Whispering Woods Herbal Grimoire

Basic Herbal Glossary

Alterative – A blood purifier.
Analgesic - A pain reliever.
Anemia - A condition where the blood is lacking in red blood cells.                    
Anhydrous - lacking water, dehydrated
Antibacterial - An agent that destroys or stops the growth of bacteria.                                            ColtsFoot
Antibiotic - A natural substance that inhibits the growth of and/or destroys micro-organisms
Anti Catarrhal – An agent that relives catarrh.
Anti Inflammatory – An agent that counteracts inflammation. Soothes and reduces the inflammation of the infected tissue
Anti malarial - An agent that prevents or relieves malaria.
Anti Microbial – An agent that assists the body in resisting pathogenic micro-organisms
Antioxidant - Compounds that provides stability to fats and oils by delaying oxidation.
Antipyretic – An agent that reduces fever
Antiseptic - An agent capable of producing antisepsis
Anti Spasmodic – An agent that prevents or relieves spasms of the voluntary and involuntary muscles
Antitussive - An agent that prevents relieves or suppresses coughing.
Aphrodisiac - A substance that stimulates sexual desire
Astringent –A substance that causes contractions of tissues by binding proteins
Aperient - A mild laxative, causing evacuation of the bowels without irritation and griping.
Aromatic bitter – An agent used to stimulate the appetite and gastric secretion
Astringent - An agent that has a constricting or binding effect
Bitter principle - Plant substances with a bitter taste that produce a reflexive increase in saliva secretion as well as secretion of digestive juices.
Calmative - An agent that causes a mild sedative or tranquilizing effect; weaker than a sedative.
Composition - Mix dry herbs generally as a medicine for flu and fever powders
Carminative – An agent that reduces gas and inflammation.

Soak a soft cloth in a hot infusion, decoction, or 5-20 ml tincture in 500 ml hot water. Squeeze out excess water and hold pad against affected area.

A mixture of fats and water that blends with the skin to strengthen and smooth it. Use 30 g lanolin, 15 oz beeswax, 100 g. vegetable or fruit oil, and 30 ml herb water. Melt the lanolin and beeswax in a double boiler, gently stirring in the oil. Remove from heat and whisk in the herb water. Keep stirring as it cools. Store in wide mouth jars.

Made by simmering larger pieces of the herb, such as bark, roots, or twigs. Use 30 g. dried or 60 g. fresh herb to 750 ml water; simmer until the water is reduced to 500 ml. Drink 1/2 cup three times a day. In order to avoid loosing volatile constituents, use a lid over the simmering pan. After cooling down and separating the solid from the liquid, decoctions can be taken hot or cold.

Decongestant - An agent that reduces congestion
Demulcent - An agent that will soothe and protect the part or soften the skin to which applied. (This refers to internal tissue.)
Depurative - An agent that cleanses and purifies the system, particularly the bloodstream
Dermatitis - Inflammation of skin evidenced by itching, redness, and various skin lesions
Detoxifier - An agent that helps facilitate the removal of toxins from the body
Diaphoretic – An agent that increases perspiration
Digestive - An agent that promotes or aids digestion
Diterpenes - Hydrocarbons or their derivatives containing 4 isoprene units, hence containing 20 carbon atoms and 4 branched methyl groups
Discutient - An agent that disperses a lesion or tumor
Diuretic - An agent that increases the secretion of urine
Emetic - An agent that produces vomiting
Emmenagogue - A substance that promotes or assists the flow of menstrual fluid.
Emollient - An agent that will soften, soothe and protect the part when applied locally. (This refers to external tissue)
Essential oil - Essential oils are the volatile oily components of aromatic plants, trees and grasses. They are found in tiny glands located in the flowers (neroli), leaves (eucalyptus), roots (calamus), wood (sandal) and resins (frankincense). Essential oils are extracted by four main methods: steam distillation, expression, solvent extraction and efleurage. In the first method the oil is extracted by the action of hot steam and then selectively condensed with water from which it is separated. In the second method the oil is extracted by pressure or centrifugation. In the third method the oil is dissolved in a volatile solvent that when evaporated leaves a heavily natural wax substance called concrete. When separated from the wax, the resulting liquid is called an absolute, the most concentrated from of aroma available. Efleurage is a longer process involving the dissolution of the oils in animal fat and its separation using alcohol.
Excoriations -  A scratch or skin abrasion
Expectorant - Causes the expulsion of mucus from the respiratory tract.
Flatulence - The presence of excessive gas in the intestinal tract due to fermentation or decomposition.
Flavonoids - Substances of plant origin containing flavone in various combinations (anthoxanthins, apigenins, flavones, quercitins, etc.) and with varying biological activities.
Fungicide – An agent that kills fungi and their spores
Galactogogue - An agent that promotes the flow of milk or lacteal secretion
Glycosides - Any compound that contains a constituent sugar, in which the hydroxyl group attached to the first carbon is substituted by an alcoholic, phenolic, or other group. They are named specifically for the sugar contained, such as glucoside (glucose), pentoside (pentose), fructoside (fructose), etc.
Hallucinogenic - A mind-altering agent that produces mood changes or changes in perception
Hematemesis - Vomiting of blood
Hemorrhages - Profuse bleeding from the blood vessels
Hepatic - An agent that tones, strengthens, detoxifies and heals the liver
Hyperemia - An increase in the quantity of blood flow to a body part
Hypertension - A condition in which the patient has a higher blood pressure than that judged to be normal.
Hypotension - Low blood pressure; a decrease of systolic and diastolic blood pressure below normal.
Inflammation - Localized protective reaction of tissue to irritation, injury, infection and so forth
Influenza - Acute highly infectious human disease caused by influenza virus A (epidemics, pandemics), B or C infection via the respiratory tract
Infused Oils - Pure vegetable oils like sunflower, almond and olive oil are easily found at grocer stores. They have the property of dissolving the active, fat-soluble active principles of medicinal plants and herbs. This process is called infusion and can be carried out at room temperature or higher. Infusion is a slower process than alcohol extraction but has the advantage of resulting in an oil based solution of medicinal constituents that can easily be used to make creams and ointments. Hot infusion is recommended for the harder parts of the plants while cold infusion is more suitable for flowers and leaves.
Infusion - Infusions are a simple way of extracting the active principles of herbs through the action of hot water. The preparation of infusions is similar to way we prepare tea. This method is used to extract the volatile components of the dried or green aerial parts of herbs and plants like flowers and leaves. Infusions may use single herbs or a blend and are drunk hot or cold.
Insomnia - Inability to sleep or sleep prematurely ended or interrupted by periods of wakefulness
Irritant - An agent causing inflammation
Jaundice - Yellow discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes resulting from hyperbilirubinemia and subsequent deposition of bile pigment in the body
Kidney stone - Any of the hard concretions varying in size from a tiny particle to staghorn calculi which may fill the renal pelvis
Laxative - Food or chemical substance that acts to loosen the bowels
Lethargy - Abnormal drowsiness
Lignans - Compounds, which have a potential anti-cancer role, and which can be synthesized in vitro by human faecal flora.
Lithotriptic - An agent that tends to dissolve calculi
Maceration - Steep the herb in alcohol or olive oil and shake at intervals for extraction
Malaise – A state of discomfort, uneasiness, weakness, lethargy, depression, bodily discomfort often indicative of infection or an impending illness
Mastitis - Inflammation of the mammary glands or breast
Melancholia - Depression
Migraine - A severe, recurring headache, usually affecting only one side of the head
Mucilage - Sticky and gummy vegetable preparation used in pharmaceuticals.
Nervine - A substance that calms and soothes the nerves to alleviate irritations and stress
Oil -  8 oz. vegetable oil (olive, almond, or grapeseed)

      3/4 cup fresh herbs, chopped

      2 tbsp. high octane vodka (100 proof or better)

      A widemouth pint mason jar


Clean, thoroughly dry, and roughly chop the herbs of your choice (you can blend, but the fewer the better). Allow chopped herbs to sit in a bowl overnight to allow some moisture to evaporate. Failure to follow this short drying process could result in moldy oil from excess water.                                                                                                                  Place herbs in the mason jar, and add oil to cover. Add two tablespoons of vodka and close the jar. Shake vigorously.    Reopen the jar and poke the resulting mixture with a chopstick to release air bubbles trapped below, and to insure that herbs are covered with oil.                                                                                                                                             Place four levels of cheesecloth over the jar, and fix with a rubber band. Don't put the mason jar lid down as you want air to reach the oil as it infuses with the herb.                                                                                                                    Put the jar in a warm place such as a heat register or warm sunny window. Let sit for two weeks.                                After two weeks, strain the oil into a glass measuring cup through a strainer, and after all the oil has dripped through, pour the strained oil slowly into a glass storage jar (or the original mason jar) until just before the last ounce is poured. Look at the remaining oil. If there are streaks or bubbles, that's trapped water, and you don't want to decant that into your final oil. Pour off all the oil you can, and throw away remaining sediment and water.
The oil you produce from this method should be semi-clear to lightly cloudy, and strongly fragrant. Store in a cool, dark place for up to a year. It makes a great massage oil.
Ointment - Ointments are prepared like hot infused oils, the difference being that herbs are simmered in waxes or fats containing no water. After separating the simmered herbs by squeezing and cooling, the result is a solid mixture of the wax or fat with the medicinal constituents of the plant. Petroleum jelly, soft paraffin wax and bees wax are some common bases used.
Parasiticide - An agent that will kill animal or vegetable parasites
Pectoral - An agent that relieves chest conditions or respiratory disorders
Phlebitis - Inflammation of a vein
Poultice - The act of mixing crushed herbs wit water and oatmeal and applying to affected area
Purgative - An agent that will cause watery evacuation of the intestinal contents.
Rubefacient – An agent that produces a mild irritation, reddening of the skin, local vasodilatation and thereby increasing the blood supply to the area of application
Salves - Mince herbs with vegetable fat and beeswax, cover and place either in the sun or a low temp. Oven for 4 hours, strain through cheesecloth and let set in a clean container
Saponins - A type of glycoside widely distributed in plants.
Scurvy - Disease characterized by spongy gums, loosening of teeth, bleeding into skin and mucous membranes that is caused by a lack of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)
Secretagogue - A hormone or other agent that promotes or stimulates secretion.
Sedative - An agent that exerts a soothing or tranquilizing effect
Sialagogue - An agent that stimulates and increases the secretion of saliva
Sinusitis - Inflammation of any sinus
Soporific - An agent that produces sleep without delirium
Stabilizer - A substance added to a product to give it body and to maintain a desired texture or consistency
Steep - To extract the essence of the herb by soaking
Stomachic - An agent that stimulates the appetite and gastric secretion
Stimulant - Any agent that temporarily increases functional activity
Sudorific - Promotes or increases perspiration
Syrups - Dissolve brown sugar and add to herbs until sappy, strain through cheesecloth into a clean bottle
Tannin - Bitter-tasting, complex aromatic compounds found in the vacuoles of certain plant cells, for example in bark. (strongly astringent)
Tincture - Most of the volatile components of medicinal plants and herbs are soluble in alcohol. By immersing dried or fresh parts of plants in alcohol, the active principles are easily extracted at concentrations that exceed those that can be achieved by infusion or decoction. Highly concentrate solutions that will last for one to two years are a convenient way to store and use medicinal plants constituents. Use high grade Vodka which is atleast 100 proof. The extraction is fairly quick. A 50% mixture of herbs and alcohol kept in a tightly closed jar will held a tincture ready for use at the prescribed dosage.
Tonic - An agent that invigorates and strengthens all systems and organs
Tranquilizer - Depressant used to treat anxiety, stress and tension
Tumor - An abnormal growth of tissue, benign or malignant, resulting from uncontrolled, progressive multiplication of cells
Vasodilator - An agent that dilates the blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure.
Vermifuge - An agent that causes the expulsion of intestinal worms.  

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