Basic Definitions of Herbal Terms
Alterative: cleansing, restoring; long term usage typically required.
Analgesic/Anodyne: reduces pain
Antibacteria/Antimicrobial/Antinfective/Antiseptic: prevents and/or kills infection
Antiemetic: prevents or stops nausea and vomiting
Antispasmodic: relieves muscle spasms/cramps; may be smooth muscle and/or skeletal muscle
Antitussive: helps stop coughing
Astringent: constricting / tightening / properties – specifically to mucus membranes; tastes dry and puckery.
Bitter: Cools/reduces inflammation, eliminates infection, stimulates digestion, soothes nervous system.
Blood Purifier/Depurative: enhances functions of kidney and liver to ‘clean’ blood, also aids in absorption of nutrients
Colic: spasm, cramping of intestines (seen often in infants), typically due to gas. Herbs that ease colic are called Carminative.
Deobstruent: (de obstruct) breaks up stagnation
Demulcent: soothes and coats mucous membranes
Diaphoretic: induces sweating
Diuretic: increases the flow of urine; rids the body of excess fluid.
Emollient: Softens and soothes the skin, aids in healing process.
Immunostimulant: stimulates the immune system into functioning at a higher capacity and/or provides nutrients that are lacking to support the immune system. (Synonymous with Adaptogen)
Marc: The refuse matter (herbs) that remains after the liquid (menstruum) has been pressed out.
Menstruum: any solvent (typicaly liquid) used for extracting medicinal compounds from plants
Nervine: Nourishes / Soothes the nervous system; may also sedate (sedative).
Refrigerant: relieves fever and thirst, lowers body temperature; cooling
Stimulant: increases internal heat, increases metabolism and circulation.
Styptic/Hemostatic: stops external bleeding; stems bleeding (See Astringent)
Synergistic: the sum is greater then the individual parts.
Tonic: nourishing, supports whole body; exerts a gentle strengthening effect on the whole body.
Vulnerary: aids in healing wounds; protects wounds from infection and stimulates cell growth for healing.
Trophorestorative: Nutritive balancing action on the body; usually organ/system specific. Corrects deficiencies & weakness by providing vital nourishment.