Apothecary Glossary


Abstracts - concentrated powders from an alcoholic solution of a drug

Alkalies - used to neutralize acids

Alteratives - used to change and correct a morbid condition of the organs and increase metabolism

Analgesics - used to relieve pain

Anaphrodisiacs - used to diminish sexual drive

Anhidrotics - an agent that suppresses perspiration

Anodynes - see Analgesics

Antagonists - muscles that oppose each other in their physiologic action

Antakalines - increase acidity in stomach or urine

Anthelmintics - used to destroy or expel worms

Anthilithics - used to reduce the tendency to form urinary calculi

Antiperiodics - used to prevent the periodic return of fever

Antipyretics - used to reduce and control temperature in fever

Antizymotics - arrest fermentation

Aperients - laxatives; promote intestinal evacuation

Aphrodisiacs - used to enhance sexual drive

Aromatics - used to stimulate or aide in removal of flatus from stomach and intestine


Balm - any soothing medicinal pallative

Balsams - resinous substances containing benzoic or cinnamic acids or esters


Cachets - thin rice flour wafers prepared for the administration of powders

Carminative - see Aromatics

Cataplasm - see Poultices

Catholicon - a universal remedy or panacea

Caustics - used to destroy tissues to which they are applied

Cerates - dressings with a lard or petroleum base for desired consistency

Cholagogues - used to increase bile secretion

Clyster - an enema; the injection of a liquid into the rectum for cleansing, bowel evacuation, or nourishment

Collyrium -  eye lotion

Confections - sugary solids prepared by incorporating a medicine with finely powdered sugar

Conserves - see Confections

Cordials - related to elixirs but with higher alcoholic content and flavored for use

Counter-Irritants - used provoke irritation and inflammation to the parts to which they are applied


Decoctions - liquid preparations made by boiling plant materials with water

Deliriants - used to produce delirium

Demulcents - used to protect mucous membranes from irritation

Desicants - used to reduce secretions and discharges from wounds and ulcers

Diaphoretics - used to produce sweating

Diuretics - used to promote production of urine


Ecbolics - used to promote contraction of the gravid uterus

Electuaries - another name for confections

Elixirs - sweetened aromatic alcoholic preparations used as adjuvant flavors

Embrocation - another name for liniment

Emenagogues - used to restore and maintain healthy menses

Emetics - used to provoke emesis, or vomiting

Emollients - used to protect sensitive skin surfaces to allay irritations

Emulsions - aqueous liquids with suspended oil by means of gum, egg yolk, or other viscus

Essences - alcoholic solution of volatile oils

Essential Oils - same as volatile oils

Expectorants - used to promote secretion of bronchial mucous


Febrifuges - used to resolve fever, same as antipyretic

Fluid Extracts - aqueous and alcoholic preparations of uniform and defined strength via percolation


Galactagogues - used t increase breast lactation

Glycerins - British name for glycerites

Glycerites  -  mixture of medicinal substance with glycerine

Gum Resins - natural exudatations from plants such as myrrh and asafetida


Hematinics - tonics that improve the quality of the blood


Infusions - liquid preparations made by treating plant materials with either hot or cold water

Irritants - when applied to the skin produce a degree of vascular excitement




Lictuses - confections imbibed by sipping or slow swallowing to coat the throat

Liniments - solutions intended for external application by rubbing of the skin

Lochochs - same as lictuses

Lotions - aqueous preparations containing insoluble suspended matter for external use

Lozenges - medication suitable for dissolving in the mouth to treat the throat and bronchi


Magmas - related to mixtures containing suspended insoluble's requiring agitation before use

Masses - preliminary preparation of materials for making pills - “pill mass.”

Milk - same as magma

Mixture - aqueous preparation containing suspended insolubles and intended for internal use


Nervine - acts upon the nervous system


Ointments - fatty preparations, softer than cerates, for application to the skin by rubbing

Oleates - mainly liquid preparations of dissolved alkaloids in oleic acid and intended for topical use

Oleoresins - mixtures of volatile oils and resin, generally obtained by incising the bark


Pastes - ointment-like mixture of starch, dextrin, or zinc oxide with petrolatum and an antiseptic or astringent

Pectorals - used t relieve diseases of the chest

Petroxolins - suspension of a medicinal with ammonia soap and petrolatum for external use

Physic - medicine

Plasters - cloths impregnated with medicinal agents that are applied and adhere to the skin

Poultices - soft mixture of medicinal powders with oily or watery fluids and applied hot to the skin to exert an emollient, relaxing or counter-irritant

Purgatives - used t hasten intestinal evacuations

Pustulants - a counter-irritant that produces pustules



Refrigerants - used to allay thirst and cool the skin

Restorative - restores health and vigor

Rubefacient - counter-irritant that produces redness and warmth


Soporific - induces sleep, a hypnotic

Species - single herb or mixture of same intended for the making of medicinal teas

Spirits - alcoholic solutions of essences (volatile substances)

Stomachics - used to increase appetite and promote gastric digestion

Sudorifics - powerful diaphoretics

Syrups - concentrated solution of sugar in water with medicinal agent


Tinctures - liquid preparation derived from percolation with alcohol of a non-volatile substance

Troche - British name for lozenge



Vermicide - when anthelmintics destroys worms it is called a vermicide

Vermifuge - when anthelmintics expell worms it is called a vermifuge

Vesicant - when a counter-irritant raises a vesicle or blister

Volatile Oils - also called ‘essential oils’, derived from the odorous principles of that plant


Wafers - the rice flour discs used to make ‘cachets’.