The selection is taken from two sources. It is representative of the more common terms encountered.

1. Potters Cyclopaedia.
2. Materia Medica and Clinical Therapeutics by F.J. Petersen. M.D.

Potters Cyclopedia was first published in the UK in 1907 and has proved its worth to many generations of Natural Practitioners. In keeping with its worth it has become an institution that undergoes periodic revision. This edition is dated 1988.

For our American visitors, F.J Petersen M.D. is of equal authority.

Glossary of Medical Terms
This glossary has been only slightly changed from the original. It is included to explain some of the terms used in herbal medicine as these are often of a more vague or general nature than those used in conventional medicine and are in accordance with the more holistic methods of treatment used. They are not intended as a recommendation to particular remedies where used in the text but are an indication of the current and historical usage of the plant, whether or not the claims can be validated.
Abortifacient Causing abortion
Adaptogen Aiding adaptation of the body, particularly to stress
Alterative A vague term to indicate a substance which hastens the renewal of the tissues so that they can better carry out their function
Analgesic Pain-relieving
Anodyne Pain-easing
Anthelmintic Causing death or removal of worms in the body
Antibilious Against biliousness or excess bile
Antilithic Against stones, e.g. kidney or bladder
Antiperiodic Preventing the return of recurrent fevers, e.g. malaria
Antiscorbutic Preventing scurvy, i.e. a source of vitamin C
Antiphlogistic Relieving pain and inflammation
Antiscrophulous Preventing or curing scrophula, an old fashioned term for diseases causing swelling of the lymph glands, especially in the neck, also known as king's evil
Antiseptic Preventing putrefaction or infection
Antispasmodic Preventing spasm
Aperient Promoting a mild or natural movement of the bowels
Aphrodisiac Exciting the sexual organs
Aromatic Having an aroma
Astringent Causing contraction of the tissues, binding

Bitter Applied to bitter tasting substances used to stimulate the appetite

Cardiac Having an effect on the heart
Carminative Easing griping pains and expelling flatulence
Cathartic Producing evacuation of the bowels
Cholagogue Producing a flow of bile
Choleretic Preventing excessive bile
Corrective Restoring to a healthy state
Demulcent Applied to drugs which soothe and protect the alimentary canal
Deobstruent Clearing away obstructions by opening the natural passages of the body
Depurative A purifying agent
Dermatic Applied to drugs with an action upon the skin
Detergent Cleansing
Diaphoretic Promoting perspiration
Diuretic Increasing the flow of urine
Digestive Aiding digestion

Emetic Causing vomiting
Emmenagogue Promoting menstrual flow
Emollient Softening and soothing, usually the skin
Expectorant Aiding expectoration, loosening phlegm

Febrifuge Reducing fever
Flatulence Having gases in the intestine, distension; windiness

Galactagogue Milk-inducing

Haemostatic Controlling or stopping bleeding
Hallucinogen Producing visions or hallucinations
Hepatic Affecting the liver
Hypnotic Producing sleep

Insecticide A substance which kills insects
Irritant Causing irritation Counter Irritant, against irritation, often by having a warming or rubifacient effect (q.v.)

Laxative Bowel stimulant

Mydriatic Causing dilation of the pupil of the eye
Myotic Causing contraction of the pupil of the eye Narcotic Applied to drugs producing stupor or insensibility

Nervine Restoring the nerves, mildly tranquillizing
Nutritive Nourishing

Orexigenic Stimulating the appetite
Oxytocic Stimulating contractions of the womb

Parasiticide A substance which kills parasites
Parturient Applied to substances used to facilitate childbirth
Pectoral having an effect upon the lungs
Protozoicidal A substance which kills protozoa, e.g. amoebae
Purgative A substance which evacuates the bowels, more drastic than an aperient or laxative

Refrigerant Relieving thirst and giving a feeling of coolness
Rubefacient Causing reddening of the skin, applied to substances producing inflammation and sometimes used as a rub for muscular pain

Sedative Causing sedation, reducing nervous excitement
Sternutatory Producing sneezing by irritation of the mucous membranes
Stimulant Energy producing
Stomachic Applied to drugs which ease stomach pain
Styptic A substance which stops bleeding by clotting the blood, applied externally to cuts or wounds
Sudorific Producing copious perspiration

Taenicide A substance which expels tape-worms
Tonic A substance which gives a feeling of well-being to the body

Vermifuge A substance which expels worms from the body
Vulnerary Used in healing wounds

The following definitions are abstracted from, Materia Medica and Clinical Therapeutics by F.J. Petersen. M.D.

Abortifacients: Remedies that produce abortion.
Alteratives: Such remedies as increase metabolism and thus favor elimination of waste products, from the system.
Anaphrodisiacs: Remedies that act as sexual sedatives and in this way decrease sexual desire.
Anhidrotics: Will suppress or diminish perspiration.
Antagonists: Remedies that will counteract the action of other remedies, or oppose their action.
Anthelmintics: Will expel or destroy worms in the intestinal tract.
Antidotes: Remedies that will neutralize or counteract the action of poisons.
Antigalactagogues: Remedies that decrease the secretion of milk.
Antilithics: Remedies that prevent the formation of calculi, or counteract their formation.
Antiperiodics: Remedies, that counteract or antagonize diseases that have a periodic tendency.
Antiphlogistics: Remedies that will reduce or counteract inflammatory processes.
Antipyretics: Remedies that reduce the temperature of the body either by decreasing oxygenation or by inhibiting the heat center in the brain.
Antispasmodics: control spasms and convulsions, acting on sets of nerves, or some particular nerve or tract.
Antizymotics: Such remedies as will prevent or antagonize fermentation, including antiseptics and disinfectants.
Apositics: Remedies that will suspend hunger.
Aphrodisiacs: Such remedies as will increase or stimulate sexual desire and power.
Astringents: Remedies that in contact with tissues of the body cause them to contract and check secretion.

Carminatives: Medicines that expel flatus from the gastro-intestinal tract and thus relieve pain produced by pressure.
Cholagogues: act on the liver. increasing flow of bile, thus causing bilious stool.
Drastic cathartics: are violent and quick in action.
Hydragogue: cathartics produce watery stool.
Laxatives: are mild in their action.
Purgatives: produce semi-solid stool and are more powerful than laxatives. By this can be seen that cathartics , generally speaking, are purgatives, but whose actions are different according to what class of the above they belong.

Demulcents: Mucilaginous or oily substances for external use or application to allay irritation.
Deodorants: Destructive to offensive odors.

Depressants: Depress the nervous action, either generally, partially or locally , and are divided into classes:
Anodynes: depress the nerve centers and thus relieve pain.
Hypnotics: induce sleep.
Anesthetics: depress the cerebro spinal centers, and in this way causes insensibility. Locally applied they cause local anesthesia.

Diaphoretics: Increase secretion of the skin.
Sudorifics: produce marked perspiration. Simple or mild diaphoretics only produce moisture or mild perspiration.
Diuretics: Increase secretion of urine by their action on the kidneys. They are divided into depurants which increase solids in the urine, and hydragogues, which increase the watery elements of the urine.

Emetics: May act as follows , viz.: by contact with terminals of the pneumogastric nerve in the stomach ; by acting on the vomiting center in the brain, or by acting directly or indirectly through the nervous system.
Emmenagogues: Remedies that stimulate the menstrual flow.

Emollients: Remedies used for external application to soften tissue.
Escharotics: Substances which, if applied to the skill, will produce eschars; in other words, caustics.
Excitants: Stimulate nerves beyond their normal action, and, if continued or given in too large doses,, will cause irritation or spasms of the muscles. In these cases the mental faculties will be excited and confused. They may also act through the nerves on a set of muscles or certain muscles.

Expectorants: Such remedies as will increase or promote the secretion from the bronchial mucous membrane; these may be stimulating or depressing.
Galactagogues: Such remedies as will increase the secretion of milk by stimulating the lacteal glands.
Haemostatic: Remedies that will arrest hemorrhages are termed hemostatics. These may be local or general. They are sometimes called styptics.

Hepatics: Pertaining to the liver and generally refer us to remedies which exert a direct influence on the liver.
Parasiticides: Any substance that will destroy parasites.
Parturifacients: Remedies that hasten parturition by increasing uterine contractions.
Refrigerants: Reduce the bodily heat.
Restoratives: Remedies that will supply any lacking elements to the system either by chemical changes or direct action.
Sedatives: Are remedies that relieve nervous irritation, decrease nerve activity and have a soothing influence on the nerves on which they act. They are divided into general, local and special according to their action, whether they act on the general nervous system, locally, or on certain nerves only.
Sialagogues: Remedies that increase the flow of saliva.
Stimulants: Agents that stimulate nerves to normal action. Some act on the general nervous system; others on special nerves.

Tonics: Remedies which strengthen the nervous system, improve nutrition, restore waste material and favor normal activity of all the organs of the body.
Trophics: Such agents as supply nutrition or stimulate the tissues to absorb the required nutrition are called trophics.

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