Below is list of common natural and herbal terms. Proper citations noted below.
- Herbs which purify the blood. Most alteratives promote the cleaning action of the spleen, liver, kidneys, and bowels. Alterative herbs are generally used over a long period of time, to allow for gradual detoxification of the entire bloodstream which will, in turn, improve digestion, assimilation, and glandular secretions.
Apparently, some alterative herbs contain hormones or hormone-like substances that act like endrocrine secretions. Others seem to improve the function of the endrocrine glands, so that they better produce their own secretions.
- Herbs that relieve pain by lessening the scitability of the nerves and nerve centers. Closely allied to antispasmodic herbs. Most anodyne herbs can be used externally as fomentations or internally as teas (infusions or decoctions), tinctures, or powders.
- Herbs which correct acid conditions in the stomach, blood, and bowels.
- Herbs that have the ability to destroy intestinal worms and parasites. There are two categories of anthelmintics: 1) vermicides, which are agents that destroy worms without necessarily causing their expulsion from the bowels, and should be followed by or combined with laxative or cathartic herbs; and 2) vermifuges, which are agents that expel worms from the bowels and are usually cathartic herbs.
- Herbs that inhibit the growth of and destroy viruses and bacteria. These herbs not only destroy germs, but also help to promote the body's own immunity.
- Herbs which eliminate mucous conditions. While ridding the body of catarrh (mucous), it is helpful to aid elimination by including laxative herbs for the bowel or diuretic teas to eliminate excess moisture.
- Herbs that relieve and suspend nausea and thus prevent vomiting.
- Herbs that are cooling to the system and are used to reduce fevers; also called "refrigerants.
- Herbs which combat scurvy, due to their vitamin C content. Also useful in fevers.
- Herbs that prevent the growth of bacteria.
- Herbs that are used for muscular spasms, convulsions, and cramps.
- Herbs which prevent blood clots. There herbs should not be taken when there is evidence of bleed, as clotting time will be reduced. Antithrombotic herbs should not be used by persons taking blood thinning agents.
- Herbs that produce mild laxative effects which soften the stools without purging.
- Herbs that correct conditions of impotence.
- Herbs that have a fragrant smell and an agreeable, pungent taste. Aromatic herbs have a stimulating effect on the gastrointestinal mucous membrane because of their essential oils. They have a spicy taste and are used to aid digestion and expel wind from the stomach and bowels. They are also used to cover the taste of bitter herbs. If inflammation of the stomach or bowels is present, aromatic herbs should be avoided. Also see Carminative.
- Herbs that increase tone and firmness of the tissues and lessen mucous discharge from the nose, intestines, vagina, and draining sores.
- Herbs and salts are added to water to increase or decrease body activities. When adding herbs to bath water, there are two ways of doing so. First, take 4-8 ounces of dried herb, fill and tie off a stocking or cloth bag which is thin enough to let water into and back out of it again, and put the stocking/bag full of herbs in the bath water. In a short time, the herbs will color the water and the bath is ready.
The second way to make an herb bath is to make a gallon of infusion or decoction and just add it to the bath water. The effect desired depends on the length of time you remain in the tub, the temperature of the water, and the herb you choose.
Salt baths will relax the body and help draw out toxins during skin and blood diseases. To draw out poisons, use warmer water (98.6oF to 106oF) with one to five pounds epsom salts and the appropriate herb(s). The greater the amount of salt, the more perspiration is produced. When taking a hot salt bath, keep a cool towel over the forehead, another at the back of the neck, and a third over the heart area. This bath is fatiguing and should be done with caution. The time to remain in the warm salt water depends upon the strength of the individual. Usually from 20-45 minutes is sufficient.
Colder water (65oF to 75oF) with just one to two cups epsom salts (and the appropriate herbs) will produce a tonic, refreshing effect. The colder the water, the more tonic effect produced and less soaking time is indicated.
- Herbs that increase the power of the heart.
- Herbs that contain volatile oils which stimulate the expulsion of flatus (gas) from the gastrointestinal tract. Carminatives also increase the tone of the musculature and stimulate peristalsis. Aromatic herbs are also carminatives.
- Herbs that cause a rapid evacuation from the upper intestines and the bowels.
- Herbs that promote the flow of bile.
- Herbs that are used to season foods and increase digestive activity. Most are good for treating gas and indigestion.
- Herbs that soften and relieve irritation of the mucous membranes. Also used in combination with other powders to bind them when making pills.
- Decoctions are used to extract the deeper healing qualities of stems, roots and barks. The herbs are simmered for between 15-45 minutes. Many times, decoctions are left uncovered during the simmering, to evaporate some of the water (resulting in a stronger decoction). Decoctions are best used immediately, but must be used within 24 hours. Refrigerate after making, if the decoction is not to be used immediately.
- Herbs that remove obstructions. Also see Aperient and Laxative. Note that obstructions, particularly bowel obstructions, are a very serious, life-threatening problem and should not be treated with herbs alone. If you suspect an obstruction, seek medical attention immediately.
- Herbs that increase perspiration. Diaphoretics influence the entire circulatory system. There are three categories of diaphoretics: 1) stimulating, 2) neutral, and 3) relaxing.
- Herbs that dissolve and remove tumors and abnormal growths. Used in poultices, fomentations, and taken internally as teas infusions or decoctions. Note that all tumors and growths should be examined by a health care practitioner before treatment with herbs, and a qualified practitioner should be involved in all herbal treatments for these conditions.
- Herbs that increase the flow of urine. Usually combined with demulcents to sooth any irritation from acids or gravel. Diuretic herbs can be used in the treatment of backache, prostatitis, sciatic, kidney stones, bladder ache, lymphatic swelling, scalding urine, gonorrhea, skin eruptions, water retention, and obesity.
- Herbs that induce vomiting. Usually administered in tincture or as teas (infusions or decoctions).
- Herbs that promote menstrual flow. These herbs should never be used during pregnancy, and should only be administered for emmenagogue applications by someone who is proficient in the use of herbs.
- Herbs that are used in remedies applied externally to soften and soothe. They are applied in salves, fomentations, and poultices, and may be taken internally for their demulcent quality.
- Herbs that facilitate the excretion of mucous from the throat and lungs. Usually combined with demulcents, which are soothing.
- Extract (liquid)
- Liquid extracts are concentrated tinctures, and may be five times as strong as tinctures. Many herbalists feel that the dosage of fluid extracts should be the same as a tincture, or a few drops less. Fluid extracts are made in the same manner as tinctures, with the exception that more herbal material is used proportionally when making an extract.
- Herbs that reduce fevers.
- Fomentations are used to stimulate circulation of blood and lymph, to relieve colic, to warm joints and other body parts, to relieve gas and pain, and reduce internal inflammations. Alternating hot and cold fomentations will stimulate and bring activity to an area (a good treatment for urine retention, constipation, sluggish circulation, etc).
To prepare a fomentation, soak a cotton towel in an herbal tea infusion or decoction which is as hot as can be tolerated. Fold, wring the towel slightly, and pl,ace on affected area. Place a layer of plastic over the hot towel, then place a thick dry towel or heating pad on top, in order to keep the heat it. Resaturate the towel in hot infusion/decoction periodically.
- Herbs that help increase the secretion of milk from nursing mothers.
- A gargle is a double strength infusion made to wash the mouth and back of the throat. Usually, goldenseal is used for ulcers or pus in the mouth. Appropriate tinctures or essentials oils added to water can also be used as gargles. For example, combine one cup water with four drops tincture of myrrh. A good, stimulating and antiseptic gargle for canker sores, bad breath, bleeding gums or pyorrhea is made by adding one drop peppermint essential oil to one cup water.
- Herbs that arrest internal bleeding or hemorrhaging. Also see astringent. Persons taking blood thinning agents should not take hemostatic herbs.
- Herbs that strengthen, tone, and stimulate the secretive functions of the liver. Useful in the treatment of jaundice and hepatitis.
- Infused Oil
- Infused oils are usually made from ints, spices and aromatic herbs. They are applied externally to treat skin diseases, bring more circulation and warmth to an area, for painful joints, to give massages, for dry skin, and to be rubbed on the skin surface before applying a poultice or fomentation to enhance the treatment.
To make an infused oil, add two ounces of dried cut-and-sifted (C/S) herb to one pint of olive oil or almond oil. Bake in the oven at a temperature of 115-200oF until the herbs are crisp. Strain and put into a dark bottle. Olive oil usually has a long shelf life before it goes rancid.
Infused oils can also be made by putting the herb/oil mixture into a jar and setting it in the sun for five days (fewer days in hotter climates). Shake daily, strain, and bottle.
For either method,a preservative agent must be added to the finished infused oil. Add two drops of tincture of benzoin for each ounce of oil (the preferred preservative), or add the contents of one 400 IU capsule of Vitamin E for each cup of oil.
Essential oils may also be added to infused oils for therapeutic purposes. Add ten drops to one ounce of the appropriate essential oil for each cup of the finished infused oil. Never add the essential oils before applying heat to the infused oil, as this will dissipate the essential oils.
- Infusions are prepared by using one ounce of herb to one pint of water. The water is brought to a boil and poured over the herbs. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and let stand for 20 minutes, then strain and drink. Infusions can also be made as "sun tea" by placing the herbs into a large glass jar with a cover, and setting it in the sun for 2-4 hours.
Infusions are prepared when the volatile oils in herbs are needed, or when the herbal constituents are extracted from flowers or leaves. Infusions are used hot or cold (strain and let them cool, or keep in the refrigerator). Decoctions are best used immediately, but must be used within 24 hours. Refrigerate after making, if the decoction is not to be used immediately.
- Herbs that promote bowel action.
- A liniment is a fluid extract applied to the skin in cases of strained muscles, sore joints, arthritis, and most any types of inflammation. Stimulating herbs are combined with antispasmodic herbs. Essential oils may be added to plasters when deep penetration is needed.
To make a liniment, add one pint of alcohol (preferably not rubbing alcohol) or vinegar to four ounces of herb(s). Seal tightly and let set for 14 days, or for 3-7 days if needed sooner. Shake a few times daily. Strain, and add 10-30 drops essential oils if desired. Wintergreen and eucalyptus essential oils are often used for deep-rooted problems. Keep all liniments in dark bottles and store in a cool, dark place. Liniments made with alcohol will preserve well.
- Herbs that dissolve and discharge urinary and gall bladder stones and gravel.
- Herbs that stimulate and cleanse the lymphatic system.
- Making Herbal Pills
- Homemade herbal pills have several advantages over capsules or tablets. They do not contain animal products, which is a plus for vegetarians. They do not contain fillers, which is a plus for those who suffer from allergies to tableting agents. You know eactly what has gone into pills that you make yourself. They can be made any size, for ease of swallowing.
The dried herb is ground fine, and a small amount of slippery elm (usually 1/10 of the mixture) is added. Add small amounts of water while mixing, keeping the preparation firm. Rollinto small pills about the size of a pea. To dry the pills, spread them out on a dish and leave them to dry at room temperature. When dry, bottle them and keep them in a cool, dry place. When giving pills to children, they can be dipped in honey, molasses, or peanut butter to help cover the taste.
- Herbs that have mucilaginous properties used to soothe inflammed parts. Also see Demulcent.
- Herbs that act as a tonic to the nerves. Used to relieve pain and regulate the nervous system.
- Herbs that supply a substantial amount of nutrients and aid in building and toning the body.
- Herbs that are used for healing diseases of the eyes.
- Herbs that assist labor and promote easy childbirth. The use of these herbs during any phase of pregnancy requires a great deal of knowledge in herbology.
- Herbs that kill and remove parasites from the skin.
- Herbs that influence the lungs. Demulcents may also be used for lung conditions, though their use is more general for a variety of mucuous membranes.
- Plasters are herbal preparations that are applied externally to snake bites, sores, inflammation, etc. To make a plaster, powdered herb is moistened with warm water and spread on a linen, cotton, or silk cloth and applied to the skin. Cover with another cloth or plastic to keep in the moisture. Plasters are usually applied to the chest, stomach, kidneys, or lower back.
Plasters can be stimulating or relaxing, depending upon the herbs used. To produce a specific effect, choose the herbs which have the healing properties desired. Tinctures, fluid extracts, infusions, liniments, essential oils, and decoctions may also be added to plasters to increase their effectiveness.
Mustard and comfrey root powder are frequently used in plasters. Mustard plasters (and plasters made with other harsh herbs, such as cayenne) should be watched carefully so they do not cause blistering on the skin. Before applying plasters made with harsh herbs, rub the body part generously with olive, castor, or peanut oil.
- Poultices are used to heal bruises, break up congestion, reduce inflammation, withdraw pus, toxins and embedded particles in the skin, and to soothe irritation.
A poultice is a pulverized or powdered mass of herbs moistened with water, tinctures, infusions, salves, infused oils, or decoctions, and applied wet to the surface of the skin. If the fresh herb is to be used, it can be pulverized and applied directly to the skin without moistening. A cloth is then wrapped around the poultice to hold it in place if there will be movement or walking.
- Herbs that have an energetic evacuative effect. Usually combined with Carminatives to lessen griping.
- Herbs that are used as local external applications to stimulate and increase the blood flow to the surface.
- Salves are used to treat boils, dry skin, and itchy skin conditions. Some salves are used just to moisturize and tone the skin. Astringent herbs will help tone the skin, while demulcent herbs will soften and keep the surface moist and healthy looking.
An herbal salve is made by first heating an infused oil and adding beeswax (usually around one and one-half ounces to one pint of oil) to give it a thick consistency. Add a little more beeswax in hot climiates. Remember that the salve will thicken as it hardens upon cooling.
Another method of making a salve is to macerate dried herbs and add to melted pork lard or lanolin. Add lard or lanolin to just ocver the herbs. Simmer on top of the stove or bake in an oven until the herbs become crisp. Strain while hot. The lard or lanolin will harden upon cooling.
- Herbs that allay excitement of functional activities of an organ or body part. These herbs influence the circulation, reducing nervous expenditure.
- Herbs that promote an increased flow of saliva.
- Herbs that serve as natural agents in assisting the functional activity of the body, increasing energy.
- Herbs that strengthen the functions of the stomach. Usually bitter in flavor, which promotes and improves digestion and appetite.
- Herbs that arrest bleeding, hemorrhaging and draining wounds. Usually astringents and may be used externally or internally. Not to be used internally by persons taking blood thinning agents.
- A syrup is used for coughs, inflammations of the throat, and to soothe the stomach and intestinal tract.
Add two ounces of herb(s) to one quart of water. Simmer with the top off thepot until the volume is reduced to one-half the original amount. Strain and while warm add 2-4 ounces of honey or vegetable glycerine to preserve. You may also squeeze one-half a lemon and add a pinch of cayenne to the finished product to make it more effective.
- Tinctures are herbal extracts that can be preserved over long period of time. They are usually used when herbs have to be taken over a long period of time because they can be carried around easily and taken in just a little water or directly under the tongue. Also, they are prefered by many herbalists when treating severe infections because of the rapid absorption, and the dosage can be changed easily. (Instead of trying to divide up capsules or tablets to change the dosage, drops of tincture can be added or subtracted.) The course of many infrections change rapidly, and it is easier to gauge dosages by drops. Another advantage is that tinctures can be added to juices if they are bitter.
Tinctures are easily added to fomentations, infusions, decoctions, and poultices to enhance the healing properties. If there is an aversion to alcohol or vinegar, tinctures can be made with glycerine (though an alcohol-based tincture is preferred when possible). The final concentration of alcohol in a tincture should not be less than 30%. When buying brandy, gin, or vodka for tinctures, the proof number is twice the alcohol content, so the minimum proof for the alcohol is 60. Tinctures are usually prepared with an alcohol content from 30-60%, or even higher. If the tincture needs to be diluted, it can be added to a small glass of water.
To make a tincture, combine 4 ounces of powdered or cut/sifted herb with 1 pint alcohol (gin, brandy, or vodka), vegetable glycerin, or raw apple cider vinegar. Combine herbs and alcohol in a container with a tight lid, let stand for 14 days, shaking container twice daily. Strain liquid by pressing through muslin or other suitable cloth (wash the cloth before using to ensure that no processing chemicals remain on the material). Pour the liquid into amber bottles and cap tightly. Amber bottles with dropper lids are preferable. Store tinctures in a cool, dark place.
- Herbs that increase energy and strengthen the body. The effect of tonic herbs is to increase the strength of the muscular and nervous system while improving digestion and assimilation, resulting in a general sense of well-being.
- Herbs that promote the healing of cuts, wounds and burns by protecting against infection and by stimulating cellular growth.
Gaines Nutrition. Herbal Glossary
. (2009, Dec).