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Health Glossary

Adaptogen - An adaptogen is a substance that supports a non-specific resistance to stress and increases vitality.

Alternative Therapy - Complementary medicinal disciplines that typically use natural, rather than chemical, approaches.

Ayurveda - A system of traditional medicine established in India over 3,000 years ago — literally the “science of life." Ayurveda includes food, exercise, meditation, detoxification, hygiene, massage and ethical conduct, as well as natural vegetable medicines in its practice. Herbs are used as special foods to help bring the individual back to a state of harmony by eliminating excesses and strengthening in areas of deficiencies. Aryurdeda recognizes three body types or doshas — vata (air) is dry, light, cold, hard and clear, pitta (fire and water) is hot, fluid, light, subtle and sharp, and kapha (earth and water) is cold, wet, slow, heavy and dense. Treatments include understanding the combination of the doshas in each person as well as the condition.

Bioflavonoids - Bioflavonoids are any of a group of biologically active flavone compounds that may help maintain the capillary walls, reducing the likelihood of hemorrhaging. They are widely found in plants, especially citrus fruits. They are commonly added to Vitamin C for optimum absorption. They are used in our Vitamin C blend.

Bitters - The term bitters often refers to a bitter-tasting, unsweetened alcoholic beverage flavored with herbs and spices. Herbal bitters do not contain alcohol but are usually used similarly to the alcoholic versions — as a before- or after-dinner beverage. The sensation of bitter flavor in the mouth sends a message to the central nervous system that causes the body to begin to prepare itself for eating. Foods with a bitter flavor can also do the same thing — if you simply imagine biting into a lemon, you may find yourself starting to salivate. Formulas made from bitter herbs and spices have tonifying effects on the body and some people like to consume them daily. Herbs often used in herbal bitters include gentian, blessed thistle, goldenseal, bitter orange peel, wormwood, horehound, yarrow, dandelion, boneset, hops and artichoke leaf. Since the bitter flavor is what sends the signal to the brain, bitters must be tasted to be effective. While they should not be sweetened, spices such as cinnamon, cloves and allspice can be added to increase their warming effect and improve the flavor.

Calcium - Calcium is a mineral essential to human health. It is the most abundant mineral in the body, making up to 2% of total body weight with over 99% found in the bones. It is important in building and maintaining bones and teeth as well as playing a role in other functions such as muscle coontraction, blood clotting and regulation of heartbeat. Foods abundant in calcium are dairy products, seaweed, dark leafy greens tofu and nuts. If taking calcium supplements, chelated forms such as calcium citrate, calcium lactate or calcium gluconate are absorbed by the body more efficiently.

Chelated/chelation - In the process of chelation, an amino acid is wrapped around the mineral to hide an electrical charge. Minerals carry a negative ion charge, and the body doesn't absorb anything with an electrical charge. When the charge is disguised, the body can absorb and utilize the mineral.

Decoction - Decoctions are herb teas made by boiling herbs in water. Hard or dense plant parts such as roots, barks or seeds with little or no volatile substances are often prepared as decoctions. To make a decoction, add 1 ounce of dried herb to 1 pint of pure water (distilled is best) and place in a glass or other non-reactive container. Cover and place over high heat until water begins to boil. Lower heat and continue to simmer for approximately 15-25 minutes, then cool and strain. Decoctions should be used immediately or refrigerated and used within 2 days. (See also Infusion.)

Demulcent - A demulcent is a mucilage-rich substance that can be used to coat a mucous membrane with a thin layer that helps to sooth and protect it. When used on the skin, a demulcent is called an emollient. Demulcents are often ingredients in throat products. Plants well known for their demulcent properties include: marshmallow, comfrey, slippery elm, Irish moss, flax seed and licorice. (See also mucilage.)

Eclectic Medicine - Eclectic medicine was a branch of medicine developed in the United States for about a century from the mid-1800s to 1939, when the last Eclectic school of medicine closed. It incorporated the use of herbs and other remedies in alignment with nature and opposed the use of bloodletting, mercury and strong chemicals, which were prevalent at the time. The demise of this branch of medicine occurred when a reform of medical schools, undertaken in the early 1900's, resulted in the adopting of uniform standards and a curriculum advocated by the AMA (America Medical Association), a strictly science-based model that supported the use of chemical constituents over whole herbs. The reforms gradually took hold and the AMA obtained control of medical education in each state, thus ensuring their system of medicine would be the only legally practiced system allowed. The center of Eclectic education was in Cincinnati, Ohio and the school there was the last to close. Today, the Lloyd Library and Museum in Cincinnati houses many of the papers and books of the Eclectics including the libraries from many of the Eclectic schools.

Emollient - An emollient is a mucilage-rich substance that helps to sooth, soften, smooth and protect the skin. Oils like jojoba are considered emollient to the skin, as are glycerin, lanolin and aloe vera juice. Herbs that have an emollient effect on the skin include: marshmallow, comfrey, slippery elm, flax seed, oats, and chickweed.

Ethical wildcrafting - Ethical wildcrafting is the practice of harvesting plants from the wild in a sustainable manner. Many wild medicinal herb populations are declining due to overharvesting and loss of habitat. Other than ginseng where havesting of wild plants is regulated by each state, there are no unviersally accepted regulations for ethically wildcrafting herbs. A number of companies and organizations have developed their own standards for ethical wild harvesting of medicinal herbs. These include criteria such as the percentage of plants that can be harvested in a given population and where and when wild herbs can be harvested.

Ethyl Alcohol - Ethyl alcohol is a plant derived alcohol. It is produced from the fermentation of sugars from plants such as sugar cane, sugar beets or grapes.

Fixative - A fixative is a substance, often an essential oil, but possibly an herb or animal product, of low volatility that serves to draw together and hold the aromatherapy formula together. Most blends include fixatives, as they will slow the evaporation process and preserve the aromatic qualities. Common essential oil fixatives include vetiver, patchouli, sandalwood, amyris, myrrh and others.

Flower Essences - Flower essences are dilute liquid extracts of various flowers and plants used to treat animals and people, similar to the principles of homeopathy. Flower essence therapy was developed in the 1930's by Dr. Edward Bach, an English physician. Dr. Bach believed that disease was the result of imbalance or negativity at the level of the soul and that flower remedies act to balance these inharmonies on an emotional and spiritual level. Flower essences are prepared in an exacting way that preserves the essence or energy of the flower. Flower essences are generally used as part of an overall program of health enhancement.

Fomentation - A fomentation is an herbal compress that is used for applying herbs, in a liquid form, externally to the body. A clean, white cotton cloth is soaked in a liquid herbal preparation such as an herbal tea (infusion), decoction or tincture and then wrung out to remove excess moisture. The cloth is placed on the desired body part, and covered with another cloth to slow drying. The cloth can be reapplied as needed. A fomentation can be warm, cool or can alternate between warm and cool depending on the purpose. (See also Poultice.)

Ginsenosides - Ginseng, known as Ren-sen or "man root" to the Chinese, has been labeled by researchers as an "adaptogen" because it has the intrinsic ability to normalize body functions. The "adaptogenic" effects are thought to be caused by the presence of ginsenosides or tetracyclic terpenoids, the major constituents of ginseng. Researchers have identified 28 different ginsenosides, in varying percentages among the panax species, although 6 (Rb1, Rb2, Rc, Rd, Re, Rg1) are the most significant. The levels vary due to the age of the plant, soil quality, time of harvest, plan part and other environmental factors inherent to the growing region. The precise type and ratio of ginsenosides present can only be determined through HPLC (High Pressure Liquid Chromatography) testing. All parts of the plant may contain ginsenosides; the roots may contain up to 5% but levels are more commonly in the 2-3% range.

Guided minerals - A guided substance is created when transporters such as oxide, gluconate, aspartate, or citrate are added to a chelated substance, further suppressing the electrical charges of the substance. This process, commonly used on minerals, is believed to allow even greater absorption and utilization by the body. (See also Chelated.)

Hahnemann, Dr. Samuel - Dr. Samuel Hahnemann was the founder of homeopathy. While researching the toxicological effects of medicinals in the 1800s, Hahnemann, a German physician and chemist, discovered the concept of "like cures like" also referred to as the "law of similars" or homeopathy. He was considered eccentric for his belief that symptoms were an outward reflection of the body's inner fight to overcome illness; not a manifestation of the illness itself. He also believed in the concept of do no harm and that common practices of the day often caused more harm than good. His concepts included using different potencies during the healing process to allow the body to heal more completely, basing the remedies in liquids (alcohol and water) that are absorbed into the system more readily than tablets and offering only hand-succussed remedies (the remedy is shaken or successed after each dilution). The results of Hahnemann's studies are published in The Organon of Medicine. (See also Homeopathy.)

Homeopathy - Homeopathy is a system of healing that aims to stimulate the body's innate healing processes through the administration of minute homeopathic dilutions of specific remedies. Homeopathy uses natural substances from all three realms of nature: plant, mineral and animal. In homeopathy, symptoms are believed to be our bodies attempt to heal itself. Remedies are prescribed in very diluted doses. The same remedies, in higher doses, would produce the symptoms in a healthy person. (See also Hahnemann, Dr. Samuel.)

I.U./International Unit - The Dictionary of Scientific Terms defines an I.U. or International Unit as: "A quantity of vitamin, hormone, antibiotic, or other biological that produces a specific internationally accepted biological effect." I.U. is most often seen as a measure of potency of vitamin E.

Infusion - Infusions are liquid preparations made by extracting herbs with either hot or cold water. Infusions are usually used for the more delicate plant parts such as the leaves and flowers. Cold-water infusions are sometimes used for herbs with high volatile oil content. To prepare a cold-water infusion, add the herbs directly to the cool water and let steep in the refrigerator for 6-12 hours, strain. To make a hot-water infusion, place 2-3 t. of dried herbs in a glass or ceramic container. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the herbs, cover tightly, and let steep for 5 to 10 minutes, then strain To make a stronger infusion, let the mixture steep until cool before straining. (See Decoction.)

Lloyd, John Uri - John U. Lloyd (1849–1936) was a renown pharmacist and scientist. He is given much of the credit for the development of an American Materia Medica. His was allied with the Eclectic branch of medicine and taught chemistry at the Eclectic Medical College and the Cincinnati College of Pharmacy. He worked as a pharmacist at H.M Merrell and Co., eventually taking ownership of the company with his brother Nelson Ashley to create the Lloyd Brother Pharmacists, makers of Eclectic pharmaceuticals. His research resulted in many new medicines, but he is most respected today because of all the research and results documents he left behind which preserved a wealth of information on the history, uses and commerce in American medicinal plants of the period. The Lloyd Library and Museum, located in Cincinnati, Ohio is considered the one of the best repositories of herbal medicine, medical botany, herb history in the U.S. and holds the records and writings of the Eclectic colleges and Lloyd Brothers as well as other famous Eclectics.

Magnesium - Magnesium is a mineral essential to human health. It is second to calcium in concentration present in the body with 60% of that in the bones, 26% in the muscle and rest in soft tissues such as the brain, heart, liver and kidneys. Foods rich in magnesium are legumes, seeds, nuts, whole grains, tofu and leafy green vegetables. Food processing removes much of the magnesium from foods and thus many Americans who eat a diet high in refined foods are deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is critical to many cellular functions such as energy production, reproduction of cells and protein formation.

Menstruum - Menstruum is the solvent used to extract a plant's constituents. Water and alcohol, alone or in combination, are the most often used solvents, depending on the solubility of the herb's constituents. Glycerin is sometimes used as a solvent instead of alcohol to make a glycerite, or alcohol-free extract. Other solvents or menstruum include vinegar or acetic acid (used to make herb vinegars) and vegetable oil (used to make an oil extract for salves).

Mucilage - Mucilage – Mucilage is composed of complex poly-saccharides. It is present in a variety of plants. Some of those with large amounts of mucilage include: marshmallow, flax seeds, purslane, chia seeds, and oats (as in oatmeal). It's generally pretty tasteless but has a slimy feel when it comes into contact with water. Mucilage has demulcent properties, and mucilage-rich herbs are used throughout the body for their soothing benefits. (See also demulcent.)

Natural - There is no legal U.S. definition for "natural," and neither the FDA nor the USDA has rules regarding the term. Unlike the USDA-regulated term "organic," the designation "natural" can be applied to products at the unregulated discretion of manufacturers. Frontier has established a Natural Products Standard for our products that covers post-harvest treatment and processing. We do not purchase any herbs or spices that have been treated with irradiation or chemicals such as ethylene oxide (EtO) and there are a number of other ingredients and processes that are not allowed.

Pinyin - Pinyin is an international standard for romanizing the Chinese Mandarin language. It is used to translate proper names into English, and Chinese herbs are often sold in the U.S. using a common name and a pinyin name. It is also used in China to teach Mandarin characters with the pronunciation and as a way to teach Mandarin as a second language to foreigners.

Potherb - This is an antiquated English term for any plant that is cooked and eaten as a green. Plants such as spinach or kale would qualify as potherbs. Oftentimes, medicinal herbs were also potherbs, with the stems and leaves picked when the plants are young, then boiled and eaten as a green vegetable or used to flavor soups or grains. The first potherbs to be available in the spring were the wild herbs, which start to grow before garden greens could even be planted. So these wild potherbs were prized, especially after a long winter, because they provided nutrients and fresh flavor to the remnants of winter fare. Many of the herbs were also considered spring tonics, helping to fortify a winter-drained body, cleanse the blood and invigorate. European’s who emigrated carried their wild potherbs with them for planting in their new gardens. These hardy herbs often became weeds in their new locations when they escaped cultivation. Some examples of wild potherbs are nettles, dandelion, cleavers, sorrel, chickweed and lamb’s quarters.

Poultice - A poultice is an herbal compress and is used for apply herbs externally to the body. Fresh or dried herbs can be used. If fresh, the herbs are ground, chopped or juiced, then applied to the desired body part and covered with a clean cotton cloth and a binding to keep the cloth and the herbs in place. Dried herbs should be in chopped or powdered form with enough hot water added to moisten the herbs. (They should be thick and wet, not runny.) Let stand till cool enough to apply directly to the desired body part, then cover and bind as with fresh herbs. Reapply as needed. (See also Fomentation.)

Pycnogenol - Pycnogenol is a registered trademark (protected by US. patent #4,69 8,360) of Horphag Research, LTD. It is a natural plant extract obtained from the bark of European grown Pinus maritima (pine trees), Pycnogenol contains proanthocyanidins, the compounds responsible for the anti-oxidant properties of the extract. Proanthocyanidins or flavonoids are the plant pigments responsible for the deep blue-red color of many berries including grapes and hawthorn berries. They are also present in cypress bark, Ceylon and cassia cinnamon bark, and many other trees of the Coniferae family.

Qi - Qi or Ch'i (pronounced chee), is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) term that refers to the vital energy in the body. Qi is at the very heart of the TCM system, it is the invisible force that animates life energy taking shape as matter. Qi comes into the body from the air taken in through the lungs and from the foods we eat. When Qi is depleted, a person will feel tired, weak, clammy, apathetic and unable to fight off invasions of disease. When Qi is strong, a person will feel energetic, strong and vigorous with a high resistance level. Qi should move freely in the body and should be balanced in order to maintain health and well-being. (See also TCM.)

Raw Food - Though there isn't an official definition for this term, it is generally accepted that a food can be considered raw if it has not been heated above 115 degrees Ferenheit (46 degrees Celsius), and hasn't been frozen.

Smudging - Smudging is a traditional method of burning herbs or wands of herbs called smudge sticks and bathing oneself or an object in the smoke to clear away negative influences and restore balance. Many people like to smudge their home, office or space to change the energy of that area.

Superior Chinese Herb - Superior is a designation given to Chinese herbs that have a broad spectrum of use, that restore balance in the body and have no negative side effects. These are generally tonics that nourish the cells and help restore balance and proper function throughout the body. They are thought of much like foods that can be eaten everyday. Examples of herbs classified as superior includes astragalus, dong gui, rehamannia, ginseng and schisandra.

TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) - TCM is a complete system of natural health care that has been used for several thousand years and is still used today to treat one-quarter of the earth's population. It is very different in theory and practice from Western health care. TCM is based on the concept of balance of the vital energy, Qi (chee) that flows freely through the body of a healthy being. Living in harmony with nature and striving for moderation and balance in all things are core principles. Disease is the result of disruption of this balance. The practioner's role is patient-based, rather than ailment-based as in Western medicine, so that a remedy is not prescribed based so much on the condition as it is on the patient and their constitution. Components of TCM include diet, exercise, acupuncture, herbs and massage.

Tincture - A tincture is a stable liquid preparation that contains an herb's desired constituents. It's made using a solvent or menstruum tailored to dissolve the maximum amount of the chemical components of the whole herb. Once the components are extracted, the herb and solvent mixture is pressed to remove the liquid from the solids (marc). The resulting liquid is filtered and then stored in dark bottles in a cool place. Tinctures are a good way to preserve an herb over several years, and they're convenient to carry and use.

USP/United States Pharmacopeia - The USP (United States Pharmacopoeia) was established in 1820 and is a private, voluntary, non-profit, organization composed of health care professionals, scientists, academicians, and government officials. USP works to promote public health through the development of standards, and a knowledge base specific to medicines and other health care technologies. Products given USP status meet or exceed the requirements of the official monographs published by USP.

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