The traditions all humans share about staying well and addressing illness has a very old set of terms, sort of a language all of its own. The words in this glossary are now ancient and rarely used words that crop up over and over when studying plant uses for health purposes.
Over the centuries health professionals have evolved and taken over managing man’s health thanks to modern availability. They have a different language and created new terms based on the usually electrical technology they put their trust in.
The complexity of disease issues facing the common layman or especially Mothers has not diminished and is increasingly unfathomable due to modern livings effect on our bodies.
The recognizing the once common terms about therapeutic effects of plants is in the hands of curious and especially alternative healers. This is with good reason because; “a little knowledge can be a very dangerous thing” and the generations of experience and memories are now lost that provided sensible caution. Remember Natural does NOT mean safe.
Investigate the fascinating history of plant uses and folklore myths humans used to depend on for their mental and physical comfort one runs into these words. So I have put in the glossary.
It is not a big language but each word says a great deal about action. I struggled to learn them myself and eventually did so the frustrating hard way…… one at time usually by getting frustrated by the ones I most often came accost till I hunted up their meaning.
I hope this list will be easy to reference for anyone struggling to make sense of what actions the terms indicate.
The information below comes, with thanks, from Welsh Herbal Medicine by David Hoffmann, B.Sc. I provide it here on good faith, but I have not verified the information nor take responsibility that it is correct.
Therapeutic Action of Herbs
Alternatives -- Medicines which gradually alter and correct a poisoned condition of the blood stream and restore healthier functioning.
Anthelmintics -- Remedies for worms, including those agents which kill worms without necessarily causing their evacuation (vermicides), and those which expel them from the bowels known as vermifuges.
Antilithic -- An agent which reduces or suppresses urinary stones and acts to dissolve those already there.
Antiseptic -- An agent for destroying or inhibiting pathogenic or putrefactive bacteria.
Antispasmodics -- Reduce or prevent excessive involuntary muscular contractions.
Astringent -- A remedy that contracts organic tissue, reducing secretions or discharges.
Bitter -- Characterised by a bitter principle which acts on mucus membranes of the mouth and stomach to increase appetite and promote digestion.
Cathartic -- Remedies that act to empty the bowels, laxative.
Cardiac -- A herb that stimulates or otherwise affects the heart.
Carminative -- Remedies for the dispersal of gas in the intestine, and counteract the griping tendencies of certain laxatives.
Cholagoggue -- Herbs that increase the flow of bile into the intestines.
Demulcent -- Sooths, softens and allays irritation of mucus membranes.
Diaphoretic -- A remedy that induces an increased perspiration.
Diuretic -- A herb that increases the secretion and expulsion of urine.
Emetic -- A herb that brings about the evacuation of the stomach contents by vomiting.
Emmenagogues -- Provokes and enhances menstrual flow.
Emollients -- Used externally to soften and soothe.
Expectorant -- A remedy that assists, by its influence on the respiratory passages, the increased secretion and ejection of mucus.
Febrifuges -- Reduce temperature in fevers by enhancing the evaporation of perspiration.
Galactagogue -- A herb that encourages or increases secretion of milk.
Hypnotic -- An agent that promotes or produces sleep.
Nervine -- A remedy that has a calming or soothing effect on the nerves.
Oxytocic -- An agent that stimulates contraction of the uterine muscles and so facilitates or speeds up childbirth.
Pectoral -- A remedy pulmonary or other chest diseases.
Sedative -- A soothing herb that reduces nervousness, distress or irritation.
Stimulant -- A herb that excites or quickens the activity of physiological processes.
Tonic -- A remedy that strengthens or invigorates organs or the entire organism.
Vulnerary -- A herb that promotes the healing of wounds.