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Herbal Medicine Glossary
Apothecary can be scary. Let Herb Deco Help.
Here are some terms to get you started. Learn what each herbal remedy can do for you!
Abortifacient – Causes abortion.
– Helps the body to adapt to stress and supports normal function.
– Normalizes or reestablishes healthy nutritive processes.
Anabolic – Promotes tissue growth.
– Relieves and reduces pain.
– Represses sexual desire. Inhibits libido and sexual activity.
Anesthetic – Numbs perception of external sensations.
– Allays pain.
Anorexia – Lack of appetite.
– Helps neutralize stomach acid.
– Treats infections by parasitic worms. Expels or destroys parasitic worms.
Anthraquinones – Irritate the intestinal wall causing a bowel movement.
– Alleviates allergic reactions.
– Relieves or prevents arthritis.
– Relieves an abnormal heart rate.
– Kills bacteria or inhibits their growth or replication. Destroys or inhibits microorganisms.
– With properties that can destroy or inhibit the growth of microorganisms.
– Effective in treating cancer.
– Efficacious against catarrh. Or in layman’s terms, it clears up phlegm and mucus in the sinuses.
– Hinders blood clotting. Prevents blood clotting.
– Helps alleviate depression.
– Helps treat diarrhea.
– Helps reduce vomiting.
– Destroying or inhibiting the growth of fungi. Combats fungal infections.
– Reduces sweating.
– Counteracts the effect of histamine or inhibits its production in the body.
– Helps counteract inflammation. Reduces inflammation.
Antimicrobial – Destroys or inhibits microorganisms.
– A substance that reduces the damage caused by oxidation such as the harm caused by free radicals. Prevents oxidation and breakdown of tissues.
– Kills or inhibits the growth or reproduction of parasites.
– Reduces symptoms relating to the prostate gland.
– Relief of symptoms of rheumatism.
– Helps prevent scurvy.
– Destroys or inhibits microorganisms that cause infection.
– Reduces muscle spasm and tension. Relieves muscle spasm, or reduces muscle tone.
– Preventing or interfering with the formation of a thrombus of blood clotting.
– Reduces or inhibits the growth of tumors.
– Helps alleviate coughing. Soothes and relieves coughing.
– With properties that can destroy or inhibit the growth of viruses.
Aperient – Mild laxative.
Aphrodisiac – Excites libido and sexual activity.
Aseptic – Free from contamination by harmful bacteria, viruses or other microorganisms.
– Causes contraction of tissues and inhibits the flow of blood or other secretions. Tightens mucous membranes and skin, reducing secretions and bleeding from abrasions.
Automatic Nervous System – Part of the nervous system responsible for the control of bodily function that are not consciously directed. Like sweating or your heart beat.
Ayurveda – Traditional Indian system of medicine.
– A digestive tonic, alterative, or appetizer. Stimulates secretion of saliva and digestive juices, increasing appetite.
– Opens up the bronchial tubes of the lungs.
Carcinogenic – Causes cancer.
Cardiotonic – Improves heart function.
– Reduces flatulence and gastric discomfort. Relieves digestive gas and indigestion.
Carrier Oil – Oil such as wheatgerm, to which essential oils are added in order to dilute them for use.
Cathartic – A drastic purgative.
Circulatory Stimulant – Increases blood flow, usually to a given area. Like the hands and feet.
– Increases secretion of bile by the liver.
– Stimulates the flow of bile.
Colic – Abdominal pain produced by strong contractions of intestines or bladder.
Compress – A cloth pad soaked in a hot or cold herbal extract and applied to the skin.
Counterirritant – Superficial irritant used to relieve more deep-seated pain or discomfort.
Cream – A mixture of water and fat or oil that blends with the skin.
Decoction – Water-based preparation of bark, roots, berries or seeds simmered in boiling water.
– Softens and soothes inflamed surfaces. Coats, soothes and protects body surfaces such as the gastric mucous membranes.
Depurative – Detoxifying agent.
Detoxification – The process of aiding removal of toxins and waste products from the body.
– Promotes sweating. Induces sweating.
– Encourages flow or urine. Stimulates urine flow.
Doctrine of Signatures – Theory that the appearance of a plant reveals its medical properties.
Eclectic – Popular system of herbal medicine in the 19th and early 20th century in North America.
Edema – Fluid retention.
Elixir – A liquid herbal preparation with a pleasant taste, due to the addition of honey or sugar.
Emetic – Causes vomiting.
– Stimulates blood flow to the pelvis and uterine area, may stimulate menstruation. Stimulates menstrual flow.
– Softening and soothing, especially to the skin. Softens or soothes the skin.
Essential Oil – Distillation of volatile oils derived from aromatic plants.
– Promote or mimic the action of female hormones. With a similar action to estrogen in the body, supporting and maintaining the female productive organs.
– Promotes the discharge of mucous of phlegm from the respiratory system. Stimulates coughing and helps clear phlegm from the throat and chest.
– Helps to reduce fever. Reduces fever.
Fixed Oil – A nonvolatile oil (plant constituent). An oil produced by hot or cold infusion (preparation).
– Increases milk flow.
Galenical – A medicine, in a standard formula, prepared from plants.
Hallucinogenic – Causes visions or hallucinations.
– Capable of stopping hemorrhaging or bleeding. Stops or reduces bleeding.
– A restorative supports the liver. Affects the liver.
Hepatoprotective – Protects the liver.
Humor – An important body fluid in traditional European or Indian medicine.
Hypertension – High blood pressure.
Hypnotic – Induces sleep.
– Lowers the concentration of glucose in the blood. Lowers blood glucose levels.
– Regulates cholesterol levels.
Hypotension – Low blood pressure.
– Helps lower blood pressure.
Immune Stimulant – Stimulates the body’s immune defense to counter infection.
Infusion – Water-based preparation in which flowers, leaves or stems are brewed in a similar way to, what I like to call, herbal tea.
Inhalation – Breathing of medicinally infused steam or liquid through the nasal passage.
Intermittent Fever – A fever that occurs regularly. Like malaria.
– Encourages bowel movements. Promotes the evacuation of the bowels. Ya know, take a poo.
Liniment – External medication applied by rubbing.
Mydriatic – Dilates the pupil of the eye.
Narcotic – Causes drowsiness or stupor and relieves pain.
– Affects the nervous system (can be either stimulating or relaxing). Restores the nerves. Relaxes the nervous system.
Neuralgia – Pain resulting from irritation or inflammation of a nerve.
– Beneficially nutritious.
Ointment – A blend of fats or oils that form a protective layer over the skin.
– Stimulates the smooth muscle of the uterus to contract, hastening or facilitating childbirth. Induces contractions of the uterus.
Parasiticide – Kills parasites.
Parasympathetic Nervous System – Part of the nervous system involved in vegetative functions, especially digestion.
Pectoral – Acts on the lungs.
– Improves blood flow, especially to hands and feet, used to treat conditions of poor circulation.
Photosensitive – Heightened sensitivity to sunlight.
Physiomedicalism – 19th and 20th century American and British system of herbal medicine.
Poultice – Herbal preparation usually applied hot to an affected area to alleviate pain and reduce swelling.
– Having or stimulating a progesterone-like activity.
Prostaglandins – Chemicals in plants and the human body that have a hormonal action affecting a wide range of conditions including inflammation and pain.
– Strong laxative. A very strong laxative.
Qi – Vital energy force in Chinese philosophy.
– Tending to relax or relieve tension.
– Stimulates the flow of blood to the skin, causing localized reddening. Stimulates blood flow to skin, causing warming and reddening.
– Soothing and calming. Reduces activity and nervous excitement.
Simple – An herb used on its own.
– Inducing or tending to induce sleep.
– Reduces muscle spasms. Relaxes muscles.
Steroids – Active chemicals of a plant origin, with powerful hormonal actions.
Stimulant – Increases rate of activity and the nervous excitement.
– Beneficial to or stimulating digestion in the stomach. Eases stomach pain or increases stomach activity.
– Stops external bleeding. Stops bleeding when applied topically.
Sympathetic Nervous System – Part of the nervous system involved in maintaining arousal, alertness and muscle tone.
Terpenes – Molecules that form the base of most constituents of volatile oils.
Tincture – Plant Medicine prepared by macerating herb in water and alcohol.
Tonic – Exerts a restorative or nourishing action on the body.
Tonify – Strengthens and restores the body systems.
Topical – Application of the herbal remedy to the body’s surface.
Vasoconstrictor – Contracts and narrows blood vessels.
– Increases diameter of blood vessels. Relaxes and widens blood vessels.
Vermifuge – Expels intestinal worms.
Volatile Oil – Plant constituents distilled to produce essential oil.
Vulnerary – Heals wounds.
Yin and Yang – Complementary opposites in Chinese philosohpy.
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