Skip to content Skip to footer

Herbal Medicine Terminology Continued... O-Z

Opthalmicum: A remedy for diseases of the eye.

Parasiticide: Destroys parasites. (See germicide, antiparasitic, vulnerary.) Examples include garlic, rosemary, rue, wormwood, tansy, cinnamon, pumpkin seeds.

Parturient: A substance that induces and promotes labor and agents which are beneficial during pregnancy. red raspberry, squaw vine.

Parturifacient: Herbs that induces child-birth or labor, beneficial herbs during pregnancy. 

Pectoral: Strengthening and supports the function of the lungs, (see expectorant).

Poultice: Plant material, generally in powdered form that is mixed with water to form a paste and is applied to the surface of the body as a remedy for drawing out infection, to promote healing of swellings and ulcers. Examples include: slippery elm, flaxseed, plantain, chickweed.

Pungent: Irritating or sharply painful. Producing a sharp sensation of taste or smell.

Purgative: A substance that promotes the vigorous evacuation of the bowels. Usually used to relieve severe constipation. Examples: aloe, licorice, rhubarb, senna, cascara, castor oil.

Refrigerant: Relieves fever and thirst. A cooling remedy. Lowers body temperature. Examples: aloe, coriander, hibiscus, orange, lemon, licorice, sandalwood, chickweed, lemon balm, raspberry, cinnamon.
Relaxant: Tends to relax and relieve tension, especially muscular tension (see sedative).

Resolvent: Promotes the resolving and removing of abnormal growths, such as a tumor.

Rubefacient: An agent that causes an increase in surface blood flow, reddening of the skin and improved local circulation when rubbed or applied externally to the skin. Examples: black pepper, cayenne, ginger, licorice, mustard.

Sedative: Herb that calm down the nervous system, reduce excitement and nervousness, promote relaxation, and is conducive to sleep. Examples include: lemon balm, catmint, chamomile, hops, lavender, skullcap, st john’s wort, valerian, jamacian dogwood, valerian.

Sialagogue: Promotes the flow of saliva. Examples: gentian, centaury, blue flag

Soporific: Herbs that help to produce sleep. 

Stimulant: A general term for an action that quickens, increases the activity or efficiency of a system or organ; increases circulation, and acts more rapidly than a tonic. 

Stomachic: Herbs that give strength and tone to the stomach, stimulate digestion, and improve the appetite. Examples: black pepper, cardamom, cumin, ginger, licorice, turmeric.

Styptic: Astringent: arrests hemorrhage and bleeding. Causes vascular contraction of the blood vessels or assists with blood coagulation to stop bleeding in open wounds. Checks hemorrhage. (See hemostatic) Examples: yarrow, plantain, cayenne, shepherd’s purse, witch hazel.

Sudorific: Herbs that cause heavy perspiration (see diaphoretics).

Thymoleptic: An herbal remedy which raises the mood and counteracts low spirits.

Tincture: A concentrated liquid solution that contains the soluble chemical constituents of plant roots, bark, seeds and leaves. 

Tonic: Herbs that restore and strengthen the entire system. Produces and restores normal tone. A general tonic would be one that supports all body organ systems. 

Tonic (nutritive): An herb that has a normalizing effect on the body. Increasing its tone, strength and vitality. Most tonics are used long term to strengthen the body. Permanently increases the tone of a part of the body, or the entire system by nourishing and increasing weight. Example: red raspberry, nettles, red clover, siberian ginseng, licorice, motherwort, burdock, ashwagandha, alfalfa.

Tonics (Rejuvenative): Regenerates cells and tissues; promotes longevity in the body.

Vermicide: Herb that kills intestinal worms. (See anthelmintic and vermifuge)

Vermifuge: An agent that expels intestinal worms or parasites. (See anthelmintic).

Vesicant: An agent that causes blistering, such as poison ivy. Traditionally used to ease backache and pleurisy.

Vulnerary: An herb used in healing wounds, reducing inflammation and treating fresh cuts, usually used as a poultice. A healing substance. Example: comfrey, honey, licorice, flaxseed, plantain, marigold, marshmallow, turmeric, and slippery elm, heal all, horsetail, marigold, witch hazel.

Information given here is for consumer education only. It is not meant to replace the advice of a qualified health care professional in a clinic environment nor is it intended to treat or claim to treat illness