Students and readers of the Aromatic Wisdom Blog often ask for an explanation of therapeutic terms like “galactogogue” or “anti-tussive”, especially after I post one of my popular Fragrant Friday blog posts in which I spotlight one essential oil and it’s benefits and properties. The list below should help a great deal. Let me know if I’ve missed any of the important terms.

If some of these words sound made up, know that they are, indeed, real terms to indicate real actions by essential oils and you’ll see them over and over in aromatherapy books and trade journals so I encourage you to become familiar with them.

Glossary of Essential Oil Properties and Aromatherapy Terms

  • Abortifacient: Capable of inducing abortion
  • Analgesic: Pain relieving
  • Anti-angiogenic: Suppresses new blood vessels from forming, which may be useful in preventing tumor growth. However, it may also suppress fetal growth and should be avoided in pregnancy.
  • Anthelmintic: Expels parasitic worms from the body by either stunning or killing them. They may also be called vermifuges (stunning) or vermicides (killing).
  • Anti-bacterial: Destroys bacteria
  • Anti-odontalgic: Relieves toothache
  • Antiemetic: Reduces the severity of vomitingh
  • Anti-fungal: Inhibits the growth of fungus
  • Anti-galactagogue: Impedes or lessens the flow of breast milk
  • Anti-hemorrhagic: Prevents or combats bleeding
  • Anti-infectious: Helps the body strengthen its own resistance to infective organisms and rid the body of illness.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Alleviates inflammation
  • Anti-phlogistic: Counteracts inflammation
  • Anti-pruritic: Relieves or prevents the sensation of itching
  • Anti-pyretic: Dispelse heat and fever
  • Antiseptic: Assists in fighting germs and infections
  • Anti-seborrheic: Helps control the oily secretion from sweat glands
  • Anti-spasmodic: Relieves spasms of voluntary and involuntary muscles.
  • Anti-sudorific: Lessens sweating
  • Anti-rheumatic: Prevents and/or relieves rheumatic pain and swelling
  • Anti-tussive: Capable of relieving or suppressing a cough
  • Anti-toxic: Antidoe or treatment to counteract the effects of poison
  • Anti-viral: Inhibits the growth of viruses
  • Aperient: Mild laxative
  • Aphrodisiace: Increasing sexual desire and sexual functioning
  • Astringent: Firms tissue and organs: reduces discharges and secretions
  • Balsamic: Soothing medicine or application having the qualities of balsam
  • Carminative: Relieves intestinal gas pain and distention; promotes peristalsis
  • Carginogenic: A substance that promotes cancer or cancerous growths
  • Cephalic: A substance which is stimulating and clearing for the mind.
  • Cholagogue: Stimulating the secretion of bile into the duodenum
  • Choleretic: Helps the liver to excrete bile, leading to greater bile flow
  • Cicatrisant: Promotes healing by cell regeneration and formation of scar tissue
  • Cytophylactic: Action of increasing the leukocyte activity to defend the body against infections
  • Colic: Pain due to contractions of the muscle of the abdominal organs
  • Decongestant: Reduces nasal mucus production and swelling
  • Demulcent: An agent that protects the mucus membranes and helps stop irritation
  • Depurative: Helps to detoxify and to combat impurities in the blood and body
  • Detoxifier: Helps to detoxify and combat impurities in the blood and body
  • Diaphoretic: Causes perspiration and increased elimination through the skin
  • Diuretic: Promotes activity of kidney and bladder and increases urination
  • Dopaminergic: Helps to increase focus
  • Emetic: Induces vomiting
  • Emmenagogue: Helps promote and regulate menstruation. Helps the uterus to expel
  • Emollient: Smoothes, softens and protects the skin
  • Expectorant: Promotes the discharge of phlegm and mucus from the lungs and throat
  • Febrifugre: Helps to combact fever
  • Galactagogue: Helps to increase the production and secretion of milk
  • Hemostatic: Stops the flow of blood; and astringent that stops bleeding or hemorrhaging
  • Hypotensive: Lowers blood pressure
  • Immune stimulant: Stimulates functioning of the immune system
  • Laxative: Promotes bowel movements
  • Menorrhagia: Excessive blood loss during menstruation
  • Mucolytic: Breaks down mucus (pulmonary)
  • Narcotic: Substance inducing sleep
  • Nervine: Strengthens the functional activity of the nervous system; may be either a stimulant or sedative
  • Neurotoxin: A substance having a toxic or harmful effect on the nervous system
  • Parturient: Assisting childbirth
  • Pruritis: Itching
  • Pyrosis: Heartburn
  • Rubifacient: Increases local blood circulation, can cause minor skin irritation, vasodilation, and local analgesic effect.
  • Sedative: Calms and tranquilizes by lowering the funcational activity of the organ or body part.
  • Soporific: A substance which helps to induce sleep
  • Stimulant: Increases functional activity of a specific organ or system
  • Stomachic: Serve to tone the stomach, improving its function and increasing appetite
  • Tonic: Strengthens and restores vitality
  • Sudorific: Increases sweating
  • Vasoconstrictor: An agent which helps the contraction of blood vessels
  • Vasodilator: An agent which helps the dilation of blood vessels
  • Vermifuge: Expels intestinal worms
  • Vulnerary: An agent applied externally which helps to heal wounds and sores and prevent tissue degeneration

Are these words new to you? Will this help you understand the therapeutic properties and benefits of an essential oils? Have I missed any?

Please leave a comment below!

Blog Post Updated 10/28/21

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