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Glossary of Aromatherapy Related Terms

by Leah Morgan, Clinical Aromatherapist


A    B-C    D   E-F    G-H    I-L   M-N    O-P    Q-S    T-Z


Abortifacient: Capable of causing abortion.
Abscess: A painful collection of pus – localized in a specific area.
Absolute: Highly concentrated viscous solid or semi solid aromatic material usually obtained by solvent extraction.
Adulteration: With reference to corrupting an essential oil in any way.
Acrid: Leaving a burning sensation in the mouth.
Aerophagy: Excessive swallowing of air -  an unconscious action associated with anxiety.
Alopecia: Loss of hair.
Amenorrhoea: Lack of menstruation.
Anemia: Too few red blood cells in the blood ensuing in inadequate oxygen to tissues and organs.
Anesthetic: Loss of sensation – pain relieving.
Analgesic: Pain Relieving.
Anaphrodisiac: Reduces sexual desire.
Anodyne: Relieves pain or discomfort.
Anorexia: Eating disorder – loss of appetite.
Anosmic: Absence of sense of smell.
Antacid: Combating and balancing the acidity in the body.
Anthelmintic: Vermifuge – expulsion of worms from the intestines
Anti-allergenic: Reduces the symptoms of allergies.
Anti-anaemic: combats anemia.
Antibiotic: Fights infections and bacteria in the body.
Anticoagulant: Prevents or delays the blood from clotting.
Anticonvulsive: Controls convulsions.
Antidepressant: Emotionally uplifting, counteracts feelings of sorrow.
Antidontalgic: Relieving toothache.
Anti-emetic: Reduces vomiting.
Antigalactagogue: Impedes the flow of breast milk.
Antihemorrhagic: Combats heavy bleeding.
Anti-inflammatory: Reducing inflammation.
Antilithic: Prevents the formation of urinary calculi (abnormal crystalline solid form).
Antimicrobial: Reducing microbes.
Antineuralgic: Reducing nerve pain.
Antioxidant: Delays oxidation.
Antiphlogistic: Reducing inflammation.
Antiputrefactive: Delays decomposition of animal or vegetable matter.
Antipruritic: Prevents itching.
Antipyretic: Lowers body temperature – see febrifuge.
Antirheumatic: Helps relieve rheumatism.
Antiscorbutic: Aids in the prevention of scurvy.
Antiscrofula: Fights the development of tuberculosis of the lymph nodes.
Antiseborrheic: Controls the production of sebum.
Antiseptic: Fights infections and helps to prevent tissue degeneration.
Antisclerotic: Prevents hardening of tissue due to chronic inflammation.
Antispasmodic: Relieves spasms and or convulsions.
Antisudorific: Reduces sweating.
Antitoxic: Neutralizes poison.
Antitussive: Relieves coughs.
Antivenomous: Neutralizes poison.
Antiviral: Controls virus organisms.
Aperient: Opening the bowels – mild laxative.
Aperitif: Encourages appetite.
Aphrodisiac: Increases sexual desire.
Apoplexy: Profuse effusion of blood into an organ – severe hemorrhage.
Arteriosclerosis: Thickening of arteries.
Arthritis: Painful inflammation of joints.
Astringent: Tightens and tones tissues.
Atony: Lack of normal muscle tone.


Bacteriacidal: Fights and destroys bacteria.
Balsamic: Healing, soothing and softening phlegm.
Bechic: Soothes and eases coughs.
Bilious: Excessive secretion of bile.
Blennorrhoea: Abnormal discharge of mucous especially from the urethra or vagina.
Blepharitis: Inflammation of the eyelids.


Calmative: Sedative or calming
Cardiac: Stimulating to the heart.
Carminative: Expulsion of gas from the intestines.
Catarrh: Inflammation of the mucous membranes.
Caustic: Burning.
Cellutitis: Inflammation of connective tissues.
Cellulite: Accumulation of toxins in the body – stored in body fat.
Cephalic: Pertaining to the head.
Cerebral: With reference to the largest part of the brain – the cerebrum.
Cervicitis: Inflammation of the cervix.
Chemotype: The same botanical species occurring in other forms due to varying growth conditions, such as climate, altitude, soil etc.
Chlorosis: A rare form of anemia.
Cholagogue: Increases the production of bile flow into the intestines.
Cholecystokinetic: Stimulates emptying of the gall bladder.
Choleretic: Aids secretion of bile by the liver.
Cholesterol: A steroid alcohol found in brain tissue, red blood cells, animal fats and bile, nerve fibers, liver, kidneys and adrenal glands.
Cicatrizant: Increases cell regeneration and the formation of scar tissue.Cirrhosis: Chronic liver disease.
Coagulation: Transformation of a liquid to semi-solid state.
Colic: Pain caused by involuntary contraction of abdominal muscles.
Colitis: Inflammation of the colon.
Compress: Hot or cold cloth applied to specific area of body to relieve swelling, pain or to apply localized pressure.
Concrete: A concentrate, solid or semi solid viscous aromatic material prepared from plant matter.
Cordial: General stimulant and tonic.
Cortisone: a corticosteroid used to treat various ailments like arthritis, allergies and diseases of the connective tissues.
Cutaneous: In relation to the skin.
Cystitis: Inflammation of the bladder.
Cytophylactic: Encourages the production of white blood cells.
Cytotoxic: Toxic to all cells.


Debility: Lack of energy and strength.
Decoction: Herbal preparation – plant matter is boiled and reduced to a concentrate extract.
Decongestant: Loosening of mucous.
Deodorant: Destroys odor.
Depurative: Purifies the blood.
Dermal: In reference to the skin.
Dermatitis: Inflammation of the skin.
Demulcent: A substance that protects the mucous membranes.
Detoxicant: Neutralizes toxic substances.
Digestive: Aids the body with digestion.
Disinfectant: Destroys germs.
Distillation: The process in which essential oils are extracted from plant matter.
Distillate: Hydrosol or Hydrolate – a byproduct of essential oils distillation. Diuretic: Increases the flow of urine.
Dopamine: Chemical produced by the brain. Lack of dopamine causes Parkinsons.
Drospy: Abnormal accumulation of fluid in intercellular tissue spaces of the body – see oedema.
Dysmenorrhoea: Painful menstruation.
Dyspepsia: Painful digestion – flatulence, heartburn, nausea.


Emetic: Induces vomiting.
Emmenagogue: Encourages menstrual flow.
Emollient: Soothes and softens the skin.
Emphysema: Pathological accumulation of air in tissues – especially in the alveoli of the lungs.
Endometriosis: A condition in which tissue resembling the uterine mucous membrane occurs abnormally in various locations in the pelvic cavity.
Enfleurage: Traditional method in which essential oils are extracted from flowers too delicate for distillation. Traditionally this process uses cold animal fat to soak up the essential oil from the flower.
Engorgement: Painful blocking of a part of a tissue – usually referring to the breasts.
Enteritis: Inflammation of the small intestine.
Enzyme: Complex proteins that are produced by living cells.
Erythema: Redness of skin due to the congestion of the capillaries.
Escharotic: Treats warts.
Essential Oil: Highly volatile liquids derived from therapeutic plants, roots, flowers, herbs, trees and fruits.
Euphoric: Intensifies feelings of well-being.
Expectorant: Removes excess mucous from the lungs and bronchial tubes.
Expression: Pressure used to extract essential oils from citrus peels.


Febrifuge: Cools body temperature and reduces fevers.Fetotoxicity: Toxicity concerning the fetus.
Fixative: A material that slows evaporation in a volatile compound. Used in perfumes.
Fixed Oil: Oils derived from animal or vegetable sources – fatty, dense and non-volatile.
Flatulence: Excessive gases in the stomach or intestines.
Fungicidal: Kills fungal infections.


Galactagogue: Increases the secretion of breast milk.
Gastritis: Inflammation of the stomach.
Genito-urinary: Pertaining to both genital and reproductive systems.
Germicidal: Wipes out germs.
Gingivitis: Painful bleeding and swelling of the gums.
Gout: A painful condition caused by excess uric acid in the blood. Commonly affects the big toe.
Gum: A natural or synthetic water-soluble substance.


Haemorrhoids: Painful condition pertaining to dilated rectal veins.
Haemostatic: Stops hemorrhage.
Halitosis: Unpleasant breath.
Hallucinogenic: Causes visions or altered mental function.
Hematuria: Blood in the urine.
Hepatic: Pertaining to the liver.
Hepatotoxicity: Damaging to the liver.
Herpes: viral infection causing painful blisters.
Hormone: A naturally occurring substance secreted by specialized cells that affect various functions in the body.
Hypertensive: Increases blood pressure.
Hyperglycemia: Abnormally high levels of glucose in the blood.
Hypertension: Persistently high arterial blood pressure.
Hypnotic: Causes sleep.
Hypotension: Abnormally low blood pressure.
Hypotensive: Lowers blood pressure.
Hysteria: Nervous state of being affecting state of mind and body.


Infused Oil: Herbal medicine prepared by maceration of plant material and allowing to steep for several days in natural sunlight.
Infusion: Water that has been boiled and steeped with plant matter, then strained.
Insecticide: Kills insects.
Insomnia: Incapable of sleep.


Larvicidal: Kills larvae.
Laxative: Aids bowels.
Leucocyte: White blood cells that combat infections.
Leucocytosis: Abnormally high number of circulating white blood cells. Possible causes – haemorrhage, fever, infection & inflammation.
Leucorrhoea: Excessive white, yellow or greenish discharge from the female genitals.
Lipolytic: The breakdown of fat tissues.
Lumbago: Localized muscular pain in the lumbar region of the spine.
Lymphatic: Pertaining to the lymphatic system.


Maceration: Using hot oil or water to extract essential oil from plant matter.
Menorrhagia: Excessive uterine bleeding during menstruation.
Metrorrhagia: Uterine bleeding outside the normal menstrual cycle.
Microbe: A microscopic living organism – bacteria, viruses etc.
Mucolytic: Dissolving mucous.


Narcotic: Induces a state of sedation.
Nervine: Reduces nervous disorders.
Nephritis: Inflammation of the kidneys.
Neuralgia: Severe shooting pain that extends along the course of one or more nerves.
Neurasthenia: Nervous exhaustion.
Neurotonic: Strengthens or tones the nervous system.
Neurotoxicity: Toxic to the nervous system.


Oedema: A painful swelling caused by excess fluid retention under the skin’s surface.
Oestrogen: A hormone secreted by the pituitary gland that controls the female reproductive process.
Oleo Gum Resin: A secretion from trees and plants that consist mainly of essential oil, gum and resin.
Oleoresin: A resinous secretion from plants or an aromatic liquid preparation, taken from botanical materials using solvents. They are made almost entirely of essential oil and resin.
Olfaction: Sense of smell.
Ophthalmia: Inflammation of the membrane that coats the eye.
Otitis: Painful inflammation of the ear – marked by fever, abnormalities of hearing and vertigo.


Palpitations: Unpleasant, irregular or forceful heartbeat.
Panacea: A cure for all illness.
Parasiticide: Destroys parasites.
Parturient: Aids in easy delivery in childbirth.
Pathogenic: Causing disease.
Pathological: Destructive process on living tissue.
Pectoral: Relating to diseases of the chest of lungs.
Pediculicide: Destroys lice.
Percutaneous: Through the skin.
Peptic: Pertains to digestion related to the action of gastric juices.
Phlebitis: Inflammation of a vein.
Phototoxic: Causes skin to become sensitive to sunlight.
Pituitary Gland: Gland attached to the base of the brain that controls the production of body hormones.
Pomade: A prepared aromatic material obtained through enfleurage.
Poultice: A therapeutic application of moist herbs to the skin to promote circulation and to relieve pain in a localized area.
Prophylactic: Preventive measures for disease.
Prostatitis: Inflammation of the prostate.
Prurigo: Skin disease marked by pink itchy inflammation.
Pruritis: Itching.
Psoriasis: Chronic skin disease marked by localized dry scaly silvery/white patches.
Pulmonary: With regard to the lungs.
Purgative: Evacuation of the bowels.
Pyelitis: Inflammation of the kidney.
Pyorrhoea: Pussy discharge.


Rectification: Re-distilling of an essential oil to rid it from an unwanted constituent.
Regulator: Regulates body functions.
Relaxant: Relieves anxiety and stress.
Renal: Pertaining to the kidneys.
Resins: A natural resinous secretion from trees.
Resinoides: An aromatic material made from natural resinous matter that has been solvent extracted – balsams, gum resins etc.
Resolvent: Dissolves boils and other similar skin eruptions.
Restorative: Restores health in the body.
Rhinitis: Inflammation of the nasal mucous membranes.
Rubifacient: Warms the body by increasing blood flow.


Sciatica: Acute pain anywhere along the sciatic nerve. Most commonly felt down the back of the legs.
Sclerosis: Hardening of nerve tissues due abnormal increase of normal cells.
Seborrhoea: Excessive secretion of sebum.
Sedative: Calming and soothing to the body and the mind.
Sepsis: The presence of organisms in the blood.
Sialogogue: Induces the secretion of saliva.
Splenetic: Relating to the spleen.
Splenitic: Inflammation of the spleen.
Soporific: Induces sleep.
Stimulant: Increases adrenaline flow in the body.
Stomachic: Relieving to gastric complaints.
Strangury: Painful discharge of urine due to spasmodic muscular contractions of the urethra and bladder.
Styptic: Stops external bleeding.
Subcutaneous: Under the surface of the skin.
Sudorific: Increases perspiration.
Synergy: Agents working together harmoniously.


Tachycardia: Extremely rapid heartbeat – normally applied to over 100 beats per minute.
Thrombosis: Formation of a blood clot (thrombus)
Thrush: Fungal infections usually pertaining to the skin, mucous membranes or respiratory tract.
Tincture: An herbal remedy that is in an alcohol base.
Tracheitis: Inflammation of the trachea.
Tonic: Improves the general performance of the body and its organs.


Uterine: Pertains to the uterus.
Urticaria: Acute or chronic skin condition marked by hives, severe itching & elevated red patches.


Vaginitis: Inflammation of the vagina.
Vascoconstrictor: Contracts blood vessel walls.
Vasodialator: Dilates blood vessel walls.
Vermifuge: Expulsion of worms from the intestines.
Vesicant: Agent that causes blisters.
Vesicle: Sac containing fluid.
Volatile: Subject to evaporation.
Vulnerary: Prevents tissue degeneration, stops bleeding in open wounds.

Leah Morgan, Clinical Aromatherapist

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