Herbal Terminology


Adaptogen has a normalizing effect that tends to ‘right’ whatever is wrong with the body.  eg. f  blood pressure is too high, it brings it down.  If it is too  low, it raises it.
Alkaloids Different alkaloids, different functions. Some are hallucinogenic others are poisons.  They are the most potent group of plant constitants and are important tools of herbalists and healers.
Alterative cleanses or alters the internal environment of the body without producing noticiable laxative or diuretic effects.  Restore proper function of the body.  Blood cleansers
Analgesic Reduce pain externally and internally
Anthelmentic Destroy and expel worms from digestive tract: aloe, garlic, wormwood, pumpkin seed, black walnut.
Anti-bilious remove excess bile. Dandelion, barberry, golden seal, vervain
Anti-catarrhal removes excess phleghm and mucus. boneset, cayenne, echinacea, eyebright, garlic, golden seal,mullein, slippery elm.
Anti-emetic reduce nausea and vomiting. black horehound, meadow sweet, cayenne.
Anti-inflammatory reduces inflammation (heat, swelling and pain) chammomile, st John’s Wort, white willow,
Anti-lithic prevent the formation of stones in urinary tract. Barberry, cornsilk, gravel root, stone root, hydrangea, p
Anti-microbial destroys microorganisms. cloves, echinacea, garlic, wild indigo, wormwood,
Antioxident helps prevent free radical damage of oxygen radicals. prevent aging.
Antiseptic destroys bacteria and other microorganisms.
Anti-spasmodic relaxes muscles prevents or eases cramps and spasms. Cramp bark, black haw, black cohosh, motherwort, valerian
Anodyne Reduce pain externally and internally.
Aperient Mild laxatives.
Anthraquinones purgatives and natural dyes. Stimulate the colon. Senna, Buckthorn, Aloe, Rhubarb, yellow dock. contain these chemicals.
Aromatic strong odor from volatile oils.
Astringent Contract and tones muscle fiber and other tissue . Contain tannins.
Bitters Stimulate digestion, liver, antibiotic, anti fungal, anti tumor, sedative, expectorants, anti-inflammatories..
Blood purifier removes toxins from the blood by strengthening liver function.
Cardiac glycosides Increase force and power of heart beat without increasing the amount of oxygen requirement. Foxglove, lily of valley, squill.
Carminative reduces flatulance (intestinal gas)
Cathartic increases bowel movement
Cholagogue stimulate release of bile from the gall bladder.  laxative.
Coumarins Anti clotting.
Decongestant relieves respiratory congestion
Diaphoretic increases perspiration and detoxifies through the skin
Demulcent contains mucilage which can soothe internal tissues. comfrey, flax seed, marshmallow, slippery elm.
Diaphoretic promotes perspiration and eliminates toxins through the skin
Digestant aids the digestion of food
Diuretic increases the flow of urine to expel excess fluids from the body
Emetic cause vomiting
Emollient soften, soothe and protect the skin
Expectorant expels phlegm or mucus from the lungs and sinuses by causing coughing, sneezing, and drainage
Flavones anti-spasmodic, diuretic, circulatory and cardiac stimulants. Rutin, hesperidin, bio-flavonoids. Buckwheat, many fruits
Febrifuge reduces fever. cayenne, elder flower, peppermint, quininie
Galactogogue increases milk flow from mammaries
Hepatiac strengthen and tones the liver, increases flow of bile. dandelion, golden seal, mountain grape,
Hypnotic induce sleep. california popy, hopps, valarian, chamomile
Immune-stimulant causes the immune system to increase activity. echinacea, garlic, astragalus
Laxative increases bowel movement. barberry, buckthorn, cascara sagrada, senna,
Mineralizer provides trace minerals`
Nervine strengthens the nervous system. Some are stimulants otheres are relaxants. black cohosh, ginseng, hops, lemon balm, lavender, red clover, valerian
Oxytocic stimulate contraction of uterus. Blue cohosh, golden seal, squaw vine
Pectoral Strengthen and heal respiratory system. coltsfoot, comfrey, elder, elecampane, goldensel, mullein, licorice,
Phenols Easily form compounds. Have pain killing properties. Eugenol from cloves, thymol from thyme, and salicylic acid from willow are some.
Purgative increases bowel movement
Rubefacient topical application to skin causes dialation of surface capillaries. Cayenne, ginger, horseradish
Saponins anti inflammatories, expectorants, and sex hormones.  golden rod, chickweed, mullein, wild yam,
Sedative calms the nervous system and reduces stress. blue cohosh, bugleweed, lady’s slipper, skullcap, valarian
Sialagogue induce the flow of saliva. cayenne, gentian, ginger
Soporific induces sleep.  see hypnotics
Stimulant increases circulation and energy. bayberry, cayenne, horseradish
Styptic stop bleeding.  See astringents
Sudorific Increases perspiration and detoxification through the skin
Tannins Cause an astringent action.  Treat burns, alleviate diarrhea or internal bleeding, infections in mouth, vagina, cervix, and rectum
Tonic strengthens and tones a part of the body
Volatile oils found in aromatic plants. Extraction produces essential oils.  All are antiseptic, all are easily transported throughout the body acting upon the whole system, manifesting in the lungs, urine, sweat, etc. They stimulate the production of white blood cells. They act on the digestive tract and the central nervous system.  Some relax and sedate while others stimulate. Their odor triggers a reaction through the olfactory nerves into the brain.
Vulnerary promotes the healing of tissues. aloe, comfrey (topical) chickweed, golden seal, plantain, marshmallow, mulllein, slippery elm, St. John’s wort (topical)