Glossary of Medical Terms

abortifacient
A substance which causes or promotes abortion.
adaptogen
Increases the body's ability to adapt to internal or external stress.
alterative
Gradually alters or changes a condition
analgesic
Relieves pain and discomfort
anodyne
A medicine that relieves pain.
antihelminic
Expels worms. Also called vermifuge.
antibiotic
Kills or inhibits the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms.
antidote
Counteracts the action af another substance; usually refers to poisons.
antipyretic
Reduces or prevents a fever
antiseptic
Destroys bacteria; usually applied externally
antispasmodic
Relieves or prevents muscle spasms or cramps
astringent
Causes dehydration and the tightening and shrinking of tissues. Used to stop bleeding and close pores.
bitter tonic
Has a bitter taste that stimulates the flow of gastric juices
calmative
Has a calming effect; usually not as strong as a sedative
carminative
Dispels or prevents gas
catarrh
Inflammation of the mucous membranes; especially those of the respiratory system. May be accompanied by gastric upsets or diarrhea.
cathartic
Causes evacuation of the bowels
cholagogue
Promotes the flow of bile
demulcent
Oily or mucilaginous substance that soothes and moistens irritated tissues
diaphoretic
Promotes sweating
diuretic
Also called "water pills;" promotes the flow of urine
emetic
induces vomiting
emmenagogue
Promotes menstruation
emolient
Softens and soothes the skin
expectorant
Expels phlegm by inducing coughing, sneezing, or spitting
febrifuge
Dissipates fever
flatulence
Gas in the stomach or bowels
hemostatic
Stops internal bleeding
hepatic
Affecting the liver
laxative
A gentle cathartic. A laxative may act by stimulating the motion of the bowel, moistening the colon, increasing bile secretion, or relieving cramps.
nervine
calms nervousness, tension, and excitement
pectoral
Relieves ailments of the chest and lungs
physic
A medicinal preparation
purgative
A strong cathartic
rheumatism
Stiffness of joints and muscles
rubefacient
Increases blood circulation to the area to which it is applied
sedative
Reduces nervous tension; stronger than a calmative
sialogogue
Increases the flow of saliva
simple
A herb used solo in treatment of a medical condition
soporific
Induces sleep
stimulant
Increases or quickens actions of the body
styptic
Stops external bleeding; usually an astringent
sudorific
Promotes sweating
tonic
Strengthens or invigorates the systems
vermifuge
Destroys or expels worms
vesicant
Causes blisters
vulnerary
Used to treat wounds

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