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Herbal Dictionary: G

Updated on July 8, 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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GALACTAGOGUE

A galactagogue is an herb that acts to increase breast milk production in lactating mothers to ensure the baby gets proper nutrition. Galactologues are used in remedies for a nursing mother who may not be producing enough breast milk in sufficient amounts to sustain her baby or babies.

Galactogogue Herbs:

  • Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
  • Blessed Thistle (Cnicus benedictus)
  • Cumin (Cuminum cyminum)
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
  • Hops (Humulus lupulu)
  • Oats (Avena sativa)
  • Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus)

In this video, lactation consultant Melissa K. Nagin discusses how to increase breast milk supply by using fenugreek and oat meal as galactologues.

GARGLE

A gargle is an herbal infusion, decoction or diluted tincture that is used to treat sore throat. It works by stimulating circulation in the throat area, while soothing and healing inflamed tissue. Herbal gargles are usually prepared using herbs that have an astringent (drying) effect, acting to tighten the mucous membranes of the throat and mouth Gargles also kill and get rid of germ from the mouth and throat.

Synonym: Mouthwash

This video shows you how to prepare an herbal gargle as a natural remedy for sore throat.

GENUS

“Genus” is a botanical term that refers to a plant’s classification. A plant within a particular genus has one or more attributes in common with other plants in the same genus.

In botanical nomenclature, the term is used either on its own or followed by a Latin adjective, to form the name of a species.

GERMAN COMMISSION E

The German Commission E is a highly-regarded regulatory agency that was created by the German government in 1978. Composed of a committee of researchers, toxicologists, pharmacists and physicians, it is a scientific advisory board that is tasked with determining the safety and effectiveness of herbs licensed for medical prescribing in Germany.

The German Commission E Monographs are a therapeutic guide on the use, potential side effects and drug interactions of more than 300 herbs. These monographs were published between 1984 and 1994 and while they haven’t been updated since then, they are still considered valid.

"Certainly worth studying, the Commission E monographs detail which herbs are approved or disapproved, along with their uses, dosages, contraindications, adverse effects, drug interactions, and pharmacologic actions. The therapeutic, taxonomic, and chemical indexes are helpful, as is the glossary."

— Journal of the American Medical Association, 1993

GLYCERIN

Glycerin is a sweet, syrupy colorless liquid that is produced by the hydrolysis of vegetable or animal fat. It is valued as a solvent in the preparation of herbal remedies made from oils and tinctures. It’s sweet taste and non-alcoholic properties make it ideal for preparing remedies for children As a solvent, it has the added advantage of serving as a preservative.

Synonym: Glycerol

This video gives a great overview of the properties of glycerin.

GERMICIDE

A germicide is an herbal agent that kills or inhibits the growth of germs and other disease-carrying microorganisms. Germicides are usually applied topically to the skin. Some herbal germicides have antiseptic properties, and are used to reduce the risk of sepsis, infection, and putrefaction.

Germicidal Herbs

  • Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)
  • Cinnamon (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum)
  • Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)
  • Garlic (Allium sativum)
  • Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
  • Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)

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