Herbal Healing

This blog is dedicated to herbal healing and other natural health remedies. In an attempt to deepen my own knowledge, I will share information on a variety of herbs, focusing largely on easy to find Western plants, as well as methods for preparing herbal medicines and natural beauty treatments. I am not a certified herbalist, licensed cosmetologist, or physician, so please use the information on this blog at your own risk! I've been an aspiring herbalist for several years, and I hope to finally get my certification sometime this year.

50 Herbal Actions

Once you start to learn more about herbs, you’ll notice the insanely specific vocabulary associated with the actions of different chemical constituents on different parts of the body.  You don’t have to memorize this stuff (I’m still working on a lot of it), but it is preferable to have some reference information handy when reading through herb profiles.

abortifacient—an herb that can cause premature expulsion of a fetus.  watch for this as a warning on herbs and supplements, and avoid these herbs if you are pregnant or if there is any possibility that you might become pregnant.

adaptogen—an herb that modulates the body’s stress response system and that has a balancing and strengthening effect on the cardiovascular, immune, and neuroendocrine systems

analgesic—an herb that relieves pain, often though anti-inflammatory actions

anodyne—an herb that relieves pain

antacid—an herb that neutralizes acid in the stomach

anthelmintic—(also vermifuge) an herb that expels or kills worms

antibacterial—an herb that destroys or inhibits the growth of bacteria

anti-catarrhal—an herb that controls or cuts down on mucus production

anti-diarrheal—an herb that controls or lessens diarrhea, often through compounds known as tannins, which tighten the intestinal tissue, preventing the release of fluid.

anti-fungal—an herb that destroys or inhibits the growth of fungus

antihistamine—an herb that is used to counteract the effects of allergies by blocking the body’s production of histamine

anti-inflammatory—an herb that reduces inflammation, tissue swelling and redness

antilithic—an herb that helps to break down and expel stones (gall, kidney, etc.)

anti-microbial—an herb that destroys or inhibits the growth of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

antipyretic—an herb that helps to cool a fever

antioxidant—an herb that terminates the chain-reaction production of free radicals, thus preventing cell damage

antiseptic—an herb that prevents or inhibits the growth of bacteria

anti-spasmodic—an herb that helps to relax spastic muscles, often associated with things like diarrhea, menstrual cramps, or muscle twitches

anti-tussive—an herb that suppresses a dry cough

aphrodesiac—an herb that increases arousal or sexual potency, often by way of another primary action (e.g., a nervine may be an aphrodesiac because it is calming and reduces any stress which might inhibit arousal)

aromatic—an herb that has an effect on the body due to its smell; often, a digestive stimulant

astringent—an herb that constricts and dries tissues

bitter—an herb that promotes digestion and the production of bile through stimulation of the taste buds

carminative—an herb that expels gas and relieves stomach discomfort

cholagogue—a digestive herb that stimulates the production of bile

demulcent—an herb that protects, soothes, and reduces inflammation in the digestive, respiratory, and urinary systems.

diaphoretic—an herb that promotes perspiration (usually used in the case of a fever)

diuretic—an herb that helps the body rid itself of excess water.  potassium-sparing diuretics do this without causing the usual loss of potassium.

emmetic—an herb that induces vomiting

emmenagogue—an herb that helps bring on delayed menses (not the same as an abortifacient)

emollient—an herb that soothes and softens tissue

expectorant—an herb that helps to expel mucus

febrifuge—an herb that reduces fever

galactogogue—an herb that increases the production of milk

hemostatic—an herb that stops internal bleeding through its astringent action

hepatic—an herb that strengthens and tones the liver

hypotensive—an herb that reduces elevated blood pressure

laxative—an herb that stimulates bowel movement

lymphatic—an herb that supports healthy activity in the lymphatic system

nervine—a relaxing herb that calms anxiety and nervous tension and that nourishes the nerve tissue

nutritive—an herb with food-like qualities that is taken because of its high vitamin and/or mineral content

oxytoxic—an herb that stimulates uterine contractions and can assist with labor.  (avoid these if you are pregnant or may become pregnant)

pectoral—an herb that heals and/or strengthens the respiratory system

rubefacient—an herb that stimulates the flow of blood to the part of the body on which it is applied, often causing redness

sedative—an herb that calms the nervous system, sometimes inducing sleep

sialagogue—an herb that promotes saliva production

stimulant—an herb that speeds the heart rate and raises the body’s energy level, often causing depletion afterward

styptic—an herb that stops external bleeding through an astringent action on broken blood vessels

tonic—an herb that strengthens a specific body system through repeated use over a period of time

vasodilator—an herb that increases circulation by expanding and relaxing blood vessels

vulnerary—an herb that is wound-healing

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    Once you start to learn more about herbs, you’ll notice the insanely specific vocabulary associated with the actions of...