The Herbal Encyclopedia The Herbal Encyclopedia Disability UK

Glossary and Definitions

A guide to those difficult, confusing, and hard to understand terms and jargon

Abortificant causes induced or spontaneous abortion
Alterative helps to restore normal health, cleanses and purifies the blood, gradually restores normal bodily functions
Analgesic relieves pain
Anaphrodisiac reduces the sexual appetites
Anthelmintic helps kill and get rid of parasites in the body
Antibacterial destroys or stops the growth of bacteria
Antibiotic destroys or stops the growth of microorganisms in the body
Antifungal destroys or stops the growth of fungi, such as athlete's foot
Anti-inflammatory reduces or counteracts inflammations
Antioxidant inhibits or prevents oxidation
Antispasmodic relieves voluntary and involuntary muscle spasms
Antitussive prevents or eliminates coughing
Antiviral inhibits or eliminates a virus
Aphrodisiac creates or enhances sexual arousal
Aromatherapy relies on the aroma of healing plants to stimulate healing, relaxation, mood alteration, and overall well-being
Asthenia loss of or lack of strength, usually affecting the muscular system
Astringent firms organs and tissues as well as reduces excretions
Bolus an herbal suppository inserted in the vagina or rectum
Calmative soothing action on the body's systems
Carcinogenic causes cancer
Cardiac about or relating to the heart
Carminative relieves intestinal gas and accompanying annoyances
Catarrh inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose and breathing passages, sometimes chronically
Cathartic strong laxative that acts fast
Cholagogue increases the flow of bile from the gall bladder
Choleretic stimulates the liver to produce more bile
Cirrhosis loss of tissue function of an organ, usually the liver
Cystitis inflammation and irritation of the urinary bladder
Decoction an extract made by putting the parts of a healing plant into water and bringing it to a boil, then cooled and strained for medicinal use
Demulcent protects and soothes internal mucous membranes
Dermatitis inflammation or irritation of the skin
Detoxicant eliminates toxins
Diaphoretic increases perspiration
Diuretic eliminates excess fluids and aids the kidneys and bladder
Emetic induces vomiting
Emollient protects and soothes the skin
Enteritis irritation and inflammation of the small intestine
Essential oil plant oils, usually highly scented, extracted from healing plants for healing applications
Expectorant aids discharge of phlegm and mucous from the lungs and throat
Extract withdrawing the desired constituents from a plant through physical and/or chemical means
Fast to abstain from all or most foods for a specific period
Febrifuge reduces fevers
Fomentation a hot compress made by soaking a cloth in a decoction or infusion, then applying externally
Gastroenteritis inflammation and irritation of the stomach and intestines
Hemostatic stops the flow of blood
Hepatic having to do with the liver
Herbalism the practice of identifying and using plants that have medicinal qualities
Homeopathy a system of medicine that stresses the administration of minute doses that would produce symptoms of the disease in healthy persons; it is based on the system belief that "like cures like"
Hypertensive raises the blood pressure, or deals with high blood pressure
Hypotensive lowers the blood pressure, or deals with low blood pressure
Hypnotic relaxant and sedative that induces sleep
Infusion medicinal made by pouring boiling water over an herb, or adding an herb to boiling water, similar to a tea
Inhalant a remedy breathed through the nose or mouth
Irritant something that causes irritation or inflammation
Jaundice yellowing of the skin caused by bile pigments in the tissues
Laxative aids in promoting bowel movements
Lesion a wound or inflammation, internal or external
Liniment a liquid or thin paste used externally as a pain reliever or counterirritant
Naturopathy medical treatment based on using natural plants and agents as well as natural healing methods to cause a cure or prevention
Nephritis inflammation and irritation of the kidneys
Nervine strengthens and normalizes the nervous system
Ointment a solid form of medication applied to the skin
Opthalmic soothes and heals the eyes
Photosensitive a heightened sensitivity to light or direct sun
Poultice a plaster applied externally, usually hot
Prophylactic aids in warding off diseases
Purgative induces the evacuation of the intestines
Renal having to do with the kidneys
Salve the same as an ointment
Sclerosis hardening of tissue due to inflammation
Sedative calms by lowering the activity of an organ or body part
Stimulant increases internal body heat, strengthens metabolism and body circulation
Tea a dried herb steeped in hot water for drinking
Thrombosis a blood clot that partially or completely blocks a blood vessel
Tincture a medication derived from the medicinal agents in herbs being dissolved into alcohol
Tinnitus persistent ringing sound in the ear
Tonic stimulates the overall body systems
Toxins poisons
Ulcer a slow-healing wound, either internal or external
Vaginitis irritation, inflammation, or infection of the vagina
Vasodilator relaxes the blood vessels

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