Glossary of Terms and Actions

Abortifacient – An herb that can cause a miscarriage and should be avoided in pregnancy. Examples include Wild Ginger

Achene – A small dry indehiscent (closed) one-seeded fruit. Examples include Dandelion, Sunflower

Acidic – Having a pH less than 7.

Acrid – Sharp or biting to the taste or smell. Acrid herbs often ‘grab’ at the back of the throat. A sub-category of Pungent. Examples include Bay Laurel, Cayenne, Lobelia, Angelica, Cinnamon, Black Cohosh, Coriander, Ginger

Adaptogen – Herbs that help balance, restore and protect the body. Examples: Reishi, Burdock, Maitake, Astragalus, Shatavari, Rhodiola, Schisandra, Eleuthero

Adrenal tonic – Boosts the activity of the adrenal glands while toning and nourishing them.

Adventitious roots – Roots that grow from parts of the plant that are not roots, typically from stems or leaves.

Aggregate – A fruit that develops from the merger of several ovaries that were separate in a single flower. Examples of aggregate fruits include Blackberries, Dewberries, Raspberries.

Alkaline – Having a pH greater than 7.

Alkaloids – A group of naturally occurring chemical compounds that contain mostly basic nitrogen atoms. Alkaloids are soluble in alcohol and only slightly  soluble in water. Acidification of the menstrum with vinegar can sometimes increase the potency of the extract. Alkaloids can be neutralized by tannins or become unstable by heat but not always. Herbs containing alkaloids include Motherwort, Bloodroot, Goldenseal, Lobelia

Alterative – Herbs that gradually restore healthy bodily functions. See also depurative. Examples: Elderberry & flower, Marshmallow, Burdock, Dandelion, Coriander, Feverfew, Gumweed, Saw Palmetto, Thuja, Saw Palmetto, Horsetail

Alveoli – Microscopic air sacs in the lungs.

Anabolic – The synthesis in living organisms of more complex substances from simpler ones. Examples include Saw Palmetto

Analgesic – Herbs capable of reducing or eliminating pain without causing loss of consciousness. Examples: Reishi, California Poppy, Bay Laurel, Cinnamon, Clove, Usnea, Pine, Mulberry, Feverfew, Motherwort, Boneset, Black Pepper, Mugwort, Mustard, Wild Ginger

Androgynophore –  the shared male and female reproductive structure of a flower.

Anesthetic – An herb that temporarily depresses neuronal function, producing total or partial loss of sensation. Examples include Bay Laurel, Fennel, Wild Ginger

Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors – Heart medications that widen or dilate blood vessels to improve the amount of blood the heart pumps and lower blood pressure. ACE inhibitors also increase blood flow, which helps to decrease the amount of work the heart has to do. Examples include Maitake

Annual – Plants that complete their life cycle in one year or less (grow from seed to seed).

Anodyne – Herbs that soothe or eliminate pain. Examples include Burdock (leaf), Rose, Dandelion, Coriander, Cumin, Skullcap, Valerian, Horsetail

Antacid – A substance which neutralizes stomach acidity. Examples include Marshmallow, Dandelion

Anthelmintic – Herbs that expel parasitic worms either by stunning or killing them. Examples include Mugwort, Wormwood, Black Walnut, Valerian

Antianaphylactic – Herbs that work against allergic reactions (anaphylactic) to slow or stop them. Example: Reishi,

Antiandrogenic – A  substance capable of inhibiting the biological effects of androgens. Examples include Saw Palmetto, 

Antiangiogenic – Herbs that stop tumors from growing their own blood vessels. Examples include Maitake, 

Antiasthmatic – Herbs that may be used either in the treatment or prevention of asthma attacks. Examples include Cacao, New England Aster, Gumweed

Antiatherosclerosis – Herbs that counter the effects of atherosclerosis. Examples include Mulberry

Antibacterial – Herbs that inhibit bacterial growth or kill bacteria. Examples: Reishi, Bay Laurel, Calendula, Usnea, Honeysuckle, Burdock, Pine, Mulberry, Rose, Dandelion, Coriander, Motherwort, Boneset, Ragweed, Black Pepper, Cacao, Cumin, Cardamom, Forsythia, Eleuthero, Mugwort, Skullcap, Valerian, Gumweed, Ginkgo, Fennel, Mustard, Coltsfoot, Horsetail

Antibiotic – Herbs that have the ability to destroy or inhibit the growth of other microorganisms. Examples: Usnea, Echinacea, Honeysuckle

Anticatarrhal – Herbs that help the body to remove excess mucous from the body. Examples include Elderberry & flower, Goldenrod, Plantain, Peppermint, Pine, Thuja, Saw Palmetto

Anticoagulant – Prevents coagulation of blood.Examples include Ginkgo

Anticonvulsant –A herb used in the treatment of epileptic seizures. Examples include Black Pepper

Antidepressant – Herbs used for the treatment of depression and other conditions. Examples include Rose, St. John’s wort, Cacao

Antidiabetic – Having the ability to lower blood glucose levels. Examples include Reishi, Maitake

Antidiarrheal – Provides symptomatic relief for diarrhea. Examples include Blackberry, Black Pepper, Cacao

Antiemetic – Herbs that are effective against vomiting and nausea. Examples include Forsythia, Fennel

Antiestrogenic – Suppresses or inhibits oestrogenic activity. Examples include Saw Palmetto

Antifungal – Herbs that inhibit fungal growth or kill fungi. Examples include Peppermint, Black Walnut, Bay Laurel, Oregon Grape Root, Usnea, Honeysuckle, Burdock, Rose, Dandelion, Coriander, Motherwort, Cardamom, Forsythia, Eleuthero, Mugwort, Ginkgo, Fennel, Mustard, Horsetail, Wild Ginger

Antihistamine – Herbs used to block the histamine reaction. Examples: Stinging Nettle, Lemon Balm, Reishi, Osha, Cacao

Anti-inflammatory – Reduces inflammation in the body. Examples: Reishi, Willow, Bay Laurel, Elderberry & flower, Usnea, Honeysuckle, Marshmallow, Burdock, Pine, Mulberry, Mugwort, Rose, Dandelion, Feverfew, Black Pepper, Cumin, Forsythia, Gumweed, Ginkgo, Fennel, Thuja, Saw Palmetto, Coltsfoot, Horsetail

Antilithic – Herbs which work against the formation of calculi, such as kidney stones.

Antimalarial – Preventing or relieving the symptoms of malaria.

Antimicrobial – Herbs that kill microorganisms or inhibits their growth. Examples: Usnea, Honeysuckle, Mulberry leaf, Coriander, Feverfew, Black Pepper, Forsythia, Eleuthero

Antimutagenic – Reduces or interferes with the mutagenic actions or effects of a substance. Examples include Green Tea, Black Pepper

Antineoplastic – Herbs which inhibit or prevent the growth or development of malignant cells. Examples: Usnea, Dandelion

Antioxidant – Herbs that that may protect cells against the effects of free radicals. Examples: Lemon Balm, Reishi, Usnea, Honeysuckle, Pine, Mulberry, Dandelion, Coriander, Motherwort, Black Pepper, Cacao, Eleuthero, Ginkgo, Mustard, Wild Ginger

Antiparasitic -Herbs used for the treatment of parasitic diseases such as nematodes, cestodes, trematodes, and infectious protozoa.  See also antiprotozoal. Examples: Usnea

Antiphlogistic – The capacity to reduce or prevent inflammation. Examples include Ragweed

Antiprotozoal – Herbs used in treatment of protozoan infection. See also antiparasitic. Examples: Usnea

Antipyretic – Reduces or lowers fever. Examples include Maitake, Black Pepper, Forsythia, Wild Ginger

Antirheumatic – Herbs that alleviate or prevent rheumatism. Examples: Elderberry & flower, Mulberry twig, Dandelion, Motherwort, Mugwort

Antiscorbutic – Herbs that can prevent or cure scurvy.

Antiseptic – Herbs that prevent infection by inhibiting the growth of microorganisms. Examples include Bay Laurel, Usnea, Pine, Mulberry leaf, Rose, Feverfew, Ragweed, Black Pepper, Cumin, Cardamom, Eleuthero, Mugwort, Thuja, Saw Palmetto, Horsetail

Antispasmodic – Relieves spasms in the body. Examples include Wild Cherry, Crampbark, Bay Laurel, Elderberry & flower, Usnea, Honeysuckle, Marshmallow, Pine, Mulberry twig, Rose, Coriander, Feverfew, Motherwort, Boneset, Black Pepper, Cacao, Cumin, Cardamom, Mugwort, Skullcap, Valerian, Gumweed, Fennel, Vitex, Saw Palmetto, Coltsfoot

Antithrombotic – Herbs that reduce the formation of blood clots (thrombi). Examples include Red Clover, Mulberry leaf

Antitumor – Preventing or inhibiting the formation or growth of tumors. Examples: Reishi, Turkey Tail, Chaga, Usnea, Honeysuckle, Mulberry leaf, Maitake, Thuja

Antitussive – Herbs that have the ability to suppress a cough. Examples: Reishi, Marshmallow, Burdock, Forsythia, Fennel, Coltsfoot, Wild Ginger

Antivenomous – Having the ability to neutralize venom in the body. Examples include Mulberry leaf, Mugwort, Skullcap

Antiviral – Herbs that inhibit viral growth or kill viruses. Examples: Prunella, Lemon Balm, Spilanthes, Reishi, Bay Laurel, Elderberry, Usnea, Honeysuckle, Pine, Mulberry leaf, Rose, Ragweed, Maitake, Cacao, Cardamom, Forsythia, Eleuthero, Thuja

Anxiolytic – Herbs that inhibit anxiety. Examples include Valerian

Aperient – Herbs having a mild purgative or laxative effect. See also laxative. Examples include Burdock, Dandelion, Feverfew, Boneset, Fennel, Saw Palmetto

Apex – Peak or summit; in botany, the top of the flower spike.

Aphrodisiac – Herbs that elevate, nourish and/or sustain intimacy and sensual desire. Examples include Marshmallow, Burdock, Rose, Coriander

Appetite stimulant – Stimulates the appetite.

Aromatic – Plants with high volatile oil levels which smell strongly, stimulating the digestive system. Examples include Peppermint, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Bay Laurel, Rosemary, Rose, Coriander, Feverfew, Black Pepper, Cardamom, Mugwort, Valerian, Gumweed, Fennel, Vitex

Arteriosclerosis – a thickening and hardening of arterial walls in the arteries. Also referred to as artherosclerosis.

Arthritis – A form of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints.

Asthma – A disorder that causes the airways of the lungs to swell and narrow, leading to wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing.

Astringent – Herbs that tend to shrink or constrict body tissues. Examples include Bay Laurel, Elderflower, Usnea, Honeysuckle, Rose, Dandelion, Motherwort, Boneset, Ragweed, Cacao, Cardamom, Forsythia, Mugwort, Skullcap, Valerian, Vitex, Thuja, Coltsfoot, Horsetail

Atrophy – Gradual loss of muscle or flesh usually because of disease or lack of use.

Axillary – Growing at the base of the leaf stem

Basal – Forming or belonging to a bottom layer or base.

Basal rosette – Plants that grow out of the ground from a central source, with leaves growing in a circle around this base. Examples include Chicory, Dandelion, Burdock, Plantain

Basidiocarp – The fruiting body of a fungi that produces spores.

Beak – A narrow or prolonged tip, protruding from the achene.

Biennial – Plants that take 2 years to complete their life cycle. The first year they grow leaves only, the second year they produce flowers, fruits and seeds. Examples include Burdock, Mullein

Bioavailability – the degree and rate at which a substance is absorbed into a living system or is made available at the site of physiological activity.

Bipinnate – Having the leaflets themselves divided into smaller leaflets.

Bitter – Having or being a taste that is sharp, acrid, and unpleasant; not sweet, salty or sour. Examples include Bay Laurel, Orange Peel, Wormwood, Mugwort, Motherwort, Dandelion, Gentian, Reishi, Jamaican Dogwood, Feverfew, Motherwort, Boneset, Eleuthero, Mugwort, Skullcap, Valerian, Coltsfoot

Bitter tonic – Herbs that support the digestive system, boost immunity and promote overall vitality.

Blood tonic – Herbs that invigorate and nourish blood, while reinforcing the effects of iron and other nutrients. These herbs may reduce fatigue, enhance stamina and vitality, improve digestive function, ease nausea, relieve abdominal pain and cramps, improve nutrient uptake, promote healthy liver function and strengthen the immune system. Examples include Rose, Burdock

Boil – Another word for skin abscess, is a collection of pus that forms in the skin.

Bract – A modified leaf associated with a flower or inflorescence, that differs from other leaves in size, shape and color and does not have an axillary bud. Examples include Dandelion

Brain tonic – Herbs that tonify and support the brain. Examples include Skullcap

Bronchi – The two large branches of the airway passage in the lungs.

Bronchioles – The smaller airway passages that branch off from the bronchi.

Bronchitis – Inflammation of the mucus membranes of the bronchi.

Bronchodilator – Herbs that dilate the bronchi and bronchioles, decreasing resistance in the respiratory airway and increasing airflow to the lungs. Also referred to as bronchial dilators. Examples: Usnea, New England Aster, Cacao, Coltsfoot

Bronchospasmolytic – Relieves bronchospasms. Examples include Gumweed

Calmative – Having a soothing effect. Examples include Fennel

Calyx – The sepals of a flower, typically forming a whorl that encloses the petals and forms a protective layer around a flower in bud.

Cane – The stem of a raspberry, blackberry, certain roses, or similar plants.

Canescent – Covered with short, fine whitish or grayish hairs or down; hoary.

Cardiotonic – Herbs that act as tonics to the heart, toning the muscle and the heart’s action. Examples: Reishi, Motherwort, Hawthorn, Rose, Tilia, Dandelion, Cacao, Skullcap

Cardiovascular stimulant – Stimulating to the cardiovascular system. Examples include Coltsfoot

Carminative – Inducing the expulsion of gas from the stomach and intestines. Examples include Peppermint, Lemon Balm, Bay Laurel, Rose, Coriander, Feverfew, Boneset, Black Pepper, Cumin, Cardamom, Mugwort, Valerian, Fennel, Mustard, Wild Ginger

Calyx – The sepals of a flower, typically forming a whorl that encloses the petals and forms a protective layer around a flower in bud.

Canopy – The aboveground portion of a plant or grouping of plants, formed by the collection of individual plant crowns.

Carbuncle – A red, swollen, and painful cluster of boils that are connected to each other under the skin.

Cardiotonic – Herbs that act as tonics to the heart, toning the muscle and the heart’s action. Examples include Ginkgo, Hawthorn, Motherwort

Catarrh – A disorder of inflammation of the mucous membranes in one of the airways or cavities of the body.

Cauliflory – Refers to plants which flower and fruit from their main stems or woody trunks rather than from new growth and shoots.

Cerebral vasodilator – Increases blood flow to the brain by widening the blood vessels through the relaxation of the smooth muscle cells within the vessels. Examples include Skullcap

Cerebral vasorelaxant – Causing a decrease in vascular pressure resulting in the reduction in tension of the blood vessel walls in the brain.

Chemoprotective – In the treatment of cancer, chemoprotective herbs are herbs which protect healthy tissue from the toxic effects of anticancer drugs. Examples include Eleuthero

Chicken pox – A highly contagious, airborne disease caused by primary infection with varicella zoster virus often affecting children.

Cholagogue – Herbs that support the gall bladder and liver by promoting the flow of bile from the gall bladder into the intestines. Examples include Burdock, Dandelion, Cardamom, Mugwort

Cholera – An infection of the small intestine caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae that causes diarrhea and vomiting.

Choleretic – Herbs that increase the volume of secretion of bile from the liver as well as the amount of solids secreted. Examples include Burdock, Dandelion, Forsythia, Eleuthero, Mugwort

Circulatory stimulant – Promotes better circulation of blood from the trunk of the body to the periphery, thus warming the tissue, especially the hands and feet. Examples include Cayenne, Ginger, Bay Laurel, Motherwort, Ragweed, Ginkgo

Circulatory tonic – Restores and/or increases tone to the circulatory system. Examples include Ginkgo

Circumscissile – Splitting or opening along a circumference, with the top coming off as a lid.

Cleistogamous (flowers) – Of or relating to a flower that does not open and is self-pollinated in the bud. Examples include Violet

Coarsely toothed leaf – Margins (edges) that have jagged, prominent edges. Examples include Dandelion

Colitis – Inflammation of the colon (large intestine).

Compress – A piece of cloth soaked in a tea or infusion of herbs and applied to the affected area of the body.

Conifer – Any of various mostly needle-leaved or scale-leaved, chiefly evergreen, cone-bearing gymnospermous trees or shrubs of the order Coniferales, such as pines, spruces, and firs.

Conjunctivitis – The swelling (inflammation) or infection of the membrane lining the eyelids (conjunctiva).

Corolla – The inner envelope of floral leaves of a flower, usually of delicate texture and of some color other than green; the group of flower petals collectively.

Corrigent – An Herb added to a medicine to mollify or modify its action, typically to balance a flavor. Examples include Coriander

Corymbs – A flower cluster whose lower stalks are proportionally longer so that the flowers form a flat or slightly convex head.

Counterirritant – Creates inflammation in one location with the goal of lessening the inflammation in another location.  Examples include Cayenne

Crenate – Round-toothed or scalloped edges of leaves.

Croup – A condition that causes inflammation of the upper respiratory tract usually caused by a virus.

Cypselae – Dry, single-seeded fruit formed from a double ovary, of which only one develops into a seed.

Deciduous – Plants that seasonally lose their leaves.

Decoction – A tea-like drink of herbs produced by boiling the herb in water.

Decongestant – Helps to relieve nasal congestion in the upper respiratory tract. Examples: Elderberry & flower, Rose, Dandelion, Ginkgo, Saw Palmetto

Decumbent – Plants which lye along the ground or along a surface, with the extremities curving upward.

Deltate (leaf) – Triangular in shape.

Demulcent – Herbs that form a soothing film over mucus membranes to relieve pain and minor inflammation of that area. Examples are Marshmallow, Slippery Elm, Pine, Gumweed, Coltsfoot

Depurative – Purifies or purgative for the blood. See also Alterative. Examples: Elderberry & flower, Honeysuckle, Dandelion

Deobstruent – Having power to clear or open the natural ducts of the fluids and secretions of the body. Examples include Dandelion

Deodorant – A substance applied to the body to prevent body odor caused by the bacterial breakdown of perspiration in the armpits, feet, and other areas of the body.

Detoxifying – Counteracts or destroys toxic properties.

Diaphoretic – Promotes sweating, helpful for relieving a fever through perspiration. Examples include Bay Laurel, Elderberry & flower, Honeysuckle, Burdock, Mulberry leaf, Coriander, Feverfew, Motherwort, Boneset, Black Pepper, Cardamom, Forsythia, Mugwort, Valerian, Vitex, Mustard, Coltsfoot, Horsetail, Wild Ginger

Digestive – Aids in digestion. Examples include Peppermint, Elderberry & flower, Dandelion, Mugwort, Fennel

Dioecious – Having the male and female reproductive organs on separate plants (of the same species) rather than different parts of the same plant. Examples include Bay Laurel,

Diphtheria – An acute infection caused by the bacteria Corynebacterium diphtheriae.

Discoid – Shaped like a disc, pertaining to the shape of a flower head.

Discutient – An agent or process that disperses a tumor or lesion. Examples include Dandelion (sap), Elderberry & flower, Dandelion

Disinfectant – A chemical liquid that destroys bacteria. Examples include Mugwort

Diuretic – Stimulates the flow of urine. Examples include Bay Laurel, Dandelion, Jamaican Dogwood, Elderberry & flower, Honeysuckle, Marshmallow, Nettle, Burdock, Pine, Mulberry rt bark & leaf, Rose, Coriander, Feverfew, Motherwort, Maitake, Cacao, Cumin, Cardamom, Forsythia, Mugwort, Skullcap, Valerian, Gumweed, Fennel, Vitex, Saw Palmetto, Mustard, Horsetail, Wild Ginger

Drug synergist – The joint action of herbs working with pharmaceuticals to increase the effectiveness of the pharmaceuticals. Examples: Usnea

Drupe –  A fleshy fruit with thin skin and a central stone containing the seed. Examples include Plum, Cherry, Almond, Olive, Bay Laurel, Avocado

Drupelet- A small drupe, usually one of a number forming a compound fruit. Examples of drupelets are Blackberries, Dewberries and Raspberries.

Dysentery – An inflammation of the intestine, especially the colon, that results in severe diarrhea, accompanied by fever and abdominal pain usually caused by an infection.

Dysmenorrhea – Medical term for menstrual cramps.

Dyspepsia – The medical term for indigestion.

Elaiosomes – Fleshy structures that are attached to the seeds of many plant species.

Elixir – Herbal extract made with herbs, alcohol (generally brandy) and honey.

Emetic – Herbs that cause vomiting. Examples include: Honeysuckle, Boneset, Mustard, Wild Ginger

Emmenagogue – Stimulates blood flow in the pelvic area; can bring on menstruation. Examples include Bay Laurel, Rose, Feverfew, Motherwort, Cumin, Forsythia, Mugwort, Skullcap, Vitex, Thuja

Emollient – Herbs that sooth and protect the skin when applied externally. They help heal inflamed or irritated mucous membranes when taken internally. Examples include Aloe, Burdock, Comfrey, Marshmallow, Mullein, Slippery Elm, Violet, Elderflower, Marshmallow, Dandelion, Cacao, Coltsfoot

Energizer – Herbs that have an energizing effect on the body. Examples include Cardamom

Entire margin – Leaves with smooth, non-toothed edges.

Ergogenic – Herbs intended to enhance physical performance, stamina, or recovery. Examples include Eleuthero

Expectorant – Promotes and facilitates the discharge of mucus and fluids from the respiratory tract. Examples: Reishi, Elderberry & flower, Usnea, Honeysuckle, Marshmallow, Burdock, Pine, Mulberry rt. bark, leaf, Rose, Boneset, Black Pepper, Cacao, Cardamom, Mugwort, Gumweed, Fennel, Vitex, Thuja, Saw Palmetto, Mustard, Coltsfoot, Wild Ginger

Extract – Also referred to as tincture. Preparations made by extracting, and preserving, the active properties of herbs using alcohol. See also Tincture.

Extrafloral nectaries – Nectar producing glands located on leaves, petioles, flower buds, bracts, and/or stems. Examples are Passionflower, Prunus, Peony,

Febrifuge – Herbs that reduce fever. Examples include Willow, Elderflower, Usnea, Honeysuckle, Burdock, Dandelion, Feverfew, Boneset, Ragweed, Forsythia, Skullcap, Valerian, Vitex, Wild Ginger

Fermentation – A metabolic process that converts sugar to acids, gases and/or alcohol. Often referred to as fermented.

Flavonoids – A group of plant metabolites thought to provide health benefits through cell signaling pathways and antioxidant effects. Flavonoids are plant pigments that provide the more vibrant, brilliant colors in nature, including most of the blue, purple and emerald green tones found in flowers, leaves, fruits and vegetables as well as most of the yellow, orange and red colors that are not carotenoids. Flavonoids are predominantly water soluble. Examples include Motherwort, Blueberry, Blackberry, Raspberry, Elderberry, Cranberry, Hawthorn

Floricanes – The flowering and fruiting stem of a biennial plant, especially of a bramble. Examples include Blackberry and Raspberry.

Galactagogue – Increases the milk supply in a lactating woman. Examples include Fenugreek, Elderflower, Marshmallow, Burdock, Dandelion, Cumin, Fennel, Vitex, Saw Palmetto

Gamete – The cells that fuse together during sexual reproduction to form a new organism.

Gametophyte – The life stage of a plant that produces gametes.

Glabrous – Free from hair or down; smooth.

Glycosides – A molecule in which a sugar is bound to another functional group via a glycosidic bond. Glycosides are generally soluble in water and alcohol. Examples include Motherwort, Gentian, Hawthorn, Rhubarb, Licorice, Milk Thistle

Hemorrhaging – Excessive discharge of blood from the blood vessels; profuse bleeding.

Hemorrhoids – Painful, swollen veins in the lower portion of the rectum or anus.

Hemostatic – Works to slow or stop bleeding or hemorrhaging. Examples include Marshmallow, Plantain, Yarrow, Shepherd’s Purse, Cayenne, Rose, Motherwort, Ragweed, Mugwort, Thuja, Horsetail

Hepatoprotective – Herbs that protect and prevent damage to the liver. Examples: Reishi, Maitake, Black Pepper, Cacao, Forsythia, Milk Thistle, Forsythia

Hepatic – Acts on the liver. Examples include Dandelion, Rose, Burdock, Oregon Grape Root

Hepatonic – Herbs that cleanse, build and restore the liver.

Hepatotoxic – Being injurious to the liver.

Herbaceous – Plants that have no persistent woody stem above ground.

Herbal Energetics – HE are the study of the plants energies, which give us insight on how plants work to heal us. By looking at the tastes, heating, cooling and digestive effects and other potencies each plant possesses, we can better understand how to apply them for medicinal use.

Hypnotic – Calming to the point of inducing sleep. Examples include Dandelion, Valerian

Hypocholesterolemic – Herbs that facilitate the lowering of cholesterol in the body. Examples include Eleuthero

Hypoglycemic – Lowers content of glucose in the blood. Examples include Cinnamon, Ginger, Eleuthero

Hypotensive – Reduces blood pressure. Examples: Reishi, Honeysuckle, Mulberry twig/rt. bark & leaf, Dandelion, Motherwort, Maitake, Skullcap, Valerian, Gumweed

Immune tonic – Herbs that help to nourish, tone and support the immune system. Examples include Marshmallow

Immunomodulator – Herbs that balance the immune system, stimulating a suppressed immune system and suppressing an over-stimulated immune system.  Examples: Elderberry, Reishi, Eleuthero

Immunostimulant – Stimulates the immune system. Also known as immune stimulant. Examples: Echinacea, Spilanthes, Reishi, Bay Laurel, Usnea, Dandelion, Motherwort, Boneset, Maitake, Black Pepper, Forsythia, Coltsfoot

Inferior ovary – The leaves and sepals are above the ovary.

Inflorescence – The complete flower head of a plant including stems, stalks, bracts, and flowers.

Infusion – A medicinal remedy made by boiling water,  pouring it over herbs and letting it steep for 1 – 8 hours.

Insulinotrophic – Restoring and nourishing the production and activity of insulin. Examples include Eleuthero

Internodes – A part of a plant stem between two of the nodes.

Kidney tonic – Restores or increases tone in the kidneys. Examples include Nettle seed, Rose, Cordyceps, Dandelion, Ragweed, Cacao, Cardamom, Horsetail

Laxative – Herbs used to produce bowel movements. See also aperient. Examples include Green Tea, Elderberry & flower, Honeysuckle, Marshmallow, Burdock, Mulberry, Rose, Dandelion, Motherwort, Boneset, Forsythia, Fennel, Mustard

Leaf Axil – The angle between the upper side of a leaf or stem and the stem or branch that supports it.

Lenticels – Small, corky, oval or elongated areas on the surface of a plant stem, trunk, or fruit that allow the interchange of gases between the interior tissue and the surrounding air.

Lignicolous – Fungi that grow on wood and cause it to decay.

Liniment – A topical preparation for application to the skin.

Lithotriptic – Herbs that help dissolve calculus. Examples include Chamomile, Dandelion, Gravel Root, Horsetail

Lobed leaves – a leaf having deeply indented margins (edges). Examples include Oak, Chicory, Ginkgo, Sassafras.

Lung tonic – Herbs that restore or increase tone to the lungs. Examples include Marshmallow

Lymphatic – Herbs that deep clean and improve the flow of lymph through the body system.

Margins – The edges of leaves.

Menorrhagia  – Unusually long and heavy menstrual cycles.

Mericarp – One carpel or part of the fruit (schizocarp) of an umbelliferous plant.

Moxa – A downy substance obtained from the dried leaves of Mugwort.

Moxibustion – The burning of moxa on or near a person’s skin as a counterirritant.

Mucilaginous – Herbs which contain polysaccharides which give them a slippery texture and mild taste, are soothing and cooling and are often used topically. Examples include Slippery Elm, Marshmallow, Plantain

Mucolytic – Herbs that make the mucus (sputum), which is made in your lungs, less thick and sticky and easier to cough up. Examples include Fennel

Muscle building tonic – Helps to build muscle tone. Examples include Saw Palmetto, Blackberry, Raspberry

Mycelium – The vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae (filaments).

Nervine – Having a beneficial effect on the nervous system. Examples include Skullcap, Oats, St. John’s Wort, Passionflower, Rose, Coriander, Feverfew, Motherwort, Mugwort, Skullcap, Valerian

Nervous system tonic – Herbs that support, strengthen and tonify the nervous system. Examples include Skullcap, Valerian

Neuroprotective – Protects neurons from injury or degeneration. Examples include Eleuthero, Ginkgo

Node – The part of a plant stem from which one or more leaves emerge, often forming a slight swelling or knob.

Nutritive – Herbs that nourish the body. Examples include Chickweed, Comfrey, Dandelion, Kelp, Marshmallow, Nettles, Oatstraw, Red Clover, Slippery Elm, Yellow Dock, Violet, Burdock, Mulberry, Cacao, Saw Palmetto, Horsetail

Ointment – A remedy that is rubbed on the skin to help heal a wound or to reduce pain or discomfort.

Oneirogen – Any substance, practice, or experience that promotes or enhances dream states. Examples include Mugwort

Ophthalmic – Pertaining to the eye. Examples include Vitex, Fennel

Orthopedic aid – Herbs assisting in bone healing. Examples include Comfrey, Boneset, Horsetail

Ovate (leaf) – An egg-shaped leaf with the broader end at the base.

Palmately compound (leaf) – A leaf with leaflets that originate from a common point at the end of the petiole.

Panicle – A much-branched inflorescence.

Pappus – The modified calyx, composed of bristles, located at the apex (top) of the achene that acts as a parachute for the achene. Examples include Dandelion, Milk Thistle

Parturient – Brings on labor, assists with birth. Examples include Motherwort

Pectoral – Herbs that tonify and strengthen the pulmonary system. Examples of pectorals include Marshmallow, Mullein, Osha, Violet, Wild Cherry, Coltsfoot

Peduncle – The flower stalk which becomes the stem of the fruit.

Perennial – Plants that die back to the roots after a complete growing cycle and return from the roots the next growing season. Examples include Dandelion, Echinacea, Rose, Goldenrod

Perfect flower – A flower containing both male and female parts.

Perianth – Outer portion of the flower. Also referred to as tepals.

Pertussis – A highly contagious disease caused by the bacteria Bordetalla pertussis. Commonly known as whooping cough.

Petiole – The stalk or stem of a leaf.

Phytoestrogenic – Plants containing phytoestrogens, weak hormones found in many plants. Examples include Saw Palmetto

Pinnately compound (leaves) – Leaflets that are attached along an extension of the petiole called a rachis; if there is a terminal leaflet, an odd number of leaflets exist, giving it the name odd-pinnate.

Pinnate leaves – The arrangement of feather-like or multi-divided features arising from both sides of a common axis.

Pinnatifid leaves – Leaves that are cleft nearly to the midrib in broad divisions not separated into distinct leaflets.

Pistilliferous flower – The female flower.

Pith – Soft or spongy tissue sometimes found in the center of plant stems.

Pneumonia – Inflammation of the lungs primarily affecting the microscopic air sacs (alveoli). It can be caused by a virus or bacteria, microorganisms, certain drugs and other conditions such as autoimmune disease.

Poultice – A soft, moist mass of herb, often heated and applied directly over the skin or on top of a thin cloth to treat aches, inflammation or painful areas to heal and reduce pain.

Prolapse – From the Latin word prolabi meaning to fall out. A condition where organs fall out of place.

Pubescent – Fine, downy hairs on leaves

Pungent – Having a strong taste or smell. Examples include Bay Laurel, Marjoram, Rosemary, Thyme, Lavender, Ginger, Angelica, Fennel, Coriander, Cumin, Dill, Anise, Prickly Ash, Cayenne, Garlic

Purgative – A strong laxative. Examples include Elderflower, Dandelion, Aloe, Feverfew, Mugwort

Quadripartite – Consisting of four parts.

Raceme – A flower cluster with the separate flowers attached by short equal stalks at equal distances along a central stem.

Rachis – An extension of a petiole in a pinnately compound leaf.

Radioprotective – Herbs which protect or aid in protecting against the injurious effect of radiations. Examples include Eleuthero

Ray flowers – Any of a number of strap-shaped and typically sterile florets that form the ray. Also called ray floret. Examples include Dandelion, Chicory, Daisy (outer white petals).

Raynaud’s phenomenon – A condition in which cold temperatures or strong emotions cause blood vessel spasms which blocks blood flow to the fingers, toes, ears, and nose.

Refrigerant – Herbs that cool the body from the inside out, reducing heat in the body. Examples include Peppermint, Honeysuckle, Mulberry, Rose

Regenerative – Herbs that have the ability to regenerate, restore or renew tissue in the body. Examples include Comfrey

Rejuvenative – Restore to youthful vigor, appearance, etc. Examples: Reishi, Elderberry & flower, Marshmallow, Burdock, Ginkgo, Saw Palmetto, Horsetail

Relaxant – Calming and soothing without being sedating; the act of relaxing contracted tissues. Examples include Feverfew, Boneset

Reproductive amphoteric – Normalizes reproductive function. Examples include Saw Palmetto

Restorative – Herbs that restore the body to health. Examples include Alfalfa, Astragalus, Nettles, Violet, Elderberry & flower, Dandelion, Eleuthero, Skullcap, Valerian, Vitex, Saw Palmetto

Resinous – A thick, sticky substance that is secreted from a plant.

Resins – A hydrocarbon secretion of many plants, that are sticky and harden. Resins are insoluble in water but extract well in alcohol and hot oil. Examples include Pine, Gumweed, Calendula, Rosemary, Motherwort

Respiratory stimulant – Herbs that are stimulating to the respiratory system. Examples include Coltsfoot

Rheumatism – A non-specific term for medical problems affecting the joints and connective tissue.

Rhizomes – Continuously growing horizontal underground stems that put out lateral shoots and adventitious roots at intervals.

Rosacea – A chronic skin condition that makes the face and/or turn red and may cause swelling and skin sores that look like acne.

Rubefacient – Herbs for topical application that produces redness of the skin e.g. by causing dilation of the capillaries and an increase in blood circulation. Examples include Pine, Ginger, Cayenne, Black Pepper, Mustard

Rudimentary stamen – undeveloped stamen.

Salve – A mixture of oils and hardening agent such as beeswax used to promote healing of the skin or as protection.

Scale-like leaves – Slender, narrow bladed leaves.

Scrofula – A tuberculosis infection of the lymph nodes in the neck.

Scurvy – a disease that occurs when one has a severe lack of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in their diet. Scurvy causes general weakness, anemia, gum disease, and skin hemorrhages.

Sedative – Herbs that tend  to calm, moderate, or tranquilize nervousness or excitement. Examples include Bay Laurel, California Poppy, Mulberry rt. bark, Rose, Dandelion, Motherwort, Skullcap, Valerian, Gumweed, Vitex, Saw Palmetto, Coltsfoot

Sepals – Part of a flower that encloses the flower and supports the petals while blooming.

Septa – The fleshy partition inside the fruit.

Serrated – Toothed, saw-like shaped edges on leaves.

Sessile –  A characteristic of plants whose flowers or leaves are borne directly from the stem or peduncle, and thus lack a petiole or pedicel. Examples include Trillium, Solomon’s Seal, St. John’s Wort, Cleavers, upper leaves of Chicory.

Shrub – Preparation made with herbal syrup and herbal vinegar combined together, typically at equal proportions to be mixed with seltzer or sparkling water.

Sialogogue – Herbs that increase the flow of saliva. Examples include Spilanthes, Cardamom

Schizocarp – A dry fruit composed of multiple carpels that separate.

Silique – A fruit or seed capsule containing 2 fused carpels with the length being more than three times the width.

Simple – A leaf that has only one leaflet on the leaf stem.

Smooth muscle relaxant – Herbs that relax smooth muscles of the body such as the heart, stomach, intestinal, blood vessels, and bladder. Examples include Valerian

Smudge – A method of burning herbs such as Sage, Mugwort or Cedar for purification, ritual and cleansing.

Spinal cord tonic – Herbs that support, strengthen and tone the spinal cord. Examples include Skullcap

Spit poultice – Simple poultice made by chewing a fresh leaf and applying it directly to a wound.

Sporangiophores – A stalk bearing one or more sporangia

Sporangium/sporangia – An enclosure in which spores are formed.

Spore – A reproductive body, produced by bacteria, fungi, various plants, and some protozoans, that develops into a new individual.

Sporophyte – The life stage of a plant that produces spores.

Staminiferous flower – The male flower.

Stimulant – Energizes a system of the body. Examples include Peppermint, Bay Laurel, Elderflower (mild), Pine, Coriander, Feverfew, Boneset, Ragweed, Black Pepper, Cacao, Cumin, Cardamom, Eleuthero, Thuja, Saw Palmetto, Mustard

Stipules – One of the usually small, paired appendages at the base of a leafstalk in certain plants. Examples include Rose and Passionflower.

Stomachic – Herbs that tone the stomach, improving its function and increasing appetite. Examples include Bay Laurel, Dandelion, Coriander, Motherwort, Cardamom, Mugwort, Skullcap, Valerian, Gumweed, Fennel, Vitex

Striated – Having lines, grooves, furrows or other streaked marks.

Strobilus – A cone-like structure on the tip of a plant.

Styptic – Stops bleeding by constricting tissue and blood vessels. Examples include Plantain, Yarrow, Mulberry leaf, Ragweed, Horsetail

Tannins – Naturally occurring polyphenols found in plants, seeds, bark, wood, leaves and fruit skins. Tannins are soluble in water and glycerin but are bound up and become inactive when added to milk, and may make some alkaloids inactive. Tannins are used to ease pain, speed wound healing and reduce or stop bleeding and swelling. Examples include Motherwort, Oak, Prunella, Witch Hazel

Terete – Cylindrical or slightly tapering, and without substantial furrows or ridges.

Thermogenic – Increases the caloric burn rate. Herbs include Cayenne

Thyroid tonic – Herbs that restore or increase thyroid function. Examples include Saw Palmetto

Thyrse – A branching flower cluster, in which the central axis is indeterminate and the lateral branches are determinate cymes.

Tincture – Also referred to as extract. Preparations made by extracting, and preserving, the active properties of herbs using alcohol. See also Extract.

Tomentose – Covered with densely matted woolly hairs.

Tonic – Herbs that restore or increase body tone. Examples include Nettles, Oats, Comfrey, Raspberry, Bay Laurel, Elderberry & flower, Pine, Mulberry, Coriander, Feverfew, Motherwort, Boneset, Ragweed, Maitake, Cardamom, Valerian, Coltsfoot, Horsetail

Toothed leaves – Margins (edges) of leaves that are jagged. Examples include Dandelion, Nettles, Rose, Blackberry, Chicory.

Torus – The expanded tip of a flower stalk or axis that bears the floral organs or the group of flowers in a head. Also known as a receptacle.

Trifoliate – Having three leaflets.

Trophorestorative – Herbs that are nourishing and restorative to both the physiological structure and function of an organ, system or tissue.  Examples include Hawthorn, Skullcap

Tuberculosis – An infectious disease caused by the mycobacterium tuberculosis that affects the lungs but can affect other organs as well.

Typhoid – An infection commonly caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhi that causes diarrhea and a rash.

Umbel – An inflorescence in which a number of flower stalks or pedicels, nearly equal in length, spread from a common center.

Urogenital System – The combination of the reproduction organs and urinary system.

Uterine Stimulant – Energizes the uterus. Examples include Mugwort, Wild Ginger

Uterine tonic – Herbs that tone the uterus or increase uterine function. Examples include Motherwort, Black Haw, Raspberry, Crampbark, Rose, Wild Yam, Saw Palmetto

Varicose veins – swollen, twisted, and sometimes painful veins that have filled with an abnormal collection of blood.

Vasodilator – Herbs that widen blood vessels and help prevent high blood pressure. Examples include Hawthorn, Bay Laurel, Yarrow, Elderberry & flower, Usnea, Feverfew, Motherwort, Black Pepper, Ginkgo

Vasorelaxant – Causing a decrease in vascular pressure resulting in the reduction in tension of the blood vessel walls.

Vermifuge – Herbs that expel parasitic worms and other internal parasites from the body by either stunning or killing them and without causing significant damage to the host. Also known as anthelmintic. Examples include Feverfew, Cumin, Mugwort, Wormwood

Vertigo –  A subtype of dizziness in which a patient inappropriately experiences the perception of motion (usually a spinning motion) due to dysfunction of the vestibular system.  It is often associated with nausea and vomiting as well as a balance disorder, causing difficulties with standing or walking.

Vulnerary – Has wound healing properties. Examples include Bay Laurel, Prunella, Calendula, Plantain, Elderflower, Usnea, Honeysuckle, Marshmallow, Dandelion, Gumweed, Vitex, Thuja, Horsetail

Whooping cough – see Pertussis.

Whorled – An arrangement of sepals, petals, leaves, stipules or branches that radiate from a single point and surround or wrap around the stem.

Xerostomia – Dry mouth resulting from reduced or absent saliva flow. Xeroxstomia is a side effect of illnesses, medication and other health issues.

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