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Herb Glossary

There is a specialized vocabulary that is used to describe the properties of herbs and how they are prepared.  Some common terminology is listed here. 

Abortifacient an agent that induces expulsion of the fetus.

Adaptogen herbs that act in a nonspecific way to strengthen the body and increase resistance to disease and stress.

Astringent - An agent that contracts organic tissue, thus reducing secretions. 

Calmative - An agent with mild sedative or tranquilizing properties.

Decoctions - Teas in which the water and herbs are boiled or simmered. 

Emmenagogue - An agent that promotes menstrual flow. 

Infusions - Teas made from the delicate part of a plant, such as leaves, berries, flowers.  Water is heated to a boil and the herbs are added.  The infusion is then steeped.

Salves and ointments - combinations of herbs, wax and oils for external applications.  

Tinctures - Infusions with an alcohol base.  They are very concentrated, long lasting, and stable.