Herbal Glossary

Therapeutic Herb Classifications

Adaptogenic Herbs: A category of herbs that help the body adapt to stress and promote overall balance and well-being. Adaptogens enhance the body's resilience to physical, emotional, and environmental stressors. Examples include Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), and Chinese Ginseng (Panax ginseng).

Tonic Herbs: Herbs that are used to support and nourish the body's systems over the long term, promoting overall health and vitality. Tonic herbs are typically taken regularly to enhance and maintain wellness. Examples include Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum), Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus), and Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis).

Proandrogenic Herbs: A broad category of phytotherapeutic herbs used to support and enhance androgen hormone levels. These herbs help to naturally increase the body's production of androgens, which are crucial for various bodily functions including muscle growth, libido, and energy levels. Examples include Tribulus (Tribulus terrestris) and Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia).

Phytoandrogenic: A subgroup of phytosterols structurally similar to male sex hormones, specifically androgens. This term is also used to describe proandrogenic herbs that contain these compounds, such as Pine Pollen (Pinus massoniana). These substances can help support and balance androgen levels in the body.

Phytotherapeutic: Pertaining to the therapeutic use of plant-derived substances to promote health and treat medical conditions. This includes the use of whole herbs, extracts, and compounds derived from plants.

Mycotherapeutic: Pertaining to the therapeutic use of fungi and mushroom-derived substances to promote health and treat medical conditions. Examples include medicinal mushrooms like Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), Shiitake (Lentinula edodes), and Maitake (Grifola frondosa).


Single-Stage Extract Tinctures: Tinctures prepared by soaking the herb in a solvent, typically alcohol, to extract bioactive compounds. Also known as a spagyric tincture, this process captures the essence of the herb, including its mineral components.

Solvent: The menstruum (liquid) used to extract herbal constituents during extraction preparation, such as alcohol, vinegar, or glycerin.

Traditional Wisdom: Knowledge, practices, and beliefs passed down through generations within a culture or community. This includes indigenous and ancestral knowledge about the use of plants and natural substances for healing.

The Androgenic Approach: A holistic perspective that explores the potential of adaptogenic, tonic, and proandrogenic substances to support health and vitality. This approach emphasizes the use of natural herbs and practices to enhance androgen levels and overall hormonal health, incorporating physical and internal practices crucial for maintaining hormone balance.

Ethnobotany: The study of the relationships between people and plants, focusing on how different cultures use plants for medicinal, nutritional, and ceremonial purposes.

Plant Science

Alkaloids: Naturally occurring organic compounds found in plants, often possessing pharmacological effects. Examples include morphine, quinine, and caffeine.

Chitin: A fibrous substance consisting of polysaccharides, forming the exoskeleton of arthropods and the cell walls of fungi. It is known for its role in providing structural support.

Phytochemicals: Bioactive compounds found in plants, often associated with various health benefits. Examples include flavonoids, carotenoids, and polyphenols.

Terpenes: A diverse class of organic compounds found in plants, contributing to their aroma and potential therapeutic properties. Examples include limonene, pinene, and myrcene.

Polysaccharides: Carbohydrate molecules composed of multiple sugar units, often found in plants and fungi, with various biological activities. Examples include beta-glucans in mushrooms and pectin in fruits.

Phytosterols: Plant-derived compounds (phytosteroids) that have a structure similar to human hormones. They are found in various plants and contribute to health by mimicking or modulating the activity of endogenous hormones.

Phytoestrogen: Plant-derived compounds that mimic estrogen by binding to estrogen receptors. They can have estrogenic or anti-estrogenic effects, depending on the context. Examples include isoflavones in soy and lignans in flaxseed.

Anatomy and Physiology

Antagonist: In terms of the endocrine system and hormone receptors, an antagonist is a substance that blocks or inhibits the action of a hormone by binding to its receptor without activating it.

Agonist: In terms of the endocrine system and hormone receptors, an agonist is a substance that binds to a receptor and activates it, mimicking the action of a natural hormone.

Androgen and Androgenic Hormones: Male sex hormones, including testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and androsterone. Although they are termed "male" hormones, they are present in both men and women and are essential for various physiological functions, such as reproductive health, muscle mass, and mood regulation. The body produces these hormones endogenously.

Estrogen and Estrogenic Hormones: Female sex hormones, including estradiol, estrone, and estriol, that play crucial roles in reproductive health, bone density, and cardiovascular function. These hormones are present in both men and women, though in different amounts.

Hormones: Chemical messengers that travel throughout the body to support and regulate physiological and behavioral functions. Key hormones include female and male steroid hormones (estrogen and androgens like testosterone), insulin, cortisol, and nitric oxide. They are essential for communication between different parts of the body.

Estrogen Dominance: A condition where there is an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone levels in the body, often characterized by symptoms such as weight gain, mood swings, and menstrual irregularities.

Estradiol: The most potent and prevalent form of estrogen in the body, playing a critical role in reproductive and overall health.

Endocrine System: The anatomical network of tissues, glands, and organs located throughout the body that produce and regulate hormones. The endocrine system includes the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, adrenal glands, and gonads, among others.

Endogenous: Substances that originate from within or are produced by the body. Endogenous hormones are naturally synthesized by glands within the endocrine system.

Exogenous: Substances originating outside of the body. Phytoandrogens, which are plant-derived compounds mimicking androgens, are considered exogenous since they are introduced into the body through diet or supplementation.

Chinese Medicine

Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM): An ancient system of medicine that encompasses the original teachings and practices of Chinese healing traditions, dating back to texts like the Huangdi Neijing (Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon). CCM emphasizes harmony with nature and the cosmos, incorporating various diagnostic and therapeutic methods to restore balance and health.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): A modern system of Chinese medicine that has evolved from Classical Chinese Medicine. It integrates ancient practices with contemporary medical knowledge, focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of disease using methods such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, and qi gong. TCM is widely practiced and studied both in China and globally.

Jing: In both Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM) and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Jing is considered the essence of life and is responsible for growth, development, and reproduction. It is stored in the kidneys and is inherited from one’s parents. Jing is fundamental to health, longevity, and vitality, and it is often associated with the body's reproductive and regenerative capacities.

Yuan Qi: Also known as original or source qi, it is the fundamental energy inherited from parents at conception and is stored in the kidneys. Yuan Qi is essential for the functions of all organs and systems, providing the basis for all physiological processes. It is considered the deepest and most vital form of qi.

Daodi: Refers to the authentic and superior quality of Chinese medicinal herbs that are grown in specific geographic regions with optimal conditions for their cultivation. Daodi herbs are considered to have the best therapeutic effects due to their ideal growing environments and traditional methods of cultivation and harvesting.

Five Element Theory: A core principle in Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM) and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it includes five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water), five spirits (shen, hun, po, yi, zhi), five seasons (spring, summer, late summer, autumn, winter), and five organs (liver, heart, spleen, lungs, kidneys). This theory is used to understand and diagnose health imbalances and guide treatment. The interactions and relationships among these elements are used to explain physiological processes, pathologies, and the effects of treatments.

Jun-Chen-Zuo-Shi: A classical formulation principle in Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM) and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), where herbs are combined based on their roles: Jun (emperor) for the primary action, Chen (minister) for assisting the emperor, Zuo (assistant) to balance and counteract side effects, and Shi (envoy) to harmonize the formula. This hierarchical approach ensures the efficacy and balance of herbal prescriptions.

Blood Building: In Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM) and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it refers to the process of nourishing and enriching the blood to support overall health, vitality, and proper organ function. Blood-building herbs include Dang Gui (Angelica sinensis) and Shu Di Huang (Rehmannia glutinosa). These herbs are used to treat conditions like anemia, fatigue, and menstrual disorders, and to promote healthy circulation and skin.