Medical Terms

Abscess: a lump of pus caused by inflammation or bacteria

Acne: common skin disorder usually caused by hormone imbalance especially during adolescence

Allergy: abnormal response by the body to a food or foreign substance

Analgesic: a pain-relieving substance

Anemic: reduction below normal of the number of erythrocytes, quantity of hemoglobin, or the volume of packed red cells in the blood; a symptom of various diseases and disorders

Antibiotic – literally, life-killing; in modern medicine, a substance that will kill disease causing micro organisms.

Anti-depressive: substance that relieves depression

Antianemic: Relating to factors or substances that prevent or correct anemic conditions.

Antifungal: A drug used to treat fungal infections.

Antihemorrhagic: reducing hemorrhage

Anti-inflammatory: Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms

Antioxidant: refers to the ability of a substance to control or eliminate free radicals or reduce cellular oxidation in the body

Antiseptic: Something that discourages the growth microorganisms. By contrast, aseptic refers to the absence of microorganisms.

Antispasmodic: capable of relieving spasms

Antiviral: An agent that kills a virus or that suppresses its ability to replicate and, hence, inhibits its capability to multiply and reproduce.

Arthritis: painful inflammation of joint tissues

Asthma: spasm of the bronchi in the lungs, narrowing the airways

Astringent: substance able to contract cell walls and stop unwanted discharge

Bile: thick, oily fluid excreted by the liver; bile helps the body digest fats

Blood Pressure: The pressure exerted by the blood on the walls of the arteries.

Bronchitis: infection of the bronchi, the tubes that take air to the lungs

Bursitis: inflammation of the water-filled cushions surrounding the knee (bursae)

Calmative: Simply a calming agent, not necessarily sedative.

Carminative: Inducing the expulsion of gas from the stomach and intestines.

Catarrh: excessive excretion of the phlegm from the air passage

Cholagogue: Refers to substances that stimulate bile production in the liver

Cholesterol: Fat-soluble steroid alcohol found in animal fats, oils, and egg yolk; continuously synthesized in the body, mainly in the liver.

Colic: abdominal pain caused by wind in the intestines

Constipation: condition where evacuating the bowels is infrequent and difficult

Compress – bandage or heating pad, cold compress is an ice pack

Cystitis: bladder infection causing infrequent and painful urination

Decoction: an herbal preparation made by simmering plant material in water until maximum extraction of active constituents is achieved. This process is usually used for roots, barks, and seeds that are not water soluble enough for use in simple infusions (teas).

Demulcent: A soothing, usually mucilaginous or oily substance, such as glycerin or lanolin, used especially to relieve pain in inflamed or irritated mucous membranes.

Dermatitis: inflammation of the skin

Detox: To counteract or destroy the toxic properties

Diaphoretic: Producing or increasing perspiration.

Diarrhea: frequent evacuation of loose (water) stools

Digestive: improving digestion or relating to it

Diuretic: Medicine which increases urination, often combined with demulcents.

Eczema: term for a wide range of skin conditions

Emmenagogue: A substance with medicinal properties designed to assist and promote the menstrual discharges

Epilepsy: abnormality of brain function causing seizures

Essential Oil: any of the large class of volatile (readily vaporizing), usually scented plant oils that are constituents of many herbal medications.

Expectorant: Medicine that promotes the discharge of matter from the lungs, whether it be mucus, pus, or any other morbid accumulation

Extract: in herbalism, the desired constituents withdrawn from a plant by physical or chemical means or both

Flatulence: excessive amount of gas in stomach or intestines

Galactagogue: substance that promotes the flow of breast milk

Gallstones: insoluble stones which occur in the gall-bladder

Gastritis: inflammation of stomach lining

Gingivitis: inflammation of the gums Gout: inflammation in joints caused by a buildup of uric acid

Hayfever: allergic reaction to pollen causing inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose and eyes.

Hemorrhage: loss of blood

Hemorrhoids: swollen veins in the anus wall

Herbalism: the practice of identifying and using plants that have aromatic, flavoring, and, particularly, medicinal properties. The claims for the plants’ therapeutic value may be based on scientific fact, folklore, myth, or conjecture

Histamine: A compound, found in all cells, where tissue is damaged associated with allergies and other inflammatory reactions.

Homeostasis - (physiology) metabolic equilibrium actively maintained by several complex biological mechanisms that operate via the autonomic nervous system to offset disrupting changes

Hypertension: high blood pressure

Hypertensive: Agent that increases blood pressure

Hypotension: low blood pressure

Immune system: the body’s defense mechanisms against infectious organisms and other foreign materials, such as allergens

Indigestion: Condition where digestion is difficult, resulting in abdominal pain

Infusion: A preparation made by steeping the plant material in hot water

Insecticide: killing insects

Insomnia: condition where falling asleep is difficult or impossible

Kidney Stone: small, hard stone that may form in the kidneys and cause intense pain. Various methods are used to dissolve them or break them into smaller parts so that they may be passed.

Laryngitis: inflammation of the larynx

Laxative: Encourages bowel movements

Meningitis: inflammation of the membranes that protect the brain

Menorrhagia: an excess loss of blood occurring during menstruation

Menstrual flow: discharge of blood and tissue debris of monthly period

Nerve tonic: a medicinal preparation that is meant to stimulate and “tone up” the nervous system and thus give a feeling of healthy wellbeing

Ointment: a solid medication applied to the skin for soothing or healing

Parkinson’s Disease: a progressive disease of the nervous system

Piles: swollen veins in the anus wall

Pleurisy: inflammation of the membrane which surrounds the lungs (pleura)

Pneumonia: a lung infection usually caused by bacteria or viruses

Poultice: a plaster that is applied hot and wet

Prostate gland: male gland surrounding neck of bladder and urethra

Purgative: tending to cleanse or purge, especially causing evacuation of the bowels.

Rheumatism: any painful disorder of the joint tissues

Ringworm: skin disease caused by fungal infection

Scabies: a skin disease caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabei marked by severe itching and crusty sores

Sedative: Allays irritability or nerve action and induces a state of calmness

Shingles: viral infection of the nerve gangli

Sinusitis: inflammation of mucous membranes lining the sinuses (especially nasal)

Spasm: an abnormal muscle contraction that is often accompanied by pain and may signal an underlying disorder

Stimulant: an agent that arouses organic activity, strengthens the action of the heart, increases vitality, and promotes a sense of well-being.

Stomachic: product that serves to increase stomach secretions

Thrombosis: formation of a blood clot in a blood vessel

Thrush: fungal infection of throat or vagina

Thyroid gland: gland that regulates the body’s metabolic rate, situated in front of the windpipe (trachea)

Tonic: Medicine that permanently increases the systemic tone by stimulating nutrition

Tonsillitis: inflammation of the tonsils

Tonsils: lymph tissue at the back of the throat

Tuberculosis: infectious disease caused by bacteria entering the body through the digestive tract, affecting the lungs first

Tumor: abnormal growth of the cells anywhere in the body

Ulcer: slow-healing sore occurring internally or externally

Urethritis: inflammation of the tube from the bladder (urethra)

Uric acid: waste product produced by metabolism

Vulnerary: Application for external wounds

Whooping cough: infectious childhood disease of the upper respiratory tract


  1.  Herbalpedia™  - The Herb growing & Marketing Network. Editor: Maureen Rogers.
  2.  Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia.