Table 1.

Herbal Glossary

Adaptogen: A remedy that has an overall balancing effect on the body, increases resistance to stress, and strengthens the immune system (eg, ginseng)
Anodyne: A preparation for pain relief (eg, willow bark)
Balm or salve: A soothing, lipid-based topical preparation containing beeswax, vegetable oil, or mineral oil Bitters: A substance that promotes digestion and appetite (eg, dandelion leaves)
Carminative: A substance that aids digestion
Decoction: An extraction of the soluble compounds from hard plant material (eg, bark or roots) made by boiling in water for more than 20 min
Demulcent: A remedy that soothes mucous membrane irritations (eg, slippery elm bark)
Doctrine of Signature: A theory that states that a plant’s appearance and growth habits reveal its therapeutic value
Emmenagogue: A substance that promotes menstruation
Essential oil: An oil infused with a high concentration of herbal constituents (eg, tea tree oil)
Fluid extract: A hydroalcoholic solution with the strength of one part solvent to one part herb (more concentrated than a tincture; alcohol content can vary)
Galactagogue: A substance that promotes lactation
Glycerite: An herbal compound infused in a solution of glycerin (no alcohol)
Infusion: An extraction of soluble compounds from fresh or dried flowers, leaves, or seeds made by steeping in hot water for 5 to 10 min (a tea)
Maceration: An herbal infusion made with cold water
Mucilage: A gelatinous substance from plants that is used to soothe irritations
Nervine: A mild sedative or anxiolytic (eg, chamomile or lavender)
Poultice: An herbal preparation wrapped in cloth and applied to the skin
Tincture: An alcoholic solution of active plant constituents (alcohol content can vary)
Tonic: A preparation used to invigorate and restore the body and used on a daily basis (eg, nettles)
Vulnerary: A preparation used to promote wound healing.