We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Does "Officinal" Mean?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Officinal is a term meaning that a plant or herb has recognized medical uses, and may be obtained through a pharmacist or druggist. Historically, an officinal was any preparation a pharmacist was likely to keep in stock and sell over the counter. The meaning of the term has shifted slightly today. Many pharmacies do not stock herbal preparations, and the availability of various plant and herb products can vary depending on the region and the type of pharmacy. It is important to avoid confusing this word with “official.”

This term has its origins in the Latin for “workshop,” referring to the fact that pharmacists once kept workshops on site to process and compound various products. A plant with officinal properties is one with pharmaceutical uses, although these uses may not be universally recognized. Some medicinal herbs and plants have been subject to extensive testing and see widespread use, while others are only seen in alternative medicine.

An officinal can help with the treatment, management, or cure of disease, ranging from poppies with opioid properties to manage pain, to St. John's wort for depression. Historically, listings of common plants and preparations stocked by most pharmacies were sometimes known as officinals. This word can also be seen in botanical nomenclature, where the suffix officinalis appears in the specific epithets of plants and other organisms known to have therapeutic properties. It is possible for more than one member of a genus to be used medically, in which case the most well known or useful typically carries this suffix

Fungi, herbs, and other naturally occurring organisms can all contain pharmaceutically useful compounds. In some cases, processing is necessary to purify and extract the compound while in others, it is possible to consume the product directly for the benefits. Patients can chew ginseng root for nausea, for example, or may add ginger to teas to settle the stomach. Herbalists and other medical practitioners who work with natural pharmaceuticals may actively compound them, or just write prescriptions for the patients.

Officinal plants and other organisms are sometimes cultivated for quality control in pharmaceutical production, as well for as further study. Synthetic versions of natural compounds are often preferred for safety and reliability; it is much easier to dose patients with synthetics, for example, because it is easy to measure the dosage. It may be necessary to cultivate an organism to learn more about its properties for the purpose of developing a synthetic version. Experimental facilities may also work on breeding more potent varieties or studying the impacts of different cultivation techniques and environments on potency.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.