This is a glossary of terms used at www.potbellysyndrome.com. A longer glossary of terms pertaining to infections, inflammation, and cortisol, can be read or printed by clicking on www.potbellysyndrome.com⁄attach⁄Glossary.pdf.
Acute Phase Response (APR). The body's response to injury or infection. APRs produce inflammatory substances to kill germs,then they produce anti-inflammatory substances--mainly cortisol--to protect us from the inflammatory ones. Sometimes called acute phase reaction.
Adenovirus. A common virus widely used in genetic transfer experiments. It causes colds, pinkeye, and obesity in animals and humans.
Adrenal Glands. Glands that produce many hormones, including cortisol, aldosterone, epinephrine, and norepinephine.
Antibiotic. A medicine that kills bacteria, but not viruses.
Anti-Chlamydial Protocols. Complex treatments for Chlamydial infections. The best known are the Vanderbilt and Wheldon protocols.
Anticortisol. A substance that resists the production or activity of cortisol.
Anti-Inflammatory. Something that reduces inflammation. Cortisol is the most important anti-inflammatory substance produced by the body.
Arteriosclerosis. Hardening of the arteries. Usually found with atherosclerosis. Infections and inflammation play a role in causing arteriosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis. A common form of arteriosclerosis in which foam cells full of cholesterol crawl into our arteries and die. The dead foam cells form streaks and cores of pus in the walls of arteries. As the process continues, the arteries to the heart may narrow, cutting down the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the heart.
Bacterium: A microscopic organism composed of a single cell. Many bacteria cause disease.
Blood Pressure. The force of the blood on the walls of arteries. Two levels of blood pressure are measured; systolic and diastolic. In a blood pressure reading of 120⁄80 (spoken as "120 over 80"), 120 is the systolic pressure and 80 is the diastolic pressure.
Carbohydrate. Sugars, starches, and fiber. The body can convert carbohydrates and proteins, but not fat, to sugar (glucose) and starch (glycogen).
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). A disease of the heart or blood vessels. Strongly linked to infections and inflammation. Chlamydophila pneumoniae appears to cause many or most cases of CVD.
Causa Vera. The true cause of something, sometimes called the primary cause. It is often very hard to distinguish the causa vera from intermediate causes. I (Farris) believe infections are the causa vera of most cases of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Cell-wall deficient bacteria. Bacteria, especially Mycoplasma species, that lack cell walls.
Chlamydophila pneumoniae (CPN). A bacterium that causes damage to lungs, arteries, and nerves. Also called Chlamydia pneumoniae, Chlamydia TWAR, and just plain TWAR.
Cholesterol. A soft, waxy substance that is an important component of all cell membranes. Cholesterol is vital to the proper growth and functioning of our nervous system, muscles, skin, liver, intestines, and heart. The body uses cholesterol to make hormones, bile acid, and vitamin D.
The body makes enough cholesterol to meet its needs. When you eat foods with a lot of cholesterol, such as butter and egg yolks, the body reduces its production of cholesterol. Consequently, the amount of cholesterol in your food has little effect on the amount of cholesterol in your blood. Cortisol raises cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol is transported through the blood in the form of lipoproteins.
Drugs called statins are used to lower cholesterol levels. People with very high or very low levels of cholesterol have high mortality rates.
Chronic. Of long duration. Diabetes and tuberculosis are chronic diseases.
Chronic subtle hypercortisolism. Technical name for the version of metabolic syndrome that Dr. Mårin and I call potbelly syndrome.
Cortisol. A hormone that is produced by the outer shells (cortices) of the adrenal glands. It is important in the regulation of blood pressure, blood sugar, and immunity. Cortisol is normally released in 16-20 pulses per day of about 1 milligram each. An excess of cortisol (hypercortisolism) is associated with Cushing's syndrome, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and many other disorders.
Cpnhelp. A group of people working to combat CPN infections. Their website is www.cpnhelp.org.
CRH. Corticotrophin-releasing hormone. A hormone released by the hypothalamus when the total of background and transient stressors exceeds a threshold level in the body. CRH makes people feel bad and it ruins their appetite. It also leads to the production of cortisol, however, and cortisol makes people feel better and it increases their appetites. CRH is sometimes called corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF).
Cushing's Syndrome (CS). A disease caused by very high cortisol levels. Patients have distinctive features (stigmata) that include a large potbelly, a round "moon" face, a "buffalo hump," and purple stretch marks (stria). Cushing's syndrome is rare, but subclinical Cushing's syndrome (SCCS) is fairly common. SCCS and potbelly syndrome are very similar.
Cytokine. A protein enables cells to "talk" to each other. There are about a hundred cytokines.
Cytokine Cascade. The rapid increase in inflammatory cytokines that occurs shortly after an infection begins. A normal part of an acute phase response.
Cytokine Storm. A cytokine cascade that gets out of control. It can inflame every cell in the body in a few days. Cortisol normally prevents cytokine cascades from turning into cytokine storms.
Cytokines, inflammatory. Cytokines that tend to increase inflammation. The primary cytokines--IL-1, IL-6, and TNF-a--are inflammatory.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV). One of the most common of the human herpes viruses. Most people have no idea that they are infected with CMV, but it can cause serious illnesses in newborns and patients with immune deficiencies. Also known as human herpes virus 5 (HHV-5).
Diabetes. A disease that occurs when the body is not able to use sugar as it should. Diabetes is discussed at length in Chapter 13 of The Potbelly Syndrome.
Diabetes, Type 1. In this form of diabetes, the pancreas makes little or no insulin.
Diabetes, Type 2. In this form of diabetes, the pancreas makes insulin, but it is ineffective because of insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetes develops gradually, most often in people over 40 years of age. It accounts for 95% of all cases of diabetes.
Diet, Calorie-Restriction. A diet that provides less energy than the dieter will use during the period of the diet.
Dysphoria. An unpleasant sensation, the opposite of euphoria. People who have metabolic syndrome often feel dysphoric. Eating sugar usually relieves feelings of dysphoria briefly. This is explained further in The Potbelly Syndrome.
Endocrinologist. A doctor who diagnoses and treats endocrine problems such as hypercortisolism and diabetes.
Exercise. Physical activity done with the intention of improving or maintaining physical fitness or health. Pleasant exercise that does not injure the body lowers cortisol levels and reduces insulin resistance. Extreme exercises that damage the body raise cortisol levels. In fact, just thinking about extreme exercises raises cortisol levels.
Fat. An efficient substance for storing energy. It is stored in the form of triglycerides.
Fat cells. Cells that convert glucose and fatty acids to triglycerides (fat) for long-term storage. When food is scarce, fat cells release fatty acids and glycerol into the blood for fuel. Fat cells do not become insulin resistant. Since glucose and insulin levels tend to be high in people who are insulin resistant, their fat cells work overtime to convert their extra glucose to fat.
Fatty Acids. Fat molecules. When insulin levels are low, or there is not enough glucose to use for energy, the body burns fatty acids for energy. The body can make fatty acids out of glucose, but fatty acids can't be reconverted back to glucose.
Feedback Loop. In a control system, part of the output may be returned to the input to regulate the output.
Fitness vs. Health. In The Exercise Myth, Dr. Solomon explains that fitness and health are not the same thing. Fitness has to do with your ability to work or play; health has to do with how well you feel and how likely you are to continue living. Generally you need to be healthy to be fit, but you do not need to be fit to be healthy. Exercise contributes a lot to fitness, but very little to health.
Foam Cells. Cells, other than fat cells, that are stuffed with fat. The foam cells of greatest interest here are diseased macrophages that fill up with cholesterol and then die in our arteries, thus causing atherosclerosis.
Germ. Any bacterium, virus, or other microorganism.
Glucocorticoids. A group of hormones that affect carbohydrate metabolism. They also play a role in fat and protein metabolism, maintenance of blood pressure, and the functioning of the central nervous system. Cortisol is the most important glucocorticoid.
Glucose. Simplest form of sugar. The body makes glucose from proteins and carbohydrates, but mostly from carbohydrates. Glucose is the main source of energy for most cells, but muscle, liver, and fat cells cannot use it without the help of insulin.
HDL. The so-called "good" cholesterol. See lipoprotein, high-density.
Heart Attack. An interruption of blood flow to the heart that is severe enough to cause death to part of the heart muscle. This happens when the blood supply to the area is interrupted because of narrowed or blocked blood vessels. Often caused by atherosclerosis. Also called a myocardial infarction (MI) or an acute myocardial infarction (AMI)
Heart Disease. Usually refers to coronary heart disease.
Helicobacter pylori (Hp). Hp is a bacterium that causes ulcers and stomach cancer. It is suspected of causing atherosclerosis in some people. It is associated with diabetes and it may cause weight gain or loss depending upon other health factors. It is also a cause of bad breath.
High Blood Pressure. Greater than normal force pushing against arterial walls. High blood pressure strains the heart; harms the arteries; and increases the risk of heart attack, hemorrhagic stroke, and kidney problems. The causes and consequences of high blood pressure are discussed in Chapter 6 of The Potbelly Syndrome. Also called hypertension.
Hormones. Chemicals secreted by some cells to tell other cells what to do. Cortisol and insulin are the hormones of greatest interest in The Potbelly Syndrome.
HPA Axis. Hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. The adrenal glands produce cortisol. The hypothalamus and the pituitary gland regulate how much cortisol is produced.
Immune Suppressors. Agents that weaken the immune system and make us more susceptible to infections. Cortisol is a very powerful immune suppressor. Many microbes, including HIV, Chlamydophila pneumoniae, and cytomegalovirus, suppress the immune system.
Immune System. The cells and organs that defend the body against infection.
Infection. Invasion of a host by a microbe, with the subsequent multiplication and establishment of the microbe. The body initiates an acute phase response to combat each infection. An infection may or may not lead to disease.
Infection-cortisol loop. Infections raise cortisol levels, and cortisol suppresses the immune system. The suppressed immunity allows more infections to develop. Consequently, we develop a vicious cycle that causes us to accumulate more infections as we get older.
Infection-cortisol model. A model of disease that helps us understand what is wrong with us.
Infectious burden. The number of infections we have at any time. Our infectious burden grows as we get older.
Inflammation. Redness, warmth, swelling, pain, and loss of function produced in response to injury or infection. It is caused by inflammatory cells and cytokines. Inflammation increases blood flow though affected tissues.
Insulin. A hormone that helps muscle, liver, and fat cells use glucose for energy. It is produced by the beta cells in the pancreas.
Insulin Resistance. The inability of liver and muscle cells to respond to insulin the way they should. This prevents the cells from using glucose effectively. Insulin resistance is linked to high levels of glucose, insulin, and fatty acids.
Interleukin 1 (IL-1). Inflammatory cytokine, one of the primary cytokines that raise cortisol levels.
Interleukin 6 (IL-6). Inflammatory cytokine, one of the primary cytokines that raise cortisol levels.
LDL. The so-called "bad" cholesterol. See lipoprotein, low-density.
Lipoprotein, High-Density (HDL). HDL carries cholesterol away from body cells and to the liver. The liver breaks HDL down into bile which is used to digest your food. HDL is often called the "good" cholesterol.
Lipoprotein, Low-Density, (LDL). LDL carries cholesterol to the tissues of the body, including the arteries. LDL is often called the "bad" cholesterol. Macrophages infected with Chlamydophila pneumoniae or cytomegalovirus ingest LDL, turn into foam cells, then crawl into our arteries and die. When millions of foam cells have died in one spot, we have atherosclerosis.
Macrophages. Large white blood cells that begin life as monocytes. They are often infected with Chlamydophila pneumoniae and cytomegalovirus. When healthy, macrophages convert LDL to HDL. When infected, they are unable to process cholesterol, and the unprocessed cholesterol they ingest accumulates inside them until they turn into foam cells and die. Atherosclerotic plaques are made up of millions of foam cells.
Medline Plus. A central location for U.S. Government-provided health and medical information, including information on vitamins, supplements, and medicines. You can reach it at www.nlm.nih.gov⁄medlineplus⁄medlineplus.html. Medline Plus also provides articles describing recent research findings, all written in plain English. You can read the articles at www.nlm.nih.gov⁄medlineplus⁄newsbydate.html
Metabolic syndrome. A cluster of metabolic problems given many names and many descriptions. Potbelly syndrome is the version of the metabolic syndrome that I (Farris) think is most accurate and useful. Metabolic syndrome is discussed in The Potbelly Syndrome, especially Chapters 7, 8, and 16.
Middle Path Germs. Germs that can't kill us right away, but which we can't quite get rid of. Infections caused by these germs flood the body with white blood cells, inflammatory cytokines, and cortisol. Different species of middle-path germs, such as CMV and CPN, often work together.
Miss M.G. A patient with Cushing's syndrome, first described by Harvey Cushing in 1912.
Obesity. When people have 20 percent (or more) of extra body fat for their age, height, sex, and bone structure, they are said to be obese. This is a poor definition because it does not define where the extra weight is located. Obesity can be abdominal, diffuse, or visceral.
Potbelly Syndrome. A set of disorders resembling metabolic syndrome. Symptoms include potbellies (visceral obesity).
Potbelly Syndrome, The. A terrific book that I hope you will all run out and buy.
PubMed. A U.S. Government-operated medical database and search engine at: www.pubmed.gov⁄.
Statins. Medicines that lower cholesterol levels. I hope everyone will visit www.spacedoc.net before taking one of these medicines.
Steatosis. The accumulation of fat in liver and muscle cells. Steatosis "poisons" cells in such a way that they remain insulin resistant even when cortisol levels have been reduced. A sign of long-standing hypercortisolism. Also called fatty degeneration and fatty infiltration.
Stigmata. Visible marks of a disease. Cushingoid stigmata include a moon-shaped face, fat deposits on back of the neck and other places, and stretch marks.
Stress. A name commonly used for either a stressor or a stress. Technically, a stress is the reaction to a stressor, i.e., a paper cup shows stress when it is crushed by your foot, which is a stressor.
Stroke. A "brain attack." Usually the result of chronic cerebrovascular disease. The blood vessels in the brain may become blocked (ischemic stroke) or they burst (hemorrhagic stroke).
Symptom. An indication that a disease or disorder is present. It can be seen or felt by the patient.
Syndrome. A recognizable set of signs and symptoms frequently found together.
Tumor Necrosis Factor-Alpha (TNF-alpha). Inflammatory cytokine, one of the primary cytokines that raise cortisol levels.
Virus. A very small germ that can only reproduce within a living host cell. Viruses can only be seen with electron microscopes.
White Blood Cell (WBC). Immune cells that make up the first line of defense against infection and toxic agents. Monocytes and macrophages are the WBCs of greatest interest here.
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