Herbal Actions Glossary

Prepared by [Nadine Rosario, Community Herbalist]


Adaptogen: Herbs that assist resistance to stress. Help adapt to external and internal stresses.

Alterative: Cleansing, stimulating efficient removal of waste products ~ helps support normal elimination function. Helping support the activity and functions by the liver, kidneys, skin, lymph, and lungs

Analgesic: Helps reduce and relieve pain

Antiseptic: Helps inhibit and prevent the growth of disease-causing microorganisms

Antispasmodic: helps reduce and relieve spasms and cramps

Anxiolytic: Helps reduce anxiety

Astringent: Helps contract and reduce secretions in skin cells and other bodily tissue

Antiviral: effective against most viruses.

Bitter Tonic: helps promote and aid digestion and absorption: stimulates digestion

Cardiotonic: Helps support the heart and circulatory system

Carminative: helps relieve and expel intestinal gas

Decongestant: helps relieve congestion in nasal passages

Diffusive: Helps with moving stagnant energy throughout the body; circulatory 

Demulcent: helps soothe irritated tissue, often mucosal tissue  

Depurative: herbs that have a purifying, detoxifying effect 

Diaphoretic: helps promote perspiration

Diuretic: helps eliminate water and electrolytes through kidneys

Emmenagogue: help promotes menstrual flow 

Emollient: helps to soften and soothe inflamed tissue; protects skin 

Expectorant: helps expel mucus from the respiratory system via air passageways

Hepatic: helps support liver function 

Hepatoprotective: helps protect the liver 

Immune amphoteric:  helps normalize and regulate depressed or excessive immune function 

Immunomodulant: has a positive effect on the immune system; adjusts immune response to the correct level

Immunostimulant: helps stimulates the immune system

Laxative: helps stimulate bowel function

Lymphatic Tonic: helps support the functions of the lymphatic system

Mucilaginous: gelatinous constituent in some seeds and plants; moistening

Nervine: helps soothe the nervous system; some may be relaxing, some may be stimulants

Nootropic: helps enhance cerebral function and circulation. ( Brain Tonic)

Nutritive: helps nourish the body entirely

Reproductive Tonic:  helps support and nourish the reproductive organs

Soporific: helps induce sleep

Sedative: helps reduce anxiety and pain, induces sleepiness & relaxation  

Tonic: restoring, nourishing, and supporting the entire body; a substance that exerts gentle strengthening effects on the body.

Trophorestorative: nourishes, tones, and strengthens a specific organ or a function 

Vulenary:  assists in the healing of wounds by protecting against infection and stimulating cell growth