Glossary of Medical Terms

Glossary of Modern and Archaic
Herbal, Naturopathic, and Medical Terms

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Select the first letter of the word from the list above to jump to appropriate section of the glossary. If there are terms or definitions that you are looking for and you think that they should be included here, please contact us and we will do our best to help you out. Please limit your query to medical terms.

- A -

Allergenic

Can cause an allergic reaction.

Allopathic

The most common type of medicine in western nations today, it is uses a scientific or biologically based approach to healing.

Alterative

Something that produces gradual beneficial changes in the body, usually through improving nutrition, with the goal of restoring normal health.

Amenorrhoea

The absence of a menstrual period in a woman of childbearing age.

Analgesic

Used to relieve pain.

Anesthetic

Induces the absence of sensation in part of the body.

Anodyne

Relieves distress or pain.

Anthelmintic

Expels parasitic worms (helminths) from the body, by either stunning or killing them.

Antiaggregant

Decreases platelet aggregation and inhibit thrombus formation.

Antiaging

Retards, reverses, or inhibits the aging process.

Antialcoholic

A substance that opposes excessive drinking.

Antiallergic

Preventing or relieving allergies.

Antialzheimeran

Helps to prevent Alzeimers.

Antianaphylactic

Prevents anaphylaxis - a severe allergic reaction which could be fatal.

Antiandrogenic

Prevents expression of biological effects of androgenic hormones on responsive tissues.

Antianemic

Prevents Anemia which is a disorder in which red blood cells are reduced in number or are deficient in hemoglobin.

Antianginal

Prevents Angina; chest pain due obstruction or spasm of the coronary arteries.

Antiangiogenic

Inhibits the growth of blood vessels.

Antianorexic

Works against the diseases, Anorexia and Bulemia.

Antianxiety

Anxiety preventative.

Antiarrhythmic

Used to suppress abnormal rhythms of the heart (cardiac arrhythmias); such as atrial fibrillation.

Antiarthritic

Alleviates Arthritis.

Antiasthmatic

Prevents Asthma.

Antibacterial

Inhibits bacterial growth or kills bacteria.

Antibiotic

Compounds that destroy or inhibit the growth of microorganisms and are used to prevent and treat infection.

Anticancer

Inhibits, prevents, or reverses the development of cancer cells.

Anticarcinogenic

Reduces the occurrence of cancers, reduces the severity of cancers that do occur, or acts against cancers that do occur.

Anticardiospasmic

Prevents heart spasm.

Anticariogenic

Foods that tend to prevent the formation of caries or cavities in teeth.

Anticoagulant

Prevents or inhibits coagulation (clotting) of blood.

Anticolitic

Prevents colds.

Antidepressant

Helps induce feelings of well-being and contentment. (See also tonic.)

Antidiabetic

Used to treat Diabetes Mellitus (DM), commonly known as diabetes, by lowering glucose levels in the blood.

Antidiarrheal

Provides symptomatic relief for diarrhea.

Antidiarrheic

Prevents diarrhea by slowing the movement of feces along the colon.

Antidiarrhoeic

Acts to slow the movement of feces along the colon.

Antidote

A substance which can counteract a form of poisoning.

Antiemetic

Helps prevent vomiting.

Antiencephalitic

Prevents inflammation of the brain transmitted from infected animals to humans through the bite of an infected tick, mosquito, or other blood-sucking insect.

Antiepileptic

Prevents epileptic fits.

Antiestrogenic

Prevents production of of the hormone estrogen.

Antifatigue

Prevents fatigue, helps to maintain vitality. See also tonic.

Antifertility

Prevents fertility or unwanted pregnancy.

Antifungal

Used to treat fungal infections (such as athletes foot, ringworm, candidiasis or thrush).

Antihemorrhagic

Helps stop bleeding. (See also "Styptic.")

Antihepatotoxic

Prevents liver damage.

Antihistamine / Antihistaminic

Counteracts the physiological effects of histamine production in allergic reactions and colds.

Antihyperactivity

Prevents or inhibits the development of hyperactivity.

Antihyperlipidemic

Reduces lipid levels in the blood.

Antihypertensive

Counteracts high blood pressure.

Antiinflammatory

Reduces inflammation, a major source of discomfort in many internal and external conditions.

Antiinsomniac

Prevents insomnia, promotes restful sleep.

Antiischemic

Controls myocardial ischemia in patients with stable coronary artery disease.

Antileukemic

Inhibits, prevents, or reverses the development of leukemia (cancer of the blood or bone marrow).

Antimaculitic

Prevents or inhibits mucus buildup.

Antimalarial

Prevents, inhibits or cures the symptoms of malaria.

Antimenopausal

Prevents or inhibits the development of adverse menopausal symptoms.

Antimetastatic

Prevents Metastasis, or metastatic disease, which is the spread of a cancer from one organ to another.

Antimicrobial

Non-selectively kills microorganisms, or inhibits their multiplication or growth. (See also germicide.)

Antimutagenic

Reduces the occurrence or rate of mutations.

Antinociceptive

Reduces sensitivity to painful stimuli.

Antiophidic

An early anti-venom for snake bites.

Antiophthalmic

Prevents night blindness or inflammation or dryness of the eyes.

Antioxidant

Inhibits the oxidation of other chemicals or molecules in the body which prevents or retards oxidative damage.

Antiperistaltic

Diminishes peristalsis; the muscle contractions that occur in the digestive tract.

Antipermeability

May reduce tumor vessel permeability.

Antiperspirant

Significantly reduces sweating or perspiration.

Antipruritic

Inhibits itching from sunburn, allergies, eczema, psoriasis, chickenpox, fungal infections, insect bites and stings and plant stings.

Antipyretic

Reduces or inhibits the development of fever.

Antirheumatic

Helpful in a wide range of arthritic conditions including Rheumatoid arthritis.

Antiseptic

An antimicrobial substance which is applied to living tissue/skin to reduce the possibility of infection or sepsis.

Antispasmodic

Suppresses muscle spasms which are a sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle or group of muscles.

Antispasmophilic

Prevents or inhibits the development of muscle spasms.

Antitussive

Alleviates or suppresses coughing.

Antiulcerative

Prevents or inhibits the development of ulcers in the stomach and the upper part of the small intestine or promotes their healing.

Antiulcerogenic

Inhibits, prevents, or reverses the development of ulceration in the gastrointestinal tract.

Antivenomous

The ability to draw out poisons such snake, insect, spider bites.

Antiviral

Helps prevent the growth of viruses.

Anxiolytic

Inhibits anxiety.

Aperient

Helps increase the movement of feces along the colon.

Aphrodisiac

Stimulates the libido and hence sexual desire.

Aquaretic

A class of drug that is used to promote aquaresis, the excretion of water without electrolyte loss. Aquaretics are not strictly speaking diuretics, but are sometimes classified as such.

Aromatherapy

The use essential oils, generally from plant material, for therapeutic purposes, to heal or to promote a feeling of well-being. Delivery methods include bodily application through massage, room diffusers, and vaporizers.

Aromatic

A substance that gives off a pleasant fragrant smell. An agreeable odor that has stimulating properties.

Astringent

A substance that causes organic tissue to shrink, contract or constrict, or to reduce secretions or discharges.

- B -

Bacteriostatic

Prevents or inhibits the development of the growth of bacteria.

Beta-adrenergic

Reverse beta blockers.

Beta-blocker

Beta blockers target the Beta receptors that are found on cells of the heart muscles, smooth muscles, airways, arteries, kidneys, and other tissues that are part of the sympathetic nervous system and lead to stress responses.

Beta-carotene

Converted in the body to vitamin A. (See also Retinol.)

Bitter tonic

A bitter tonic stimulates the appetite and improves digestion.

Bradycardia

Referring to a heart rate of under sixty beats per minute. If a heart is not pumpimg enough oxygen-rich blood to the body with each contraction, bradycardia can be a serious problem.


- C -

Calcium-antagonist

A chemical that disrupts the movement of calcium (Ca2+) through calcium channels.

Calmative

A compound that is mildly sedative or produces calming effects.

Capillary Dilator

Induces an improvement in blood flow to the skin.

Carcinogenic

Cancer producing substances.

Cardiotonic

Increases the strength of the muscle contractions that pump blood through the heart.

Cardiotoxic

Toxic to the heart.

Carmitive (Carminitive)

Helps to relieve the buildup of gas in the intestines.

Carotene

Converted by the body into Vitamin A. (See also Retinol.)

Catabolic

A set of metabolic pathways that breaks down molecules into smaller units and releases energy.

Catarrh

The inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose and throat.

Cathartic

Accelerates defecation.

Chelator

A chemical compound in the form of a heterocyclic ring, containing a metal ion attached by coordinate bonds to at least two nonmetal ions. Refer to Metal-Chelator.

Chemopreventive

The use of a drug or compound to interfere with a disease process, for example, cancer chemopreventive agents.

Cholagogue

Stimulates the flow of bile from the liver.

Choleretic

Increases the volume of secretion of bile from the liver as well as the amount of solids secreted.

Choline

A water-soluble essential nutrient usually grouped within the B-complex vitamins.

Cirrhosis

The scarring of the liver resulting in poor liver function; often a symptom of the final phase of chronic liver disease.

Clastogenic

A material that can cause breaks in chromosomes, leading to sections of the chromosome being deleted, added, or rearranged.

Coagulant

Promotes the formation process by which blood forms clots.

Colitis

Swelling (inflammation) of the large intestine (colon) which may cause abdominal pain and bloating that is constant or comes and goes, bloody stools, chills, a constant urge to have a bowel movement, dehydration, diarrhea or fever.

Collagenic

A group of naturally occurring proteins found in animals, especially in the flesh and connective tissues of vertebrates. It is the main component of connective tissue, and is the most abundant protein in mammals.

Collyrium

An archaic term for a lotion or liquid wash used as a cleanser for the eyes, particularly in diseases of the eye.

Colorant

A dye, pigment, ink, or paint, that colors or modifies the hue of something else.

Comedolytic

A medication prescribed for acne.

Contraceptive

Birth control.

Contraindication

A reason or condition that makes it inadvisable to prescribe a particular herbal remedy or employ a particular procedure or treatment.

Cosmetic

Enhances the appearance or odor of the human body.

Cryptoxanthin

A natural carotenoid pigment, closely related to beta-carotene, that is converted in the body into Vitamin A (Retinol). As with other carotenoids, cryptoxanthin is an antioxidant and may help prevent free radical damage to cells and DNA, as well as stimulate the repair of oxidative damage to DNA.

Cyanidin

Having antioxidant and radical-scavenging actions.

Cytoprotective

A process by which chemical compounds provide protection to cells against harmful agents.

Cytotoxic

The quality of being toxic to cells. For example, chemical compounds, venom, etc.


- D -

Decoction

A medicine prepared by boiling or simmering specific plant parts in water. See also infusion.

Decongestant

A medicine used to shrink the swollen membranes in the nose, making it easier for a person to breathe. Used to relieve nasal congestion.

Demulcent

Forms a soothing film over a mucous membrane, relieving minor pain and inflammation of the membrane.

Deobstruent

Can remove obstructions; having power to clear or open the natural ducts of the fluids and secretions of the body.

Deodorant

A substance applied to the body to affect body odor caused by bacterial growth and the smell associated with bacterial breakdown of perspiration.

Depurative

Has a purifying and detoxifying action.

Detoxicant

Promotes and assists in the removal of toxic agents.

Diabetes mellitus (DM)

Commonly simply referred to as diabetes, Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic disorders characterized by high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. Symptoms of high blood sugar include frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased hunger.

Diaphoretic

Increases perspiration.

Digestion

The absorption and assimilation of food by the body.

Digestive

Aids the body in the digestion process.

Dioecious

Having the male and female organs in separate and distinct individuals.

Disinfectant

A substance that is applied to non-living objects to destroy microorganisms that are living on the objects. See also antimcrobial and germicide.

Diuretic

Helps the body to get rid of sodium and water through increased urination.

DNA

The abbreviation of deoxyribonucleic acid, which is an extremely long macro-molecule making up the main component of chromosomes. It is the material that transfers genetic characteristics in all life forms.

DNA-protective

Protects DNA from damage.

Dysmenorrhoea

Painful menstruation (periods).


- E -

Emetic

A substance that induces vomiting.

Emmenagogue

Stimulates blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus.

Emollient

Soothes and / or softens the skin.

Exfoliant

Promotes the removal of the oldest, dead skin cells on the surface of the skin.

Expectorant

An agent that helps to break up and clear mucus from the airways, lungs, bronchi, and trachea. See also Mucolytic.


- F -

Febrifuge

Reduces or dispels a fever

Felon

A fingertip infection (abscess) deep in the palm side of the finger. Usually is caused by bacterial infection, most commonly from of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, it often forms a painful bump on the end of a finger. Misdiagnosis of a herpetic whitlow can occur.

Flatugenic

Foods that cause one to pass gas (fart).

Flavonoid

A biological response modifier which may modify allergens, viruses, and carcinogens, also with anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, and anti-diarrhea activities.

Fungicide

Kills or inhibits fungi or fungal spores.


- G -

Galactagogue

Promotes lactation in mammals.

Gargle

A noun used to describe the act of treating mouth and throat tissues by tilting the head back and allowing a mouthful of liquid to sit in the upper throat and then rincing and "bubbling," aka "gargling", kept the liquid in motion by exhaling through it.

Germicide

Kills "germs," especially pathogenic microorganisms. (See also antimicrobial.)


- H -

Hemostatic

Helps to stop bleeding.

Hepatic

Acts on the liver.

Hepatic-stimulant

Something that increases the function of the liver and the amount of bile secreted.

Hepatoprotective

The ability to prevent damage to the liver.

Hepatotoxic

Substance caused liver damage.

Hepatotropic

Attracted to the Liver.

Herpetic Whittlow

A painful infection forming a lesion (whitlow) on a finger or thumb caused by the Herpes Simplex virus (HSV-1 or HSV-2). It can occasionally infected the toes or on the nail cuticle. Sometimes misdiagnosed as a felon.

Hypnotic

Induces sleep typically used to treat insomnia.

Hypotensive

Causes a reduction in blood pressure.


- I -

Immunostimulant

Substances, which can include, nutrients and plant or pharmaceutically-based drugs, that stimulate and improve the immune system.

Immunosuppressant

Materials that suppresses the immune system; The opposite of immunostimulant.

Infusion

A medicinal preparation made by soaking specific parts of a plant in water. Some formularies call for either hot or cold water, depending on the plant, desired compounds to be extracted, and treatment. Effectively a strong tea. See also decoction.

Insectifuge

A substance that repels insects.

Irritant

Something that causes inflammation, or produces a painful allergic reaction or cell-lining damage.


- J -

(empty)


- K -

Kaempferol

A strong antioxidant.


- L -

Laxative

Increase the movement of feces along the colon to promote bowel movement.

Liniment

A medicinal liquid that is rubbed into the skin to relieve muscular stiffness and pain.

Lubricant

A substance used to reduce friction between moving surfaces.


- M -

Metal-Chelator

To detoxify a body of poisonous metal agents such as mercury, arsenic and lead by using a chelating agent to convert them to a chemically inert form that is then excreted without further interaction with the body.

Metastatic

Spread of a cancer from one organ or part to another non-adjacent organ or part.

Mucilage

A substance which reduces pain and discomfort.

Mucogenic

Mucus forming foods.

Mucolytic

Drugs that help loosen and clear the mucus from the airways. See also expectorant.

Mutagenic

A physical (i.e. electromagnetic energy, radiation, etc.) or chemical agent that causes change to the genetic material, usually DNA, of an organism resulting in an increase in the frequency of mutations.

Mycosis

A fungal infection of animals, including humans.

Myorelaxant

Muscle relaxant.


- N -

Narcotic

A psychoactive substance with sleep-inducing properties.

Nematicide

A type of chemical pesticide used to kill plant-parasitic nematodes.

Nervine

Has a beneficial effect upon the nervous system.

Neuroprotective

A widely explored treatment option for many central nervous system (CNS) disorders.

Neurotransmitter

Endogenous chemicals that transmit signals from a neuron to a target cell across a synapse.

Niacin

Another name for Vitamin B3.

Nutritive Tonic

A tonic which has beneficial nutritional properties.


- O -

Odontolytic

A virus that preferentially infects and kills cancer cells.

Oestrogenic

Promotes or mimics the action of female hormones.

Oleic-acid

A monounsaturated fatty acid found naturally in many plant and animal products.

Ophthalmic

Of, or relating to the eye.


- P -

Pectoral

Useful in relieving disorders of the chest or respiratory tract.

Pesticide

Substances meant for preventing, destroying or mitigating any pest.

Phyto-chemical

Chemical compounds produced by plants which have natural protective or disease preventive properties.

Pigment

A material that changes the color of reflected or transmitted light as the result of wavelength-selective absorption.

Placebo

Something which medical science sees as an ineffectual but which the recipient uses to produce a healing effect.

Potentiator

Promotes or enhancers the effectiveness of another agent.

Poultice

A soft moist mass of materials, usually heated plant matter, spread onto a cloth, and applied to warm, moisten, or stimulate an aching or inflamed part of the body; particularly useful for localized detoxification of infections, boils, etc.

Preservative

A naturally occurring or synthetically produced substance that is added to products such as foods, pharmaceuticals, paints, biological samples.

Preventative

Operates in a way to prevent some action from occurring.

Prooxidant

Chemicals that induce oxidative stress, either by generating reactive oxygen species or by inhibiting antioxidant systems.

Protease-inhibitor

A class of antiviral drugs that are widely used to treat HIV/AIDS and hepatitis caused by hepatitis C virus.

Protisticide

An agent that kills any of the member man single-celled organism belonging to the kingdom Protista.

Psoriasis

An immune-mediated disease that affects the skin. Allopathic medicine typically regards it as a lifelong condition.

Psychotropic

A chemical substance that crosses the blood-brain barrier and acts primarily upon the central nervous system.

Purgative

Helps increase the movement of feces along the colon


- Q -

(empty)


- R -

RDA or Recommended Daily Allowance

The suggested daily requirement of a nutrient.

Refrigerant

Something which helps to produce a cooling effect.

Rejuvenative

Makes young again; restores youthful vigor, appearance, vitality, and functioning, etc.

Renal Tonic

A tonic which has beneficial effects on the kidneys.

Retinol

Another name for Vitamin A. (See also Beta-carotene, Carotene, and Cyptoxanthin.)

Riboflavin

Another name for Vitamin B2.

Rubefacient

An agent that produces redness of the skin.


- S -

Saponin

A natural soapy cleanser with antiseptic properties.

Sedative

Helps to reduce irritability or excitement. See also tranquilizer.

Serotoninergic

Related to the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Sialogogue

A drug or substance that increases the flow rate of saliva.

Spasm

Sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle or group of muscles.

Spasmolytic

Suppresses muscle spasms.

Stimulant

Causes increased activity, especially of the nervous or cardiovascular systems.

Stomachic

Tones the stomach, improving its function and increasing appetite.

Styptic

Helps stop bleeding by causing tissue to contract. Like the old "styptic pencils" your grandpa used when he cut himself shaving.

Sudorific

Promotes sweating.

Synergist

Promotes interactions between healing agents which produce an enhanced outcome.

Synergistic

Two or more substances, working together, to produce an effect greater than the sum of the individual effects.


- T -

Thiamin

Another name for Vitamin B1.

Tonic

Promotes feelings of vigor and well-being.

Topically

To apply a medication externally on the surface of your skin.

Tranquilizer

A drug that induces "tranquility" in an individual.

Trypanocide

An agent lethal to trypanosomes; unicellular parasitic protozoa.

Tumorigenic

Producing or tending to produce tumors.

Tyrosinase-inhibitor

Used to treat all forms of pigmentation of the skin.


- U -

Uricosuric

Substances that increase the excretion of uric acid in the urine, thus reducing the concentration of uric acid in the blood.


- V -

Vaporizer

A device that uses heat to extract and release particular compounds, in the form of vapor, from material such as plant matter, especially for medicinal inhalation. See also aromatherapy.

Vasoconstrictor

Helps to narrow the blood vessels and so reduce blood flow.

Vasodilator

Widening of blood vessels.

Vasopressor

Medication that tends to raise reduced blood pressure.

Vermicide

A substance that kills intestinal worms.

Vermifuge

An agent that works to expel intestinal worms.

Vesicant

Causes severe skin, eye and mucosal pain and irritation, also known as a blister agent.

Viruscidal

Kills or inhibits viruses and their development.

Vulnerary

Used to treat wounds.


- W -

Whitlow

A whitlow, also known as a felon is an infection of the tip of the finger. Whitlow is generally used to differentiate the condition as being cause by the Herpes Simplex virus (refer to Herpetic Whitlow) as opposed to a becterial infection (refer to Felon).


- X -

(empty)


- Y -

(empty)


- Z -

(empty)

The cookie settings on this website are set to 'allow all cookies' to give you the very best experience. Please click Accept Cookies to continue to use the site.

Top