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Adulterant —A substance which was not originally present in the oil at the time of distillation added to an essential oil.  An adulterant can be artificial or natural.

Base Oil (Carrier Oil) —
Vegetable or nut oils such as Sweet Almond, Grapeseed, and Jojoba.

Diffuser —
A device that disperses essential oils into an area. The three basic types are clay, candle and electric.

Dilute —
Adding a small amount of essential oil to a larger amount of 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.

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 the oil is pure or adulterated with synthetic chemicals or other products.

Essential Oil —
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.

Herbally Infused Oil —
These are oils that carry the medicinal properties of certain herbs. Carrier oil is infused with the medicinal herb, the plant is strained off, and the remaining oil can be used directly on the skin.

Neat —
Use of an undiluted essential oil on the skin.

Notes —
As in topmiddle, and base notes. A type of classification system based on aroma, to identify certain oils. 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.

Orifice Reducer —
A device used to reduce the size of the opening of a bottle, making dispensing the essential oil easier and more accurate.

Oxidation —When oxygen, light or heat interacts with essential oils, the essential oil begins to deteriorate over time. This can cause the essential oil to become skin irritating. It happens over the period of 1–3 years with oils high in monoterpenes, phenols and oxides, and more slowly with the other chemical families.

Phototoxic —The use of the oil makes one’s skin more prone to damage from the sun’s UV rays. Primarily the citrus oils, especially Lemon and Bergamot, as well as Angelica oil, are phototoxic oils.

Volatile —Describes how quickly a substance disperses itself into the air. In aromatherapy, top note essential oils may be referred to as “highly volatile,” meaning that they disperse quickly out of the bottle and into the air.


Abortifacient – An agent capable of inducting abortion.

Acaricidal – An agent that kills mites and ticks.

Alterative –Tending to restore normal health; cleans and purifies the blood; alters existing nutritive and excretory processes, gradually restoring normal body function.

Analgesic – An agent that relieves or diminishes pain.

Anaphrodisiac – An agent that reduces sexual desire.

Anthelmintic – An agent that destroys or expels intestinal worms.

Anti-allergenic – An agent that reduces the symptoms of allergies.

Antiangiogenic – An agent that can destroy or interfere with the fine network of blood vessels needed by tumours to grow and metastasize.

Anti-arthritic – An agent that combats arthritis.

Antibacterial – An agent that is capable of destroying or inhibiting the growth of bacteria.

Anticarcinogenic – An agent that neutralizes the effects of a cancer-causing substance and can prevent or delay tumour formation.

Anticatarrhal – An agent that reduces the production of mucous.

Anticoagulant – An agent that can show or prevent the clotting of blood.

Anticolitic – An agent that can reduce inflammation of the colon.

Anticonvulsive – An agent that arrests or controls convulsions.

Antidepressant – An agent that is uplifting and counteracts melancholy.

Antidiabetic – An agent that aids in blood glucose management or improves management of diabetes.

Anti-emetic — Effective against vomiting and nausea. Typically for motion sickness and flu symptoms.

Antiepileptic – An agent that is used to treat epileptic seizures, an anticonvulsant.

Antifungal — An agent capable of destroying or inhibiting the growth of fungi.

Antiglycation – An agent that prevents damage to proteins caused by sugar molecules. Glycation is a normal process of every day metabolism; however, the rate of glycation determines the speed of the aging process.

Anti-infectious – Helps the body strengthen its own resistance to infective organisms and rid the body of illness.

Anti-inflammatory – Alleviates inflammation.

Antimicrobial – An agent that resists or destroy pathogens.

Antinociceptive­ – Provides pain relief in a very specific manner – blocks the sensation of pain by acting directly on sensory neurons.

Anti-oxidant– An agent that inhibits oxidation.

Antiparasitic – An agent used to treat parasitic diseases.

Antiphlogistic – An agent that reduces inflammation.

Antipruritic – An agent that relieves sensations of itching or prevents its occurrence.

Antirheumatic – An agent that helps to relieve rheumatism.

Antipyretic – Dispels heat, fire and fever (from the Greek word pyre, meaning fire).

Antiseptic – Assists in fighting germs/infections.

Antispasmodic —Relieves spasms of voluntary and involuntary muscles.

Antisudorific – An agent that reduces sweating.

Antitussive – An agent that relieves coughing.

Antiulcerogenic – An agent that prevents or reduces ulcers.

Antitumoral – Preventing the initiation, promotion and progression of cancer cells.

Antiviral – An agent that can destroy or inhibit the growth and reproduction of viruses.

Anxiolytic – An agent that is capable of reducing anxiety.

Aphrodisiac – An agent that provokes sexual interest and excitement.

Astringent — Firms tissue and organs; reduces discharges and secretions.

Bactericide – An agent that destroys bacteria.

Cardiac – An agent having a stimulating affect on the heart.

Cardioprotective – An agent that protects the heart from damage by toxins or ischaemia.

Carminative – Relieves intestinal gas pain and distention; promotes peristalsis.

Cephalic – Remedy for the head, usually clearing and stimulating.

Chemoprotective – An agent that reduces the incidence of cancer.

Cholagogue – An agent that increase the secretion and flow of bile production into the duodenum.

Choleretic – An agent that aids the excretion of bile by the liver, so that there is a greater flow of bile.

Cholinergic – An agent that mimics the action of acetylcholine or of the parasympathetic nervous system.

Cicatrisant – Cell-regenerative for skin, healing for scars.

CNS Sedative – Calming to the central nervous system.

Convulsant – An agent that causes convulsions.

Cordial – An agent that is invigorating and stimulating.

Cytophylactic – An agent that encourages growth of skin cells.

Decongestant – Reduces nasal mucus production and swelling.

Demulcent – An agent that soothes, softens and allays irritation of mucous membranes.

Deodorant – An agent that destroys or inhibits odours.

Depurative – An agent that helps to purify the body, particularly the blood.

Diaphoretic – Causes perspiration and increased elimination through the skin.

Digestive – Increases functional activity of the digestive tract.

Disinfectant – An agent that prevents and combats the spread of disease.

Diuretic – Promotes activity of kidney and bladder and increases urination.

Emetic – Induces vomiting.

Emmenagogue – Helps promote and regulate menstruation.

Emollient – An agent used externally to soothe and soften the skin.

Epileptogenic – An agent with the capacity to induce epilepsy.

Expectorant– Promotes discharge of phlegm and mucus from the lungs and throat.

Febrifuge –And agent that cools and reduces high body temperature.

Fungicide – An agent that destroys fungal infections.

Galactagogue – An agent that increases the secretion of milk.

Gastroprotective – An agent that protects the gastric mucosa from aggressive or irritating agents.

Germicidal – An agent that destroys germs or microorganisms.

Haemostatic – Stops the flow of blood. An astringent that stops internal bleeding or hemorrhaging.

Hepatoprotective – An agent that is able to prevent damage to the liver.

Hepatic – An agent that stimulates and aids function of the liver.

Hypotensive – Lowers high blood pressure.

Hypoglycaemic – An agent that lowers blood sugar levels.

Hypolipidaemic – An agent that can lower high levels of fats (lipids), such as cholesterols in the blood.

Hypnotic – An agent that produces sleep.

Hypotensive – An agent that lowers blood pressure.

Immunostimulant – Stimulates functioning of the immune system.

Insecticide – An agent that kills insects.

Larvicide – An agent that kills larvae.

Laxative – Promotes bowel movements.

Lipolytic – Pertaining to the chemical breakdown of fat.

Miticide – An agent that kills mites.

Molluscicide – An agent that kills mollusks.

Mucolytic — Breaks down mucus (pulmonary).

Nervine – Strengthens the functional activity of the nervous system. May be either a stimulant or sedative.

Neuroprotective – An agent that protects against neurotoxicity.

Nootropic – An agent that enhances or improves cognitive function.

Oestrogenic – An agent that stimulates the action of oestrogen.

Parasiticide – An agent that kills parasites.

Parturient – An agent that promotes labour and the delivery in childbirth.

Pediculicide – An agent that kills lice.

Refrigerant – An agent that lowers abnormal body heat.

Relaxant – An agent that causes relaxation of the mind or he body.

Rubefacient – Oil increases local blood circulation and can cause minor skin irritation, vasodilatation and local analgesic effect.

Sedative – Calms and tranquilizes by lowering the functional activity of the organ or body part.

Soporific – An agent that induces sleep.

Spasmolytic – An agent that reduces spasms or cramps.

Splenic – An agent that is a tonic to the spleen.

Stimulant – An agent that stimulates the physiological functions of the body.

Stomachic – An agent that is a digestive aid and tones the stomach.

Styptic – An agent that is astringent especially preventing external bleeding.

Sudorific – An agent that promotes or increases perspiration.

Teratogenic – An agent that injures the fetus.

Tonic — An agent that strengthens and improves bodily performance.

Uterine – An agent that is a tonic to the uterus.

Vasconstrictor – An agent that causes contraction of blood vessel walls.

Vasodilator – Helps to dilate blood vessels.

Vermifuge – An agent that causes expulsion of worms.

Vulnerary – An agent that prevents tissue degeneration and promotes healing and wounds.


Third Edition – The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy | Vol 1 – Foundations & Materia Medica, Author – Salvatore Battaglia