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Herbal Dictionary: L, M & N

Updated on August 29, 2015
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DiDi is a healthy food writer who focuses on functional foods. You can read her blog at RXcipes

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LACTIFUGE

An herb or compound that reduces or stops the secretion and flow of breast milk.

Synonyms: Galactafuge, Galactaphyge
Antonym: Galactagogue, Galactagenic

  • Black Pepper (Piper nigrum)
  • Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)
  • Jasmine (Jasminum Sambac)
  • Naked Lily (Belladonna Amaryllis)


LAXATIVE

An herb that promotes evacuation of the bowels. Laxative herbs have a gentle cathartic action

Laxative Herbs:

  • Burdock (Arctium lappa)
  • Castor Oil (Ricinus communis)
  • Flax Seed (Linum usitatissimum)
  • Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)
  • Senna (Cassia senna)
  • Psyllium (Plantago Ovata)

This video shows how to use natural laxatives to remedy constipation:

LINIMENT

A liniment is a therapeutic topical preparation that is usually used to relieve pain and stiffness. The term is derived from the Latin “linere,” which means to anoint. It is.

Liniments are typically formulated from fast- evaporating solvents such as alcohol or acetone. Unlike lotions or creams, a liniment is rubbed into the skin to create friction. It may contain counterirritant aromatic herbs such as cayenne, which is rich in capsaicin.

Synonym: Embrocation

In this video, John of Mountain Rose Herbs shows you how to make your own herbal liniment from comfrey, valerian, calendula, cinnamon and cayenne. It can be used to relieve sore muscles and increase circulation.

LIP BALM

A lip balm is a wax-like preparation that is applied topically to soothe and moisturize chapped or dry lips.

It is commonly made from bees wax or carnauba wax to create a layer on the lip surface to seal moisture in the lips and protect them from external exposure. Lips are especially vulnerable to the drying effect of cold temperatures, wind and dry air because the skin is so thin.

In this video, learn how to prepare your own homemade lip balm from peppermint and chocolate (yep – chocolate!).

LIVER TONIC

Liver tonic herbs are used as remedies for diseases and disorders of the liver, helping tone and cleanse the liver

  • Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
  • Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
  • Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus)

This video discusses the tonic benefits of milk thistle, including its capacity to promote healthy liver functioning of the liver as well as the endocrine and gastrointestinal systems. It also provides a recipe to brew milk thistle herbal tea.

LOZENGE

A lozenge is a small, medicated piece of candy that is designed to be held in the mouth to dissolve slowly, acting to lubricate and soothe irritated tissues of the throat.

This video shows you how to prepare your own healing herbal lozenges from licorice root, slippery elm bark and honey.

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MENSTRUUM

Menstruum is a natural solvent that is capable of dissolving a solid or holding it in suspension. It is commonly used to extract medicinal compounds from plant material to prepare preparing herbal remedies.

Menstruum

  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera)
  • Glycerin
  • Jojoba Oil
  • Olive oil

Herbal tinctures are prepared in particular ratios of weight to volume. A fresh plant tincture is typically made at a strength of 1 part herb to 2 parts menstruum, while a dry herb tincture are prepared in larger ratios of anywhere from 1:4 or 1:7.

In this video, Kevin Gianni discusses the menstruum ratio.

MUCILAGE

A sweet, gel-like substance that has the tendency to draw water to it; when water is added it swells to form a viscous, slimy fluid.

Mucilage can form a protective layer over mucous membranes and skin, which effectively soothes irritation and relieves inflammation.

In the digestive tract, it also draws water into the bowel, which bulks out the stool, making it an effective laxative.

Joyce Wardwell, a Michigan herbalist, refers to mucilaginous herbs as “slimaceous,” an appropriate, illustrative term for their viscid and slimy properties.

MUCILAGINOUS

A mucilaginous herb is one that is high in mucilage, and acts to sooth and heal dry and enflamed tissues. Mucilaginous herbs are referred to as demulcents when used both internally, and emollients when used externally.

*Demulcents

When used internally, a mucilaginous herb acts to moisten mucous membranes, particularly in the respiratory and digestive tracts

*Emollients

When applied externally, a mucilaginous herb acts to moisturize the skin.

Mucilaginous Herbs

  • Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
  • Flax Seed (Linum usitatissimum)
  • Marshmallow (Althea officinalis)
  • Psyllium (Plantago Ovata)
  • Sassafras (Sassafras albidium)
  • Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva)

Synonym: Demulcent, Emmolient

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NOOTROPIC

Nootropic herbs enhance one or more of the brain’s fnctions, including attention, memory and cognition.

Synonyms: Cognitive Enhancers

  • Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
  • Indian Pennywort (Centella asiatica)
  • Water Hyssop (Bacopa Monnieri)

This video discusses the nootropic benefits of Gingko biloba , including its capacity to improve cognitive functions, particularly in for aged-related neuro-degenerative diseases.

NUTRITIVE

Nutritive herbs are rich in vitamins and minerals, and provide a source of easily assimilated nutrients.

  • Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
  • Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)
  • Oat Straw (Avena sativa)
  • Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)

This video discusses the nutritive benefits of horsetail (Equisetum arvense), including mineral-rich nourishment. It also shows how to harvest this herb for herbal tea or tincture.

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