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October 1, 2001

Herbal Action
Pam Fischer, Clinical Herbalist

Adaptogen - An action that improves the body's adaptability. It supports the adrenal gland (and maybe the pituitary) allowing from increased resistance to damage.

Alterative - Aleratives help to restore healthy body functions. The old name for alteratives was blood cleaners. Alteratives seem to work is through altering the body's metabolism. Alteratives get organs to function better improving eliminate of waste from kidney lungs liver and skin.

Anthelmintic - An action that destroys or rids the body of worms from the digestive tract.

Anticatarral - Anticatarrals help the body remove excess mucus build up. Excess catarrh can build up in tissue during infections. Some herbs work by thinning the mucous secretion making them more watery. Other herbs reduce the secretions directly maybe because of their tannins.

Antiemetic - Antiemetic reduce the feeling of nausea and prevent vomiting. Herbs with this action usually settle the stomach or get more bile release from the gall bladder or reduce the vomiting reflex.

Antiinflammatory - These herbs help the body fight inflammations. Antiinflammatorys work by cooling inflamed tissue with demulcents vulnerarys which soothe tissue. Other anti-inflammatory works at reducing inflammatory prostaglandin's in the body or through salicylates.

Antilithic - Antilithic prevent the formation of stones in the urinary system and help remove ones already formed. Anti-lithic increase urine flow increasing the flushing of kidneys and tubes.

Antimicrobial - An Action the help the body destroy or resist microorganism. Some herbs work through boosting the immune system and others contain chemical which are anti-septic.

Antispasmodic - Antispasmodics relieve or prevent spasms. They reduce body tension and aid in relaxing muscles.

Aperient - Aperient has a mild laxative effect. They work either by bulking up feces or by stimulating digestive processes.

Aromatic - These herbs have strong smells. The essential oil have a stimulating effect on digestion.

Astringent - Astringents tighten tissue and control bleeding. They are high in Tannins. Tannins precipitate protein molecules.

Bitters - Herbs that have a biter flavor. They work by triggering a sensory response in the mouth which tells the central nervous system to release gastrin.

Carminative - Carminatives stimulate the digestive tract to work correctly and with ease. They soothe the smooth muscles of the gut. thereby relieving gripping pain and removing gas.

Cholagogue - Is an action that effects the flow of bile from the liver. Cholagogues work through the bitter reflex action on the liver.

DemulcentIs an herb rich in mucilage and is soothing to irritated internal tissue. For external application the action is called emollient.

Diaphoretic - An action that produces or promotes sweating.

DiureticIncreases the secretion and elimination of urine form the body.

Emetic - Emetics are herbs that cause vomiting.

Emmenagogue - Herbs that stimulate menstrual flow and activity.

Expectorant - Herbs that help remove excess mucous from the lungs.
     Stimulating expectorants- Chemically irritate the lining of the bronchioles to stimulate expectoration. Often they are emetic in high doses.
     Relaxing expectorants- relaxing expectorant act by reflex. They will soothe bronchial spasm and loosen mucous secretion. Useful in dry irritating coughs.

Febrifuge - Herbs that reduce fever.

Galactagogue - Herbs that increase breast milk.

Hepatic - Hepatics aid the liver; they tone strengthen and can increase bile flow.

Hypnotic - An action that will help induce a deep sleep.

Laxative - An action that stimulate the bowels to promote bowel movements.

Nervine - A Plant that has a beneficial effect on the nervous system.

Pectoral - An action that is relaxing to the lung and pectoral muscles.

Rubefacients - An herb when applied externally brings more blood flow to the tissue.

Sedative - An herb that calms the nervous system.

Tonic - An remedy that strengthen a organ or system or the whole body.

Vulnerary - An action that brings healing to external wound or inflammations.

Pam Fischer, Clinical Herbalist
Ohlone Herbal Center
1250 Addison Street
Berkeley, CA 94702

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