Glossary - A


The abdomen or abdominal region refers to the part of the body between the pelvis and the chest. Within the abdominal cavity the stomach, small and large intestines, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidneys and spleen are all found.


AB-Life® collectively refers to three specific strains of Lactobacillus plantarum; including CECT 7527, CECT 7528, and CECT 7529. These three specific strains of probiotic bacteria have been extensively studied for their potential in helping to reduce blood cholesterol levels. In one notable clinical trial, total cholesterol levels were reduced by an average of 14%, when the probiotics were taken over a 3 month period.

Acidophilus (Lactobacillus acidophilus)

Acidophilus is one of the more well-known species of probiotic. As it belongs to the Lactobacillus genus, acidophilus is generally situated in the small intestine within the gut. Acidophilus is known especially for its beneficial effects in preventing traveller’s diarrhoea, Candida overgrowth, and antibiotic-associated diarrhoea or thrush. Healthcare professionals can find out more about this species on the Probiotics Database: Lactobacillus acidophilus.


Acne is a skin condition characterised by spots. Acne and spots are caused by inflammation of the sebaceous glands, often due to infection from pathogenic bacteria. Acne is therefore often linked to dysbiosis.


Actinobacteria belong to a group of Gram-positive bacteria, many of which are found in the soil, and play an important role in decomposition. Most species of Actinobacteria are aerobic which means they require oxygen for growth, however a few such as Actinomyces israelii can grow under anaerobic conditions. Whilst many bacteria which fall under this phyla are beneficial to humans, a few are known pathogens, such as Mycobacterium.


Acute is a term describing a rapid, sudden or short-lived condition, symptoms, etc. 


Aerobic means involving or requiring Oxygen. Aerobic bacteria are bacteria which need oxygen in order to grow and survive.


Aetiology simply means “the cause” behind the occurrence of an event or health problem. When used in terms of health, it means the “science and study of the cause or origin of a disease”.

Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA)

Alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, is one of the fats that makes up Omega 3 polyunsaturated essential fatty acid and is found in plant oils such as flaxseeds, pumpkin seed and walnut oils. ALA is converted into EPA & DHA by the body. Some studies have shown Alpha-linolenic acid may help maintain normal cholesterol levels.


Anaerobic means occurring in the absence of oxygen or not requiring oxygen to live. Anaerobic bacteria produce energy without the presence of oxygen.

Antibiotic-associated diarrhoea

Antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, or ADD, refers to diarrhoea that occurs as a result of an antibiotic course. Because antibiotics do not distinguish between good and bad bacteria, in many cases they kill off significant amounts of the body’s natural friendly bacteria, often leading to an upset stomach.

Recent research shows that up to 1 in 5 people stop their course of antibiotics early because they have antibiotic-associated diarrhoea.

Health professionals can find out more about antibiotic-associated diarrhoea over in our sister site, Probiotic Professionals.


Antibiotics are substances that kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria and similar microorganisms. Antibiotics are often prescribed by doctors to treat bacterial infections. As they work against all bacteria in the body, antibiotics destroy good bacteria in the system as well as bad.

Find out more about antibiotics and good bacteria.


Antibody also known as an immunoglobulin, is a protein produced by plasma cells. Antibodies are created due to an immune reaction in response to antigens and foreign substance thought to be harmful to the body.


An antimicrobial is an agent which actively kills or inhibits the growth of bacteria, fungi or viruses. Antimicrobials take the form of antibiotics, antifungal or antiviral medication, but there are many natural herbal alternatives such as oregano, black walnut and garlic. 


Antioxidants are nutrients that decrease or slow oxidation, thereby protecting cells from free radicals which can cause degeneration to the body's cells. Antioxidants are therefore thought to protect the heart, arteries, and other tissues, as well as to boost the immune system.


An anti-spasmodic is a compound, herb or drug that helps relax muscle spasms. Gastrointestinal antispasmodics are often used to help manage pain or cramps associated with IBS.


This is a common disorder that is characterised by joint inflammation and stiffness. A number of factors can contribute to this condition including infection, trauma and age.  Examples of arthritis include osteoarthritis, which involves degeneration of the joints, and rheumatoid arthritis which is a type of autoimmune condition.


Asana is a body position usually associated with yoga practice. It refers to both the place where the practitioner sits, as well as the posture he or she sits in. Yoga practice is made up of many different asanas, with the aim of achieving greater physical and mental wellbeing. 

Atopic syndrome/Atopy

Those with atopic syndrome have a greater predisposition to develop allergies. This tendency is often hereditary, and so the children of parents with atopic sensitivities have an increased risk of suffering from conditions such as allergic asthma, hay fever/rhinitis, and atopic dermatitis.


A neural development disorder which affects the way in which a person relates to, communicates with, and views other people and the world around them.  Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that the condition will affect different people in different ways; some autistic people will live relatively 'normally' whilst others will have accompanying learning disabilities and require more support.

Asperger's Syndrome is a form of autism; typically associated with fewer learning difficulties, and above average intelligence.  The range of related disorders including autism and Aspergers is called the 'autism spectrum' and people with the disorder are often referred to as having 'Austim Spectrum Disorder' (ASD).  Autism is thought to affect up to 1 in 100 children, and is four times more common in boys than girls.  

It has been suggested, and somewhat documented, that children and adults with autism have a higher than average number of gastrointestinal problems. 

Health professionals can find out more about gut bacteria and autism over in our sister site, Probiotic Professionals.

Autoimmune condition

An autoimmune condition occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue. The reason for the immune system developing an inability to recognise the difference between healthy body tissue and harmful substances is unknown, but many health practitioners believe a leaky gut could be to blame.

It is possible for an autoimmune disorder to affect one or more organ or tissue in the body, and a person may suffer from more than one autoimmune disorder at the same time.

There are more than 80 different types of autoimmune disorders, including arthritis, Hashimoto’s Disease, Type 1 Diabetes etc.