Glossary of Herbal Effects on the Body

This glossary serves as a guide to medical terms that are often encountered when working with herbal medicine. These terms are not exclusively used to describe the actions of herbs on the body, but are often used to describe the actions of pharmaceutical drugs and other chemicals as well. Some of them may be familiar to you already because of this.

This list will be expanded in the future, so please check back to see what is new.
Click the links in the ‘Learn More’ section to see a list of herbs that produce your desired effect in the body.

Please keep in mind that this list of terms has not been evaluated by the FDA, is not intended to act as or replace medical advise or treatment and is for educational purposes only. Please do not hesitate to see a medical professional if you need treatment.

Please use the search function (ctrl+F) to find a certain word or phrase easily within the glossary.

Herbal TermDefinitionLearn More
AbortifacientAn agent that induces the premature expulsion of a fetusComing Soon
AcridAn herb having a hot, biting taste or causing heat and irritation when applied to the skin Coming Soon
AdaptogenAn agent with a non-specific action that causes improved resistance to physical and mental stressComing Soon
AdjuvantAn herb added to a mixture to aid the effect of the principal ingredient Coming Soon
Adrenal TonicAn agent that strengthens and nourishes the adrenal glands Coming Soon
Adrenergic; SympathomimeticAn agent that binds to adrenic neuroreceptors and produces an effect similar to the normal impulses of the sympathetic nervous system Coming Soon
AllergenAn agent that triggers an allergic reaction Coming Soon
AlterativeAn agent which produces gradual beneficial change in the body, usually by improving nutrition, without having any specific effect Coming Soon
AmoebicidalAn agent which destroys amoeba Coming Soon
AnabolicAn agent that builds the muscles and tissues of the body Coming Soon
AnalepticAn agent that stimulates the central nervous system Coming Soon
Analgesic; AnodyneAn agent which relieves, soothes or diminishes pain Analgesic and Anodyne Herbs
AnaphrodisiacAn agent which reduces sexual desire or potency Coming Soon
AndrogenicAn agent that increases the levels of the hormone androgen Coming Soon
AnestheticAn agent that deadens sensation Anesthetic Herbs
AntacidAn agent that brings an overacidic condition back to neutral Coming Soon
Anthelmintic; Vermicide; Vermifuge; TaeniacideAn agent that destroys or expels intestinal worms Coming Soon
AntiabortifacientAn agent that works to prevent miscarriage Coming Soon
AntiallergenicAn agent that relieves the symptoms of allergies Coming Soon
AntiandrogenicAn agent that decreases the levels of the hormone androgen Coming Soon
AntiarrhythmicAn agent that counteracts irregular heartbeat Coming Soon
AntiarthriticAn agent that relieves the inflammation of arthritis and protects the joints from further damage Antiarthritic Herbs
AntiasthmaticAn agent that alleviates the spasms of asthma Coming Soon
AntibacterialAn agent that kills or inhibits the growth of bacteria Antibacterial Herbs
Antibiotic; AntimicrobialAn agent that destroys or arrests growth of micro-organisms Coming Soon
AnticarcinogenicAn agent that reduces the level of activity of cancer cells Coming Soon
AnticatarrhalAn agent that reduces mucous levels in the body as well as inflammation of the mucous membranes Coming Soon
AnticholinergicAn agent that blocks the parasympathetic nerves Coming Soon
AnticoagulantAn agent that prevents clotting in liquids such as blood Coming Soon
AnticonvulsantAn agent that prevents or relieves convulsions Coming Soon
AntidepressantAn agent that alleviates depression Coming Soon
AntidiabeticAn agent that prevents or alleviates diabetes Coming Soon
AntidiarrhealAn agent that remedies diarrheaComing Soon
AntidiureticAn agent that prevents or slows urine formation Coming Soon
AntidoteAn agent that counteracts poisoning Coming Soon
AntiemeticAn agent that counteracts nausea and relieves vomiting Coming Soon
AntiestrogenicAn agent that decreases the level of estrogen in the body Coming Soon
Antifungal; AntimycoticAn agent that kills or inhibits the growth of fungi Antifungal and Antimycotic Herbs
AntigalactagogueAn agent that decreases lactation Coming Soon
AntihistamineAn agent that improves allergy symptoms by blocking the action of histamine Coming Soon
AntihydroticAn agent which reduces or suppresses perspiration Coming Soon
AntihypertensiveAn agent that reduces high blood pressure Coming Soon
Anti-inflammatoryAn agent that causes symptomatic relief of inflammation Anti-inflammatory Herbs
AntilithicAn agent which reduces or suppresses urinary stones and acts to dissolve those already present Coming Soon
AntimitoticAn agent that prevents or inhibits cell division Coming Soon
AntimucoidAn agent that decreases the amount of mucous in the body Coming Soon
AntimutagenicAn agent that works to prevent cell mutation Coming Soon
AntineoplasticAn agent that decreases growths such as tumors Coming Soon
AntioedemaAn agent that prevents swelling Coming Soon
AntioxidantAn agent that is able to protect cells or counteract the damage caused by oxidation and oxygen free radicals Antioxidant Herbs
Antiparasitic; ParasitacideAn agent that kills or deters parasites Coming Soon
AntiperiodicAn agent which counteracts periodic or intermittent diseases, such as malaria Coming Soon
AntiphlogisticAn agent which prevents inflammation Coming Soon
AntipruriticAn agent that alleviates or prevents itching Coming Soon
Antipyretic; FebrifugeAn agent which prevents or reduces fever Antipyretic and Febrifuge Herbs
AntirheumaticAn agent that relieves the symptoms of rheumatism Coming Soon
AntiscorbuticA source of vitamin C for curing or preventing scurvy Coming Soon
AntiscrofulousAn agent which counteracts scrofula, the symptoms of tuberculosis present outside of the lungs Coming Soon
Antiseptic; DisinfectantAn agent that destroys or inhibits pathogenic or putrefactive bacteria Antiseptic and Disinfectant Herbs
AntispasmodicAn agent that relieves spasms or cramps Antispasmodic Herbs
AntisudorificAn agent that decreases perspiration Coming Soon
AntithromboticAn agent that prevents the formation of blood clots Coming Soon
AntitumorAn agent that counteracts tumor formation or tumor growth Coming Soon
AntitussiveAn agent that relieves coughing Coming Soon
AntivenomousAn agent that reduces the harm caused by venom Coming Soon
AntiviralAn agent that inhibits viral replication Coming Soon
AnxiolyticAn agent that lessens anxiety Coming Soon
AperientA mild stimulant for the bowels; a gentle purgative Coming Soon
AphrodisiacAn agent for arousing or increasing sexual desire or potency Coming Soon
AppetizerAn agent that increases the appetite Coming Soon
AromaticAn agent that has an agreeable odor and stimulating qualities which is often added to mixtures to improve the smell or flavorAromatic Herbs
AstringentAn agent that contracts organic tissue, reducing secretions or discharges Astringent Herbs
BacteriostaticAn agent that prevents the multiplication of bacteria Coming Soon
Biogenic StimulatorAn agent that stimulates new cellular growth Coming Soon
Bitter; Bitter TonicAn herb characterized by a bitter principle which acts on the mucous membranes of the mouth and stomach to increase appetite and promote digestion Coming Soon
Bladder TonicAn agent that strengthens and nourishes the bladder Coming Soon
Blood TonicAn agent that strengthens and nourishes the blood Coming Soon
Bone TonicAn agent that strengthens and nourishes the bones Coming Soon
Brain TonicAn agent that strengthens and nourishes the brain Coming Soon
Bronchial Dilator; BronchodilatoryAn agent that reduces bronchial spasms and thus facilitates breathing Coming Soon
CalmativeAn agent that has a mild sedative or tranquilizing effect Coming Soon
CarcinogenAn agent that causes cancer Coming Soon
CardiacAn agent that stimulates or otherwise affects the heart Coming Soon
Cardiac SedativeAn agent that calms heart activity Coming Soon
Cardiac StimulantAn agent that stimulates heart activity Coming Soon
CardioprotectiveAn agent that protects heart function Coming Soon
CardiotonicAn agent that has a strengthening or regulatory effect on the heart Coming Soon
Cardiovascular StimulantAn agent that stimulates the heart and circulatory system Coming Soon
CarminativeAn agent that expels gas from the intestines Carminative Herbs
CatalepticAn agent that lessens response to external stimuli Coming Soon
Cathartic; Laxative; PurgativeAn agent that acts to empty the bowels Coming Soon
Caustic; EscharoticA corrosive substance capable of burning or eating away tissues Coming Soon
Central Nervous System DepressantAn agent that decreases nervous system activity Coming Soon
Central Nervous System StimulantAn agent that increases nervous system activity Coming Soon
CephalicAn agent that has an effect upon the head, such as relieving a headache or improving memory Coming Soon
Cerebral SedativeAn agent that lessens brain activity Coming Soon
Cerebral StimulantAn agent that increases brain activity Coming Soon
Cerebral TonicAn agent that strengthens and nourishes the brain Coming Soon
Cerebral VasodilatorAn agent that increases circulation and dilates blood vessels in the brain Coming Soon
Cerebral VasorelaxantAn agent that relaxes blood vessels in the brain Coming Soon
CholagogueAn agent that increases the flow of bile into the intestines Cholagogue Herbs
CholekineticAn agent that stimulates the release of bile by contraction of the gall bladder and bile ducts Coming Soon
CholereticAn agent that stimulates the liver to produce bile Coming Soon
Circulatory StimulantAn agent that increases circulation throughout the body Circulatory Stimulant Herbs
Circulatory TonicAn agent that nourishes and strengthens the circulatory system Coming Soon
CoagulantAn agent that induces clotting in a liquid such as blood Coming Soon
Counterirritant; IrritantAn agent for producing irritation in one part of the body to counteract irritation or inflammation in another part Coming Soon
CytostaticAn agent that slows down cell growth and multiplication Coming Soon
CytotoxicAn agent that is toxic to cells Coming Soon
DecongestantAn agent that removes mucous from the respiratory system and opens the air passages Coming Soon
DemulcentAn agent that soothes irritated tissue, especially mucous membranes Coming Soon
DeobstruentAn agent that works to remove obstructions Coming Soon
DeodorantAn agent that has the effect of destroying or masking odors Coming Soon
DepressantAn agent which lessens nervous or functional activity, the opposite of a stimulant Coming Soon
DepurativeAn agent that cleanses and purifies the system, especially the blood Coming Soon
DetergentAn agent that cleanses wounds and sores of diseased or dead matter Coming Soon
Diaphoretic; SudorificAn agent that promotes perspiration Diaphoretic and Sudorific Herbs
DigestiveAn agent that promotes or aids digestion Digestive Herbs
DiscutientAn agent that dissolves tumors and abnormal growths Coming Soon
DiureticAn agent that increases the secretion and expulsion of urine Diuretic Herbs
Emetic; NauseantAn agent that causes vomiting Coming Soon
EmmenagogueAn agent that promotes menstrual flow Emmenagogue Herbs
EmollientAn agent used externally to soften and soothe the skin Coming Soon
Endocrine TonicAn agent that nourishes and strengthens the endocrine system Coming Soon
EntheogenicAn agent that induces or promotes a spiritual or mystical experience through psychoactive properties Coming Soon
ErrhineAn agent that promotes sneezing and nasal discharges Coming Soon
EstrogenicAn agent that increases the production of estrogen Coming Soon
Euphoriant; Euphoric; EuphorigenAn agent that induces an abnormal sense of vigor and emotional buoyancy Coming Soon
ExpectorantAn agent that promotes the discharge of mucus from the respiratory passages Expectorant Herbs
Female TonicAn agent that strengthens and nourishes the ovaries, uterus and vagina Coming Soon
Fiber LaxativeAn agent that increases bowel action due to its high fiber content Coming Soon
GalactagogueAn agent that encourages or increases the secretion of breast milk Coming Soon
Genitourinary Antiseptic; Urinary AntisepticAn agent that curbs infection in the bladder, kidneys and urinary system Genitourinary Antiseptic and Urinary Antiseptic Herbs
HallucinogenAn agent that induces hallucinations Coming Soon
Hemostatic; HemostypticAn agent that stops bleeding Hemostatic and Hemostyptic Herbs
HepaticAn agent that acts on the liver Coming Soon
HepatoprotectiveAn agent that has a protective effect on the liver Coming Soon
Hepatotonic; Liver TonicAn agent that strengthens and nourishes the liver and gallbladder Coming Soon
HepatotoxicAn agent that is toxic to the liver Coming Soon
Hormone RegulatorAn agent that promotes the normalization of hormone production Coming Soon
Hormone TonicAn agent that strengthens and nourishes the organs that produce hormones Coming Soon
HydragogueA purgative that produces abundant watery discharge Coming Soon
HyperglycemicAn agent that elevates blood sugar levels Coming Soon
HypertensiveAn agent that elevates blood pressure Coming Soon
Hypnotic; SoporificAn agent that promotes or produces sleep Coming Soon
HypoglycemicAn agent that lowers blood sugar levels Coming Soon
HypotensiveAn agent that lowers blood pressure Hypotensive Herbs
Immune StimulantAn agent that enhances the body’s ability to protect itself from disease and illness Coming Soon
Immune TonicAn agent that strengthens and nourishes the immune system Coming Soon
InotropicAn agent that affects the contraction of muscles Coming Soon
InsecticideAn agent that kills or deters insects Coming Soon
Interferon StimulantAn agent that increases the body’s production of interferon Coming Soon
IntoxicantAn agent that causes a state of intoxication or inebriation Coming Soon
Kidney CleanserAn agent that aids in cleansing the kidneys Coming Soon
Kidney StimulantAn agent that increases the activity of the kidneys Coming Soon
LithotripticAn agent that reduces, suppresses, or dissolves calcification and stones in the body Coming Soon
Liver CleanserAn agent that aids in cleansing and detoxifying the liver Coming Soon
Liver DecongestantAn agent that promotes the clearing of obstructions and stagnation from the liver Coming Soon
Liver StimulantAn agent that increases activity in the liver Coming Soon
Lung TonicAn agent that strengthens and nourishes the lungs Coming Soon
Lymphatic CleanserAn agent that promotes the cleansing and detoxifying of the lymphatic system Coming Soon
Lymphatic DecongestantAn agent that promotes the clearing of obstructions and stagnation in the lymphatic system Coming Soon
Metabolic StimulantAn agent that increases metabolic processes in the body Coming Soon
MolluscidalAn agent that kills or deters mollusks Coming Soon
MucilageAn agent that forms a protective layer of viscous substances over inflamed mucosal tissues Coming Soon
MucilaginousAn herb characterized by a gummy or gelatinous consistency Coming Soon
MucolyticAn agent that dissolves mucous Coming Soon
Mucous Membrane TonicAn agent that strengthens and nourishes the mucous membranes Coming Soon
Muscle RelaxantAn agent that relaxes the muscles Coming Soon
MutagenicAn agent that induces genetic mutation Coming Soon
NarcoticAn agent which relieves pain and induces sleep when used in medicinal doses; in large doses narcotics produce convulsions, coma and death Coming Soon
NephriticAn agent that acts on the kidneys Coming Soon
Nerve RelaxantAn agent that lowers activity of the nervous system Nerve Relaxant Herbs
Nerve RestorativeAn agent that restores nerves that have been stressed or damaged Coming Soon
NervineAn agent that has a calming or soothing effect on the nerves; formerly any agent that acts on the nervous system Coming Soon
Nervous System StimulantAn agent that stimulates activity of the nervous system Coming Soon
Nervous System TonicAn agent that strengthens and nourishes the nervous system Coming Soon
Neuromuscular StimulantAn agent that stimulates activity of the muscles and nerves Coming Soon
NeuroprotectiveAn agent that protects the nervous system Coming Soon
NootropicAn agent that increases the activity and supply of nutrients in the brain Coming Soon
NutritiveAn herb that is high in vitamins and minerals and is sometimes added to the diet a nutritional supplement Coming Soon
OdantalgicAn agent that gives temporary relief from dental pain Odantalgic Herbs
OphthalmicAn agent that treats and prevents disorders of the eyes and improves vision Coming Soon
OxytocicAn agent that stimulates contraction of the uterine muscles therefore facilitating or speeding up childbirth Coming Soon
ParturientAn agent that assists in labor and child birth Parturient Herbs
PectoralAn agent that relieves lung disorders and diseases Coming Soon
PediculocideAn agent that kills lice Coming Soon
Peripheral VasoconstrictorAn agent that causes constriction of blood vessels at the periphery of the body Coming Soon
PhytoandrogenicAn agent that provides the raw material the body needs to produce androgen Coming Soon
PhytoestrogenicAn agent that provides the raw material the body needs to produce estrogen Coming Soon
PhytoprogesteronicAn agent that provides the raw material the body needs to produce progesterone Coming Soon
Postpartum TonicAn agent that helps a person recover after child birth Coming Soon
ProphylacticAn agent that prevents disease Prophylactic Herbs
Prostate TonicAn agent that strengthens and nourishes the prostate gland Coming Soon
PsychoactiveAn agent that causes an altered state of perception Coming Soon
PsychotropicAn agent that affects the mind or mood Coming Soon
PyreticAn agent that induces fever Coming Soon
RefrigerantAn agent that lowers abnormal body heat Coming Soon
RejuvenativeAn agent that renews the body, mind and spirit. It may also slow aging, counteract stress and increase endurance Coming Soon
RelaxantAn agent that reduces tension Coming Soon
Reproductive TonicAn agent that strengthens and nourishes the reproductive system Coming Soon
ResolventAn agent that reduces inflammation and swelling Coming Soon
Respiratory StimulantAn agent that increases respiratory activity Coming Soon
RestorativeAn agent that restores consciousness or normal physiological activity Coming Soon
RoborantAn agent that acts as a tonic or strengthens the body Coming Soon
RubefacientA gentle local irritant that produces reddening of the skin Coming Soon
SalureticAn agent that increases the concentration of salts in the urine Coming Soon
SecretolyticAn agent that leads to a better solubilisation of mucous and favors its discharge Coming Soon
SedativeA soothing agent that reduces nervousness, distress or irritation Coming Soon
SialagogueAn agent that stimulates the secretion of saliva Coming Soon
SpermicideAn agent that kills or inactivates sperm Coming Soon
Spinal Cord TonicAn agent that strengthens and nourishes the spinal column Coming Soon
Spleen TonicAn agent that strengthens and nourishes the spleen Coming Soon
StimulantAn agent that excites or quickens the activity of physiological processes Stimulant Herbs
StomachicAn agent that acts upon the stomach, often increasing appetite and promoting digestion Stomachic Herbs
Stomach TonicAn agent that strengthens and nourishes the stomach Coming Soon
StypticAn agent that contracts the blood vessels and stops bleeding Styptic Herbs
TeratogenicAn agent that causes abnormal growth in an embryo Coming Soon
ThermogenicAn agent that increases metabolism and body temperature Coming Soon
Thyroid StimulantAn agent that increases thyroid activity Coming Soon
TonicAn agent that strengthens or invigorates certain organs or the entire body Tonic Herbs
Urinary StimulantAn agent that stimulates circulation and activity in the urinary system Coming Soon
Uterine DecongestantAn agent that promotes the clearing of obstructions and stagnation from the uterus Uterine Decongestant Herbs
Uterine RelaxantAn agent that relaxes the uterus Coming Soon
Uterine StimulantAn agent that increases activity in the uterus Uterine Stimulant Herbs
Uterine TonicAn agent that strengthens and nourishes the uterus Coming Soon
Uterine VasodilatorAn agent that increases circulation to and expands blood vessels within the uterus Coming Soon
VasoconstrictorAn agent that narrows the blood vessels, thus raising blood pressure Coming Soon
VasodilatorAn agent that widens the blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure Vasodilator Herbs
VasorelaxantAn agent that relaxes blood vessels Coming Soon
VesicantAn agent that produces blisters Coming Soon
VirustaticAn agent that inhibits the multiplication of viruses Coming Soon
VulneraryAn agent which aids in the healing of topical wounds Vulnerary Herbs

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