Acetylcholine: A choline ester found in many tissues of the body, most specifically the nervous system, where it facilitates the transmission of nerve impulses between nerves (the synapse) and between nerve endings and most muscles.

Alkaloid: An alkaline, nitrogen-bearing substance, usually plant derived, that reacts with acids to form a salt. Usually intensely bitter, the activity of alkaloids is such that they form a body of substances widely used in drug and herbal therapy. They usually have a toxic potential. (Example: caffeine, morphine, berberine.)

Alterative: A term used in prepared medicine for those plants which stimulate changes in metabolism and tissue function of a defensive nature in the presence of disease, both chronic and acute. Sometimes inaccurately used as a synonym for “blood purifiers”. The role of alteratives is based on the premise that disease symptoms in an otherwise healthy individual are actually the external signs of internal defenses and, as such, should be stimulated and not suppressed.

Analgesic: A substance which relieves pain, i.e., asprin.

Anesthetic: A substance which decreases sensitivity to pain.

Anodyne: A substance which relieves pain, usually with accompanied sedation. (Example: morphine.)

Antiseptic: A substance that will prevent or retard growth of microorganisms.

Aperient: gentle laxative, without purging.

Aromatic: stimulant, spicy.

Astringent: causes contraction and arrests discharges.

Antiemetic: stops vomiting.

Antiepileptic: relieves fits.

Antiscorbutic: cures or prevents scurvy.

Antiseptic: opposed to putrefaction.

Antispasmodic: relieves or prevents spasms.

Antisyphilitic: having effect of or curing venereal diseases.


Blood Purifier: A loose, somewhat simplistic name for those herbs which seem to speed the detoxifying and excretion of waste products in the blood stream.


Carminative: expels wind from the bowels.

Cathartic: evacuating to the bowels.

Colic: Spasms of the smooth muscles in any tube or duct.

Condiment: improves flavor of food.


Demulcent: soothing, relieves inflammation.

Deobstruent: removes obstructions.

Depurative: purifies the blood.

Detergent: cleansing to boils, ulcers and wounds.

Diaphoretic: produces perspiration.

Diuretic: A substance that increases the flow of urine, either by increasing permeability of the kidney cells or increasing blood flow.


Emetic: produces vomiting.

Emmenagogue: promotes menstruation.

Emollient: softening and soothing to inflamed parts.

Expectorant: facilitates expectoration.


Hemostatic: A substance which stops bleeding, internally or externally.

Hepatic: remedy for diseases of the liver.


Mucilaginous: soothing to inflamed parts.


Nauseant: produces vomiting.

Nervine: A substance that quells nervousness and irritability either through depression or stimulation of the central nervous system.


Rubefacient: Increases circulation, produces red skin.


Sedative: tonic effect of nerves, also quieting.

Stomachic: strengthens and gives tone to the stomach.

Styptic: arrests hemorrhage and bleeding.

Sudorific: produces profuse perspiration.


Tonic: remedy which is invigorating and strengthening.


Vermifuge: expels worms.