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Medical Definitions




adaptogen
: having substances that increase the body’s own response to oxidative stress (a phenomenon that is not conclusive by receptor theory)
adjuvant
: a plant added to an herbal mixture to increase the effect of the principle
alkaloids
: nitrogen containing ring compounds, secondary compounds (not primary) to a plant’s life
alterative
: medicinal substance that acts gradually to nourish and improve the system
amoebiasis
: parasitic infection in the gastrointestinal tract; amoeba entamoeba histolytica
analeptic
: stimulates the central nervous system; acts as an antispasmodic and anticonvulsant; improves breathing by stimulating respiratory muscles
analgesic
: reduces, relieves or eliminates pain
anodyne
: soothes and relieves pain
anthelmintic
: expels worms in the GI tract
anthilitic
: prevents formation of calculi (stones) in urinary organs
antibacterial (vs. antimicrobial)
: prevents the growth of bacteria
antibilious
: acts on the bile, relieves biliousness
anticatarrhal
: reduces formation of mucous
anticholesteremic
: lowers plasma cholesterol levels
anticonvulsant
: suppresses the rapid and excessive firing of neurons that start a seizure
antiemetic
: prevents or alleviates nausea and vomiting
antihepatotoxic
: prevents toxins from negatively affecting the liver
antihydrotic
: reduces or suppresses perspiration
antihypertensive
: lowers blood pressure
antilithic
: reduces and suppresses formation of urinary calculi (kidney stones) by dissolution
antimicrobial (vs. antibacterial)
: prevents the growth of bacteria, fungi, and some viruses
antinociceptive
: inhibits nociception, the sensation of pain
antiphlogistic
: reduces inflammation
antipyretic
: reduces or prevents fever; also called a febrifuge
antiscorbutic
: prevents scurvy, usually contains vitamin C
antiseptic
: prevents putrefaction, the decay of cells, and infection
antispasmodic
: relieves or prevents smooth muscle spasms
antisyphilitic
: having an effect on or curing venereal diseases
antitussive
: suppresses coughing
antiuric
: prevents or counteracts acid in urine
antiuricaemic
: prevents or counteracts excess uric acid in blood
anxiolytic
: inhibits anxiety
aperient
: having a mild laxative effect without purging; a mild bowel stimulant
aperitive
: stimulates appetite
aqueous
: an extract obtained from a vegetable substance by steeping it in water

basal
: forming a base
bioactive
: interaction with, or effect on, any cell tissue in the human body
bitter tonic
: acts on mucous membranes of mouth and stomach to stimulate flow of saliva and gastric juices, promotes digestion, used for temporary loss of appetite

carbomer
: series of polymers of acrylic acid used to thicken and smooth cosmetics; mineral derived and water soluble
carminative
: relieves gas and gas pain in the bowels
carthartic
: empties bowels as with a gentle laxative effect, expels gas
cholagogue
: stimulates gallbladder contraction to promote bile flow
choleretic
: encourages the liver to produce bile
comedogenic
: causes acne or clogged pores; see comedogenic ratings of oils and other substances
conjunctivitis
: inflammation of the mucous membranes of the eye or eylid
counterirritant
: a substance topically applied that produces warming by increasing blood circulation
cytopathic
: structural changes in a host cell resulting from viral infection
cytostatic
: inhibits cell growth and division
cytotoxic
: of, relating to, or producing a toxic effect on cells

demulcent
: relieves inflammation by soothing irritated membrane
depurant
: stimulates excretion
diaphoretic
: increases perspiration
dimethicone
: silicone oil; mineral derived; increases the topical absorption rate of oils cutting the greasy feeling of a product
discutient
: causes dispersal or disappearance of a pathological accumulation (tumors)
diuretic
: increases the secretion and flow of urine; reduces water retention
disodium EDTA
: chelating agent; aids in preventing rancidity caused by metals in non-purified water
dyspepsia
: poor digestion, often with heartburn and acid reflux

emetic
: produces vomiting
emmenagogue
: induces or hastens menstrual flow; also called hemagogue
emollient
: an agent that softens or soothes the skin or an irritated internal surface
epispastic
: a substance producing blisters; also called vesicant
esculent
: edible, such as food
exanthematous
: referring to skin eruptions accompanying certain infectious diseases such as measles or scarlet fever
expectorant
: expels mucous from the respiratory tract

febrifuge
: abates and reduces fevers
flavonoids
: a group of plant metabolites; polyphenolic molecules, soluble in water, that create antioxidant effects through activation of cell signalling pathways
full spectrum
: the entire range of chemical compounds or constituents that are naturally occurring in a certain part of a particular species of plant

glyceryl stearate
: an emulsifier
glycosides
: sugar based compounds with toxic side groups, secondary compounds (not primary) to a plant’s life
Gram negative/positive
: bacteria that are identified by whether they retain crystal violet dye in the Gram staining protocol which classifies two distinctly different types of bacteria based on structural differences in their cell walls

hemostatic
: arrests bleeding or hemorrhage; usually has astringent properties
hepatic
: acting on or occurring in the liver
herb
: short for herbaceous (see definition)
herbaceous
: a type of plant having leaves and stems that die down at the end of the growing season to the soil level; a herbaceous plant may be annual, biennial or perennial
herpatic
: treats skin eruptions relating to the herpes virus; or shingles (herpes zoster)
hypotensive
: lowers blood pressure

infusion
: an extremely strong tea made with hot or cold water and an herbaceous plant
immunomodulatory
: having the ability to alter or regulate one or more immune functions, i.e. stimulation of antibody formation or the inhibition of white blood cell activity
inert
: stable and unreactive; will not interfere with active ingredients such as in supplements or drugs
in vitro
: outside the living body and in an artificial environment such as a test tube
in vivo
: in the living body of a plant or animal
interferon-gamma
: an interferon produced by T lymphocytes and large granular lymphocytes in response to foreign macromolecules

liposomal
: a tiny bubble (vesicle), of the same material as a cell membrane, used to fill and deliver a drug
lithontriptic
: dissolving or destroying stone in the bladder or kidneys
lymphocyte
: cells found in the blood, lymph, and lymphoid tissues, constituting approximately 25 percent of white blood cells and including B cells, which function in humoral immunity, and T cells, which function in cellular immunity

M2 inhibitor
: interrupts the replication of a virus by blocking M2 ion channels; the tiny pores in cells that allow charged molecules to enter and exit cells, bringing food in and allowing waste out
maturating
: to cause a formation or discharge of puss
methylparaben
: preservative, synthetically derived; highly bio-compatible with low toxicity
menstruum
: a solvent; a substance dissolved in another substance is known as a solvent or menstruum

nephritic
: renal, referring to kidneys, of or for diseases of the kidneys
nervine
: acts on the nervous system as a sedative, having a soothing or calming effect
neuralgia
: pain in and originating along nerve fibers
nutritive
: provides nutrients, nourishing

ophthalmic
: pertaining to the eye
oxytocic
: stimulates contractions of uterine muscles to facilitate childbirth

parthenolide (PTL)
: an active component in Feverfew shown to have anti-tumor activity, inhibition of DNA synthesis, and inhibition of cell proliferation in different cancer cell lines
pectoral
: of or for diseases of the lungs
percutaneous
: any medical procedure where access to inner organs or other tissue is done via needle-puncture of the skin
phytoceuticals
: plant products with activity on biologic systems
phytochemical / phytonutrient
: bioactive chemical compounds
phytotherapy
: study of the use of extracts from plants as medicines or health-promoting agents
propylparaben
: preservative, synthetically derived
pruritis
: itching, inflammation of the skin that produces itching
purgative
: loosens the stool, sometimes vigorously

resolvent
: a medicinal substance that reduces inflammation or swelling
rubefacient
: topical application that produces skin redness from dilation of the capillaries and an increase in blood circulation

sialogogue
: increases flow of saliva
sirtuin 1 (SIRT1)
: also known as NAD-dependent deacetylase, sirtuin-1 is a protein that in humans is encoded by the SIRT1
soporific
: referring to drugs that are a class of psychoactives whose primary function is to induce sleep
spasmolytic
: anitspasmodic, relieves muscle spasms
squamous
: changing skin cells
stomachic
: improves stomach function and increases appetite
styptic
: contracts tissue to seal injured blood vessels and promote coagulation
sudorific
: produces profuse perspiration

tannins
: astringent compounds in plants that protect the plant from bacterial decay, yeasts, or being eaten
tincture
: in chemistry, a solution that has alcohol as its solvent
: an herbal tincture : liquid extraction of plant compounds, typically with an ethanol percentage of at least 25–60% (50–120 US proof)
tonic
: medicine that invigorates or strengthens, having a general effect on the whole body
triethanolamine (TEA)
: made from ammonia and ethyl alcohol; an organic base used to neutralize carbomer; water soluble

vasoconstrictor
: constricts blood vessles, thereby increasing blood pressure
vasodilator
: dilates blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure
vermifuge
: expels worms
vesicant
: produces blisters; term often used in connection with large-scale chemical burns but may also include naturally occurring substances in plants such as poison ivy
vulnerary
: heals wounds by increasing cell growth and repair

weed
: a derogatory term for a plant, similar to a racial epithet
(definition from Stephen Harrod Buhner’s book “Herbs for Hepatitis C and the Liver”)