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What is MeSH?


MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) is the NLM controlled vocabulary used for indexing articles in PubMed. Think of it like a thesaurus for PubMed that indexers use to help organize all the content in the database. As a searcher, it's helpful to figure out the preferred MeSH terms to find the best results for your search. The MeSH database can help you:

  • Locate and select MeSH terms, (Headings, Subheadings, & Publication Types); Supplementary Concept terms (Substance Names) and Pharmacological Action terms for PubMed searching.
  • Understand the definition of and learn other helpful information for a MeSH term.
  • Display MeSH terms in the language hierarchy and discover what terms are included when a term is selected.

To search the MeSH database

Enter a term in MeSH:

MeSH Entry


MeSH term entry with definition and subheadings:

MeSH Results


You can access the MeSH database here.

Want to learn more about MeSH? Check out NLM's Introduction to MeSH tutorial