variety of spices on spoons

Medicinal Herb | Herbal Action Definitions

Many times when you are learning more about an Herb’s medicinal benefits you will see descriptions or terms that describe its possible medicinal action. Many of these terms are not common in our every day language. We’ve compiled a list of terms alphabetically to help you understand the meaning of that action.

analgesic — reduces or eliminates pain (ie: pain reliever)

anemia — not enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to your body’s organs where it’s common to feel cold and symptoms of tiredness or weakness. There are many different types of anemia, but the most common type is iron-deficiency anemia.

anodyne — relaxing, soothes pain

astringent — shrinks or constricts body tissue (means “to bind fast”)

anti-carcinogenic —A substance or action that prevents or delays tumor formation.

anti-coagulant —serving to prevent the coagulation of blood

anti-fungal — capable of destroying fungi or fungal growth

anti-histamine — used to relieve the symptoms of allergic reactions; a drug that counteracts the effects of histamine, a normal body chemical that among its actions is believed to cause the symptoms of persons who are hypersensitive to various allergens. 

anti-inflammatory — reduces inflammation in the body

anti-microbial — used to destroy microbes, to prevent their multiplication or growth, or to prevent their pathogenic action

anti-rheumatic — reduces and relieves, modifies and treats rheumatoid arthritis inflammation

anti-scorbutic — Scurvy is a condition caused by a lack of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in the diet. Signs of scurvy include tiredness, muscle weakness, joint and muscle aches, a rash on the legs, and bleeding gums. (In the past, scurvy was common among sailors and other people deprived of fresh fruits and vegetables for long periods of time.)

antiseptic — substance that destroys or inhibits the growth or action of micro-organisms especially in or on living tissues.

anti-spasmodic — preventing or relieving spasms (cramps) or convulsions of smooth muscles.

anti-thrombotic — an agent that prevents or interferes with thrombosis (when flow of blood in arteries or veins is impeded.) A clot in the cardiovascular systems formed during life from constituents ofblood; it may be occlusive or attached to the vessel or heart wall withoutobstructing the lumen.

antitussive —  effective against cough, suppresses cough

bronchodilator — a substance used to open up the bronchial tubes (air passages) of the lungs

cholagogue — bile stimulating or gallbladder contraction

demulcent — bland, soothing, or softening (mucilaginous or oily substance or salve) Synonym: Emollient

detoxifier — to diminish or remove the poisonous quality of any substance; to lessen the virulence of any pathogenic organism

diuretic — helps rid body of salt (sodium) and water

emetic — causes nausea or vomiting

expectorant — promotes or facilitates secretion or expulsion of phlegm, mucus, or other matter from the respiratory tract

febrifuge — effective against fever, lowers or helps break fevers by causing sweating (aka: anti-febrile)

diaphoretic — an agent that promotes sweating

digestive — aides digestion

disinfectant — an agent used to disinfect something to destroy, inactivate, or significantly reduces the concentration of pathogens (ie: bacteria, fungi, or viruses)

hypoglycemic — lowering the concentration of glucose in the blood

hypotensive — reduction of blood pressure

laxative — loosens or relaxes the intestines and stimulates evacuation of the bowels

libido — sexual desire or drive

macular degeneration — a common eye disorder that causes central vision loss.

purgative — causing emptying of the bowels

rubefacient — causing a reddening of the skin

tonic — to restore or improve invigorates or strengthens overall health or well being

vermicide — destructive to parasitic worms; called also antihelmintic and vermifugal.

anti-spasmaticmacular degeneration

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