Essential Oil Terminology
Below is a list of common terminology used to describe essential oils or herbs. It makes a handy glossary for you to reference.
Antibacterial: destroys bacteria and inhibits growth.
Anti-fungal: destroys fungus and molds and inhibits growth.
Anti-Inflammatory: reduces inflammation.
Anti-parasitic: inhibits or repels insects and parasites.
Antiseptic: prevents or arrests the growth of microorganisms.
Antispasmodic: relieves spasms and cramping.
Antitussive: prevents or relieves coughs.
Antiviral: destroys viruses and inhibits growth.
Aphrodisiac: arouses sexual desire.
Carminative: aids in expelling gas from the intestines, reducing abdominal discomfort and
Cholagogue: aids in the elimination of bile from the gall bladder and bile ducts.
Cicatrizant: promotes scar formation and tissue.
Cytophylactic: refers to cytophylaxis which is a process that increases the activity of
leucocytes which helps in the defense of the body against infection.
Decongestant: expels excess fluid build up in sinuses, tissues and membranes.
Deodorant: eliminates body odors.
Depurative: an agent that fights impurities in the blood or organs.
Diaphoretic: increases sweating and perspiration.
Diuretic: promotes the elimination of excess water from the body via the urinary system.
Emmenagogue: promotes menstruation.
Emollient: soothes and softens the skin.
Expectorant: promotes the removal of mucus.
Febrifuge: fever reducing.
Galactagogue: encourages the flow of breast milk.
Hemostatic: reduces or stops bleeding.
Hepatic: relating or associated with the liver.
Immunostimulant: stimulates the immune system.
Mucolytic: dissolves and breaks down mucus.
Nervine: supports the nervous system and nerves.
Purgative: produces the movement of bowels.
Relaxant: clams or relaxes nerves, an organ, the body and/or mind.
Rubefacient: reduces redness of the skin.
Sedative: reduces mental excitement and encourages calmness.
Stimulant: increases circulation and the movement of the body and mind.
Stomachic: enhances the function of the stomach.
Tonic: strengthens the body, helps to restore and preserve the mind and body.
Vasoconstrictor: reduces blood flow.
Vasodilator: increases blood flow.
Vermifuge: destroys or expels worms.
Vulnerary: heals wounds by topical application.
References: Jennifer Hochell; Aromatherapy for Body Mind and Soul by Larissa
Jones; Passport to Aromatherapy by Joel Wallach, Aromatherapy Guide by Joie Power, Ph.D