Herbal Encyclopedia

Glossary of Medical Terms

Absorbent: Produces absorption of exudates or diseased tissues.

Abortifacient: Causing Abortion. Induces or causes premature expulsion of a fetus.

Acrid: Having a hot, biting taste or causing heat and irritation when applied to the skin.

Adaptogen: Aiding adaption of the body, particularly to stress.

Adjuvant: Added to a mixture to aid the effect of the principal ingredient.

Aggregation: Massing of materials together, clumping. A clumped mass of material. Also called platelet clumping. A clumping together of platelets resulting from agitation and stickiness induced in the presence of metallic ions and plasma factors, occurring at 37º C. and reversed upon removal of the metallic ions.

Alterative: A vague term to indicate a substance which hastens the renewal of the tissues so that they can better carry out their function. Alters the existing nutritive and excretory processes and gradually restore normal body functions. Produces gradual beneficial change in the body, usually by improving nutrition, without having any marked specific effect and without causing sensible evacuation.

Anaesthetic: Loss of Sensation: pain relieving.

Analgesic: Pain-relieving. Relieves or diminishes pain; anodyne.

Anaphrodisiac: Lessens sexual functions and desires.

Anesthetic: Deadens sensation.

Anodyne: Pain-easing. Relieves pain when applied externally. Soothes or relieves pain.

Antacid: Neutralizes acid in the stomach and intestinal tract. Combating acid in the body.

Anthelmintic: Causing death or removal of worms in the body. Destroys or expels intestinal worms.

AntiAbortives: Counteracts abortive tendencies.

Antiallergenic: Reduces symptoms of allergy.

Antiarthritic: Relieves and heals arthritic conditions.

Antiasthmatics: Relieves asthma.

Antibacterial: Destroying or suppressing the growth or reproduction of bacteria.

Antibilious: Against biliousness or excess bile. Eliminates a biliary or jaundice condition in the body.

Antibiotic: Combats infection in the body. Destroys or arrests the growth of microorganisms.

Anti-catarrhal: Heals catarrhal conditions in the body.

Anticholinergic: Blocking the passage of impulses through the parasympathetic nerves; parasympatholytic.

Anticoagulant: Prevents blood from clotting. Prevents clotting in a liquid, as in blood.

Anticonvulsive: Controlling convulsions.

Antidepressant: Uplifting, counteracting melancholy.

Antidontalgic: Relieving toothaches.

Antiemetics: Lessons nausea and prevents or relieves vomiting.

Antigalactagogue: Impedes flow of milk.

Antihydropics: Eliminates excess body fluids or dropsy.

Antihydrotic: Reduces or suppresses perspiration.

Anti-inflammatory: Counteracting or suppressing inflammation.

Antilithic: Against stones, e.g. kidney of bladder. Prevents the formation of calculi in excretory passages. Reduces or suppresses urinary calculi (stones) and acts to dissolve those already present.

Antimicrobe: Reducing microbes.

Antiperiodic: Preventing the return of recurrent fevers, e.g. malaria. Relieves malarial-type fevers and chills. Counteracts periodic or intermittent diseases (such as malaria).

Antiphlogistic: Relieving pain and inflammation. Reduces inflammation or swelling.

Antiputrefactive: Delays decomposition of animal/vegetable matter.

Antipruritic: Prevents itching.

Antipyretic: Reduces temperature in fever. Prevents or reduces fever.

Antirheumatic: Helps to relieve rheumatism.

Antiscorbutic: Preventing scurvy, ie. a source of vitamin C. Curing or prevention of scurvy.

Antiscrofulous: Preventing or curing scrofula (Tubercular condition of the lymph nodes), an old fashioned term for diseases causing swelling of the lymph glands, especially in the neck, also known as king's evil.

Antiseptic: Preventing putrefaction or infection. Prevents, resists and counteracts putrefaction (decay of cells and formations of pus). Helps to prevent tissue degeneration and controls infection.

Antislcerotic: Prevents hardening of tissue due to chronic inflammation.

Antispasmodic: Preventing spasm. Relieves nervous irritability and reduces/prevents excessive involuntary muscular contractions (spasms). Relieves cramps. Relieves or checks spasms or cramps.

Antisudorific: Reduces sweating.

Antitussive: Relieves coughing.

Antivenomous: Neutralizes poison.

Antiviral: Controlling virus organisms.

Aperient: Promoting a mild or natural movement of the bowels. Laxatives. Mild stimulant for the bowels; a gentle purgative.

Aperitif: Encouraging appetite.

Aphrodisiac: Exciting the sexual organs. Corrects conditions of impotence and strengthen sexual power. Arousing or increasing sexual desire or potency.

Aromatic: Having an aroma. Are odoriferous, having a fragrant, pungent and spicy taste, and which stimulate the gastro-intestinal mucous membrane. Having an agreeable odor and stimulating qualities.

Astringent: Causing contraction of the tissues, binding. Influences, the vital contractility of cell walls, condenses the tissues, making them denser and firmer, and arrests discharges. Contracts, tightens and binds tissues. Contracts organic tissue, reducing secretions or discharges.

Bacteriacide: Combating bacteria.

Balsamic: Mitigate, soothe and heal inflamed parts. Healing, soothing and soften phlegm. Soothing or healing agents. A resinous substance obtained from the exudations of various tress and used in medicinal preparations.

Bechic: Eases coughs.

Bile: The bitter, yellow-brown or greenish fluid secreted by the liver and found in the gallbladder: it is discharged into the duodenum and helps in digestion, esp. of fat.

Bilious: Having or resulting from some ailment of the bile or the liver.

Bitter: Applied to bitter tasting substances used to stimulate the appetite. Serves as a stimulant tonic to the gastro-intestinal mucous membranes. Acting on the mucous membranes of the mouth and stomach to increase appetite and promote digestion.

Buccal: Of the mouth or mouth cavity.

Blisters: Causes inflammatory exudation (blistering) of serum from the skin when applied locally.

Calefacient: Diffusive stimulants which cause increased capillary circulation, giving an external sense of warmth.

Calmative: Mild sedative or tranquilizing effect.

Calculi Abnormal stony mass or deposit formed in the body, as in a kidney or gallbladder.

Cardiac: Having an effect on the heart. Stimulating effect upon the heart.

Cardiac Depressant: Lessens and serves as a sedative to the heart's action.

Cardiac: Stimulant Increases and gives greater power to the heart's action.

Carminative: Easing griping pains and expelling flatulence. Relieves and promotes the expulsion of flatus or gas from the gastro-intestinal tract. Expulsion of gas from intestines.

Catarrh/Cattarrhal: Inflammation of a mucous membrane, esp. of the nose of throat, causing an increased flow of mucus.

Cathartic: Producing evacuation of the bowels. Activates purgatives in the intestinal tract. Acts to empty the bowels; laxative.

Caustic: Burns or destroys living tissues. Burning. A corrosive substance capable of burning or eating away tissues.

Cell Proliferant: Promotes rapid healing and restoration.

Cephalic: Stimulating and clearing the mind.

Cholagogue: Producing a flow of bile. Produces purgation of bowels. Increases bile production. Increasing the flow of bile into the intestines.

Choleretic: Preventing excessive bile.

Cicatrisant: Helping formation of scar tissue.

Ciliary Relating to certain fine structures of the eyeball.

Coagulant Induces clotting in a liquid, as in blood.

Condiment Seasonings to flavor foods.

Coloring Agent Coloring or dyeing purposes.

Counterirritant Producing irritation in one part of the body of counteract irritation or inflammation in another part.

Cordial Combines the properties of a warm stomach and a cardiac stimulant. A tonic to the heart.

Corrective Restoring to a healthy state. Alters and lessens the severity of action of other herbs, especially cathartics or purgatives.

Cytophylactic Encouraging growth of skin cells.

Decongestant Releasing nasal mucous.

Demulcent Soothes and protects irritated and inflamed surfaces and tissues.Soothes irritated tissues, particularly mucous membranes.

Dental Anodyne Relieves pain from an exposed nerve filament in the tooth (toothache).

Deobstruent Clearing away obstructions by opening the natural passages of the body. Removes alimentary and other body obstructions.

Deodorant Eliminates foul odors. Destroying odor. Destroying or masking odors.

Depresso-Motor Diminishes muscular movement by action on the spinal centers.

Depressant Lessens nervous or functional activity; opposite of stimulant.

Depurative A purifying agent. Cleans or purifies the blood by promoting eliminative functions. Cleanses and purifies the system particularly the blood.

Dermatic Applied to drugs with an action upon the skin.

Detergent Cleansing. Cleanses wounds, ulcers, etc., or the skin itself. Cleanses wounds and sores of diseased or dead matter.

Detoxicant Neutralizing toxic substances.

Diaphoretic Promoting perspiration. Produces insensible perspiration and increases elimination through the skin. Promotes perspiration; sudorific.

Digestant Contains ferments and acids, that aid in the solution and digestion of food. Promotes or aids digestion.

Digestive Aiding digestion.

Diluent Dilutes secretions and excretions.

Discutient Dispels or resolves (dissolves) tumors and abnormal growths.

Disinfectant Eliminates or destroys that noxious properties of decaying organic matter and thereby prevent the spreading or transfer of toxic matter or infection. Destroying germs. Cleanses infection by destroying or inhibiting the activity of disease-producing micro-organisms.

Diurectic Increasing the flow of urine. Increases the secretion and flow of urine. Increases the secretion and expulsion of urine.

Drastic Produces violent peristalsis, watery stools, and much griping pain.

Dropsy Earlier term for edema.

Edema An abnormal accumulation of fluid in cells, tissues, or cavities of the body, resulting in swelling.

Emetic Causing vomiting. Induces vomiting and causes an evacuation of stomach content.

Emmenagogue Promoting menstrual flow. Female correctives for the reproductive organs, which stimulate and promote a normal menstrual function, flow and discharge. Promotes and regularizes menstrual flow.

Emollient Softening and soothing, usually the skin. Softens, soothes and protective external surfaces.

Errhine Increases nasal secretions from the sinuses. Promotes sneezing and nasal discharges.

Escharotic Treating warts.

Euphoriant/Euphorigen Induces an abnormal sense of vigor and buoyancy.

Exanthematous Healing skin eruptions or skin diseases of an eruptive nature. Relating to skin disease or eruption.

Excito-Motor Increases motor reflex and spinal activity.

Expectorant Aiding expectoration, loosen. Promotes and facilitates discharge of mucus secretions from bronchio-pulmonary passages. Removing excess mucous from bronchial tubes. Promotes the discharge of mucus from the respiratory passages.

Febrifuge Reducing fever. Cooling and reducing high body temperature. Reduces or eliminates fever.

Flatulence Having gases in the intestine, distention; windiness.

Fungicide Destroying fungal infections.

Galactagogue Milk-inducing. Increases the secretion of milk. Encourages or increases the secretion of milk.

Galactophyga Diminishes or arrests the secretion of milk.

Hallucinogen Producing visions or hallucinations.

Hemostatic Controlling or stopping bleeding. Arrest hemorrhaging or internal bleeding.

Hemetic Rich in iron and manganese, which augments and enriches the red corpuscles of the blood (blood-builder).

Hepatic Affecting the liver. Strengthens, tones and stimulates the secretive functions of the liver, causing an increased flow of bile. Stimulates and aids function of liver & gallbladder.

Herpatic Heals skin eruptions and scaling diseases (such as ringworm, etc.)

Hydragogue Purgative the produces abundant watery discharge.

Hypertensive Increasing blood pressure.

Hypoglycemiant Lowing blood sugar levels.

Hypotensive Lowing blood pressure.

Hypnotic Producing sleep. Powerful nerve relaxants and sedatives that induce sleep. Promotes or produces sleep.

Insecticide A substance which kills insects. Destroys insects.

Irritant Causing irritation. Counter Irritant, against irritation, often by having a warming or rubefacient effect (q.v.). Produces a greater of lesser degree of vascular excitement when applied to the epidermis or skin surface. Causes inflammation or abnormal sensitivity in living tissue.

Laxative Bowel stimulant. Aiding bowel evacuation. Promoting evacuation of the bowels; a mild purgative.

Lithotriptic Dissolves or discharges urinary and biliary concretions (gravel or stones) when formed in excretory passages.

Local Anaesthetic Produces anesthesia (loss of sensation) where applied locally to a surface.

Maturating Promotes the maturation or ripening of tumors, boils, ulcer, etc.

Microbe The bacteria that causes disease; germ.

Mitigate To make mild, soft, or tender.

Motility The ability to move spontaneously.

Mucilaginous Characterized by a gummy or gelatinous consistency.

Mucolytic Breaks down mucus.

Mydriatic Causing dilation of the pupil of the eye.

Myotic Causing contraction of the pupil of the eye. Causes contraction of the ciliary muscles of the pupil (eye).

Narcotic Applied to drugs producing stupor or insensibility. Powerful anodyne-hypnotics. Relieves pain and induces sleep when used in medicinal does; in large doses narcotics produce convulsions, coma or death.

Nauseant Produces nausea or an inclination to vomit.

Nephritic Influences the kidneys and are healing in kidney complaints.

Nervine Restoring the nerves, mildly tranquilizing. Tonic and healing to the nerves. Reduces nervous disorders. Has a calming or soothing effect on the nerves; formerly, any agent that acts on the nervous system.

Nutritive Nourishing. Builds body tissues.

Ophthalmic Heals disorders and diseases of the eyes.

Orexigenic Stimulating the appetite.

Oxytocic Stimulating contractions of the womb. Stimulates contraction of the uterine muscle and so facilitates or speeds up childbirth.

Parasiticide A substance which kills parasites. Kills or destroys animal and vegetable parasites within the body. Ridding vegetable organisms living on other organisms.

Parturient Applied to substances used to facilitate childbirth. Stimulates uterine contractions, which induce and assist labor, to promote and hasten childbirth. Helps easy delivery in childbirth.

Pectoral Having an effect upon the lungs. Heals affections of the broncho-pulmonary area. Helpful for chest infections. Remedies pulmonary or other chest diseases.

Peristalic Stimulates and increases peristalsis, or muscular contraction (as in the bowels). The rhythmic, wavelike motion of the walls of the alimentary canal and certain other hollow organs, consisting of alternate contractions and dilations of transverse and longitudinal muscles that move the contents of the tube onward.

Poison Substance which has a harmful or destructive effect when in contact with living tissue.

Prophylactic Helping to prevent disease.

Protective Serves as protective coverings to abraded, inflamed, or injured parts when applied locally to a surface.

Protozoicidal A substance which kills protozoa, e.g. amoebae.

Pungent Causes a sharply pricking, acrid, and penetrating sensation to a sense organ.

Purgative A substance which evacuated the bowels, more drastic than an aperient or laxative. Produces a vigorous emptying of the bowels.

Refrigerant Relieving thirst and giving a feeling of coolness. Lowers the body temperature, and relieve thirst. Lowers abnormal body heat.

Resolvent Promotes the dispersion of inflammatory deposits, and their absorption into excretory channels. Dissolves boils and swelling.

Restorative Restoring and reviving health. Restores consciousness or normal physiological activity.

Reubefacient Causing reddening of the skin, applied to substances producing inflammation and sometimes used as a rub for muscular pain. Stimulates capillary dilation and action, and causes skin redness (drawing blood from deeper tissues and organs, thereby relieving congestion and inflammation). Warming by increasing flow of blood. Gentle local irritant that produces reddening of the skin.

Scurvy A disease resulting from a deficiency of vitamin C in the body, characterized by weakness, anemia, spongy gums, bleeding from the mucous membranes, etc.

Sedative Causing sedation, reducing nervous excitement. Lowers the functional activity of an organ or part of the body, thereby tending to calm, moderate or tranquilize. Calming. Soothing agent that reduces nervousness, distress, or irritation.

Serum Any watery animal fluid.

Sialagogue Promotes the secretion and flow of saliva and buccal mucous. Stimulates the secretion of saliva.

Soporific Induces a relaxing sleep.

Specific Agent which cures or alleviates a particular condition or disease.

Splenetic A tonic to the spleen.

Sternutatory Producing sneezing by irritation of the mucous membranes.

Stimulant Energy producing. Increases functional activity and energy in the body. Increases flow of adrenaline and energy. Excites or quickens the activity of physiological processes.

Stomachic Applied to drugs which ease stomach pain. Stimulative tonic to the stomach. Relieves gastric disorders. Strengthens, stimulates, or tones the stomach.

Styptic A substance which stops bleeding by clotting the blood, applied externally to cuts or wounds. Astringes the blood vessels when applied to an external surface, and thereby arrests local bleeding or hemorrhaging. Contracts tissues; astringent; specifically, a hemostatic agent that stops bleeding by contracting the blood vessels.

Sudorific Producing copious perspiration. Stimulates the sudoriferous glands and produces visible and profuse perspiration when taken hot and act as a tonic when taken cold. Increases perspiration. Promotes or increases perspiration.

Taenicide A substance which expels tape-worms. Expels (taeniafuges) or kills (taeniacides) tapeworms in the intestinal tract. Kills tapeworms.

Tonic A substance which gives a feeling of well-being to the body. Stimulates nutrition and permanently increases systemal tone, energy, vigor, and strength. Improves bodily performance. Strengthens or invigorates organs or the entire organism.

Uterine Tonic Tonic to the uterus.

Vascoconstrictor Contraction of blood vessel walls. Narrows the blood vessels, thus raising blood pressure.

Vasodilator Dilation of blood vessel walls. Widens blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure.

Vermifuge A substance which expels worms from the body. Causes the expulsion of intestinal worms.

Vesican Produces blisters.

Vulnerary Used in healing wounds. Promotes healing of fresh cuts, wounds, etc. Prevents tissue degeneration and arrests bleeding in wounds. Healing application for wounds.

Common Sense

Common sense must always prevail when using herbs.

When in doubt, gain more knowledge.

Herbal doctors, for the most part do not exist in America.

You are basically on your own when treating yourself with herbs.

With the proper knowledge, herbs can be used safely and effectively.

Proper knowledge can be had by obtaining a few good herb books.

One of the books should be an herbal encyclopedia that includes the medicinal properties and cautions for each herb listed.

You should then collect a few books that include information on various health conditions and advice on preparation and dosage.

Information varies between herb books and some information actually conflicts between books.

This is why you need to obtain more than one herb book, so you can gain a perspective on the subject.

You do not need to know everything, you just need to know where to look in your books.




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Herbs can be a part of your life in many ways.





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