Alterative-- an agent that restores the body to health gradually. These agents are also called "blood purifiers" and are often used in cases of blood toxicity, infections, and skin problems. The action of these agents is not generally understood, but often herbs used as alteratives are high in nutrients or have laxative, bitter, cleansing, or other effects specific to a condition for which the agent is used.
Analgesic-- a substance that relieves pain without inducing sleep or unconsciousness.
Antidiarrheal-- an agent that relieves diarrhea. Astringents are often used to treat diarrhea because they are constipating.
Antifungal-- a substance used to treat fungal infection, usually specific to one or a class of fungi.
Anti-inflammatory-- used to reduce swelling or to lessen the discomfort of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.
Antimicrobial-- an agent used to kill microbes or check their growth.
Antipruritic-- used in cases of intense itching such as that caused by eczema or vaginal infections.
Antipyretic-- reduces fever.
Antiscorbutic-- a substance used to treat scurvy.
Antiseptic-- used to kill germs, microbes, etc. Also prevents sepsis.
Antivenin-- an agent used to treat venomous wounds, esp. snake bites.
Astringent-- used to shrink tissue, esp. of mucous membranes, and reduce discharge from tissues.
Blood purifier-- see alterative
Carminative-- a substance that dispels gas from the intestines.
Cholagogue-- stimulates the production and elimination of bile from the liver.
Demulcent-- a soothing, usually mucilaginous remedy for internal and external tissues, esp. for mucous membranes. Internally, used to soothe kidneys and the urinary tract and used in conjunction with diuretics for this purpose. Externally, demulcents are used locally to soften and moisten irritated tissues.
Detergent-- an agent used for cleansing wounds of sepsis or dead matter.
Diaphoretic-- stimulates perspiration. Diaphoretics are often used in the treatment of fever.
Digestive-- an agent that stimulates the digestive process.
Emollient-- soothes irritated tissues.
Expectorant-- an agent that helps to expel mucus from the lungs and throat by stimulating coughing.
Hemostatic-- used to stop or slow hemorrhage; styptic.
Hypoglycemic-- a substance used to lower blood sugar levels, as in diabetes.
Laxative-- promotes elimination from the intestines.
Mucilaginous-- the gummy or slimy quality of substances,
most often demulcents used to soothe irritated skin or mucosa.
Refrigerant-- lowers body temperature. Used in cases of fever or to lower body temperature in hot weather. Lemons and mint are refrigerant. That's why we add them to iced tea in summer.
Stimulant-- increases the activity of an organ, cells, or metabolism; or boosts the effect of another substance used in synergy.
Stomachic-- an agent that tones (see tonic), activates, and strengthens the stomach.
Tonic-- a remedy that tones a specific organ, group of organs, or the internal systems as a whole.
Vermifuge-- expels worms. Vermifuges are usually specific, meaning that you should not use a vermifuge unless you know the specificity of its range. Hookworms have been known to burrow through intestinal walls, causing unbearable pain, when an agent was used to expel roundworms.
Vulnerary-- an agent that stimulates the growth of healthy cells, thus speeding the healing of affected tissues.