White horehound

Marrubium vulgare

Description

Marrubium vulgare is also known as white horehound or common horehound. This low-growing perennial with fuzzy, deeply veined leaves and rounded heads of small whitish flowers originated in southern Europe and Asia. Now, however, it’s found throughout the world – as a common roadside plant. One of the top-selling medicinal herbs in the USA, marrubium is used mainly in natural cough drops and lozenges to relieve congestion and dry coughs (such as in cases of acute or chronic bronchitis). It’s less commonly used for digestive complaints. This bitter herb is related to the mint family..

Parts used

The fresh or dried above-ground parts

Constituents

The main compound of interest is marrubiin, a substance that gives the plant its bitter  taste. Marrubiin appears to stimulate secretion of the bronchial mucosa, so it is considered to be an expectorant. Other constituents include volatile oils (camphene, limonene and others), flavonoids, tannins and phenolic acids.

Medicinal uses

Modern practitioners recommend wild cherry to:

  • White horehound is used in cough preparations as it eases dry coughs.
  • As a bitter tonic, horehound is also used to treat digestive disorders such as indigestion, dyspepsia, flatulence and lack of appetite.
  • Traditionally, horehound was used to ease menstrual disorders and inflammations of the skin and mucous membranes.
  • The essential oils in horehound help dilate the arteries, increasing circulation to the lungs.
  • Horehound’s extreme bitterness may help liver function.

CAUTION

Talk to your medical practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.
No side-effects have been recorded with prescribed dosages. High doses of white horehound may affect heart function. As high doses may also stimulate uterine contractions, pregnant women are advised not to take products containing marrubium. Always consult your healthcare practitioner before taking marrhubium or any other herbal preparations for health.

Domestic & culinary uses

White horehound’s most common use as a food is to make a brew that resembles root beer.

Cultivation

White horehound is a hardy perennial. Plant in the garden or a container in full sun. Do not over water. Attracts bees. Infusing a leaf in milk is reputed to be effective as a fly spray.

References

  1. Popoola, Olugbenga & Elbagory, Abdulrahman & Ameer, Farouk & Hussein, Ahmed. (2013). Marrubiin. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). 18. 9049-60. 10.3390/molecules18089049. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/253647926
  2. White horehound. European Medicines Agency. 2013. https://www.ema.europa.eu/docs/en_GB/document_library/Herbal_-_Summary_of_assessment_report_for_the_public/2014/10/WC500175205.pdf

Photo credits

  1. By Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen (List of Koehler Images) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Information in our herb library is intended only as a general reference for further exploration. It is not a replacement for professional health advice and does not provide complete dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription medicines. Accordingly, this information should only be used under the direct supervision of a suitably qualified health practitioner such as a registered homeopath, naturopath or phytotherapist.