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Plant Action Glossary - Helpful Terms Dog and Cat Health

Your holistic vet may be trying to explain all the benefits of a particular plant or the symptoms associated with a disease or condition and all you can thing is ANTI-OXI-WHATTA?

The following guide may be helpful in understanding terms, plant actions and in general, how to stay sane and wise when exposed to technical, medical jargon.  

(* As recommended by holistic veterinarians for use under a traditional medical system)

Alkaline A substance having a pH above that of neutral water (7.0) when in solution. Signified as pH (potential of Hydrogen), alkaline fluids, such as the blood (pH about 7.4), have the ability to neutralize acids (solutions below pH 7.0). Metabolic wastes are acids, and the alkaline reserve of the blood neutralizes them until they are excreted. 

Alkaloids Derived from various amino acids and work to inhibit or activate enzymes, can affect membrane structure and cytoskeletal structure and nerve transmission.  

Analgesic Agent which relieves pain without causing loss of consciousness.

Antioxidant (Antioxidants) A natural, chemical compound that slows or prevents oxygen from reacting with other compounds. Antioxidants are substances that protect cells from oxidative damage caused by molecules called free radicals. These chemicals can damage important parts of cells, such as proteins, membranes, and DNA. Some antioxidants have been shown to have cancer-protecting potential because they neutralize free radicals. Examples include vitamins C and E, beta carotene, the minerals selenium and germanium, superoxide dismutase (SOD), coenzyme Q10, catalase, and some amino acids.

Antispasmodic prevents 
spasms. 

Antiviral Any of a number of herbs, drugs or agents capable of destroying viruses or inhibiting their growth or multiplication until the body is capable of destroying the virus itself. Most antiviral agents are members of the antimetabolite family.

Asthma (Asthmatic) A lung disorder marked by attacks of breathing difficulty, wheezing, coughing, and thick mucus coming from the lungs. The episodes may be triggered by breathing foreign substances (allergens) or pollutants, infection, vigorous exercise, or emotional stress. Extrinsic Asthma is triggered by pollen, chemicals or some other external agent; Intrinsic Asthma is triggered by boggy membranes, congested tissues, or other native causes, even adrenalin stress or exertion.

Bacteria (Bacterial, Bacterium) Microscopic germs. Some bacteria are "harmful" and can cause disease, while other "friendly" bacteria protect the body from harmful invading organisms.

Bile A bitter, yellow-green secretion of the liver. Bile is stored in the gallbladder and is released when fat enters the first part of the small intestine (duodenum) in order to aid digestion.

Bronchitis Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the bronchial tubes, frequently accompanied by cough, hypersecretion of mucus, and expectoration of sputum. Acute bronchitis is usually caused by an infectious agent and of short duration. Chronic bronchitis, generally the result of smoking, may also be known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or Emphysema.

Cancer Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.

Carotenoids Fat soluable, plant based phytonutrients that may have disease fighting properties and may help protect eye health, cardiovascular health, and may help fight against cancer. 

Carminative Agent relieving flatulence or gas.

Chronic (Chronicity) Usually referring to chronic illness; illness extending over a long period of time.

CoQ10 Works with vitamins C, E and gluthathione in the body to support the skin's antioxidant defense mechanism against sun damage and stimulates mitochondrial energy production.

Constipation (Constipated) Difficult, incomplete, or infrequent evacuation of dry, hardened feces from the bowels.

Cramp (Cramping, Cramps) A sudden, involuntary, painful muscular contraction.

Diabetes Mellitus (Diabetes, Diabetic, Diabetics) A disease with increased blood glucose levels due to lack or ineffectiveness of insulin. Diabetes is found in two forms; insulin-dependent diabetes (juvenile-onset) and non-insulin-dependent (adult-onset). Symptoms include increased thirst; increased urination; weight loss in spite of increased appetite; fatigue; nausea; vomiting; frequent infections including bladder, vaginal, and skin; blurred vision; impotence in men; bad breath; cessation of menses; diminished skin fullness. Other symptoms include bleeding gums; ear noise/buzzing; diarrhea; depression; confusion.

Diuretic (Diuretics) An agent increasing urine flow, causing the kidneys to excrete more than the usual amount of sodium, potassium and water.

Dysentery An inflammatory disorder of the lower intestinal tract, usually caused by a bacterial, parasitic, or protozoan infection and resulting in pain, fever, and severe diarrhea, often accompanied by the passage of blood and mucus.

Edema Abnormal accumulation of fluids within tissues resulting in swelling.

Elleagic Acid Polyphenol that may help prevent cancer by both activating and detoxifying potential carcinogens.

Flavonoids Potent antioxidants that are anti-mutagenic in function and may be important disease preventatives in cancer and chronic disease

Gallbladder (Gall Bladder) A small, digestive organ which concentrates and stores bile. Problems with the gallbladder often lead to gallbladder attacks, which usually occur after a fatty meal and at night. The following are the most common symptoms: steady, severe pain in the middle-upper abdomen or below the ribs on the right; pain in the back between the shoulder blades; pain under the right shoulder; nausea; vomiting; fever; chills; jaundice; abdominal bloating; intolerance of fatty foods; belching or gas; indigestion. 

Gallstone (Biliary Calculus, Gall Stone, Gall Stones, Gallbladder Attack, Gallbladder Attacks, Gallstones)
Stone-like objects in either the gallbladder or bile ducts, composed mainly of cholesterol and calcium. Most gallstones do not cause problems until they become larger or they begin obstructing bile ducts.  Symptoms usually include steady, severe pain in the middle-upper abdomen or below the ribs on the right; pain in the back between the shoulder blades; pain under the right shoulder; nausea; vomiting; fever; chills; jaundice; abdominal bloating; intolerance of fatty foods; belching or gas; indigestion.

Glucose A sugar that is the simplest form of carbohydrate. It is commonly referred to as blood sugar. The body breaks down carbohydrates in foods into glucose, which serves as the primary fuel for the muscles and the brain.

Gout A disease characterized by an increased blood uric acid level and sudden onset of episodes of acute arthritis. Is usually associated with swelling of the feet, but not in every case.

Hepatic: Pertaining to the liver.

Hepatoprotective  Protective actions for the liver

Hepatitis Inflammation of the liver usually resulting in jaundice (yellowing of the skin), loss of appetite, stomach discomfort, abnormal liver function, clay-colored stools, and dark urine. May be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, parasitic infestation, drugs, toxins or transfusion of incompatible blood. Can be life-threatening. Severe hepatitis may lead to cirrhosis and chronic liver dysfunction.

Hepatitis B A serious viral infection with the potential for long term consequences. It is caused by a DNA virus that has been found in virtually all body secretions and excretions. However, only blood, saliva, semen and vaginal fluids have been shown to be infectious. Transmission occurs through sexual contact, blood-to-blood contact and from infected mother to infant. Symptoms, when present, tend to be more severe and prolonged than those for Hepatitis A: initially flu-like, with malaise, fatigue, muscle pain and chest pain on the right side. This is followed by jaundice (slight skin yellowing), anorexia, nausea, fatigue, pale stools, dark urine and tender liver enlargement, but usually no fever.

Herbs (Herb, Herbal) Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, teas should be made with one teaspoon herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Tinctures may be used singly or in combination as noted. The high doses of single herbs suggested may be best taken as dried extracts (in capsules), although tinctures (60 drops four times per day) and teas (4 to 6 cups per day) may also be used.

Herpes A small group of capsid-forming DNA viruses, sometimes divided into Type I (forming vesicles and blisters on the mouth, lips-generally above the waist) and Type II (usually sexually-transmitted, with symptoms mostly below the waist). Both types form acute initial outbreaks, go dormant, reactivate, and so forth. For most folks, frequent outbreaks are clear signs of stress or immunosuppression. Both types are equally dangerous for infants.

Hormones (Hormone) Chemical substances secreted by a variety of body organs that are carried by the bloodstream and usually influence cells some distance from the source of production. Hormones signal certain enzymes to perform their functions and, in this way, regulate such body functions as blood sugar levels, insulin levels, the menstrual cycle, and growth. These can be prescription, over-the-counter, synthetic or natural agents. Examples include adrenal hormones such as corticosteroids and aldosterone; glucagon, growth hormone, insulin, testosterone, estrogens, progestins, progesterone, DHEA, melatonin, and thyroid hormones such as thyroxine and calcitonin.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) A retrovirus associated with onset of advanced immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Immune System (Immune Response, Immunity) A complex that protects the body from disease organisms and other foreign bodies. The system includes the humoral immune response and the cell-mediated response. The immune system also protects the body from invasion by making local barriers and inflammation. The process may involve acquired immunity (the ability to learn and remember a specific infectious agent), or innate immunity (the genetically programmed system of responses that attack, digest, remove, and initiate inflammation and tissue healing).

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) A condition that causes upset intestines for a long period of time. It is very unpleasant to the sufferer but tends to be harmless and usually does not lead to more serious complaints. The symptoms vary from person to person and from day to day. In order to be diagnosed with IBS, a person must have at least three of the following symptoms: pain in the lower abdomen; bloating; constipation; diarrhea or alternating diarrhea and constipation; nausea; loss of appetite; tummy rumbling; flatulence; mucous in stools; indigestion; constant tiredness; frequent urination; low back pain.

Isoflavones Soy compounds which act like antioxidants as well as estrogens. Two of the isoflavones, genistein and daidzein, reduce the risk of coronary heart disease; help mitigate hormone-related cancers and decreases the ability of tumors to grow new blood vessels. 

Jaundice Yellow discoloration of the skin, whites of the eyes and excreta as a result of an excess of the pigment bilirubin in the bloodstream.

Kidney Stone (Kidney Gravel, Kidney Stones) A stone (concretion) in the kidney. If the stone is large enough to block the tube (ureter) and stop the flow of urine from the kidney, it must be removed by surgery or other methods. Also called Renal Calculus. Symptoms usually begin with intense waves of pain as a stone moves in the urinary tract. Typically, a person feels a sharp, cramping pain in the back and side in the area of the kidney or in the lower abdomen. Sometimes nausea and vomiting occur. Later, pain may spread to the groin. The pain may continue if the stone is too large to pass; blood may appear in the urine and there may be the need to urinate more often or a burning sensation during urination. If fever and chills accompany any of these symptoms, an infection may be present and a doctor should be seen immediately.

Kidneys (Kidney, Renal) Bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist. They are located near the middle of the back, just below the rib cage. The kidneys are sophisticated reprocessing machines, each day handling about 50 gallons of blood to sift out about half a gallon of waste products and extra water. The waste and extra water become urine, which flows to the bladder through tubes called ureters. The actual filtering occurs in tiny units inside the kidneys called nephrons. Every kidney has about a million nephrons. In a nephron, a glomerulus -- which is a tiny blood vessel, or capillary -- intertwines with a tiny urine-collecting tube called a tubule. A complicated chemical exchange takes place, as waste materials and water leave your blood and enter your urinary system. The kidneys recycle chemicals such as sodium, phosphorus, and potassium and thus regulate their levels. Renal: Pertaining to the kidneys.

Lignans Bind with carcinogens in the colon; speed up transit time and removal of carcinogens from the body, and assist in scavenging free radicals.

Limonene Promotes antioxidant detoxification and may reduce abnormal cell growth. 

Lycopene  Carotenoid and antioxidant that may promote heart health, scavenge free radicals, may lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration and may lower the risk of cancer.

Liver (Hepatic) The largest and one of the most complex organs of the body, the liver is responsible for much of the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. It is the site of much of the body's detoxification. It is connected very closely with digestion and the regulation of blood sugar, among many other functions. Found behind the ribs on the right side of the abdomen, it has many important functions such as removing harmful material from the blood, making enzymes and bile that help digest food, and converting food into substances needed for life and growth.

Menstruation (Menses, Menstrual, Menstrual Cycle, Menstrual Cycles, Menstrual Flow, Menstrual Phase, Monthly Cycle) The periodic discharge of blood, tissue fluid and mucus from the endometrium (lining of the uterus) which is caused by a sudden reduction in estrogen and progesterone.

Mucus (Mucous) The viscous, slippery substance that consists chiefly of mucin, water, cells, and inorganic salts and is secreted as a protective lubricant coating by cells and glands of the mucous membranes.

Oil Healthy oil that is cholesterol free and offers a beneficial ratio of fatty acids, which are low in bad fats and high in healthy fats; can also include plant derived Omega 3 fatty acids.

Osteoporosis A disease in which bone tissue becomes porous and brittle. The disease primarily affects postmenopausal women.

Parasite (Parasites, Parasitic, Parasitical) An organism living in or on another organism.

Phlegm Mucus in the throat or bronchi.

Phytosterols Nondigestible compounds that reduce cholesterol absorption in the bowel and may help prevent colon cancer.

Proctitis Inflammation of the mucous membranes of the rectum.

Prostate The prostate gland in men that surrounds the neck of the bladder and the urethra and produces a secretion that liquefies coagulated semen.

Protease Inhibitors  Block the activity of cancer-causing enzymes called "proteases" and may reduce the risk of cancer. Protease inhibitors have been reported to suppress carcinogens.

Protein Only plant-based complete high-quality protein, totally cholesterol and low in fat.

Reversatrol Flavonoid that has anti-cancer and anti-flammatory properties; may also lower cholesterol

Saponins  Phytonutrients that boost the immune system and fight cancer.

Steroid (Steroids) Any of a large number of hormonal substances with a similar basic chemical structure containing a 17-carbon 14-ring system and including the sterols and various hormones and glycosides.

Sterols Natural substances that occur in small amounts in many grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds and have been studied for their cholesterol-lowering properties.


Stomach A hollow, muscular, J-shaped pouch located in the upper part of the abdomen to the left of the midline. The upper end (fundus) is large and dome-shaped; the area just below the fundus is called the body of the stomach. The fundus and the body are often referred to as the cardiac portion of the stomach. The lower (pyloric) portion curves downward and to the right and includes the antrum and the pylorus. The function of the stomach is to begin digestion by physically breaking down food received from the esophagus. The tissues of the stomach wall are composed of three types of muscle fibers: circular, longitudinal and oblique. These fibers create structural elasticity and contractibility, both of which are needed for digestion. The stomach mucosa contains cells which secrete hydrochloric acid and this in turn activates the other gastric enzymes pepsin and rennin. To protect itself from being destroyed by its own enzymes, the stomach's mucous lining must constantly regenerate itself.

Systolic Pertaining to the contraction phase of the heartbeat, or the pressure in the arterial system caused by the heart as blood is being pumped out. When used in blood pressure readings (for example 120/80), it refers to the first/upper number.

Tumor (Tumors, Tumour, Tumours) An abnormal growth of tissue resulting from uncontrolled, progressive multiplication of cells and serving no physiological function; a neoplasm. Literally, a swelling; in the past the term has been used in reference to any swelling of the body, no matter what the cause. However, the word is now being used almost exclusively to refer to a neoplastic mass, and the more general usage is being discarded.

Ulcer (Ulceration, Ulcers) Lesion on the skin or mucous membrane, which most commonly affect the throat and stomach.

Uric Acid (Hyperuricemia) The final end product of certain native or dietary proteins, especially the nucleoproteins found in the nucleus of cells. Unlike the much smaller nitrogenous waste product urea, which is mostly recycled to form many amino acids, uric acid is an unrecycleable metabolite that must be excreted: nucleoprotein to purine to uric acid to the outside in the urine or the sweat. Hyperuricemia: Having elevated blood uric acid, either from a rapid rate of cell breakdown and synthesis (such as might occur from fasting, heavy training, trauma or any number of major diseases), a high consumption of organ meats, glandular supplements or spirulina, or the inability (usually hereditary) to excrete uric acid in the urine as fast as it is produced, even though production itself is not elevated.

Urinary Tract (UT) The kidneys and the lower urinary tract, which includes the ureters, bladder, and urethra.

Vaginitis (Vaginosis) An inflammation of the vagina, either from simple tissue irritation or from an infection.

Vaginosis: A vaginal infection characterized by a smelly discharge and the presence of Gardnerella, Mycoplasma, or other anaerobic bacteria, with thevlack of Lactobacillus species.

Vermifuge Agent used to treat worm infestation.

Virus (Viri, Viruses) Any of a vast group of minute structures composed of a protein coat and a core of DNA and/or RNA that reproduces in the cells of the infected host. Capable of infecting all animals and plants, causing devastating disease in immunocompromised individuals. Viruses are not affected by antibiotics, and are completely dependent upon the cells of the infected host for the ability to reproduce.