Simon’s Simples: Glossary of Nutracuetical Terms


Alchemy: A medieval science concerned with making gold, finding the ‘elixir of life’ and producing life from the non-living.

Alkaloid: Compound containing nitrogen such as codeine, morphine, quinine, nicotine

Allergen: Any substance that causes an allergy, examples are: pollen, cat hair, peanuts

Alphacarotene: A photosynthetic pigment which protects plant cells from ultraviolet light

Alterative: A substance that acts gradually to nourish and improve the system

Amino acid: A building block of protein, most (of 20) of which are made by the body but 9 are not

Anaesthetic: An agent that deadens sensation

Anthocyanin: Pigment that inhibits bacteria and is anti-inflammatory

Antibiotic: A substance that destroys or stunts the growth of micro-organisms

Antifungal: A substance that destroys or stunts the growth of fungi

Anti-inflammatory: An agent that lessens or prevents inflammation

Antimicrobial: A substance that destroys or stunts the growth of micro-organisms

Antioxidant: Oxidisation inhibitors that contain compounds that prevent diseases and protect from free radicals. Examples are: iron, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, Vitamins A,C,E, bioflavonoids and others

Antispasmodic: Works on spasms or cramps

Antiviral: A substance that destroys or stunts the growth of viral micro-organisms

Aromatic: Having a strong (and often pleasant) oil based aroma

Astringent: Contracts organic tissue, reducing secretions

Bacteriacide: Agent that destroy bacteria

Betacarotene: One of a group of red, orange and yellow pigments, called carotenoids

Carminative: Helps to expel gas from the intestines

Carotenoids: Red and yellow pigments found in many plants that are antioxidant and neutralise free radicals

Chlorophyll: A green pigment, the critical agent in plant photosynthesis.

Complementary / alternative: ‘Accepted’ alternatives and non-accepted alternative treatments (by orthodox Western medicine)

Contra-indication: a condition or factor that serves as a reason to withhold a certain medical treatment

Coumarins: A group of plant-derived polyphenolic compounds

Curbicin: A fruit extract used as a natural remedy for benign prostate hyperplasia

Detoxifying: The process of removing toxins from the body

Diaphoretic: Promoting perspiration

Diuretic: Increasing secretion and expulsion of urine

Dramamine: A pharmacuetical drug for travel sickness

Enzyme: Proteins that help to improve biological processes

Ethylene: A colourless, flammable gas found in bananas, often used in agriculture to force-ripen fruit

Flavonoid: Natural healing compound in fresh fruit and vegetables

Folate: Compound or mixture of compounds derived from Folic acid

Free radicals: Highly reactive unstable atoms or molecules produced by the body as part of its immune system defense

Gaia Hypothesis: Theory by James Lovelock which sees the earth as a living system

Glucosinolates: Bitter, sulphur containing glycoside found especially in cruciferous vegetables

Glutathione: An anti-oxidant that helps the brain and liver and takes out free-radicals. Also used for skin whitening.

Glyconutrient: Soluble fibre in essential plant sugars

Glycoprotein: A key molecule in immune response that consists of a carbohydrate plus a protein

Glycoside: A molecule in which a sugar is usually bound to a small organic molecule

Histamine: A chemical found in most body tissues that forms part of their defense mechanisms

Homeostasis: The property of a system that regulates its internal environment

Hypnotic: A class of psychoactive whose primary function is to induce sleep

Hypotensive: Causing a reduction in blood pressure

Iron: Needed for haemaglobin production to carry oxygen round the body

Kirlian photography: Photographs allegedly showing the human aura or energy body

Laxative: Promoting evacuation of the bowels

Lipids: A group of naturally occurring molecules whose functions in the body include storing energy, signalling and acting as structural components of cell membranes

Lycopene: A red carotenoid pigment

Meridian system: The energy body interface as described in Chinese medicine

Mutagens: Substances that cause genetic mutation

Mycorrhizal: Fungus based life form

Neutraceutical: A combination of the words ‘nutrition’ and ‘pharmaceutical’

Organochlorines: Synthetic organic chlorines that accumulate in body tissue

Palliative: Relieving pain or alleviating a problem without dealing with the cause

Parabens: A synthetic additive in cosmetic creams and sprays

Pathogen: A micro-organism that causes disease in its host

Pectin: A soluble gelatinous substance in ripe fruits used for setting jams and jellies

PH: A measurement scale of acidity and alkalinity

Pharmacopoeia: A stock of natural medicinal drugs

Phenols: Compounds linked to benzene

Photosensitiser: A substance that sensitises an organism, cell or tissue to light

Phytochemical: Compound in plants that may effect human health

Phytonutrient: Nutrients derived from plants that have been shown to be necessary for sustaining human health

Polyphenol: A plant derived chemical that may protect against health problems and delay aging effects

Polysaccharide: Any of a class of carbohydrates formed by repeating units linked together

Potassium: Alkali-metal chemical element vital for brain and muscles

Proanthocyanidins: A larger, more complex class of polyphenols

Probiotics: Live micro-organisms that may confer a health benefit on the host

Psychoactive: A chemical substance that acts primarily on the central nervous system

Psychotropic: A chemical affecting mental activity, behaviour, emotion or perception

Quantum: Relating to a philosophy based in an energy dimension

Quercitin: A flavonoid found in vegetables, fruits, leaves and grains

Reductionism: Describing complex phenomena in terms of its fundamental constituents

Saponin: A glycoside with a distinctive foaming characteristic

Sedative: Producing calm or inducing sleep

Selenium: A chemical element with semi-conducting properties

Serotonin: A blood compound that constricts the vessels and acts as a neurotransmitter

Stimulant: Increases physiological or nervous activity in the body

Styptic: Causing bleeding to stop

Thiamine: Vitamin B1, found in unrefined cereals, beans and liver

Tonic: An agent that strengthens and invigorates organs or the entire organism

Vaccine: Substance that is given to stimulate the body’s immunity system

Vasodilatory: Dilation of blood vessels causing falling blood pressure

Vermifuge: Causing the expulsion of intestinal worms