> Herb Glossary
- Abortifacient: An herb or substance that induces or causes an
abortion, miscarriage, or premature expulsion of a fetus. (abortient,
abortive) example: aloe.
- Absorbent: An herb or substance that promotes absorption,
soaks up liquid, or acts as a sponge.
- 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)
- Adaptogens: Herbs that help us adapt to stress by supporting
the adrenal glands, the endocrine system, and the whole person. Examples
are ginseng root, sarsaparilla, licorice root, and ashwagandha.
- Adulterant: An impure ingredient or a substitute product
introduced into a preparation.
- Alkaloids: Alkaloids are compounds containing nitrogen in a
heterocyclic ring, usually derived from amino acids. It is present in
almost all vascular plants.
- 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: These herbs alter or change a long-standing
condition by aiding the elimination of metabolic toxins. Gradually
facilitates a beneficial change in the body. These herbs also heal
sores, boils, tumors, cancers; reduces fevers; detoxifies the liver,
kills parasites and worms; helps in the treatment of infectious,
contagious diseases and epidemics, flu, acne herpes, and venereal
disease. Examples are: ginseng, aloe, black pepper, cinnamon.
- Amino acids: Amino acids are basic structural units of
proteins. Amino acid consists of carboxylic acid and an amino functional
group. Amino acids may be essential amino acids (necessary for body) and
non-essential amino acids.
- Analgesic or Anodyne: These herbs reduce or eliminate pain.
Some herbs are strong pain relievers, often working best against pains
of specific causes. Examples: camphor, chamomile, cinnamon, cloves,
lavender flower, passionflower herb and flower.
- Anaphrodisiac: An herb or substance that reduces or represses
sexual desire or potency.
- 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:
- Antagonist: An herb or substance that opposes the action of
some other agent or medicine, especially the toxic effects of alkaline
- Anthelmintic: An agent that destroys and expels worms from
the intestines. Same as vermifuge
- Anti-asthmatic: Anti-asthmatics are used to help relieve the
symptoms associated with asthma. Some of the anti-asthmatic herbs are
ephedra and gotu kola.
- Antibacterial: Antibacterial herbs are those that fight and
destroy bacteria and include alfalfa, basil, chamomile, cinnamon, clove,
peppermint, rhubarb and turmeric.
- Antibiotic: Inhibits the growth of germs, bacteria, and
harmful microbes. Examples: turmeric.
- Anti-depressant: A drug used to prevent or treat clinical
- Antidiabetic: Herbs used against diabetes. Examples of herbs:
amalaki, blackberry, fenugreek, gudmar, senna, and shilajit.
- Antidiarrhea: Herb used to cure diarrhea. Examples are
blackberry, gentian, black pepper, and ginger.
- 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
- Antifungal: Antifungal agents act against and destroy various
fungi. Herbs in this category include cinnamon, cloves, garlic, St.
John's wort, thyme and turmeric.
- Antigalactagogue: Herbs with this property work opposite to
herbs with galactagogue properties. Sage and black walnut are examples
of herbs in this category.
- Anti-inflammatory: Herbs with this ability reduce
inflammation in the body without acting directly on the cause of the
inflammation. Herbs in this category include chicory, cranberry, fennel,
ginger, licorice, marshmallow, papaya, passion flower, peppermint, pine tree bark, rhubarb, rosemary, safflower, turmeric and wild yam.
- Antimicrobial: Antimicrobials helps the body destroy microbes
by affecting their growth and multiplication, herbs with this ability
include fennel, myrrh, and rhubarb.
- Antioxidant: Antioxidants are molecules which can interact
with free radicals and terminate the chain reaction before vital
molecules are damaged. Antioxidant herbs counteract the negative effects
of oxidation on body tissues. Included in this category are barley,
Gingo biloba, pine tree, rosemary, sage and turmeric.
- Antiperiodic: Prevents the periodic recurrence of attacks of
a disease; as in malaria. Examples: barberry, chirayata, guduchi, kutaj,
- Antipyretic: Reduces fever by reducing production of heat at
its centers; destroying fever toxins; sweating to increase the loss of
heat; drawing out the heat. Same as febrifuge or refrigerant. Examples:
amalaki, black pepper, nirgundi, safflower and sandalwood.
- Antirheumatic: Herb that relieves or cures rheumatism.
- Antiscorbutic: Effective in the prevention or treatment of
- Antiseptic: Prevents decay or putrefaction. A substance that
inhibits the growth and development of microorganisms without
necessarily destroying them. Examples: aloe, chitrak, gudmar,
sandalwood, and turmeric.
- Antispasmodic: Relieves or prevents involuntary muscle spasm
or cramps by strengthening nerves and the nervous system. Examples:
camomile, ashwagandha, basil, calamus, guggul, licorice, myrrh, sage,
gotu kola, jatamanshi, peppermint, sandalwood, and spearmint.
- Antiviral: A drug which is used to destroy or inhibit growth
and reproduction of viruses.
- Anxiety: A permanent state of worry and nervousness often
accompanied with physical sensation such as nausea, chest pain or
shortness of breath.
- Aperient: A mild stimulant for the bowels; a gentle
- Aphrodisiac: Restores or increases sexual power and desire.
Two types: tonics: develop tissue substance. Stimulants: increase the
functioning of the reproductive organs. Examples: Ahwagandha, asparagus,
fenugreek, ginseng, gokshura, hibiscus, pippali, rose, saffron, and
shatavari. The nutritive tonics such as ahwagandha, bala, ghee,
licorice, marshmallow, sesame seeds, and shatavari increase semen and breast milk.
- Appetizer: An herb or substance that excites or increases the
appetite. (Syn: digestive)
- Aromatic: Herb with a pleasant, fragrant scent and a pungent
taste. Examples: cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, peppermint, and
- Arthritis: Arthritis is the painful inflammation of the
- Ascaricide: An herb or substance that kills nematode or
unsegmented worms such as roundworms and threadworms.
- Asthma: It is chronic disease of respiration with attacks of
breathlessness, wheezing and tightening of chest.
- Astringent: Causes a local contraction of the skin, blood
vessels, and other tissues, thereby arresting the discharge of blood,
mucus, etc. Examples: amalaki, arjuna, ashok, cinnamon, jasmine,
sandalwood, and yarrow.
- Ayurveda: Ayurveda means Science of life. It is
the oldest and holistic system of medicine, native to Indian
- Bark: Bark is the outer covering of stem, branches or roots
of the tree. It is the tissue of plant outside xylem.
- Bitter: A solution of bitter, often aromatic, plant products
used as a mild tonic. These herbs reduce toxins, destroy infection, high
fever, heat, fever in blood, internal fever, heated liver, much thirst,
sweating, inflammation, and infection. Examples: aloe, barberry,
chirayata and gentian.
- 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, detergent)
- Botanical name: A botanical name is a formal scientific name
given to plants by International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN).
- Bronchial: An herb or substance that relaxes constricting
spasms and opens the bronchi or upper part of the lungs, thus improving
- Bronchial asthma: An asthmatic condition in which sudden
attacks of breathlessness affecting one or more larger passages of the
- Bronchitis: It is inflammation of one or more larger passages
of the lungs.
- Broncho-dilator: An agent that expands the air passages of
- Calculus: Formation of stones in a natural cavity of body.
- Calefacient: An herb or substance that produce sensation of
- Calmative: An herb that has a mild sedative or tranquilizing
- Cancer: A disease wherein there is abnormal multiplication of
- Carcinostatic: An herb or substance that arrests or inhibits
the development or continued growth of cancer, carcinomas, or malignant
- Cardiac: An herb or substance that stimulates, tones, or
restores the heart. (Syn: cardiac tonic, cardiant, cordial)
- Cardialgic: An herb or substance that causes heartburn.
- Cardiac stimulant: Herbs that promote circulation when there
is a weak heart.
- Cardiac Tonic: An herb, substance, or combined formula that
strengthens and stimulates the heart metabolism. (Syn: cardiac,
cardiant, cardiotonic, cordial)
- Carminative: Herb that helps to prevent gas from forming in
the intestines, and also assists in expelling it. Also increases
absorption of nutrients, dispels water, mucus, promotes normal
peristalsis; relieves spasms and pain; improves weak digestion from
anxiety, nervousness, or depression. Examples: chamomile, chrysanthemum,
coriander, fennel, lime, peppermint, ajwan, basil, calamus, cardamom,
cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric.
- 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)
- Catarrh: Inflammation of a mucous membrane, with a discharge
of running nose.
- Cathartic: Causes evacuation of the bowels. A cathartic may
be either mild (laxative) or vigorous (purgative). Examples: figs,
prunes, olive oil, senna, castor oil, and Aloe vera.
- 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)
- Common name: The general term given to a particular species
called as common name.
- 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
- Demulcent: Soothes, protects, and relieves the irritation of
inflamed mucous membranes and other surfaces. (i.e., Protects stomach
and urinary bladder lining). Examples: barley, licorice; linseed, olive,
and almond oils.
- 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)
- Depurative: Tends to purify and cleanse the blood.
- Detergent: An agent that cleanses wounds and sores of
diseased or dead matter.
- Diabetes: Any disorders characterized by excessive urine
- Diabetes mellitus: It is kind of diabetes with increased
blood sugar level and insufficient insulin production in body.
- Diaphoretic: Promotes perspiration, especially profuse
perspiration. Promotes circulation; dispels fever and chills; eliminates
surface toxins; relieves muscle tension, aching joints, and inflammatory
skin conditions; relieves diarrhea, dysentery, kidneys, liver, urinary,
and gall bladder disorders; dispels stones of kidney and both bladders.
Examples: basil, ajwan, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, asparagus, barley,
chamomile, chrysanthemum, coriander, fennel and marshmallow.
- Diarrhoea: Abnormal frequent evacuation of watery stools.
- Digestives: Assists the stomach and intestines in normal
digestion. Examples: coriander, cumin, rock salt, and turmeric
- Digestive: Digestives promote or aid in the digestion
process. Such herbs include coriander, cumin, rock salt, turmeric,
garlic, papaya, safflower and sage.
- Disinfectant: An agent that cleanses infection by destroying
or inhibiting the activity of disease-producing microorganisms.
- Diuretic: A diuretic is used to increase the flow of urine to
relieve water retention.
- Dysentery: A condition in which excretion of stools
frequently containing blood and mucus.
- Emetic: An emetic is used to induce vomiting.
- Emmenagogue: Herbs with emmenagogue properties promote
menstrual flow. Examples of some herbs are aloe vera, gentian, ginger,
myrrh and saffron.
- 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)
- Expectorant: Expectorants help the body expel mucus from the
lungs, nose and throat. Herbs used for this purpose include ephedra,
fennel, fenugreek, garlic, licorice and marshmallow.
- Extract: A preparation obtained from soaking an herb, plant
part, or substance in an appropriate solvent, usually alcohol, water, or
glycerin, then removing the solid parts by straining, evaporating some
or all of the solvent, and adjusting the result to prescribed standards
- Fatty oils: Fatty oil is non-volatile oil composed fatty
acids usually of plant or animal origin.
- Febrifuge: Herbs with this property help reduce fevers,
similar to refrigerant and antipyretic. Some febrifuges are chamomile,
fenugreek, garlic, gentian, ginger and sarsaparilla.
- Fixative: A substance used for the preservation of tissue or
cell substance. Also known as fixing or binding agent.
- Flatulence: Excessive formation of gases in stomach or
- Flavones: Flavones are polyphenolic crystalline compound,
present in seeds, leaves and in stems as yellow pigment. It shows
- Flowers: It is the part of plant consists of reproductive
organs i.e. petals and sepals (mainly colored), stamens (male part) and
pistils (female part).
- Fruits: Fruit is matured ovary of plant consisting of the
seeds, it is mainly edible part.
- Galactagogue: An agent that encourages or increases the
secretion of milk.
- Galls: An abnormal plant growth on leaves, branches, or roots
that is caused by irritation from an insect, a fungus or a virus.
- Gingivitis: Inflammations of the gums.
- Glycosides: Glycosides are naturally occurring compounds
containing a carbohydrate (glycone) and a non-carbohydrate (aglycone)
moiety in a same molecule.
- Gonorrhoea: It is common veneral disease caused by bacterium.
- Gout: It is type of acute inflammatory arthritis.
- Haemorrhoid: Painful swelling of veins of the anus.
- Heartwood: Denser inner part of the tree trunk.
- Hemostatic: Hemoststic used to stop bleeding and purifies
blood. Examples: red raspberry, turmeric, cinnamon and ginger.
- Hepatic: Promotes the well being of the liver and increases
the secretion of bile.
- Herb: A plant or part of plant that is valued for its
medicinal, culinary or aromatic.
- Hypertension: High blood pressure.
- Hypoglycemic: Lowers blood sugar level.
- Hypotensive: Low blood pressure.
- Immunostimulants: Immunostimulants enhance or boost the
body's natural defense against illness and disease. Herbs with this
ability include astragalus, barley etc.
- Inflammations: A pathological process in which pain, heat,
redness and swelling occur.
- Influenza: An acute viral infection of the respiratory tract.
- Infusion: A solution or extract obtains by steeping or
soaking herbs (usually in water).
- Insecticide: Insecticides are used to kill insects.
- Insomnia: Inability to sleep.
- Kapha: One of the three doshas.
- Laxative: Herb that acts to promote evacuation of the bowels;
a gentle cathartic. Examples: castor oil, flaxseed, psyllium husk, rhubarbb and senna.
- Leaves: Leaves are lateral outgrowth from stems or branches
or at the base of plants, commonly flat, broad and green in color.
- Leucorrhoea: A whitish, viscid discharge from vagina and
- Menorrhoea: Excessive menstruation.
- 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.
- Mucus: A viscous, slimy and slippery substance.
- Narcotic: A drug that induces sleep with additive properties.
- Nauseant: An herb that causes nausea and vomiting. Somewhat
similar to an emetic.
- Nervine: A substance that calms and soothes the nerves and
reduces tension and anxiety. Examples: ashwagandha, bala and gudmar.
- 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.
- Obesity: Over weight due to excessive accumulation of body
- Ophthalmic: An herb or substance that acts to heal, soothe,
or strengthen the eyes, or which acts as a remedy for diseases of the
- Pectoral: Acts on lungs.
- Peptic: An herb or substance that aids in the digestion of
food. (Syn: digestive, eupeptic)
- Pitta: One of the three doshas of body.
- Powder: A preparation obtained by the finely dispersed solid
- Psoriasis: A chronic, exfoliative skin disease.
- Purgative: A substance that promotes the vigorous evacuation
of the bowels. Usually used to relieve severe constipation. Examples:
aloe, licorice, rhubarb, safflower and senna.
- Refrigerant: Relieves fever and thirst. A cooling remedy.
Lowers body temperature. Examples: aloe vera, coriander, ginger, hibiscus,
orange, lemon and licorice.
- Relaxant: Tends to relax and relieve tension, especially
- 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)
- Resin: Resin is solid or semisolid hydrocarbon secretion from
plants. It consists of volatile terpenes, essential oil and gums.
- Rheumatism: Any disorder marked by inflammation, degeneration
- Rhizomes: Rhizomes are thickened, branching, creeping storage
stems, present under ground. Examples: corms, tubers.
- Roots: The part of a plant, normally underground, that
absorbs nutrients and anchors the plant into the ground.
- Saponins: Saponins are naturally occurring surfactants form
soapy leather when dissolve in water.
- Scabies: A contagious skin disease due to itch mite.
- Sedative: Sedative herbs are used to relieve irritability and
promote calm, relax and tranquil feelings.
- Seed: It is ripened ovule, consist of embryo, cotyledons and
- Sialagogue: An agent that promotes the flow of saliva.
- Soporific: Herbs that help to produce sleep.
- Stem: Stem is the axis of a plant which is generally upright
and above ground.
- Stimulant: Herb that increases the activity or efficiency of
a system or organ; acts more rapidly than a tonic. Examples: camphor,
ephedra, sandalwood, gotu kola, guggul and myrrh.
- Stomachic: Herbs that give strength and tone to the stomach,
stimulate digestion, and improve the appetite. Examples: amalaki, bilwa,
black pepper, cardamom, cedar, chitrak, cumin, ginger, licorice,
- Styptic: Astringent: arrests hemorrhage and bleeding. Causes
vascular contraction of the blood vessels or coagulation of the
albuminous tissues of the blood. Checks hemorrhage. Examples:
- Tannins: Tannins are naturally occurring phenolic compounds.
They are astringent in nature and used to bind and precipitate proteins.
- Terpenes: Terpenes are organic compounds consists of
hydrocarbons, found mainly in conifers. Terpenes have strong
- Tincture: A solution of the active principal of an herb in
- Tonic: Herbs that restore and strengthen the entire system.
Produces and restores normal tone. A general tonic would be one that
braces up the whole system. Example: aloe, bala, barberry, chirayata,
guduchi and gentian.
- Tumor: Localized undesirable morbid growth of cells.
- Vasoconstrictor: Herbs with vasoldilating agents expand the
blood vessels and lower blood pressure.
- Vasodilator: An agent that widens the blood vessels, thus
lowering the blood pressure.
- Vata: One of the three doshas.
- Vermicide: An agent that destroys intestinal worms.
- Vermifuge: An agent that expels intestinal worms or
- Volatile oil: Volatile oils are those plant-derived oils
which are totally volatile or evaporating in nature. They are highly
aromatic in nature and used in perfumery industry.
- Vulnerary: An herb used in treating fresh cuts and wounds,
usually used as a poultice. Example: aloe, honey, licorice, marshmallow,
- Wood: Wood is the secondary xylem of gymnosperms and dicots.
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