Glossary of Herbal Preparations

This glossary serves as a basic guide to the various preparations and applications of herbs used in modern herbal medicine. This list is not exhaustive, and we will be updating it as we encounter new and exciting ways to use herbs in every day life.

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.

PreparationDescriptionLearn More
BathAn application prepared by adding an infusion or decoction to a tub of hot water and soaking a part of the body in the resulting mixture. The whole body, lower half (sitz bath) or individual limbs may be soaked this way. Coming Soon
Cold CompressAn application prepared by soaking a cloth in a chilled decoction, infusion or cold extract and applying it directly to the skin. This method is best used topically for issues that are contained to a relatively small area of the body. Coming Soon
Cold Extract (Maceration)A beverage prepared by steeping herbal matter in cold water for many hours to extract the active ingredients from the herb. This method is best used for plants that have very volatile compounds that must remain intact. Coming Soon
DecoctionA beverage prepared by actively boiling herbal matter in water to extract the active ingredients from the herb. This method is best used with roots, barks, seeds and other hard materials. Coming Soon
EssenceA compound prepared by mixing an essential oil with a strong alcohol to dilute the essential oil properly for application. This method is best used for topical applications where an oil-based carrier would not be advisable. Coming Soon
Essential OilAn extract prepared by steam distillation, chemical extraction or mechanical compression of herbal matter. Essential oils are highly concentrated volatile extracts of plants and care must be taken when using them. They almost always must be diluted before use. Coming Soon
EyewashAn application prepared by adding a weak infusion that has cooled into a sterilized eyecup and applying the cup to the eye. Coming Soon
Facial SteamAn application prepared by pouring boiling water over herbal matter in a heat-safe bowl. The face is then held close to the bowl, and the head is covered to trap the steam. The method is best used as a skin care treatment or to introduce volatile herbal compounds into the lungs. Coming Soon
FomentationAn application prepared by soaking a cloth in a warm decoction or infusion and applying it directly to the skin. This method is best used topically for issues that are contained to a relatively small area of the body. Caution must be used to avoid burns with this method. Coming Soon
Infused HoneyAn extract prepared by steeping dried herbal matter in honey for long periods to extract the active ingredients. An infused honey is best used orally, and can take the place of an herbal syrup. Coming Soon
Infused OilAn extract prepared by steeping dried herbal matter in an oil for long periods to extract the active ingredients. An infused oil is best used topically as a massage oil, or skin treatment. Coming Soon
Infused VinegarAn extract prepared by steeping dried herbal matter in vinegar for long periods to extract the active ingredients. An infused vinegar is best used topically as a liniment or orally as a substitute for a tincture when alcohol is to be avoided. Coming Soon
InfusionA beverage prepared in a similar manner to tea by combining hot water with herbal matter and steeping it to extract the active ingredients from the herb. This method is best used with leaves, flowers and stems.Coming Soon
JuiceA beverage prepared by chopping up plant parts and squeezing them to extract a juice often with the help of a juicing machine. This method is best used when the preservation of vitamins within the herb is a priority. Coming Soon
LinimentA compound prepared by steeping herbal matter in a solvent to extract the active ingredients or combining essential oils with a solvent. The infusion is then combined with other materials such as oils and emulsifiers to make it easier to apply topically. Liniments are often used to treat muscle soreness and stiffness. Coming Soon
Lozenge (Pastille)A compound prepared by adding an herbal powder or extract to a sugary substance which is then shaped and allowed to harden. Lozenges are taken orally and are allowed to dissolve in the mouth to increase contact with inflamed mucous membranes. Coming Soon
OintmentA compound prepared by combining a wax or solid fat with an infused oil or carrier oil to which essential oils have been added. An ointment is best used topically and bandages may be applied over it. Coming Soon
PoulticeAn application prepared by crushing fresh herbal matter or mixing dried herbal matter with warm water into a paste. This paste is then applied to the skin, covered and left for extended periods. This method is best used topically for wounds or disturbances of the skin. Coming Soon
PowderA powder prepared from herbal matter that has been dried and then ground in a mortar or by a machine. A powder may be taken orally with a beverage to wash it down, or it may be taken inside of a capsule. Coming Soon
SuppositoryA compound prepared by mixing an herbal powder or extract with a semisolid binder which is then shaped and allowed to harden. Suppositories are administered anally or vaginally and are allowed to melt in the appropriate cavity. Coming Soon
SyrupA syrup prepared with sugar or honey in which herbal matter has been boiled to extract the active ingredients. This method is best used with very bitter herbs to help improve their flavor. Coming Soon
TabletA compound prepared by mixing an herbal powder with binders and other ingredients which are then compressed into a hard tablet. Tablets are taken orally with a drink to help wash them down. Coming Soon
TinctureAn extract prepared by soaking herbal matter in alcohol for long periods to extract the active ingredients. A tincture may be taken orally or be added to a beverage to make it more palatable. Coming Soon

Last Updated: April 29th, 2021

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