I believe that some of the most important things to know about herbs aside from their name, is of course, their properties. In other words, if I am out and about and need an herb for something, it is best to know WHAT the herb does and HOW it is best used. So these things are called "Properties". I am going to list an overall list of properties below that one should memorize for later use when dealing with an herb or herbs in general. I will also post some links for some amazing books I highly recommend purchasing and reading before going off on your own. They are all wonderful investments and although some may be expensive they are well worth it over time. So, without further adieu..
Absorbents: Herbs used to absorb diseased tissues.
Alteratives: Herbs used to alter nutritive and excretory processes (over a gradual period) and to restore normal body functioning.
Analgesics: Herbs used to lessen pain when taken orally.
Anaphrodisiacs: Herbs used to lessen sexual desire and function.
Antacids: Hebs used to neutralize acid in the stomach and intestinal tract.
Anthelmintics: Herbs used to expel intestinal worms.
Antiabortives: Herbs used to counteract abortion or abortive tendencies.
Antiarthritics: Herbs used to relieve and help arthitic conditions.
Antiasthmatics: Herbs used to relieve asthma or asthmatic conditions.
Antibilious: Herbs used to eliminate jaundice or jaundice-like conditions.
Anticatarrhal: Herbs which help catarrh conditions (excess mucus).
Antiemetics: Herbs used to prevent or relieve vomiting and nausea.
Antihydropics: Herbs used to eliminate excess body fluids.
Antilithics: Herbs used to pevent the buildup of deposits (stones) in the urinary system.
Antiperiodics: Herbs used to relieve malarial-type chills and fevers.
Antiphlogistics: Herbs used to reduce swelling or inflammation.
Antipyretics: Herbs used to reduce high (excessive) temperatures.
Antirheumatics: Herbs used to relieve or help rheumatic conditions.
Antiscorbutics: Herbs used to prevent scurvy.
Antiscrofulous: Herbs used for tubercular conditions of the lymph nodes.
Antiseptics: Herbs used to counter the decay of cells and formation of pus and infection.
Antispasmodics: Herbs used for excessive involuntary muscular contractions.
Antisyphilics: Herbs used for syphilis and venereal diseases.
Antivenomous: Herbs used for mineral, animal and vegetable poisons.
Antizymotics: Herbs used to destroy bacterial organisms.
Aperient or Laxatives: Herbs used to evacuate the bowels.
Aromatics: Herbs that stimulate the olfactory senses and the gastrointestinal mucous membrane.
Astringents: Herbs that contract the cell walls, condense tissues and stop discharges.
Aphrodisiacs: Herbs used to correct impotence and strengthen sexual desire and power.
Balsamics: Herbs that soothe and lessen inflamed areas.
Bitters: Herbs having a bitter taste but act as stimulating tonics to the gastrointestinal mucuous membranes.
Calefacients: Herbs used to increase circulation.
Cardiac Depressants: Herbs that are sedatives to the heart.
Cardiac Stimulants: Herbs used to increase the heart's action.
Carminatives: Herbs containing a volatile oil that increases peristalsis and relieves gas.
Cathartics: Herbs that are purgatives to the intestinal tract, stimulating bowel movements with SOME irritation and griping. (For some people.)
Caustics: Herbs that burn or destroy living tissues.
Cell Proliferants: Herbs that promote rapid healing and restoration.
Cephalics: Herbs that are beneficial to the healing of cerebral conitions and diseases.
Cholagogues: Herbs used to promote the flow and discharge of bile and produce purging of the bowels.
Condiments: Herbs used to season and flavor foods.
Coloring Agents: Herbs used for coloring and dying purposes.
Cordials: Herbs that warm the stomach and stimulate the heart.
Correctives: Herbs used to alter and lessen the severity of the actions of other herbs such as cathartics or purgatives.
Cosmetics: Herbs which are used for the skin to improve complexion and tonification.
Counter-irritants: Herbs that may cause irritation in a local area but be therapeutic in another area more deep-seated.
Demulcents: Herbs with mucilagenous qualities that soothe and protect inflamed internal surfaces and tissues.
Dental Anodynes: Herbs used for toothache pain.
Deobstruents: Herbs that remove alimentary obstructions from the body. (The canal that extends from th mouth to the anus.)
Deodorants: Herbs to eliminate odor.
Depresso-Motors: Herbs used to diminish muscular movement by action on the spinal centers.
Depurants: Herbs that clean the blood by promoting eliminative functions.
Dessicants: Herbs which are able to dry surfaces by absorbing moisture.
Detergents: Herbs that are cleansing to wounds, ulcers or the skin itself.
Diaphoretics: Herbs that induce perspiration and increase elimination through the skin.
Digestants: Herbs that aid in the digestion of foods.
Diluents: Herbs that dilute excretions and secretions.
Discutients: Herbs that dispel or dissolve tumores and abnormal tissue growth.
Disinfectants: Herbs that eliminate or destroy noxious or toxic elements of decaying matter, thus preventing the spread of infection.
Diuretics: Herbs that increase the flow of urine.
Drastics: Herbs that produce violent cramping, watery stools and griping pain.
Emetics: Herbs that induce vomiting.
Emmenogogues: Herbs that are helpful to the female reproductive organs assisting in the normal flow of menstruation.
Emollients: Herbs that are softening, soothing and protecting to the skin.
Errhines: Herbs that increase nasal secretios from the sinuses.
Exanthematous: Herbs that are healing to skin diseases and/or skin eruptions.
Excito-Motors: Herbs that increase motor flex or spinal activity.
Expectorants: Herbs that promote the discharge of mucus secretions from bronchio-pulmonary passages.
Febrifuges: Herbs that reduce fever.
Galactogogues: Herbs that increase the secretion of milk.
Galactophyga: Herbs that diminish or stop milk production.
Hemetics: Herbs that build and enrich the blood.
Hemostatics: Herbs that stop hemorrhaging and/or internal bleeding.
Hepatics: Herbs used to strengthen, stimulate and tone the liver, and used to increase bile flow.
Herpatics: Herbs that are healing to skin eruptions and scaling diseases.
Hypnotics: Herbs that are powerful nervine relaxants and sedatives.
Insecticides: Herbs that are used to destroy and/or eliminate insects.
Irritants: Herbs that produce a greater or lesser degree of vascular excitement when applied to the skin.
Lithotriptics: Herbs that dissolve and discharge urinary and kidney stones.
Local anesthetics: Herbs that deaden or numb pain when applied locally (topically) to a surface. (Also called and Anodyne.)
Maturating: Herbs that promote the ripening of tumors, ulcers, boils, etc. (Brings them to a head faster.)
Mucilages: Herbs that have mucus producing properties and abilities.
Mydriatics: Herbs that cause dilation of the pupils.
Myotics: Herbs that cause contraction of the ciliary (of or relating to the lens) muscles of the pupil.
Narcotics: Herbs that are powerful topical pain killers and relaxants/sedatives.
Nauseants: Herbs that produce nausea or an inclination to vomit.
Nephritics: Herbs that are used to influence and assist the kidneys.
Nervines: Herbs that are tonic to the nerves.
Nutritives: Herbs that are nourishing and building to the body.
Ophthalmics: Herbs that are for diseases and disorders of the eyes.
Parasiticides: Herbs that destroy and/or kill parasites in the body.
Parturients: Herbs that induce or assist labor and promote childbirth.
Pectorals: Herbs that are healing to the bronchial-pulmonary region.
Peristaltics: Herbs that stimulate peristalsis or muscular contraction to aid in digestion and evacuation of the bowels.
Protectives: Herbs that serve as protective cover to inflamed or injuredareas when applied locally.
Pungents: Herbs that cause a pricking, sharp or penetrating sensation to the sensory organs.
Refrigerants: Herbs that have cooling properties, lower body temperature and relieve thirst.
Resolvents: Herbs that promote the breakup of inflammatory depostis and the movement of them to the excretory system.
Rubefacients: Herbs that, when applied locally, cause capillary dilation and skin redness. (This is something that draws blood from deeper tissues to the surface of the skin-thereby relieving internal inflammation and/or congestion.)
Sedatives: Herbs that tend to calm and/or tranquilize the body.
Sialagogues: Herbs that promote salive secretion.
Soporifics: Herbs that induce sleep.
Sternutatories: Herbs which irritate the nasal passages causing on to sneeze.
Stimulants: Herbs that increas the functional activity and energy of the body.
Stomachics: Herbs that are stimulating tonics to the stomach.
Styptics: Herbs that tighten the blood vessels when applied to an external surface-thus stopping local bleeding or hemorrhaging.
Sudorifics: Herbs that stimulate the sweat glands and produce profuse perspiration when taken hot or act as a tonic when taken cold.
Taeniafuges/Taeniacides: Herbs that expel and/or kill tapeworms in the intestines.
Tonics: Herbs that add nutrition to the body and increase tone, strength and energy.
Vulneraries: Herbs that promote the healing of wounds and cuts.
Listed below are a few links to books I think are fantastic when starting out with herbs in general. Please take time to look at the links and think about purchasing some of them as any book is a wonderful investment for your own knowledge down the road.
From the Shepherd's Purse: The Identification, Preparation and Use
of Medicinal Plants. 1990 Edition (Medical Botany, Volume I: Plant Taxonomy
The Herbal Medicine Maker's Handbook-
Jude's Herbal Home Remedies-
The Way of Herbs-
Shepherd's Purse: The Identification, Preparation and Use of Medicinal Plants.
1990 Edition (Medical Botany, Volume I: Plant Taxonomy Approach)