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Terms and words commonly used in herbal literature.

Understanding terms or words commonly used in herbal literature provides a basic foundation for people new to herbs and reinforces the basics for those with some experience with herbal medicine. [1]

Herbal Actions and Properties

adaptogen – metabolic regulators which increase the ability of an organism to adapt to environmental stressors and prevent damage to the organism by such stressors. [2]

adjuvant – aids the action of a medicinal agent [1]

alterative – strengthens and nourishes the body, often through the removal of metabolic wastes [1]

antibacterial – destroys or stops the growth of bacteria [1]

antibilious – Combats nausea, abdominal discomfort, constipation and gas caused buy an excessive secretion of bile. [3]

anticatarrh – reduces inflamed mucous membranes of head and throat [1]

antifungal – destroys or inhibits the growth of fungus [1]

anti-inflammatory – a herb with an action that helps reduce inflammation

antimicrobial – destroys microbes [1]

antioxidant – prevents or inhibits oxidation

antispasmodic – calms nervous and muscular spasms or convulsions [1]

aperient – relieves constipation; mild laxative [1]

aromatic – a herb containing volatile oils, fragrant odor.

astringent – causing the contraction of skin cells and other body tissues. [1]

bitter – stimulates appetite or digestive function [1]

cardiotonic – increases strength and tone (normal tension or response to stimuli) of the heart [1]

carminative — causes the release of stomach or intestinal gas [1]

cathartic – produces bowel movements [1

cicatrizant – aids formation of scar tissue and wound healing [1]

demulcent – soothes and protects inflamed and irritated mucous membranes both topically and internally

diaphoretic – increases perspiration (synonym: sudorific) [1]

digestive – promotes or aids the digestion process

diuretic – increases urine flow

emmenagogue – regulates and induces normal menstruation

emollient – softens and soothes the skin

estrogenic – causes the production of estrogen [1]

expectorant – facilitates removal of mucus and other materials [1]

febrifuge – reduces or relieves fever [1]

galactagogue – promotes the flow of milk [1]

hemostatic – controls or stops the flow of blood [1]

hepatic – having to do with the liver

laxative – loosens bowel contents

masticatory – increases flow of saliva upon chewing [1]

mucilaginous – polysaccharide-rich compounds that coat and soothe inflamed mucous membranes [1]

nervine – a nerve tonic

nutritive – providing nourishment; nutritious

orexigenic – stimulates or increases the appetite. [1]

purgative – causes the evacuation of intestinal contents; laxative [1]

relaxant – tends to relax and relieve tension, especially muscular tension [1]

sedative – exerts a soothing, tranquilizing effect on the body [1]

sialagogue – promotes the secretion of saliva

stimulant – increases body or organ function temporarily [1]

sudorific – increase perspiration [1]

tonic  stimulates energy and increases strength and tone [1]

vulnerary – aids in healing wounds [1]