ANTI-INFLAMMATORY – This is something which help the body to reduce swelling or inflammation. Examples of herbs include: Black Willow; Calendula; Chamomile; Meadowsweet and St John’s Wort.

ANTI-SPASMODIC – These help with easing cramps or spasms. Examples include: Cramp Bark; Motherwort; Pasque Flower; Skullcap and Valerian.

ANTI-TUSSIVE- These are cough suppressants. Examples include: Angelica; Boneset; Coltsfoot; Elecampane; Horehound; Hyssop; Marshmallow; Thyme and Wild Cherry Bark.

ASTRINGENT – Astringents have a “drying” action by reducing secretions and discharges and contain tannins. Examples include: Elecampane; Golden Road; Ground Ivy; Meadowsweet; Oak Bark; Raspberry Leaf; Sage and Yarrow.

ATONY – A muscle or organ which has lost strength, tone or energy.

BITTER – Bitter herbs are bitter in their nature and stimulate the digestive system. Examples include: Chamomile; Elecampane, Hops; Mugwort; Rue; Southernwood and Wormwood.

CARMINATIVE – These herbs help with reducing gas and bloating by relaxing the stomach and stimulating peristalsis. Examples include: Angelica; Aniseed; Lemon Balm; Caraway; Chamomile; Dill; Fennel; Ginger and Peppermint.

CYTOKINE STORM – A potentially fatal immune reaction with symptoms including high fever, swelling, redness, nausea and extreme fatigue. It is caused by a positive feedback loop between cytokines (small proteins) and white blood cells.

DIAPHORETIC – Aid elimination through the skin by stimulating sweating and can help to cool fevers. Examples inlcude: Angelica; Boneset; Cayenne; Chamomile; Elder; Garlic; Ginger; Peppermint and Yarrow.

EMOLLIENT – Something which has the effect of soothing or softening the skin.  Examples include many oils but also Oats, Marshmallow and Comfrey.

EMMENAGOGUE – Something which stimulates blood flow in pelvis and uterus and can bring on mensturation or promote normal flow.  These include Blue Cohosh, False Unicorn Root, Lady’s Mantle, Motherwort, Parsley, Pennyroyal, Rue, Southernwood, Squaw Vine and Yarrow.

ENDOCRINE – Gland which secretes hormones into the circulatory system and linked to hypothalamus. Examples of glands include pituitary; thyroid; adrenal; ovaries; testes and pancreas.

EXPECTORANT – Something which helps remove exess mucus from the respiratory system. Examples include: Aniseed; Elder; Elecampane; Hyssop; Lungwort; Marshmallow; Thyme; Mullein; Wild Cherry and White Horehound.

GALACTOGOGUE – Something which promotes increased lactation.  Examples include Fenugreek, Goat’s Rue, Fennel, Raspberry Leaf, Nettle, Alfalfa, Hops and Blessed Thistle.

IMMUNAGOGUE – Something which stimulates immune system.  Examples include Echinacea, Myrrh, Thuja, Calendula and Garlic.

MUCILAGINOUS – Something which is of sticky gelatinous nature which can have a soothing effect on irritated tissues. Examples include Marshmallow, Fenugreek and Slippery Elm.

MULTI-RESISTANT – these are micro-organisms able to resist the usual anti-viral/anti-baterial/anti-fungal or anti-parasitic drugs.

NERVINE – Something which affects the nervous system whether a tonic to strengthen such as Oats, Skullcap, Vervain, Betony or Damiana, a stimulent such as Kola, Coffee or Black Tea or a relaxant such as Californian Poppy, Chamomile, Hops, Hyssup, Lavender, Lime Blossom, Motherwort, Rosemary, St John’s Wort, sSkullcap and Valerian.

OREXIGENIC – This is an appetite stimulent. Examples include Fennel, Fenugreek and Mugwort

SCIATIC – The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body.  It runs from lower back into the legs via the buttocks and connects the skin and muscles in the area to the nervous system.

SPRING TONIC – A spring tonic is a tonic usually made from the first fresh herbs available in the spring which are good immune boosters, help with circulation around the various body systems which have grown sluggish over winter and are generally packed with minerals and nutrients. Classic examples include nettles, ground ivy, chickweek, cleavers, dandelion.

VULNERARY – These are herbs which promote healing of wounds.  Classic examples include Calendula, Chickweed, Comfrey, Elder, Golden Seal, Plantain, St John’s Wort, Self-Heal and Woundwort.


Hoffman, David (1990) The New Holistic Herbal, Third Edition, Shaftsbury: Element Books


January 2014/5: Research/revise and note the meaning of the following terms: : anti-tussive, expectorant, astringent and bitter. How do these words help us to understand the action of one herb (you can choose which herb).

For me this has to be elecampane as it contains all of those properties.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s