Other Common Names:
||Marrubium vulgare L.
The other common names for the herb horehound are White Horehound, hoarhound and marrubium.
The name horehound is derived from "Horus", the Egyptian god of sky and light. The Egyptian Priests called this plant the 'Seed of Horus,' or the 'Bull's Blood,' and the 'Eye of the Star. The Romans esteemed Horehound for its medicinal properties, and its Latin name of Marrubium is said to be derived from Maria urbs, an ancient town of Italy. Other authors derive its name from the Hebrew marrob (a bitter juice), and state that it was one of the bitter herbs which the Jews were ordered to take for the Feast of Passover. Horehound is a perennial herbaceous plant, a non-aromatic member of the mint family.
Horehound was introduced to southern Australia in the 19th century as a medicinal herb. It became a weed of native grasslands and pastures where it was introduced with settlers' livestock, and was first declared under noxious weeds legislation. It now appears to have reached its full potential distribution. It occupies disturbed or overgrazed ground, and is favoured by grazing because it is highly unpalatable to livestock. It may persist in native vegetation that has been grazed.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned horehound from cough drops in 1989 due to insufficient evidence supporting its efficacy. However, horehound is currently widely used in Europe, and it can be found in European-made herbal cough remedies sold in the United States.
Horehound is an aromatic, woody perennial herb with downy stems and oval gray-green leaves which have toothed edges and small white hairy flowers which appear in summer. The horehound is characterized by the possession of a very tough and fiber rich rootstock that sends up many bushy, quadrangular branching stems whose height is a foot and more. The horehound has distinct shaped leaves, which tend to be wrinkled, have a rough texture on the top and are wooly textured on the underside of the lamina with a silvery appearance from which the name horehound is derived.
The leaves have a curious musky smell. The leaves are set in pairs at each node or joint of the stem. Branching occurs from the axils of the lower leaves but as the stem elongates, flower clusters appear in the upper leaf axils. The clusters of whorls are densely packed, forming balls of flowers that surround the stem at each node where each flower is enclosed by a calyx of joined sepals that has ten narrow teeth, each ending in a hook.
The flower itself is white, about 12 mm long, tubular at the base and ending in two unequal lips. Each fertile flower produces four seeds.
Horehound is a plant that belongs to the mint family. Originally native to Europe indigenous to Britain, Central and Western Asia and North Africa and now it has become naturalised in many parts of the world including temperate Australia.
The horehound is a perennial herb that is often seen growing in open meadows and pastures, as well as in waste places, along railroad tracks and on roadsides in many parts of the coastal areas.
White Horehound is a hardy plant, easily grown, and flourishes best in a dry, poor soil. It can be propagated from seeds sown in spring, cuttings, or by dividing the roots. It generally requires a habitat of well drained soil without water logging. Ideal growth can be observed in dry soil poor in nutrients. There are also scientific studies that state that soils rich in nitrogen may be ideal for growing the horehound. For optimum growth, the horehound prefers soils that are neutral or slightly alkaline. The site must also be warm with a good exposure to sunlight.
The horehound is usually propagated using stocked seeds which are sown in seedbeds on a cold frame during the spring, April or in May and at times in the fall, August or September. When the seedlings emerge from the soil and turn large enough to handle, each seedling must be pricked out into single pots which are then to be plant out in the spring of the following year. The cuttings from the base of the plant are carried out late in the spring for which the shoots must be harvested along with plenty of attached underground stem - this must be done when the plants are eight to ten cm above the soil bed. The cuttings may be potted up singly and then kept in light shade on a cold frame or grown inside a greenhouse - till they begin to root well in the soil. The horehound seedlings emerging from cutting can be planted out doors in the summer of the following year. The division must be done in the spring. When dividing, the large clumps may be transplanted direct into the permanent site, as for the smaller clumps, it may be best to grow them on a cold frame till they start to root well in the soil. These plantlets can then be transplanted out to the permanent site in the spring of the following year.
Though the whole plant is of both medicinal and commercial use, generally the dried leaves and the flowering top are of most use. If your herbs fall prey to insects or diseases there are several acceptable controls available.
The flowers of the herb horehound are generally in bloom in the months of midsummer.
Pests and Diseases
The main detrimental effect of horehound in pastures is the contamination of sheep and goat fleeces by its dry fruits. The hooked calyx on the fruit is adapted for attachment to fleeces, leading to significant losses in their value due to matting. For minor infestations of pests like aphids and mytes a forceful spray of water is just enough. When infestations are limited to only one plant or stem, prune away the affected areas.
• The plant's bitter principle, with its expectorant properties, is responsible in part for the major medicinal use of white horehound for respiratory disorders.
• The volatile oil in the plant has the same expectorant property, as well as dilating the arteries.
• For centuries white horehound has been traditionally a reliable liver and digestive remedy.
• The plant has also been used to reduce fevers and treat malaria.
• It is also recommended it as an antidote for poisons and for dog and serpent bytes.
• The powdered leaves have also been employed as a vermifuge and the green leaves, bruised and boiled in lard, are made into an ointment which is good for wounds.
• The syrup of horehound is excellent for cold rheums in the lungs of old people, and for those who are asthmatical or short-winded.
• Taken with the roots, it helps to expectorate tough phlegm from the chest.
• It is given to women to bring down their courses, to expel the afterbirth and also to people who have taken poison.
• The juice, with wine and honey, helps to clear the eyesight and, snuffed up the nostrils; it purges away the yellow jaundice.
• The bitter action stimulates the flow and secretion of bile from the gall-bladder, aiding digestion.
• Horehound is used externally to promote the healing of wounds.
• It favours as a hypoglycemic agent for diabetes mellitus and as a non-opioid pain reliever.
• It is used for treatment of heartburn, poor appetite and intestinal disorders.
• It is very bitter with antiseptic and expectorant properties, which also relieves spasms, increases perspiration, stimulates bile flow and has a calming effect on the heart.
• Horehound is a serviceable remedy against Cankerworm in trees, and it is stated that if it be put into new milk and set in a place pestered with flies, it will speedily kill them all.
• The plant is easily grown and has been long been cultivated in the corners of country gardens for the making of tea and candy for use in coughs and colds.
• The leaves are used in the manufacture of horehound teas and wines.