Lesson 3, Page 11 of 20

An appendectomy refers to the surgical removal of the appendix.

The words appendectomy and tonsillectomy also contain the prefix ec- which means "out of" or "away from." So while -tomy means "to cut," -ectomy means "to cut out."

One of the most common surgeries performed worldwide is the hysterectomy [hyster-, uterus + ec, out + tomy, to cut] whereby the uterus is surgically removed or "cut out." About one-fifth of all women in England undergo the operation, despite the fact that most physicians surveyed in the United Kingdom said that too many hysterectomies are performed and that the procedure should only be performed as a last resort. The most common reason for a hysterectomy is excessive menstral bleeding, a condition known as menorrhagia [men-, month, + -rhagia, to burst forth].

A word related to menorrhagia is menorrhea. However, while menorrhagia [-rhagia, to burst forth] means excessive menstral bleeding, menorrhea [-rrhea, to flow] means normal menstruation.

When we add dia-, meaning "through" (diameter means to "measure through a circle") to -rrhea, meaning "to flow," we get a condition that is not normal known as diarrhea. Diarrhea literally means "to flow through." It is often a symptom of either colitis, inflammation of the colon, or of enteritis, inflammation of the intestines.

We have seen many examples of the suffix -itis meaning "inflammation." For example:

appendicitis - inflammation of the appendix
tonsilitis - inflammation of the tonsils
arthritis - inflammation of a joint
cystitis - inflammation of the urinary bladder

I should take a moment to point out that inflammation does not mean the same thing as infection. People often confuse these two terms so I will explain the difference.

An infection means that there are pathological organisms, or "germs," associated with the condition. The presence of these "germs" often results in inflammation as the body attempts to kill them by sending more blood (and thus more white blood cells) to the area of infection. There are usually pathological organisms in the appendix when one has appendicitis, for example.

But you can and commonly do have inflammation without an infection. For example; when you sprain your ankle it swells and becomes hot, red and painful. This is a typical inflammatory response without the presence of infection or microorganisms.

There are many different types of arthritis, or inflammation of the joints. A few of these are "infectious," meaning that the involved joints are inflamed due to an infection of pathological microorganisms. Osteoarthritis [osteo-, bone + arthr-, joint + -itis, inflammation] is also known as degenerative arthritis and is the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is not normally associated with an infection.

Are You Having Uninvited Guests for Dinner?

Or, Are Uninvited Guests Having YOU for Dinner?

Most people are appalled to discover that there might be someone, or something, other than themselves living inside their body. Parasites are not just a problem for people in unindustrialzed nations. Many of us in the more affluent nations are also harboring them, often without even knowing it. Many different herbs have been used over the centuries to combat these little vermin.

The Latin word for worm is vermis, from which we get our word vermin. Vermiform means "resembling a worm in shape." (The complete name for the appendix is "vermiform appendix.") A vermifuge [" + -fuge, to put to flight] is a substance that serves to expel or destroy parasitic worms. Another name for a vermifuge, which employs the Greek word for worm (helmis), is anthelmintic [anti-, against + helminth, worm].

Below are some additional words that you might come across in your readings of herbals that discuss parasites:

vermicide - [vermi- + -cid, to kill] an agent that kills intestinal worms
taeniacide - an agent that kills tapeworms (Taenia, from the Greek for "thin," refers to tapeworms—so named because they are thin like a measuring tape.)

What is a fungicide?

an agent that kills worms
an agent that kills fungus
an agent that kills plants
an agent that kills aliens