National Organization of Organic Farmers

Herb Glossary

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Abortifacient: An herb or substance that induces or causes an abortion, miscarriage, or premature expulsion of a fetus. (Abortient, Abortive)

Abortive: Same as Abortifacient

Absorbent: An herb or substance that promotes absorption, soaks up liquid, or acts as a sponge. (Absorbefacient)

Acidic: An herb or substance that reacts with an alkaloid to produce a salt.

Acidifier: An herb or substance that increases or imparts acidity, or lessens alkalinity, to the body fluids, especially the blood or the urine. (Ant: Alkalinizer, Antacid)

Acrid: An herb or substance that has a hot biting taste, or causes heat and irritation when applied to the skin. (Syn: Caustic Cauterant, Corrosive, Escharotic)

Adulterant: An impure ingredient or a substitute product introduced into a preparation.

Alkaloidal: An herb or substance that is usually derived from plants, and is typically nitrogen bearing, intensely bitter, and potentially toxic. It reacts with an acid to produce a salt. (e.g. caffeine, morphine, berberine) (Ant: Acidic)

Alterative: An herb or substance that corrects body functions either gradually or quickly by stimulating the defensive mechanisms of the metabolism, blood, or tissue in the presence of chronic or acute disease. (The time required may be six months or longer if chronic or a few minutes if acute). An herb which produces gradual and beneficial changes in the body, usually by improving metabolism, nutrition, circulation, or elimination, but without causing any drastic effects.

Analgesic: An herb or substance that relieves or reduces pain without causing unconsciousness (Syn: Anodyne, Anesthetic, Narcotic, Sedative)

Anaphrodisiac: An herb or substance that reduces or represses sexual desire or potency. (Ant: Aphrodisiac)

Anesthetic: An herb or substance that temporarily reduces, deadens, or abolishes physical sensations. Thus it tends eliminate pain and the sense of touch. The effect may be local or general. (Syn: Analgesic, Anodyne, Narcotic, Sedative)

Anodyne: An herb or substance that soothes, relieves, or reduces pain without causing unconsciousness. (Syn: Analgesic, Anesthetic, Narcotic, Sedative)

Antacid: An herb or substance that corrects acidity by neutralization, usually in the stomach. (Ant: Acidifier, Syn: Alkalinizer)

Antagonist: An herb or substance that opposes the action of some other agent or medicine, especially the toxic effects of alkaline poisons.

Anthelmintic: An herb or substance that destroys and/or expels intestinal worms. (Syn: Vermicide, Vermifuge, Taeniacide, Taeniafuge)

Anti-diabetic: An herb or substance that helps counteract the effects of diabetes by stabilizing blood sugar levels directly or by stimulating or mimicing the production of insulin.

Anti-diarrhoeic: An herb or substance that counteract diarrhoea.

Antidote: An herb or substance that counteracts a poison by, [a] chemically destroying the poison, [b] mechanically preventing absorption, or [c] physiologically opposing the effects of the poison in the body after absorption.

Anti-dysenteric: An herb or substance that counteract dysentery.

Aphrodisiac: An herb or substance that increases or arouses sexual desire, power, or potency. (Syn: Aperitive)

Appetizer: An herb or substance that excites or increases the appetite. (Syn: Digestive)

Aromatic: An herb or substance that has a mildly stimulating fragrant or pleasing smell.

Ascaricide: An herb or substance that kills nematode or unsegmented worms such as roundworms and threadworms.

Astringent: An herb or substance that acts upon the albumen of organic tissues to cause condensation and contraction, and restrains secretions and discharges. (Syn: Styptic)

Bitter: An herb or substance with a characteristic bitter taste that acts on the gastric mucous membranes of the mouth and stomach increasing their tone and activity and thereby improving the appetite and promoting digestion. (Syn: Bitter Tonic)

Bitter Tonic: An herb or substance, or combined formula, that acts on the gastric mucous membranes of the mouth and stomach increasing their tone and activity and thereby improving the appetite and promoting digestion. (Syn: Bitter)

Blood Purifier: An herb or substance which speeds up the process of detoxification and excretion of waste products in the blood by stimulating intestinal, liver, or bile functions, or creating laxative effects. (Syn: Depurative, Depurant, Detergent)

Bronchial: An herb or substance which relaxes constricting spasms and opens the bronchi or upper part of the lungs, thus improving respiration.

Calefacient: An herb or substance that is heating.

Calmative: An herb or substance that produces a calming, mildly sedative, or tranquilizing effect. (Syn: Sedative, Tranquilizer, Nervine)

Carcinostatic: An herb or substance that arrests or inhibits the development or continued growth of cancer, carcinomas, or malignant tumors.

Cardiac: An herb or substance that stimulates, tones, or restores the heart. (Syn: Cardiac Tonic, Cardiant, Cordial)

Cardiac Tonic: An herb, substance, or combined formula that strengthens and stimulates the heart metabolism. (Syn: Cardiac, Cardiant, Cardiotonic, Cordial)

Cardialgic: An herb or substance that causes heartburn.

Carminative: An herb or substance that aids, prevents, or relieves the expelling of gas and flatulence from the stomach, intestines, and/or bowels, and thus reduces pain and discomfort. (Syn: Digestive)

Carrier: An herb or substance which is added to a formula or mixture of other herbs to aid in the distribution of the medicine to the proper location in the body or to enhance the effect of the other principle ingredients. (Syn: Adjuvant)

Cathartic: An herb or substance that has a strong laxative effect that causes or hastens an evacuation of the bowels. (Syn: Aperient, Evacuant, Laxa- tive, Purgative, Purge)

Caustic: An herb or substance that contains acidic material that has an escharotic or corrosive action capable of burning or eating away living tissues. (Syn: Acrid, Corrosive, Cauterant, Escharotic)

Coolant: An herb or substance that reduces body temperature.

Corrosive: An herb or substance that has a corrosive or acidic substance capable of harming, burning, or eating away tissues. (Syn: Acrid, Caustic, Cauterant, Escharotic)



Decoction: A liquid preparation obtained by boiling medicinal plant parts in water and then extracting the solid parts by straining the preparation. (See also: Infusion)

Demulcent: An herb or substance that is bland, oily and/or mucilaginous, which is soothing when applied to irritated, inflamed, or abraded tissue, especially the mucous membranes or skin surfaces. (Syn: Counter irritant, Emollient, Lenitive)
 
Deobstruent: An herb or substance that aids in the removal of obstructions, especially those lodged in organs such as stones. (Syn: Anthilitic, Antilithic, Lithontriptic)

Deodorant: An herb or substance that either removes, destroys, masks, or suppresses odor

Depressant: An herb or substance that lessens or depresses nervous sensation, lowers a functional activity or reduces vital energy by causing the relaxation of muscles, nerves, or tissues. (Ant: Stimulant, Syn: Depresso-motor, Motor- depressant)

Diuretic: An herb or substance that increases the secretion, flow, and expulsion of urine. (Syn: Renal, Renic)

Emenagogue: An herb or substance that promotes and regulates menstrual flow.

Emollient: An herb or substance that is used externally to soften and soothe irritated skin, inflamed tissue, or mucous membranes. (Syn: Demulcent, Counter irritant)

Exhilarant: An herb or substance that excites or elevates the psychic function, or produces an abnormal sense of euphoria, vigor, and buoyancy. (Syn: Euphoriant, Hallucinogen, Hallucinogenic, Delirifacient, Euphorigen)

Expectorant: An herb or substance that promotes the discharge of mucus and phlegm from the lungs and throat by means of spitting and expectoration. (Stimulant expectorants excites during muscular weakness, sedative expectorants reduces irritation. Either can facilitate expulsion of sputum from mucus membranes and air passages.) (Syn: Antitussive, Pectoral)

Extract: A preparation obtained from soaking an herb, plant part, or substance in an appropriate solvent, usually alcohol, water, or glycerine, then removing the solid parts by straining, evaporating some or all of the solvent, and adjusting the result to prescribed standards of concentration.

Insecticide: An herb or substance that kills insects. (Syn: Fumigatoric, Insecticidal, Larvicide)

Laxative: An herb or substance that promotes or induces a mild and painless evacuation of the bowels. It is stronger than an aperient, but not purgative, cathartic, or drastic. (Syn: Aperient Cathartic, Purgative, Purge, Drastic)

Mucilaginous: An herb or substance that is characterized by a gummy or gelatinous consistency which is soothing and healing to inflamed surfaces and mucous membranes

Narcotic: An herb or substance that will relieve pain and induce sleep when used in medicinal doses, but which can produce stupor, convulsions, unconsciousness, coma, or death if the dosage is too large, and addiction if the dosage is repeated too often. (Syn: Analgesic, Anesthetic, Anodyne, Sedative, Soporific)

Nauseant: An herb or substance that produces vomiting and nausea. (Syn: Emetic)

Nervine: An herb or substance that relaxes, soothes, calms, and quiets the nerves, or which acts on the entire nervous system in a beneficial manner to allay nervous excitement. (Syn: Relaxant, Tranquilizer, Sedative, Narcotic)

Nutriant: Same as Nutrient

Nutrient: An herb or substance that affects the nutritive processes and metabolic changes in the body, supplies material for tissue building, contains necessary food values such as vitamins and minerals, or which acts to release these elements from other food which has already been eaten but not assimilated. (Syn: Nutriant, Nutritive)

Nutritive: Same as Nutrient

Opthalmic: An herb or substance that acts to heal, soothe, or strengthen the eyes, or which acts as a remedy for diseases of the eye.

Peptic: An herb or substance that aides in the digestion of food. (Syn: Digestive, Eupeptic)

Purgative: An herb or substance that produces a vigorous and rapid evacuation of the bowels. (Syn: Aperient, Laxative, Drastic, Cathartic, Purge) May also refer to discharges other than from the bowels.

Refrigerant: An herb or substance that imparts a cooling sensation to the mucous membranes, allays thirst, and reduces abnormal body heat and fever. Externally it cools by evaporation. (Syn: Febrifuge, Anti-Pyretic)
Relaxant: An herb or substance that relaxes, eases, and relieves tension and strain. (Syn: Calmative, Nervine, Sedative, Tranquilizer)

Renal: An herb or substance that strengthens, heals, cleanses, or otherwise affects the kidneys, or is used to treat diseases of the kidneys. (Syn: Diuretic, Nephritic)

Sedative: Herb that allays excitement, induces relaxation, and is conducive to sleep.

Sialagogue: Promotes the flow of saliva.

Soporific: Herbs that help to produce sleep.

Stimulant: Herb that increases the activity or efficiency of a system or organ; acts more rapidly than a tonic.

Stomachic: Herbs that give strength and tone to the stomach, stimulate digestion, and improve the appetite.

Tincture: A solution of the active principal of an herb in alcohol.

Vermicide: Herb that kills intestinal worms. (see anthelmintic.)

Vulnerary: An herb used in treating fresh cuts and wounds, usually used as a poultice. A healing substance.