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Herbal Actions

Herbal medicine has its own language. Another reason why I love it!

Understanding how herbs work means understanding the wide range of actions they can have in the body. 

This glossary contains some of the most common words in the herbal vocabulary.

You'll see these terms listed under the "What is it?" tab on most of the products within the store.

Some words may be unfamiliar. Many are common to standard medical usage but some have particular meaning within the herbal context.

One herb often has numerous actions. They're often synchronised in a way that provides multiple benefits. So clever! 

This list is by no means exhaustive of herbal actions, but it relates to the herbs within products of this store.  

  • Adaptogenic - herbs that assist the body to adapt to stress

  • Analgesic - herbs that reduce pain

  • Anti-fungal - herbs that kills pathogenic fungus or retards their growth
  • Anti-hydrotic - herbs that reduce, suppress or prevent sweating
  • Anti-catarrhal herbs that help reduce the production of excess catarrh eg. sinus

  • Anti-emetic - herbs that can reduce feeling of nausea, relieve or prevent vomiting

  • Anti-inflammatory - herbs that help body to combat inflammation

  • Anti-microbial - herbs that help the body to destroy or resist pathogenic microorganisms

  • Antiseptic - herbs that counteract infection by destroying or inhibiting bacterial growth

  • Anti-spasmodic - herbs that can prevent or ease spasms or cramps in the body

  • Aromatic herbs - that have a strong odour and can stimulate the digestive system

  • Astringent - herbs that contain tannins; they contract/draw together tissue by precipitating proteins and can thus reduce secretions and discharges

  • Bitter herbs that taste bitter act as stimulating tonics for the digestive system through a reflex via the taste buds

  • Carminative herbs rich in volatile oils, stimulate the peristalsis of the digestive system and relax the stomach, thereby relieving flatulence by dispelling wind

  • Demulcent - herbs that are rich in mucilage and can soothe and protect irritated or inflamed internal tissue

  • Diaphoretic herbs that aid the skin in the elimination of toxins and promote perspiration

  • Diuretic - herbs that increase the secretion and elimination of urine

  • Emollient - herbs applied externally to soften, soothe or protect

  • Expectorant - herbs that help clear mucous from the lungs, either by stimulating coughing or effecting mucous consistency

  • Haemostatic - herbs that modulate bleeding

  • Galactagogue - herbs that stimulate the production and/or flow of breastmilk

  • Laxative herbs that stimulate bowel movement and/or evacuation 

  • Nervine herbs that strengthen and restore the nervous system

  • Nootrophic - herbs that enhance memory, concentration and learning,  support mood and mental health
  • Oxytocic - herbs that stimulate the contraction of the uterus thereby helping in childbirth
  • Parturient/Partus preparatorherbs used in the final weeks of pregnancy to help prepare the uterus for labour and birth

  • Relaxant - herbs that reduce tension in the body
  • Sedative - herbs that reduce nervous or functional activity
  • Stomachic - herbs that strengthen the function of the stomach

  • Tonic herbs that strengthen, restores tone or nourishes

  • Vulnerary - herbs that applied externally promote wound healing