GLOSSARY - UNDERSTANDING PRODUCTS AND TERMINOLOGY
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Analgesics are sometimes referred to as natural painkillers or as a natural pain reliever and analgesic pain reliever herbs are used to relieve pain without loss of consciousness.
Antibacterial herbs are those that fight and destroy bacteria. Many herbs that contain essential oils are antibacterial and antiseptic and some of the most effective herbs contain berberine.
Anticatarrhal herbs are herbs which help dissolve and eliminate, as well prevent the formation of mucus and inflammation of the mucus membrane.
Herbs with this ability reduce inflammation in the body without acting directly on the cause of the inflammation. Herbal anti-inflammatories however do not simply inhibit inflammation but actually nourish and support the body in its attempt to deal with the problem.
Herbs that help the body destroy microbes by affecting their growth and multiplication. An anti-microbial is a substance that kills or inhibits the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, or protozoans.
Aesthetics are used for their ability to cause physical insensitivity. The feeling of pain may be blocked, numbed or temporarily taken away. It is important to know that these herbal medications have potential interactions other drugs the patient might receive as part of treatments.
Antiseptic herbs are an agent that kills or inhibits the growth of microorganisms on the external surfaces of the body and are generally distinguished from herbal antibiotics that destroy microorganisms internally.
Antiseptics help to prevent and counteract infection and the formation of pus by inhibiting the growth of the infectious organisms.
Antispasmodic herbs are used to prevent spasms and cramps of the back, stomach, intestine and bladder by helping to suppress or smooth muscle contraction.
Herbs with antitussive agents are cough suppressants for dry coughs. Medicinal herbs with the main actions of relieving cough and asthma are called antitussive and antiasthmatic herb. Antitussive medicinal herbs are mainly indicated for cough and asthma caused by internal infection and external effects like a common cold.
An aphrodisiac herb arouses, increases, or intensifies sexual desire. It acts on the mind and causes the arousal of the mood and is used to help restore normal sexual potency and function.
Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. Sometimes it's called essential oil therapy. Aromatherapy uses aromatic essential oils medicinally to improve the health of the body, mind, and spirit. It enhances both physical and emotional health. Used by the Egyptians 40 centuries before our era, this ancestral knowledge has evolved over the centuries to constitute a science in its own right studied and recognized by the contemporary medical-scientific world.
Containing extremely fragrant essential oils.
An astringent acts to contract and tighten, or constrict body tissues, usually locally after topical medicinal application, similar to styptic. This constricting action can help eliminate secretions and haemorrhaging.
Relating to disease caused by antibodies or lymphocytes produced against substances naturally present in the body.
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The word balsamico (from Latin balsamum, from Greek βάλσαμον) means "balsam-like" in the sense of "restorative" or "curative".
Relating to bile or the bile duct.
A bitter herb is a herb that acts on the mucous membranes in the mouth to promote appetite and encourage digestion. The bitter taste of these herbs causes a response in the central nervous system that initiates a cascade of other beneficial actions within the body.
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Calming (or sedative):
Calms and regulates nervous disorders
Strengthens, slows and regulates the heartbeat.
Carminative herbs are herbs which can help eliminate or prevent gas from the gastrointestinal tract (stomach and intestine) or facilitates the expulsion of the gas and the general relief of flatulence.
A chemotype describes the subspecies of a plant that have the same morphological characteristics (relating to form and structure) but produce different quantities of chemical components in their essential oils. This again is widespread within the botanical family classification of the Labiatae or Lamiaceae. Examples of plants producing essential oils with different chemotypes include lavender, melissa, peppermint, basil, rosemary, sage and thyme
The Cholagogue herb property increases the flow of bile which aids digestion, as well as acting as a mild laxative, especially as a result of contraction of the gallbladder.
Choleretic herbs increase the volume of secretion of bile from the liver as well as the amount of solids secreted.
This method of extraction is uniquely used for the zests of citrus fruits. The essential oil (named “essence”) is contained in minuscule pockets that reside on the fruit’s skin. The process, which was originally done by hand-pressing the fruit, is now done with the help of a centrifuge, which separates the essential oil from the skin and the fruit juice.
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Denaturation is the process by which essential oils lose the structure present in their native state, by application of some external stress or compound such as a strong acid or base or a chemical solvent.
Depuratives are herbs that are considered to have purifying and detoxifying effects.
Refers to a substance that acts as a skin irritant, and can cause burns to skin and mucous membranes.
Slow steam distillation which extracts the bioactive compounds of the plants. This traditional extraction process captures the aromatic substances through the use of water vapour at controlled pressures by rupturing the secretory cells ( essence pockets) of the plant containing the aromatic molecules.
The steam loaded with aromatic molecules then passes through a coil which is immersed in a cold water tank and becomes liquid (this is the ‘distillate’ commonly called floral water).
Essential oil is ultimately separated from the aqueous blend by its difference in density as essential oil is generally lighter than water. A small amount of essential oil remains as it is solubilised in the aqueous blend. This concentration varies according to the plant species, from trace elements ( i.e. Linden contains almost no essential oil) to 2 or more rarely 3 grams per litre.
This aqueous blend is the hydrolate, more commonly known as floral water.
This slow distillation at low pressures is done at the expense of speed and volume and therefore profitability. It does however ensure the best quality because the vapour’s slow passage through he heart of the plant matter ultimately impregnates and loads with a maximum amount of aromatic molecules which are captured and stored in the essential oil giving it an exceptional richness and aromatic fragrance.
Diuretics used to increase the flow of urine to relieve water retention. A diuretic provides a means of forced diuresis which elevates the rate of urination. While natural diuretics remove fluids from the body, there is a possibility that other important vitamins and minerals may be flushed out as well. When using a natural diuretic it is essential to make sure you are getting enough nutrients to prevent the loss of electrolyte.
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Essential fatty acids. First cold-pressed virgin vegetable oils play an important role for the protection of the epidermis because they are naturally rich in fatty acids (lipids) and vitamins.
The essential fatty acids are:
- Saturated fatty acids
- Mono saturated fatty acids
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids (also called vitamin F)
Vegetable oils contain a high level of polyunsaturated fatty acids including alpha-linolenic acid (omega 3) and linoleic acid (omega 6). These are called essential fatty acids because they are not produced by the body, hence the need for regular intake either by food or through skin absorption. They are essential for our health and well-being as well as for the preservation of our cell membranes.
Emmenagogues, are herbs with properties that promote menstrual flow. They stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus to stimulate menstruation. Women have used herbal emmenagogues to stimulate menstrual flow when the cycle is delayed or absent for reasons other than pregnancy, such as hormonal disorders or conditions like oligomenorrhea (infrequent or light menses).
Emollient herbs include herbs used externally to help soften, soothe and protect the skin. Much like demulcents (used internally), emollients break up hardness, dryness, and restore the moisture barrier, repair damaged skin and restore the skin's natural softness. Many natural ingredients (emollient herbs) are typically added to moisturising products in order to give them their emollient properties.
Label in the form of an acronym meaning Botanically and Biochemically Defined Essential Oil. This label is a guarantee of quality for the use of an essential oil in aromatherapy (as opposed to their use for cosmetics, detergents etc.).
The organoleptic and therapeutic properties of an essential oil vary according to the nature of the plant used. In order to guarantee quality and efficacy, the raw materials must be precisely identified according to 3 fundamental criteria:
1 / The exact botanical species (Latin name)
2 / The plant parts used (leaves, flowers, roots ...)
3 / The biochemical specificity known as chemotype ( in other words the dominant molecules) which can vary greatly according to the time and place of harvest.
These criteria will determine the therapeutic properties of an essential oil, and as a consequence the precise use that can be made of it , whilst making it possible to obtain - and make it possible to obtain E.O.B.B.D. certified status (Essential Oils Botanically and Biologically Defined).
For completeness of information and peace of mind, you should know that all of our essential oils are E.O.B.B.D. certified.
1 / Exact Botanical Specification:
To avoid any confusion that could be dangerous for the organism, the distilled plants must be identified by their Latin name, which is composed of two parts: the genus and the species (and sometimes the the sub-species). Sometimes the name or initials of botanist who ‘discovered’ (responsible for the initial description) the plant can be added (i.e. L. for Linné). Often-times the distillation of plants from the same Species (or even subspecies) resultin essential oils of completely different chemical compositions:
Example of a genus: Lavandula (Lavender).
Example of a species: True Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), which is relaxing and regenerative or Aspic Lavender (Lavandula latifolia), which is specifically anti-toxic
Example of a subspecies: Bergamot (Citrus aurantium subsp. bergamia) and Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium subsp. aurantium).
2 / Plant parts used:
Even with the same plant as a source, each plant part will still provide an essential oil with different qualitative and quantitative properties. ( i.e. an essential oil extracted from the bark of Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomun zeylanicum) has far more powerful anti-infective properties than an essential oil distilled from the leaves.
3 / Chemotyped essential oils:
The same plant growing in different locations will also secrete very different chemical ingredients depending on the sunlight, climate, soil composition and altitude. These variations in composition determine the biochemical specificity of the plant and are referred to as chemotypes (or chemotype). They are determined in a laboratory by gas chromatography( a common type of chromatography used in analytical chemistry for separating and analysing compounds that can be vaporized without decomposition).
Thus, 3 different essential oils are extracted from Rosemary, depending on whether it is harvested in Morocco (eucalyptol is dominant and therefore it has expectorant properties), in Provence (camphor is dominant and therefore it is a muscle relaxant) or in Corsica (verbenone is dominant and therefore it is a hepatic stimulant). Similarly, the aroma of an essential oil distilled from thyme or lavender picked at high altitudes will be less powerful than that of the same plants picked on the plains.
Expectorants help the body expel mucus from the lungs, nose and throat. Expectorants are often used to treat coughing and related conditions. For dry coughs, treatment with cough suppressants (antitussive) may be indicated to suppress the body's urge to cough, while in productive coughs (coughs that produce phlegm), treatment with expectorants attempt to loosen and expel mucus from the respiratory tract.
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Febrifuge herbs help reduce fevers, similar to refrigerant and antipyretic. Plants with naturally occurring antipyretic properties are commonly referred to as febrifuges, however, they will not affect the normal body temperature if one does not have fever.
Antifungal agents act against and destroy various fungi.
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Analysis carried out in the laboratory to determine the precise biochemical composition of an essential oil (or chromatographic profile), its chemotype, and thus its therapeutic specificity.
Herbs with galactagogue properties stimulate lactation in women. Herbal galactogogues are divided into those believed to also have a sedating action on the nursing infant due to their volatile constituents, which can be carried through the breast milk itself, and those seen as promoting milk production without directly affecting the content.
Germicides are known for their ability to destroy germs and other microorganisms. An agent that kills germs, especially pathogenic microorganisms much like a disinfectant. Some germicides are antiseptic and are antimicrobial substances that are applied to living tissue/skin to reduce the possibility of infection, sepsis, or putrefaction. True germicides are capable of destroying microbes and are bactericidal.
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Some hemostatic herbs stop blood flow by acting as anti-haemorrhagic agents. The hemostatic effects of anti-haemorrhagic and styptic herbs are often due to mechanisms such as tannin astringency rather than enhancement of coagulation, although there are a few hemostatic herbs have been shown to reduce clotting times and have inhibitory effects on the Platelet Aggregation Factor.
Hepatic herbs are sought after as a remedy that promotes the well-being of the liver and increase the secretion of bile.
Hepatic herbs help to strengthen, detoxify, tone, increase bile flow and promote normal liver function.
A hepatocyte is a cell of the main parenchymal tissue of the liver. Hepatocytes make up 55-65% of the liver's mass. These cells are involved in protein synthesis and storage.
Hypertension is another name for high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force that a person's blood exerts against the walls of their blood vessels.
Or anti-hyperglycaemic agents, lower the level of glucose in the blood.
Hypotensive herbs cause low blood pressure, similar to antihypertensive which is an agent that lowers blood pressure. Their actions may involve effects on the cardiac conduction system. Several sedative herbs also have vasodilatory effects, and the adaptogens are considered by herbalists to be hypotensive in combination with antihypertensive prescriptions.
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Immunostimulant herbs, also known as immunostimulators, are substances that stimulate the immune system by inducing activation or increasing activity of any of its components. Immunostimulants enhance or boost the body's natural defence against illness and disease. Herbs that stimulate the immune system are very important over a long period of time to help our bodies naturally fight off infections, colds and other viral inflammations
Insecticides are used to kill insects. Many plants produce natural insect repellents as a part of their defence systems and some of these are widely used in prepared powders and liquids in the garden and the home. Insecticides are used in agriculture, medicine, industry and in the household and the use of insecticides is believed to be one of the major factors behind the increase in agricultural productivity. Natural insecticides, (such as nicotine, pyrethrum) extracts are made by plants as defences against insects.
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Tending to stimulate or facilitate evacuation of the bowels.
Lithotriptic herbs effect the dissolution of a calculus (stones) in the bladder or kidneys. Traditionally, treatments are a synergetic application of vitamins, diet, diuretics, and lithotriptic herbs. Calculus in the urinary tract can be an extremely painful condition. Any treatment should be closely managed by a qualified professional.
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Herbs that are considered mucilants have mucilage properties which have a soothing and demulcent effect. They coat and protect mucous membranes from irritations. Mucilants have a wide variety of applications including coughs, sore throats, and irritated stomach, bowels, bladder and kidneys. Mucilaginous herbs reduce bowel transit time, absorb and eliminate toxins from the intestinal system, help regulate intestinal flora and produce a demulcent action.
They can also be used for laxatives, cream and ointments because of their soothing effects.
A mucolytic is any agent which dissolves thick mucus, used to help relieve breathing difficulties. Mucolytics help loosen and clear mucus from respiratory passages. Mucolytics make thick mucus thinner and easier to cough up.
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Herbs that have an affinity for the general urinary tract and the kidneys are often called "diuretic" or "nephritic" herbs. These are used in healing kidney problems, support of the immune system, and to promote circulation and toxin elimination. Nephritic herbs help maintain kidney function and a healthy urinary system by clearing kidney heat by diuresis (the excessive discharge of urine).
Nephritic herbs are used in clearing kidney heat, diuresis and suitable for nephritis, aching lumbar and knees, bloody urine, urethra concretion.
A nervine is a plant remedy that has a beneficial effect upon the nervous system in some way. Nervine herbs help soothe, calm and nourish the nervous system, acts therapeutically upon the nerves, particularly in the sense of a sedative that serves to calm ruffled nerves. Nervine tonics strengthen and restore the tissues directly and contribute to the healing of damaged nervous tissue, whether this is due to a pathological processor physical trauma.
One of the things which happens when you are under stress is that nutrients are washed out of the body. If they are not replenished, several symptoms can occur. Any successful treatment of nervous system problems with herbs must involve treating the whole body, heart and mind, not simply the signs of agitation and worry.
Any herb which has a pronounced (and generally positive) effect upon the nervous system, can be considered a nervine. They are often thought of as calmatives or even sedatives but there are a great many secondary actions under the primary heading of nervine, including everything from hypnotic to stimulant to the potentially narcotic.
A relaxant nervine are those herbs that relax constricted or contracted tissues in relation to the nervous system.
A stimulant nervine is that which stimulates lax or stagnant tissues in relation to the nervous system. It does not necessarily imply overt nervous system stimulation as in the case of meth-amphetamines or even coffee, but may simply refer to a gentle herb such as Peppermint and their ability to stimulate the vital energy into depressed tissues.
Tonic nervines specifically refers to those herbs which act as nutritive restoratives for the nervous system. They feed the nerves and help to restore functionality and resiliency often in addition to their stimulating and/or relaxing properties.
Which improves the tone or force of the nervous system.
- O -
These are herbs which help stimulate uterine contractions to assist and induce a safe labor and delivery and to reduce post-partum haemorrhage. Oxytocic herbs act by stimulating uterine contractions. These can be of special help in toning the uterus after childbirth and in cases where the mother may be prone to post-partum haemorrhage.
Oxytocic herbs imitate oxytocin in the body to stimulate uterine contractions and release prostaglandin hormones. All oxytocic herbs are toxic to some degree. Women can experience very painful contractions. They are generally hard on the liver. Women with a history of liver disease such as hepatitis may wish to avoid them all together. As with any drug, Oxytocic herbs should be used with caution. Ask your midwife for advice or a referral to an herbalist before taking herbs of this nature.
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Parasiticidic herbs are those that destroy or help in removing the unwanted parasites kill parasites in the digestive tract and on the skin.
Parasites can cause problems and symptoms in the eyes, ears, sinus passages, prostrate, fallopian tubes, lungs and liver as well as cause problems in the pancreas, if invaded there. They can retard organ function, for example: if the pancreas is invaded, insulin production possibly could be impaired causing a diabetic situation. Removing the cause will restore the organ to normal function, if there has not been permanent damage.
A complete detoxification program will include methods to remove parasites and often incorporate parasiticide herbs. The remarkable aspect of herbs is their combination of several different healing properties. Thus, each herb will have a combination of specific effects on particular systems of the body, and also some very general effects. By carefully matching the herbal properties with the symptoms being treated, it is possible to confront the entire scope of the disease at once, achieving a cure quickly and with the minimum possible dosage.
Photosensitizing agents absorb visible and ultraviolet radiation and, as a result, generate free radicals.
A cathartic or purgative herb is used for purging and stimulating the action of evacuating the bowels. This action may be mild or strong depending on the need. Purgatives and cathartics are similar to laxatives, which are a mild purgative used to relieve constipation. A cathartic is a substance that accelerates defecation, in contrast to a laxative, which is a substance which eases defecation, usually by softening faeces.
Purgative herbs either stimulate or lubricate the large intestines to promote bowel movement. They are mainly indicated in constipation. Through the function of purgation, impacted faeces and fluid remaining in the intestines are discharged, pathogenic heat or cold dispelled and edema relieved.
Heat pyrogenation, an ancestral method of heating the wood at 250 ° C in a sealed oven (today sealed vats are used) to obtain the tar which oozes on the walls of the oven and is then recovered.
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- R -
Herbs with rubefacient properties are reddening agents that help to increase the flow of blood to the surface of the skin to aid in healing in cases such as sprains and muscle soreness.
Often in the form of liniments, their function is to draw inflammation and congestion from deeper areas. They are useful for the treatment of arthritis, rheumatism, and other joint problems and for sprains.
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Sedative herbs are used to relieve irritability and promote calm and tranquil feelings. (also see: Narcotic) Having a soothing, calming, or tranquillizing effect; reducing or relieving anxiety, stress, irritability, or excitement. Sedatives generally work by modulating signals within the central nervous system.
Sialagogues can be used in the treatment of dry mouth, to stimulate any functioning salivary gland tissue to produce more saliva. Herbs with this property help to promote the flow and secretion of saliva to aid in the digestion of starches.
The use of sialagogues is aimed at improving the patient's digestion and appetite by increasing saliva production. Many also increase gastric secretions and are often classed as stomachics.
These herbs help to increase the function of the body energy levels, circulation and help eliminate toxins. Stimulant herbs can induce temporary improvements in either mental or physical function or both, like enhanced alertness, awareness, wakefulness, endurance, productivity, and motivation, increased arousal, locomotion, heart rate, and blood pressure. Many stimulants are also capable of improving mood and relieving anxiety, and some can even induce feelings of euphoria.
A stomachic herb helps to increase appetite and serves to tone the stomach and improve its function. While many herbal remedies claim stomachic effects, modern pharmacology does not have an equivalent term for this type of action.
- T -
Plants giving a feeling of vigour or well-being; invigorating.
Relating or applied directly to a part of the body.
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- V -
Vasoconstriction is the narrowing of the blood vessels resulting from contraction of the muscular wall of the vessels, particularly the large arteries, small arterioles and veins.
This process is the opposite of vasodilation, the widening of blood vessels. Medications that cause vasoconstriction include antihistamines, decongestants and stimulants used to treat ADHD. Vasoconstrictor herbs help to constrict blood vessels and raise blood pressure. Vasoconstrictors are uncommon amongst herbs. Vasoconstrictor herbs causing constriction of capillaries are often used to prevent and treat migraine headaches.
Herbs with Vasodilator properties expand blood vessels and lower blood pressure. Many herbs act on smooth muscle to reduce tone, (i.e., spasmolytics).
Vasodilator Herbs that are primarily used for relaxing arterial tone (vasodilators) are included here.
Wound healing is an intricate process in which the skin repairs itself after injury. Herbs with vulnerary properties are used to help promote the healing of wounds, cuts and abrasions.
Vitamin E :
Even within the body, most tissues release free radicals under the action of oxygen. These slow poisons alter fatty acids and accelerate cell ageing. The membranes of our cells are made of a complex set of lipids, proteins and sugars that oxidise in the presence of free radicals.
Vitamin E by traps free radicals and thus prevents their toxic action and helps protect the tissues against damage from oxidation. Often absent from our modern diet, vitamin E is essential for the body and is present in healthy and unadulterated products. The best natural sources of vitamin E are vegetable oils obtained by first cold-pressing.
Which has the same properties as vitamin P.
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