Glossary of Herbal Terminology

If you have noticed that there are a lot of terms surrounding herbalism and are wondering what all the herbal terminology means, fear not. We have compiled a list of some of the most used terms for your reference below. 

Glossary of Herbal Terms:

Adaptogen: A tonic herb that helps bring the body back into balance by supporting its ability to deal with physical, mental and emotional stress.

Alterative: Supports the body in healthy cellular metabolism and its natural process of detoxification, cleaning and elimination. Also known as a blood cleanser.

Anticatarrhal: Supports the body to dissolve, remove, or prevent the excess formation of mucus in the respiratory passages.

Antioxidant: Inhibits the production of free radicals in the body.

Antispasmodic: Eases cramps or spasms in skeletal or smooth muscle tissue.

Astringent: Tightens or constricts bodily tissue, namely the mucus membranes and skin.

Cardiotonic: A tonic herb that has a beneficial effect on the heart and blood vessels.

Carminative: An herb that aids in the reduction and release of intestinal gas.

Cholagogue: Stimulates the flow of bile from the liver via the gallbladder.

Demulcent: A mucilaginous (slimy) herb that soothes and protects the mucus membranes.

Diaphoretic: Stimulates perspiration through peripheral vasodilation or stimulation of the sweat glands.

Diuretic: Increases the secretion and elimination of urine from the body.

Emetic: Induces vomiting.

Emmenagogue: Helps bring on menstruation.

Emollient: Softens and soothes external tissue.

Expectorant: Aid in the removal of mucus from the lungs. Two classes of expectorants, relaxing and stimulating. The former helps with dry hot coughing and the latter in expelling thick damp mucus from the lungs.

Galactagogue: Encourages the secretion of breast milk.

Hepatic: Helps support liver function.

Immune Tonics: Herbs that can be used over a long period of time to support the immune system.

Immunomodulator: Regulates and balances the immune system.

Immunostimulant: An herb used for a short period of time to stimulate the immune system.

Lyphmagogue: Moves lymph fluid through the lymphatic system.

Nervine: An herb that supports the nervous system.

Stimulants: Herbs that stimulate the bodiesphysiological processes.

Styptic: An astringent herb that helps reduce or stop external bleeding.

Vulnerary: Helps heal tissue, both topically and internally.

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