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Terminology and Definitions

Below is a chart on the terminology and definitions used on this website. To see how the different parts of a plant are used, see our Parts of Plants page. You can also see our How to Use Bulk Herbs page for more information or our Products A-Z Page to see a list of all of our products.

Adaptogen Works with the adrenal glands to combat stress. Adaptogens usually have no side effects.
Alterative Gradually restores the proper function of the body. They act to alter the body's processes of metabolism so tissues can best deal with everything from nutrition to elimination.
Analgesic Reduces and eliminates pain.
Anodyne Soothing, relaxing, elimination of pain.
Aperient An aperient herb acts as a mild laxative by stimulated evacuation of the bowels.
Aperitive Stimulates the appetite.
Aphrodisiac Arouses or intensifies sexual desire.
Antacid Neutralizes or counteracts acid in the stomach.
Anthelmintic Expels or destroys parasitic intestinal worms.
Anti-bilious Helps combat excessive urination by promoting a healthy gallbladder and liver.
Antibiotic Destroys or inhibits the growth of microorganisms used to treat infectious diseases.
Anti-candidal Helps combat yeast on the skin or mucous membranes.
Anti-carcinogenic Prevents the development of cancer.
Anti-catarrhal Help removes excess mucous from various parts of the body.
Anti-emetic Prevents or stops vomiting.
Antifungal Prevents or destroys fungi associated with fungal infections.
Anti-inflammatory Reduce inflammation. They are good for the relief of aches and pains, but inflammation is usually only a symptom of an underlying problem.
Antilithic Destructive to gall, kidney and/or bladder stones.
Anti-microbial Helps the body resist pathogenic micro-organisms which in turn strengthens the immune system.
Antioxidant Prevents or delays deterioration caused by oxidation.
Antiparasitic Destroys or inhibits the growth of human or animal parasites.
Antipyretic Reduces fever.
Anti-rheumatic Can help ease the pain of rheumatoid arthritis or other muscle/joint conditions.
Anti-scorbutic Can cure or prevent scurvy.
Antispasmodic Eases muscle tension and spasms. Can help relieve cramps and sometime psychological tension as well.
Antiseptic Prevents infection by inhibiting the growth of microorganisms.
Antitussive Relieves or suppresses coughing.
Aromatic Fragrant.
Astringent Bind mucous membranes, skin and other exposed tissue. When used to stop internal or external bleeding it is called styptic.
Bitter Herbs that taste bitter are good for the whole body, especially the digestive system.
Calmative A sedative having relaxing effects on the body.
Carminative Carminatives stimulate the digestive tract to work properly. They ease digestive pains and help remove gas.
Cathartic Purges the bowels, such as a laxative.
Cholagogue Stimulates the flow of bile from the liver.
Demulcent Soothe and protect irritated and inflamed internal tissue. When a demulcent herb is used externally, it is called an emollient.
Detoxicant Removes or diminishes poisons from the body.
Diaphoretic Increases perspiration.
Digestant Aids or stimulates digestion.
Discutient Serves to disperse morbid matter.
Diuretic Increases the amount of urine expelled from the body. Diuretics usually have other beneficial actions to the urinary system.
Emmenagogue Promotes normal and regular menstrual flow. Emmenagogue is also used to describe herbs that are beneficial to anything in the female reproductive system.
Emollient Soothes and protects irritated or inflamed skin.
Expectorant Removes excess mucous from the lungs.
Febrifuge Reduces fever.
Fungicide Prevents or destroys fungi associated with fungal infections.
Galactagogue Promotes the secretion and flow of milk.
Hemostatic Stops bleeding or hemorrhaging.
Hepatic Good for the overall health of the liver which in turn is good for the overall health of your body. They can be used to detoxify the liver.
Hormonal Effects hormones to stimulate physiological activity such as growth.
Hypertensive Increase low blood pressure.
Hypotensive Reduce elevated blood pressure.
Immunostimulant Stimulates and strengthens the immune system.
Insecticide Kills insects.
Laxative Stimulates the evacuation of the bowels.
Lithotriptic Dissolves gall, bladder and kidney stones.
Mucilant Acts as a laxative.
Nervine A nervine herb will be in some way beneficial to the nervous system.
Nutritive Nourishing to the body.
Oxytocic Induces childbirth by stimulating contractions of the uterus.
Parasiticide Destroys parasites.
Pectoral Good for treating disorders of the chest and lungs.
Proliferant Increases the growth of cells.
Pungent Having an acrid taste or smell.
Refrigerant Acts as a cooling agent to reduce fever.
Rubefacient Irritating to the skin.
Sedative Sedatives relax, soothe and tranquilize to relieve anxiety, stress, irritability and are effective as sleep aids.
Sialagogue Increases the flow of saliva.
Soporific Induces sleep.
Stimulant Quickens and excites physical activity in the body.
Stomachic Stimulates digestion in the stomach.
Styptic Binds tissue to stop internal or external bleeding.
Sudorific Increases perspiration.
Tonic Restores, refreshes and invigorates the body.
Vasoconstrictive Constricts blood vessels.
Vasodilator Dilates the blood vessels causing relaxation and rest.
Vermifuge Expels intestinal worms.
Vulnerary Used in the healing of wounds.
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