The Essential Oil Glossary: Common Aromatherapy Terms

Yes, we want to grab nature’s powerful extracts and use them to our advantages but we don’t really understand their benefits or history and how essential oils can be of your help. If you’re thinking about investing in your own kit of aromatherapy inhalers and have started looking into all of the benefits, here’s some of the lingo you’re likely to encounter. Let me clarify some of the major benefits of essential oils in this list:


  • Anti-Fungal This just means that the essential oil in question has been heralded for an ability to treat or prevent fungal growth or infections. Be sure to check these facts against credible studies before buying what you read hook, like and sinker.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Reduction of inflammation in any area of the body.
  • Anti-neuralagic Inhibiting or preventing the occurrence of sharp pains along the course of a nerve or nerves.
  • Antiphlogistic Another word for anti-inflammatory, but can also include fever relieving properties.
  • Antiseptic Indicates that an ingredient is clean and pure and that it prevents growth of disease-inducing agents or other microbials.
  • Antispasmodic Something that works to relieve spasms that occur in involuntary muscles (like the intestines or the heart, that you can’t start or stop at will).
  • Aperitif An essential oil that works to stimulate your appetite.
  • Aphrodisiac Something that stimulates or titillates sexual desire, attraction or excitement.
  • Astringent A solution that causes contractions in the tissues of the body in general, but is almost universally used in conjunction with the skin in health and wellness applications.


  • Bactericidal This is a rather broad term that indicates a myriad of agents that kill bacteria, including disinfectants, antiseptics and antibiotics.


  • Carminative A rather polite term for something that helps to relieve gas, specifically flatulence. Think Bean-o.
  • Cholagogue Bile is a digestive fluid that is produced by the liver and measured out by the gall bladder. Cholagogues are items that promote the discharge of bile through and out of the system.
  • Cicatrisant A pretty archaic term that basically translates into the process of being healed through the formation of scar tissue.
  • Cytophylactic Certainly not a term that pops up over the typical dinner conversation, a cytophylactic is believed to protect cells and fight infections. They are thought to increase something known as leucocytes, which are responsible for stimulating cellular regeneration and repair.


  • Depurative Those who are into detoxing and cleansing are all about the depurative, a term that means something has purifying and detoxifying properties, cleansing away wastes and toxins from the system.
  • Digestive Something that aids in digestion.
  • Disinfectant This means that the solution has anti-microbial properties or agents.
  • Diuretic If you look to the very center of the word, “ure”, you’ll get a hint. Diuretics cause your body to increase the production and passage of urine.

If you want to learn more about essential oils and how these extracts can benefit your life and increase your well-being, you could get this book in which the author details 400 essential oil profiles, including 4000 references, benefits, risks, and doses. Keep yourself informed and take a wise decision.


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