Horehound (Marrubium vulgare)

Horehound is a spreading, self-seeding, aromatic perennial herb that needs little water and tolerates poor soils. It prefers full sun, but will also grow in partial shade. A member of the Lamiaceae, or mint family, it has square stems, small white flowers that grow in a pincushion-shaped whorl from the junction of the stem and leaf, and opposite rounded textured leaves that are deeply veined. It grows and spreads quickly, easily crowding out other herbs, making it an ideal candidate for containers and windowsill planters. It’s so prolific, in fact, that it has been declared an invasive, noxious weed in the native grasslands and prairies of Australia. Even though horehound does not bloom until it’s second year, the leaves can still be harvested from first year plants during the summer. It is also a natural grasshopper repellent for your garden, making it a useful companion crop for your annual vegetables.

Medicinal Uses
Horehound, sometimes known as white horehound, is a strong drying expectorant, anti-spasmodic, diuretic, vulnerary, bitter digestive, and antiseptic. It is considered a tonic to both the lungs and the liver. It’s primary chemical constituent, marrubiin, has been shown to have phlegm loosening properties, aiding non-productive coughs. This makes it a good addition to cough syrups, lozenges, and teas, relaxing the muscles and aids asthma and bronchitis. It is often taken with a honey to make the earthy, bitter taste more palatable. For lung conditions, it combines well as an infusion or tincture with lobelia, coltsfoot, and mullein. Horehound also helps with indigestion, bloating, and to expel intestinal worms. It is also a mild nervine tonic; a hot infusion can help calm a racing heart. Externally, horehound infusions are useful for healing and soothing eczema, skin lesions, and shingles.

Folk Uses
Horehound traditionally has been made into liqueurs, tonics, and ales. The rough leaves were used for scrubbing, and the small white flowers were floated in oil to serve as candle wicks. A decoction of the roots was also used by the Navajo as a healing herb for before and after childbirth. It is considered a cooling herb in Traditional Chinese medicine.

1-2 teaspoons of syrup, as needed throughout the day, made by boiling the plant down, adding sugar, then boiling down again, or 2-3 teaspoons of the dried her per cup of water, drunk three times daily. It combines well with raw honey, marshmallow, licorice, and hyssop. As a tincture, 1-2 ml three times daily.

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