Aromatherapy Terms Defined

What follows is a reference listing of definitions of common words and terminology used in association with aromatherapy and essential oil applications.

Abortifacient capable of producing a miscarriage / abortion
Analgesic remedy capable of providing pain relief
Anaphrodisiac reduces or suppresses sexual appetite
Anodyne assuage or soothe pain
Antaphrodisiac reduces or suppresses sexual appetite
Antemetic prevents or alleviates nausea and vomiting
Anthelminthic expels or eliminates parasitic intestinal worms
Anthelmintic expels or eliminates parasitic intestinal worms
Anti-allergenic relieves or reduces allergic symptoms
Anti-anaemic prevents or corrects anaemia
Anti-anemic prevents or corrects anemia
Anti-aphrodisiac reduces or suppresses sexual appetite
Anti-bacterial destroys or inhibits the growth of bacteria
Anti-biotic destroys or inhibits growth of microorganisms
Anti-catarrhal useful against catarrh
Anti-coagulant prevents the clotting of blood
Anti-convulsive relieves or prevents convulsions
Anti-dandruff prevent or eliminate dandruff
Anti-depressant helps to treat depression
Anti-diabetic treats diabetes
Anti-diarrheal prevents or relieves diarrhea
Anti-dotal counteracts effects of a poison
Anti-emetic prevents or alleviates nausea and vomiting
Anti-fungal destroys or inhibits the growth of fungi
Anti-hemorrhagic tending to stop hemorrhage
Anti-histaminic relieves allergy symptoms
Anti-infectious reduces or prevents infection
Anti-inflammatory reduces inflammation
Anti-lactogenic blocks lactation
Anti-microbial destroys or inhibits growth of microorganisms
Anti-migraine counteracts migraines
Anti-neuralgic reduces nerve pain
Anti-oxidant inhibits oxidation
Anti-parasitic destroys or reduces parasites
Anti-phlogistic counteracts fever or inflammation
Anti-pruritic prevents or relieves itching
Anti-pruriginous combats prurigo and the severe itching caused by such conditions
Anti-putrescent prevents and counteracts decay
Anti-pyretic serves to reduce fever
Anti-rheumatic suppresses or prevents rheumatism
Anti-sclerotic prevents hardening of tissue
Anti-scorbutic counteracts scurvy
Anti-seborrheic prevents or relieves excess sebum production
Anti-septic inhibits growth of, and destroys, microbes to prevent infection
Anti-spasmodic prevents or allays spasms or convulsions
Anti-sudorific inhibits perspiration
Anti-toxic counteracts a toxin or poison
Anti-tubercular used against tuberculosis
Anti-tussive relieves or suppresses coughs
Anti-venomous used against venom
Anti-viral destroys viruses or inhibits their growth and reproduction
Aperitif stimulates appetite
Aphrodisiac induces or intensifies sexual desire
Astringent constricts and contracts body tissues to control secretions or bleeding

Bactericidal destroys bacteria
Balsamic soothing; restoring
Bechic halts coughing

Calmative calming; sedating
Cardiotonic stimulates the heart
Carminative relieves gas / flatulence
Catarrh inflammatory affection of a mucous membrane, especially nose and throat
Cephalic remedies for the head
Cholagogue promotes the flow and discharge of bile from the system
Choleretic stimulates the liver to promote bile secretion
Cicatrisant promotes healing of sore or wound
Cicatrisive promotes the formation of a cicatrix to aid healing of sore or wound
Circulatory pertains to circulation
Cordial revives, stimulates, or invigorates
Counter-irritant causes superficial irritation to relieve deeper inflammation
Cytophylactic protects cells against lytic agents
Cytotoxic kills cells

Decongestant relieves congestion
Demulcent soothes an inflamed nervous membrane, or protects it from irritation
Deodorant destroys offensive odors
Depurative purifies the blood and fluids of the body (humors)
Detoxicant counteracts poisons
Diaphoretic increases perspiration
Digestive promotes digestion of food
Disinfectant purification from infecting matter
Diuretic promotes excretion of urine
Dysmenorrhea menstruation that is painful and difficult

Emmenagogue promotes menstrual flow
Emollient softens or soothes the skin
Energizing invigorating
Epithelial cells help to protect or enclose organs
Estrogenic pertaining to, or acting like, estrogen
Euphoric feeling of well-being or elation
Expectorant promotes expulsion of mucus and phlegm from the respiratory tract

Febrifuge mitigates or prevents fever
Fixative slows down evaporation; make stable
Fortifying strengthens
Fungicidal kills or inhibits fungi
Fungicide destroys or retards the growth of fungi

Galactagogue increases secretion of milk

Hemostatic stops bleeding
Hepatic affects the liver
Hepatobiliary pertains to liver and bile
Hydrating restores moisture
Hydrosols are also known as floral waters and hydrolats; for more information on hydrosols, see “What are Hydrosols?”
Hyperglycemic increases glucose concentration in the blood
Hypertensive increases blood pressure
Hypnotic induces sleep; sedates
Hypoglycemic decreases glucose concentration in the blood
Hypotensive reduces blood pressure

Immunostimulant stimulates an immune response
Insect repellent repels insects
Insecticidal kills insects

Larvicidal kills larvae
Laxative relieves constipation
Lipolytic breaks down fat
Litholytic dissolves calculi
Lymphatic reference to the lymph system

Menorrhalgia menstruation that is painful and difficult
Menstrual pertaining to the menses
Mucolytic breaks down mucus

Nervine affects the nerves; quiets nervous excitement
Neurotonic improves nervous system

Orexigenic stimulates appetite

Parasiticide destroys parasites
Parturient aids childbirth
Pectoral relieves chest or respiratory tract disorders
Phlebotonic improves venous tone
Photosensitivity is a sensitivity to damage from ultraviolet (UV) light, such as sunlight or sun tanning beds. It’s important to avoid and protect against UV light when applying essential oils that are potentially phototoxic (typically your citrus oils, but read your labels and get to know your essential oils as it’s not only those). See the following for more information on essential oils and photosensitivity and phototoxicity: Essential Oil Safety: What is Photosensitivity?
Prophylactic defends against disease and infection
Prostaglandin inhibitor retards or prevents the actions of prostaglandins
Pulmonary pertains to the lungs

Regenerative gives new life, strength, or vigor
Regulator balances and regulates functions
Restorative renews health and strength
Revulsive diverts pain/disease from one part of the body to another; counter irritant
Rubefacient irritates the skin and causes redness

Sedative calming, moderating, or tranquilizing
Sialagogue increases flow of saliva, ptyalagogue
Soporific induces sleep
Spasmolytic prevents or allays spasms or convulsions
Stimulant increases vital activity
Stomachic improves appetite and stimulates digestion
Styptic stops bleeding
Sudorific increases perspiration

Tonic restores and strengthens the whole body or its parts

Uterine pertains to the uterus
Uterotonic tones uterine muscle

Vagotonic over-excitability of the vagus nerve
Vasoconstrictor constricts blood vessels
Vasodilator dilates or relaxes blood vessels
Vermifuge expels or eliminates parasitic intestinal worms
Vulnerary useful for healing wounds

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