The Essential Oil Glossary: Common Aromatherapy Terms and Their Meanings (E-Z)

In just about any industry, it’s common to encounter a little jargon. The world of aromatherapy and essential oils is no different. While there has been a recent uptick in scientific trials and case studies focused on the world of aromatherapy, most of the legends, lore and information dates back much further. Although much has been updated, you’re still likely to encounter some more outdated or medical jargon you aren’t familiar with. In this second and final installment, we’re addressing aromatherapy terms that fall in the E-Z glossary.


This term refers to any substance that stimulates or otherwise increases menstrual flow, but can also indicate a more generalized increase in blood flow to the pelvis or uterus.


An emollient is anything that works to soften or soothe the skin.

Essential Oil

This term refers to any number of natural oils, which are most typically obtained via a process known as distillation and having a characteristic fragrance of the plant or other source (flower, etc.) of extraction. What gives essential oils their properties (and many of the associated risks) is the fact that they contain volatile aroma compounds and chemicals.


Euphoric has the same root as euphoria, and indicates feelings of intense excitement, possibly including happiness and confidence. Euphoria is often associated with intoxication or inebriation, but doesn’t have to include impaired facilities.


When I think of expectorants, I immediately think of Tussin™. As the cough syrup works, expectorants work to actually promote the secretion of mucus from the air passages. Unlike a cough suppressant, an expectorant encourages coughing – but only when it is a productive cough that works to clear out the lungs and respiratory system.


When I first heard this one, I thought of something to do with a centrifuge or some other kind of mechanical wonder. What it actually means is a little bit more boring, but not any less awesome; febrifuge means “fever reducer.”


Whenever you encounter the prefix “haemo” or “hemo” – it’s fairly safe to assume that you’re going to be dealing with blood. You wouldn’t be wrong in this instance, either. Haemostatic simply means that it is something that works to slow or stop bleeding.


Most of these will work with some level of context clues. In this case, hepatic may lead you to think of hepatitis – and hepatitis is a disease that affects the liver. All hepatic issues are issues that relate to the liver.


Those who suffer from hypertension have high blood pressure. If something is hypotensive, that means it works to do the opposite – it lowers the blood pressure.


As the name implies, lymphatic simply means anything that has to do with lymph. Lymph is the colorless fluid that contains white blood cells and actually bathes the tissues. It drains from the lymphatic system into the bloodstream.


If something is nervine that means that it works to calm or soothe the nerves.


Sedative is one of the more common terms in the aromatherapy glossary. It’s just an agent that works to promote feelings of calm up to and possibly including inducing sleep.


Stimulants are polar opposites of sedatives. Instead of relaxing you, they actually raise your physical and/or nervous activity. Caffeine is a common example of a stimulant.


The purpose of this one is right there in the word – a stomachic promotes the appetite or works in assisting the digestion.


The meaning of this one doesn’t exactly jump out and grab you. Sudorific means that the object in question is related to or causes you to sweat. Older forms of traditional medicine often encouraged health and healing by “sweating out” the disease. I remember this from reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.


Not to be confused with tonic water, a tonic is simply something to gives feelings of vigor or well being – kind of like a panacea cure. Calling something a tonic is a rather generic and unspecific adjective, compared to some of the others we’ve explored.


A uterine is something that deals directly with or promotes the health of the uterus or womb.


The clues in this one are all phonetic. Verm equals worm, and a vermifuge works to get rid of parasitic worms. Yeah, we’ll move on from that one pretty fast.


Vulnerary is a term that describes something that is used to heal wounds – much like when we think of a Band-Aid™ paired with Neosporin™.

So – there you have it – the rest of the aromatherapy glossary from E-Z.

If you want to know more about the healing power of essential oils I recommend to you this national best-selling book. The Healing Power of Essential Oils” is an awesome, well-written book on essential oils. It contains plenty of useful information on everything, from knowing how to purchase the right products, to what plant parts produce essential oils Dr. Z is a very passionate and effective teacher. The book includes recipes and formulations to treat from anxiety and depression to hormonal imbalance, digestive distress, sleep disorders, and even autoimmune diseases.

You could also get this e-book called “Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals” in which the author details 400 essential oil profiles, including 4000 references, benefits, risks, and doses. There are chapters on the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, the urinary system, the digestive system, and the nervous system. For each essential oil, there is a full breakdown of constituents, and a clear categorization of hazards and risks, with recommended maximum doses and concentrations.


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