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Ulcerative Colitis Glossary

Abscess: A pocket or collection of pus.

Anemia: Lower than normal amounts of hemoglobin in the red cells of the blood.

Arthritis: Inflammation of a joint, accompanied by pain, swelling, heat, or redness.

Autoimmunity: An inflammatory reaction to one's own tissues.

Barium Enema: An x-ray examination of the colon and rectum after liquid barium has been infused through the rectum.

Biopsy: A small piece of tissue taken from the body for examination under the microscope.

Colectomy: Removal of part or all of the colon.

Colon: The large intestine.

Colonoscopy: A test in which a flexible, lighted tube is inserted through the rectum to examine the colon.

Colostomy: A surgically created opening of the colon to the abdominal wall, allowing the diversion of fecal waste.

Continent Ileostomy: The surgical creation of a pouch inside the lower abdomen to collect waste. No external appliance is required; the pouch is emptied regularly with a small tube inserted through a nipple opening in the abdomen.

Distension: An uncomfortable swelling feeling in the abdomen, often caused by excessive amounts of gas and fluids in the intestine.

Endoscopy : The examination of the inside of a hollow organ, such as the bowel, using special lighted tubes.

Erythema Nodosum : Red swellings occasionally seen on the lower legs during flareups of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Exacerbation: An aggravation of symptoms or an increase in disease activity; a relapse.

Excision: Surgical removal.

Fissure: A crack in the skin, usually in an area of the anus in Crohn's disease.

Fistula: An abnormal channel occuring between two loops of intestine, or between the intestine and another structure, such as the bladder, vagina, or skin.

Folic Acid: One of the vitamins responsible for the maintenance of red blood cells.

Gastroenterologist: A physician specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with gastrointestinal disease.

Gut: General word for intestine or bowel.

Hemorrhage:Abnormally heavy bleeding.

IBD: Acronym for inflammatory bowel disease.

Idiopathic: Of unknown cause.

Ileostomy: A surgically created opening of the abdominal wall to the ileum, allowing the diversion of fecal waste.

Ileum: The lower third of the small intestine, adjoining the colon.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): A collective term for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome : Altered motility of the small and large intestine, causing diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. Sometimes mistakenly called 'spastic colitis' this condition does not cause inflammation of the colon and has no relationship to ulcerative colitis.

Lactose Deficiency/Lactose Intolerance: A condition caused by a decrease or absence of the enzyme lactase, which aids in the digestion of milk sugar (lactose).

Leukocytosis: An increased number of white blood cells in circulation

Motility: Movement of the muscles that propel food through the intestinal tract.

Mucus: A whitish substance produced by the intestine, which may be found in the stool.

Obstruction: A blockage of the small or large intestine that prevents the normal passage of intestinal contents.

Ostomy: The surgical creation of an artifical excretory opening, such as a colostomy.

Perforation: Formation of a hole in the bowel wall, allowing intestinal contents to enter the abdominal cavity.

Peristalsis: Normal rhythmic movements of the stomach and intestine.

Peritonitis: Inflammation of the peritoneum (the membrane enclosing the abdominal organs), usually resulting from an intestinal perforation.

Proctectomy: Removal of the rectum.

Proctitis: Inflammation of the rectum.

Proctocolectomy: Removal of the entire colon and rectum.

Regional Enteritis: Another name for Crohn's disease affecting the small intestine.

Remission: A lessening of symptoms and a return to good health.

Resection:Surgical removal of a diseased portion of intestine.

Short Bowel Syndrome: A condition in which so much diseased bowel has been surgically removed that the remaining intestine can no longer absorb sufficient nutrients.

Sigmoidoscopy: A test in which a lighted tube is passed through the rectum into the sigmoid colon.

Small Bowel: Small intestine.

Stenosis: A narrowing of an area (e.g., a segment of intestine).

Stoma:A surgically created opening of the bowel onto the skin, the result of ostomy surgery.

Stricture : A narrowed area of intestine caused by active inflammation or scar tissue.

Tenesmus: A persistent urge to empty the bowel, usually caused by inflammation of the rectum.

Toxic Megacolon: Acute dilation of the colon in colitis (or occasionally in Crohn's disease), which may lead to perforation.

Upper G.I. Series: An x-ray exam of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum performed in the fasting patients after the ingestion of liquid barium. The duration of the exam can be prolonged to allow for visualization of the entire small intestine, including the terminal ileum. The x-ray is then known as an upper G.I. series with small-bowel follow-through.

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