Glossary of Medical Terms

Knowing these terms will be helpful if you are working with the healing properties of plants in herbal medicne or herbal magic. Wiccans and witches often use herbs in their healing remedies, tinctures, and ointments.

Adaptogen

Increases the body's ability to adapt to internal or external stress.

Alterative

Gradually alters or changes a condition.

Analgesic

Relieves pain and discomfort.

Anodyne

A medicine that relieves pain.

Antihelminic

Expels worms. Also called vermifuge.

Antibiotic

Kills or inhibits the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms.

Antidote

Counteracts the action af another substance; usually refers to poisons.

Antipyretic

Reduces or prevents a fever.

Antiseptic

Destroys bacteria; usually applied externally.

Antispasmodic

Relieves or prevents muscle spasms or cramps.

Astringent

Causes dehydration and the tightening and shrinking of tissues. Used to stop bleeding and close pores.

Bitter Tonic

Has a bitter taste that stimulates the flow of gastric juices.

Calmative

Has a calming effect; usually not as strong as a sedative.

Carminative

Dispels or prevents gas.

Catarrh

Inflammation of the mucous membranes; especially those of the respiratory system. May be accompanied by gastric upsets or diarrhea.

Cathartic

Causes evacuation of the bowels.

Cholagogue

Promotes the flow of bile.

Demulcent

Oily or mucilaginous substance that soothes and moistens irritated tissues.

Diaphoretic

Promotes sweating.

Diuretic

Also called "water pills;" promotes the flow of urine.

Emetic

Induces vomiting.

Emmenagogue

Promotes menstruation.

Emolient

Softens and soothes the skin.

Expectorant

Expels phlegm by inducing coughing, sneezing, or spitting.

Febrifuge

Dissipates fever.

Flatulence

Gas in the stomach or bowels.

Hemostatic

Stops internal bleeding.

Hepatic

Affecting the liver.

Laxative

A gentle cathartic. A laxative may act by stimulating the motion of the bowel, moistening the colon, increasing bile secretion, or relieving cramps.

Nervine

calms nervousness, tension, and excitement.

Pectoral

Relieves ailments of the chest and lungs.

Physic

A medicinal preparation.

Purgative

A strong cathartic.

Rheumatism

Stiffness of joints and muscles.

Rubefacient

Increases blood circulation to the area to which it is applied.

Sedative

Reduces nervous tension; stronger than a calmative.

Sialogogue

Increases the flow of saliva.

Simple

A herb used solo in treatment of a medical condition.

Soporific

Induces sleep.

Stimulant

Increases or quickens actions of the body.

Styptic

Stops external bleeding; usually an astringent.

Sudorific

Promotes sweating.

Tonic

Strengthens or invigorates the systems.

Vermifuge

Destroys or expels worms.

Vesicant

Causes blisters.

Vulnerary

Used to treat wounds.