Glossary - C

Caesarean Section

Also known as a cesarean section (American spelling) or a C-section (abbreviation), a caesarean section is the name given to the procedure in which the baby is delivered by surgical extraction from the uterus, as opposed to vaginal birth. C-sections are normally performed when complications arise in pregnancy or labour meaning that vaginal birth is no longer the safest option for mother and/or baby.

Interestingly, a direct positive correlation has been shown between babies born by caesarean section and babies and infants with digestive problems; possibly due to the fact that caesarean babies do not absorb friendly bacteria from the mother's birth canal during the birthing process.

Candida albicans (C. Albicans)

Candida albicans (often simply referred to as Candida) is a yeast-like fungus which feeds on sugar.  It can be found in the flora of the mouth, skin, intestinal tract and vagina; many people have small amounts of Candida albicans in the body without experiencing any negative side effects or symptoms. When allowed to overgrow however, Candida albicans can cause inflammation and itching, leading to infections such as thrush.  Candida overgrowth cannot be treated by antibiotics as it is fungal, therefore doctors often prescribe anti-fungal medicines, or opt for natural supplements including probiotics.

Healthcare professionals can find out more about probiotics and Candida on our sister site, Probiotic Professionals.


Capsules consist of an outer casing that is filled with a powder or liquid, whereas tablets are manufactured by compressing and compacting ingredients together. Capsules usually contain less excipients or fillers than tablets, and are easier to swallow because of their shape. 

Cardiovascular disease

This is a general term which refers to a disease of the heart or blood vessels.


A carminative is a herb or compound that helps prevent the formation or promote the elimination of gas from within the digestive system. Carminatives help manage bloating, flatulence, belching and indigestion. 

Cerebrovascular disease

Cerebrovascular disease refers to a group of conditions that develop due to problems with blood supply to the brain. This happens when there is either limited or no blood flow to affected areas of the brain. Hypertension and atherosclerosis are among the main causes. Cerebrovascular disease may be better known as stroke, transient ischemic attack, subarachnoid haemorrhage, vascular dementia.


Charcoal is used in supplemental form as a remedy to help reduce bloating and flatulence. It is available over the counter in pharmacies and natural health stores. It may not be suitable for some people however, such as those taking certain prescription medicines, as it may affect absorption. Always check with your GP first. 


Cholesterol is a fatty substance produced by the body, in the liver. It can also be found in some foods. Cholesterol is carried around the body by two lipoproteins, LDL & HDL. LDL (known as the ‘bad’ cholesterol) carries cholesterol from your liver to your cells, and HDL carries cholesterol back to the liver for excretion from the body. Too much LDL in the blood can cause a build up in the arteries and can increase the risk of heart disease and raised blood pressure. 

Clinical trial

Clinical trials are research studies that involve patients with the aim of exploring various medical treatments for an identified health problem or testing new means for prevention of certain illnesses. These research are carried out under strict conditions to establish the safety of these trials for the general population. Possible side effects and safety cautions are identified in many clinical trials. There are different types of clinical trial, based on the study design. Randomised control trials, cohort studies, and ecological studies are examples of clinical trials.


Members of this ancient genus of bacteria are found throughout the environment in places such as soil, and includes some species which are pathogenic to humans. They are responsible for causing tetanus and some forms of food poisoning. Clostridium difficile is a member of this genus. 

Clostridium difficile

Also called C. diff or C. difficileClostridium difficile is a bacteria that occurs in small amounts in many people's large intestine. If the number of Clostridium difficile bacteria increases greatly however, it can lead to infection. People suffering from C. difficile infection experience varied symptoms, from mild or severe diarrhoea to severe inflammation of the bowel. In some cases, particularly amongst the elderly, it can cause death. C. difficile infection is often thought to be caused by antibiotics, which can diminish probiotic levels in the gut and allow for overgrowth of C. difficile. The bacteria can be contagious and is often referred to as a superbug.

For more information, see

Coeliac Disease

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition caused by an immune reaction to gluten (gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye). According to 'Coeliac UK' the disease affects 1 in 100 people, although only 24% of sufferers have been diagnosed. The ingestion of gluten by a person suffering with coeliac disease, causes damage to the intestinal lining, resulting in an array of symptoms, including: bloating, nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, fatigue, anaemia, and in some cases hair loss. The only treatment for coeliac patients, is to follow a completely gluten-free diet.


Infant colic is a general term for a condition where the baby cries very often, for long periods of time, with no obvious reason as to why. Colic is often associated with digestive problems such as indigestion, food allergies, gas or intestinal cramps.


The colon also known as the large intestine is located in the last part of the digestive system. The main role of the colon is to extract water and salt from faeces before they leave the body. Fermentation of unabsorbed material by bacteria also takes place in the colon. Constipation can occur when the colon extracts too much water, making stools harder to pass.

Colonic Inertia

Colonic inertia is a motility condition that affects the muscles in the colon, meaning that waste is passed abnormally through the gut. Colonic inertia is relatively common and often associated with constipation. The condition can sometimes be caused by the long-term use of stimulant laxatives.


Microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast live all over the body, in the gut, in the vagina, on the skin etc. When microorganisms stick onto the body, start multiplying, and growing in number they are said to have colonised. Not all bacteria are able to colonise in all areas of the body. Some probiotics are good at colonising in the gut whereas others are good at colonising in the vagina. The ability of a probiotic to colonise can be measured in a lab by assessing how well the probiotic strain sticks onto intestinal cells in a glass dish. Or it can be measured by taking a vaginal swab to see how well the probiotics taken orally have colonised in the vagina.

Commensal bacteria

These non- pathogenic types of bacteria naturally coexist with humans in a non- harmful symbiotic relationship, which does not impact negatively on the health of the human host.

Competitive exclusion

This principle refers to the idea that when two different organisms which require the same resources exist in the same environment, eventually one of them will be eliminated or displaced by the more dominant organism. 


Constipation is defined as having difficulty in passing stools, or having hard and dry stools.  Many people now define constipation as having less than 3 bowel movements per week. Constipation is thought to be caused by factors such as lack of fibre in the diet, lack of physical activity, lifestyle changes such as pregnancy, stress and ageing, and by dysbiosis.

Healthcare professionals can find out more about good bacteria and constipation on our sister site, Probiotic Professionals.


These are statements which notify the user of circumstances in which the medicine should not be taken. For example contraindications on common medications often include; pregnant or breastfeeding women, or individuals with high blood pressure. 

Coronary heart disease

Coronary heart disease is a condition of recurring chest pain. This happens when part of the heart is not receiving enough blood. Coronary heart disease is sometimes called Ischemic heart disease. Coronary heart disease usually develops when cholesterol particles in the blood start to collect in the arteries and stick to the artery wall. Eventually these deposits of cholesterol becomes hard and form plaques which may narrow the artery. This can then decrease blood flow and therefore the amount of oxygen which is supplied to the heart muscle. Signs and symptoms of coronary heart disease can either develop slowly or quickly. Some people have no symptoms at all, but more often than not people experience severe chest pain (angina) and a shortness of breath. This can of course pose a risk of a heart attack.

Crohn's Disease

Crohn's is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in which parts of the digestive tract become swollen and develop ulcers. Generally located in small intestine and/or colon, Crohn's can in fact develop anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus.


Cystitis is an infection of the bladder particularly affecting women, causing symptoms such as a burning sensation during urination as well as a frequent need to urinate. Cystitis is usually caused by pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli entering the urethra and travelling to the bladder. Evidence suggests that maintaining healthy levels of friendly bacteria help promote balanced levels of vaginal flora.

Healthcare practitioners can find out more about friendly bacteria and cystitis on our sister site, Probiotic Professionals.


Cytokines are cell signalling molecules that modulate the immune system response. Cytokines can either be peptides, proteins or glycoproteins, and they include the sub-groups: interleukins, in***feron and growth factors. Their main purpose is to initiate the movement of cells towards sites of either trauma, infection or inflammation.