Wednesday, July 3, 2013


HOREHOUND-Marrubium Vulgare

Also known as white horehound and marrubium.

Parts used:  flowers and leaves

Meridians/Organs affected:  respiratory, adrenals, digestive

Properties:  expectorant, tonic, stomachic, resolvent, hepatic, diaphoretic, emmenogogue, bitter, mildly diuretic, stimulant, pectoral, anthelmintic, aromatic, cathartic (in large doses) and culinary.

This plant is one of the most used for respiratory issues.  Native to England and a member of the mint family, horehound has found its way all over the globe.  Not surprising given its medicinal history.

Horehound is a perennial with opposite leaves that are coarsely textured with toothed margins.  The flowers are densely clustered at each leaf axil and are small and white.  It blooms from March to July depending on the climate in which it grows.  It gets up to 18 inches in height and does best in full sun and poor soil (kind of like yarrow in that regard).  After it gets established, very little effort is needed to keep it going.

Horehound enjoys the distinction of having crossed the globe several times over, touching so many cultures it dates back to the earliest of times.  It has been used quite alot as a culinary agent although today it is mostly used in candy and as an ingredient in many cough syrups.

Once upon a time horehound was served as a drink in Norfolk, England.  (I can just imagine someone sidling up to a bar and saying..."give me some horehound barkeep").  Ancient cultures believed that if you added it to milk that it would kill all the insects near it with one fell swoop.  (Where do they come up with this stuff?)  In the late 1700's and the early 1800's it was featured in various catalogues as a 'snuff-like' material.  The Egyptians called it many things...'the seed of Horus', 'bull's blood' and 'eye of the star' being just a few.  They would use it as an antidote to many poisons and to cure respiratory diseases.  The Greeks used it to counter rabid dog bites (something it shares in common with another herb known as Hound's Tongue) and as an antispasmodic.  Some references believe it was named after a small ancient town in Italy known as Maria Urbs.  Others say that its true name came from the Hebrew (marrob), which is a bitter juice consumed during the Feast of the Passover.
Gerard and Culpeper both recommended this herb for coughing, wheezing and mucus buildup in the respiratory system.

In different cultures, horehound has been used as an insect repellant, a worm killer, as a cure for snakebites, as an ointment for itches, rashes and wounds, and as a wash for the eyes.  Culpeper said of this valuable herb, "..purges away yellow jaundice, it openeth obstructions of both the liver and spleen and used outwardly, it cleanses, abates the swollen part and pains that come by pricking thornes..."  He also recommended it to increase menstrual flow and to assist in the expellation of afterbirth during childbirth.  It can also be used as a laxative in larger amounts.  Horehound has been used topically for eczema, shingles, herpes simplex, and other skin eruptions.  In more recent times it has been used for bloating, asthma, chest colds, sore throat, bronchitis and most any other respiratory ailment.

If you are trying to attract bees to your garden, this is a plant to keep around as bees love it.  They are drawn to the nectar of these plants and the honey that comes from it is very pleasant and full of flavor. 

CAUTION:  This is not something that should be used by pregnant women as it can stimulate blood flow.  Only to be used after the birthing process is over.

As with all of my posts please find below some links regarding Horehound.  Enjoy!  :)

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