Lesson 4: Terms


Required Reading

  • Foundational Aromatherapy – pages 277-282
  • Passport to Aromatherapy – pages 23-26, 29, 30

Glossary of Terms

  • Adulterant – a substance, artificial or natural, added to an essential oil, which was not originally present in the oil at the time of distillation
  • Aldehydes – a chemical family that is sedative or calming to the nervous system, anti-inflammatory, cooling, and antifungal
  • Alterative – tending to restore normal health, cleans and purifies the blood, alters existing nutritive and excretory processes.
  • Analgesic – numbs pain
  • Anaphrodisiac – suppresses sexual desire
  • Annonaceae – a plant family that has only one oil producing species, Ylang Ylang
  • Anthelmintic– rids body of parasites
  • Antianemic – prevents or reverses anemia
  • Antibacterial – destroys or inhibits the growth of destructive bacteria
  • Anticoagulant – inhibits blood clot formation
  • Anticonvulsant – inhibits seizures
  • Antidepressant – alleviates depression
  • Antidiarrheal – counteracts diarrhea
  • Antiemetic – inhibits nausea or vomiting
  • Antifungal – prevents the growth of fungus
  • Antihistamine – reduces histamine production, reduces allergy symptoms
  • Antihemorrhagic – slows/stops bleeding
  • Anti-infective– helps the body strengthen its own resistance to infective organisms and rid the body of illness
  • Anti-inflammatory – reduces inflammation
  • Anti-neuralgic – relieves nerve pain
  • Anti-putrescent – prevents or slows decay
  • Antioxidant – protects cells from damage
  • Antipyretic – dispels heat, fire, and fever
  • Anti-rheumatic – reduces the inflammation that causes rheumatism
  • Anti-seborrheic – reduces oily skin/scalp
  • Antiseptic – prevent the growth of disease-causing microorganisms
  • Antispasmodic – relieves spasms of voluntary and involuntary muscles
  • Antitoxic – counteracts toxins
  • Anti-tumoral–preventing the initiation, promotion, or growth of tumors
  • Antitussive – relieves coughing
  • Antiviral – inhibits or destroys viruses
  • Aphrodisiac – sexual stimulant
  • Asteraceae – daisy-like flowers; each flower head has several small flowers instead of petals; the general therapeutic properties of this plant family are antiseptic, soothing, and anti-inflammatory for the skin and digestive system
  • Astringent – firms tissues and organs and reduces discharges and secretions
  • Balanced – none of the components overwhelm the others in the aroma
  • Balsamic – an oily or resinous material; sweet, warm, soft aromas like vanilla; usually base notes; examples: Sandalwood and Vetiver
  • Base Note – evaporates at a slow rate
  • Base Oil – see Carrier oil
  • Burseraceae – oils in this plant family are helpful to the respiratory system, acting as an expectorant, and are also known for wound healing, promoting, and reducing scar tissue
  • Calmative – very calming
  • Camphoraceous – clean, fresh, medicinal; smells like camphor; examples: Rosemary ct. camphor and Eucalyptus globulus
  • Cardiotonic – strengthens the heart
  • Carrier Oil (or Base Oil) – cold-pressed vegetable or nut oils, such as sweet almond, grapeseed, jojoba, sesame, etc.
  • Carminative–relieves intestinal gas pain and distention, and promotes peristalsis
  • Cephalic – remedy for the head, clearing and stimulating, and relieves headaches
  • Cicatrisant – cell regenerative for skin; promotes wound and scar healing
  • Citrus – smells like citrus fruit—uplifting, fresh, cool, vibrant, and brisk; examples: lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit
  • Cholagogue – increases bile production
  • Cupressaceae –oils in this plant family reduce nervous tension, help with stress-related conditions, and reduce cellulite; anti-rheumatic and astringent for the skin
  • Decongestant – reduces nasal mucus production and swelling
  • Deodorant – prevents body odor
  • Depurative – cleanses and purifies the blood and intestinal organs
  • Diaphoretic – causes perspiration and increased elimination through the skin
  • Diffuser – a device that disperses essential oils into an area; the three basic types are clay, candle, and electric
  • Diffusive – when exposed to the air, this aroma permeates the surrounding atmosphere; examples: ylang ylang, geranium
  • Digestive – aids or balances digestion
  • Dilute – adding a small amount of essential oil to a larger amount of carrier or base oil to make it safe for use on the skin
  • Distillation – method used to extract essential oil from the plant; steam distillation is the most common form of distillation
  • Diuretic – promotes activity of kidneys and bladder and increases urination, rids excess fluid
  • Dry – powdery; example: patchouli
  • Earthy – deep aroma that smells like damp earth or wet soil; examples: vetiver and patchouli
  • Emetic – induces vomiting
  • Emmenagogue – helps promote and regulate menstruation
  • Emollient – smoothes, softens, and protects the skin
  • Essential Oil – a highly aromatic substance found in specialized cells of certain plants; technically, when this substance is in the plant, it is called an “essence;” after distillation of a single type of plant, the aromatic substance is referred to as an essential oil; essential oils may be used by plants for protection from predators, to attract pollinators, or for other unknown uses
  • Esters – chemical family that is a nervous system sedative, emotionally uplifting, stress relieving, anti-infectious, antispasmodic (especially for digestive cramping), healing to the skin
  • Ethers – chemical family that antispasmodic, anti-infectious, carminative (relieves flatulence or gas in the intestines), pain relieving in the digestive system and genitourinary tract
  • Expectorant – promotes discharge of phlegm and mucus from the chest and lungs
  • Febrifuge – reduces fever
  • Floral – fragrance of a flower that is sweet, heady, fresh, and rich; examples: Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, and Rose
  • Fresh – stimulating and enlivening; example: citrus oils
  • Galactagogue – induces breast milk production
  • Geraniaceae – plant family known for being anti-inflammatory, soothing and cooling to the skin, and balancing to nervous system
  • GC/MS (Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer) – a device used by analytic chemists to determine the precise make up of a given substance; used in aromatherapy to determine the precise chemical constituents of an essential oil, and whether it is pure or adulterated with synthetic chemicals or other products
  • Hemostatic– stops the flow of blood; an astringent that stops internal bleeding or hemorrhaging
  • Heavy – saturates the air with a heavy aroma often considered overbearing; example: Ylang Ylang
  • Hepatic – supportive to the liver
  • Herbaceous – pungent, slightly woody; examples: Lavender, Rosemary, and Sweet Marjoram
  • Herbal infused oil – these are oils that carry the medicinal properties of certain herbs; a carrier oil is infused with the medical herb, the plant is strained off, and the remaining oil can be used directly on the skin
  • Top note – evaporates quickly
  • Hypotensive – lowers high blood pressure
  • Immunostimulant – stimulates functioning of the immune system
  • Insecticidal – repels insects
  • Ketones – chemical family known to reduce intestinal gas, relieve pain, expectorant (mucus removing), and improve circulation
  • Lamiaceae – largest of all plant families; generally, essential oils from this family are helpful for headaches, nasal congestion, various muscles problems, and especially for the respiratory system, energizing both the body and mind.
  • Larvicide – kills insect larvae
  • Lauraceae – essential oils from this plant family are antiviral, antibacterial, and tone the nervous and immune systems
  • Laxative – promotes bowel movements
  • Light – delicate, high volatility; examples: Neroli and high-quality Lavender.
  • Lipolytic – breaks down fat
  • Lymphatic – aids in waste management; a decongestant for the lymph system
  • Middle note – evaporates at a medium rate
  • Minty – menthol aroma; example: peppermint
  • Monoterpenes – chemical family known to be decongestive to the muscular and respiratory systems, warming, antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, and an air purifier
  • Monoterpenols – chemical family that prevents infections, immune stimulant, emotional balancer, and healing to the skin
  • Mucolytic – breaks down mucus
  • Musty – dry smell of old books and paper; examples: patchouli and vetiver
  • Myrtaceae – oils in this plant family are highly antiseptic, used for infection, support the respiratory system, and a tonic for the immune system
  • Neat – use of an undiluted essential oil on the skin
  • Nervine – strengthens the functional activity of the nervous system; may be used either as a nerve stimulant or sedative.
  • Notes – as in top, middle, and base notes. A type of classification system based on aroma. Generally, essential oils from citrus peels are top notes, essential oils from flowers, leaves, and stems are middle notes, and essential oils from roots are base notes.
  • Oleaceae – a plant family with only one oil producing plant: Jasmine absolute
  • Orifice Reducer – a device used to reduce the size of the opening of a bottle, making dispensing easier and more accurate
  • Oxidation – a chemical process that occurs when oxygen, light, or heat interacts with essential oils, causing them to deteriorate over time and possibly become irritating to the skin; it happens over the period of 1 to 3 years with oils high in monoterpenes, phenols, and oxides and more slowly with other chemical families
  • Oxides – chemical family that is known as a strong respiratory decongestant, antiviral, pain reliever or numbing agent, and mental stimulant
  • Parturient – assisting in progressing child birth
  • Peppery – warm, dry, and spicy aroma; fresh with a tingle or an “edge;” examples: black pepper and elemi
  • Phenols – a chemical family that is antibacterial and very anti-infectious, immune stimulants, stimulates body systems, and very hot
  • Phototoxic – the use of the oil makes skin more prone to damage from the sun’s UV rays; examples: primarily citrus oils, especially lemon and bergamot, and angelica
  • Pinaceae – a plant family; essential oils from these plants are highly antiseptic and effective for respiratory concerns involving congestion
  • Piney – smells like pine trees; dry and invigorating; examples: pine and cypress
  • Piperaceae – the only plant in this family is black pepper
  • Poaceae – a plant family, usually distilled from grasses, vetiver from the root, Palmarosa and lemongrass from the grass; generally effective for acne, and muscle aches and pains
  • Pulmonary – relating to or affecting the lungs
  • Purifying – cleansing
  • Resinous – buttery, soft, and deep; examples: frankincense and myrrh
  • Rich – floods the mind with sensation beyond endurance; high concentration of aroma; examples: rose and clove bud
  • Rosaceae – the only oil producing plant in this family is rose
  • Regulatory – automatic control
  • Rubefacient – an oil that increases local blood circulation and local numbing affect; it can cause minor skin irritation
  • Rutaceae – the citrus peel oils are in this family, along with other oils from the flowers or leaves of the citrus trees; generally good for digestion and beneficial for the skin
  • Santalaceae – the only plant in this family is sandalwood
  • Sedative – calms and tranquilizes by lowering the functional activity of the organ or body part
  • Sesquiterpenes – a chemical family that is anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, antibacterial, antiseptic, and antispasmodic
  • Sesquiterpenols – a chemical family that is anti-inflammatory, grounding, cooling, a tonic to the whole body, enhancing the body systems and mind
  • Sharp – penetrating; example: lemon
  • Smooth – soft, sweet, balsamic; examples: wood oils, such as sandalwood and rosewood
  • Spicy – warm, hot, sharp, sweet, and pungent; examples: clove bud and ginger
  • Stimulant – increases functional activity of specific organ or system
  • Stomachic – promotes good stomach function
  • Sudorific – promotes sweating
  • Sweet – pleasurable, soft, delicate, fragrant; example: Neroli
  • Tonic – strengthens and restores vitality
  • Toning/ Toner – nourishing, supportive, strengthening
  • Umbelliferae – oils in this plant family are balancing to digestive system; some safety concerns with this family due to the presence of ketones, phenols, and ethers
  • Valerianaceae – oils in this plant family are deeply calming on the nervous system. Used for all conditions related to stress
  • Vasoconstrictor – narrows blood vessels
  • Vasodilatory – dilate blood vessels
  • Vermifuge – destroys worms
  • Volatile – describes how quickly a substance disperses itself into the air
  • Vulnerary – heals wounds
  • Warming – produces the impression of warmth; example: Ginger
  • Woody – smells of the woods; long lasting, deep aroma; examples: sandalwood and cedarwood
  • Zingiberaceae – the oils in this plant family are digestive tonics, warming to the muscles, beneficial for rheumatism, and reduce mucus in the digestive and respiratory systems

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