Glossary of Medicinal Actions

Medicinal Actions and their meanings

A , B , C D , E , F G , H , I L M , N , O P , R S , T V


Abortifacient: Induces an abortion.

Adaptogen: Increases the body’s resistance to stress and trauma.

Alterative: Helps restore the body to normal health.

Analgesic: Relieves pain by affecting the nervous system.

Anaphrodisiac: Lowers a person’s sexual drive.

Anesthetic: Causes loss of sensation.

Anodyne: Relieves pain by lowering the sensitivity of the nervous system.

Antacid: Neutralizes acid, usually used to reduce the acidity of the stomach.

Antiarthritic: Alleviates arthritis.

Antiasthmatic: Helps relieve asthma.

Antibacterial: Kills or inhibits the growth of bacteria.

Antibilious: Relieves excess bile.

Antibiotic: Fights bacterial infections by killing or supressing it’s growth.

Anticatarrhial: Helps relieve inflammation of the mucous membranes.

Anticoagulant: Prevents the coagulation of blood.

Antidermatosic: Helps prevent and cure skin conditions.

Antidote: Counteracts a poison.

Antiecchymotic: Prevents and helps heal bruising.

Antiemetic: Relieves nausea and vomiting.

Antifungal: Kills and inhibits the growth of fungus.

Antihelmintic: Kills and inhibits the growth of parasitic worms.

Antihypothyroid: Helps regulate the thyroid.

Anti-inflammatory: Relieves inflammation.

Antilithic: Helps prevent the formation of calculi, (gallstones, kidneystones).

Antimicrobial: Kills and inhibits the growth of microbes.

Antineoplastic: Kills and inhibits the growth of cancerous cells.

Antioxidant: Helps prevent and destroy free radicals caused by oxidation.

Antiperiodic: Helps prevent the periodic return of recurring symptoms.

Antipruritic: Relieves itching.

Antirheumatic: Alleviates rheumatism.

Antiseptic: Inhibits the growth of microbes.

Antispasmodic: Relieves spams.

Antitussive: Suppresses the urge to cough.

Antiviral: Kills viruses.

Aperient: Mild laxitive.

Aphrodisiac: Increases the libido or sexual drive.

Aromatic: Strong smelling or fragrant.

Astringent: Contracts tissues to reduce the flow of liquids such as blood, mucus, and diarrhea.


Bitter: Aids the digestion.


Carminative: Helps prevent and relieve flatulence.

Cathartic: Increases the activity of the bowels to purge the digestive system.

Cholagogue: Stimulates the production of bile.

Contraceptive: Helps prevent pregancy.

Cytostatic: Inhibits cellular growth.

Cytotoxic: Toxic to cells.


Decongestant: Relieves nasal congestion.

Demulcent: Forms a film or protective barrier to relieve inflammed tissue.

Depurative: Helps eliminate toxins and cleanses.

Diaphoretic: Causes excessive sweating.

Diuretic: Increases the rate of urination.


Emetic: Causes vomiting.

Emmenagogue: Helps stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area to promote menstrual flow.

Emollient: Used to soften skin.

Errhine: Helps stimulate nasal discharge.

Expectorant: Helps thin and bring up musus in the lungs.


Febrifuge: Reduces fever.


Galactofuge: Reduces the flow of milk from the breasts.

Galactagogue: Induces the flow of milk from the breasts.


Hallucinogenic: Induces hallucinations.

Hemolytic: Breaks red blood cells.

Hemostatic: Stops bleeding.

Hepatic: Acts on the liver.

Hydrogogue: Causes a watery discharge.

Hypnotic: Induces sleep or a trance.

Hypoglycemic: Lowers blood sugar.

Hypotensive: Lowers blood pressure.


Irritant: Causes an irritation.


Laxative: Loosens the stool to promote a bowel movement.

Lenitive: Helps releive pain.

Lithotriptic: Helps dissolve calculi, (gallstones, kidneystones).

Lymphagogue: Induces the flow of lymph.

Lymphatic: Acts upon the lymphatic system.


Mucilage: Sticky substance used as an adhesive.

Mydriatic: Causes dialation of the pupil.


Narcotic: An addictive substancethat alters a person’s mood or behavior.

Nervine: Acts upon the nervous system.


Odontalgic: Relieves a toothache.

Ophthalmic: Acts upon the eyes.

Oxytoxic: Increases oxytocin and quickens childbirth by stimulating uterine contractions.


Parasiticide: Kills parasites.

Pectoral: Strengthens the respiratory system.

Purgative: Clean out the bowels.


Refrigerant: Causes a cooling effect.

Relaxant: Induces relaxation – relieves muscle tension.

Restorative: Helps aid a person’s recovery to normal health.

Rubefacient: Dialates capillaries and brings blood to the area.


Sedative: Induces sleep.

Sialagogue: Induces the flow of saliva.

Sternutatory: Causes sneezing.

Stimulant: Increases activity.

Stomachic: Improves the function of the stomach.

Styptic: Reduces or stops the flow of blood.

Sudorific: Increases sweating.


Tonic: Helps to strengthen and improve.


Vasoconstrictor: Constricts the blood vessels.

Vermifuge: Expels intestinal worms.

Vesicant: Causes blistering.

Vulnerary: Helps heal and treat wounds.