Herbal Actions Vocabulary

If you are new to working with our plant-cestors and incorporating the use of herbs into your life, you may have discovered that the study of herbs seems to have its very own language. An important aspect of herbalism is being able to communicate the actions of the herbs. Below is a list of herbal actions. These are properties of the herbs specific qualities and medicinal interactions. This is a small list to help you get started on your journey in the language of the medicinal use of plants.

Herbal Definitions
Adaptogens- helps body adapt to stress (licorice & ginseng)
Anti-inflammatory- to reduce or inhibit inflammation (cramp bark; turmeric for digestive)
Antispasmodic- reduces spasms (crampbark)
Alteratives- (tonic)-affect all body systems, tonify and restore function (dandelion, ashwaganda)
Analgesic- pain relief (chamomile, arnica)
Anti-catarrhal-to reduce mucus (thyme)
Astringents- contract/tighten tissue (yarrow and plantain)
Aprodesica-increases energetic energy and sexual desire (damiana)
Carminatives- relax the GI smooth muscle to allow burping or gas to be expelled (chamomile, peppermint, fennel)
Diaphoretics- to promote sweating (horseradish, ginger, cayenne)
Entheogenic plant – produce a non ordinary state of consciousness (mugwort)
Expectorant- influence consistency, formation, and transport of bronchial secretions (horehound, thyme for respiratory system)
Hepatic- to protect and strengthen the liver (all bitters, dandelion, schisandra, turmeric)
Hypnotics-aids in sleep
Laxatives- increase evacuation of stool (celium & flax); all berberine rich plants
Nervines- effect on the nervous system (skullcap, milky oats, passionflower)