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Horehound (Marrubium vulgaris)


Horehound is herb that has been used traditionally in Northern Africa, Asia and Europe as antitussive and as expectorant. They are Angiosperms which belong to the family Lamiaceae. The plant is perennial with grey like leaves. Which are downy haired. Horehound grows to a maximum of 50 cm in height and is identified with a crinkled appearance.

The plant flowers between July and September producing white flowers which are borne on the upper part of the main stem. The flowers are attached on the upper part of the main stem in the end producing shiny and small seeds which have barbs to aid in dispersal by animals.

Medicinal Uses

Horehound is and ingredients of many modern lozenge candies that are consumed like the normal sweets and candies. The difference being that horehound has medicinal benefits as considered by folk medicine to aid in relief of inflammation, soothe sore throats and aid in digestion. The other uses of horehound are as gastric tonic, mild laxative, an expectorant and as an antitussive herb.

Traditionally, horehound has been used as a relief from common cold and remedy of its associated symptoms including cough, upper respiratory tract problems and as a cough suppressant. In light of this, horehound has been used as a medicinal relief from sore throat, respiratory infections, cough and chest complaints, sinus, nasal, chest, asthma, acute and chronic bronchitis congestions. Uterine disorders, gallbladder, bowel, diabetes, cardiac arrhythmia and other complications of the stomach can be relieved using horehound.

Most of the uses of horehound are when its extracts are ingested. Externally, juice extracts or industrially processed creams can be applied on skin ailments, sores, wounds and rashes to cleanse the wound and initiate healing process. Constant use of horehound as an additive to bathing water will rid the skin of temporary and persistent skin problems.

Dosage and Administration

The dosage for horehound extracts varies with the type and the manner in which it will be used. For oral usage, the leaves can be used fresh or dried. Half a cup of fresh or 2 tablespoonfuls of ground and dried horehound is steeped in water and half a cup is consumed in a day.

However, the most common way of using horehound in the modern times is as an additive to toiletries or creams that are used on the skin. The common products that have horehound extracts include healing creams, aftershave balms, day and night creams, hand and body lotions, stretch mark gels, herbal cellulite gels, eye gels, herbal muscle and joint balm, herbal mud face mask, herbal face bars, apple cider vinegar with horehound, and vuka nkuzi, the male herbal sexual supplement.

The dosage indications on most of the containers sold from chemists typically reads like this:

An infusion of 1 to 2 teaspoonfuls per cup of water or a combination of dry liquid extract and fresh horehound in the ratio of one to one or 10 to 30 drops used 1 to 4 times per day after dilution in a little water.

Parts Used

The whole parts of the plant are usable especially the leaves and the shoots.


The benefits obtained from horehound are mainly medicinal because of the following chemical substances found in horehound: resin, tannins, mucilage, marrubium-bitter principle, fat, sugar, wax and volatile oils. However, there are other non medicinal uses of horehound like consumption. Horehound can be cooked with other vegetables or eaten raw as part of a salad. When used in salads, only a small amount should be placed because of the bitter taste. The aroma is superb though especially for soups. Other non-human uses are like in agriculture. Sprays and insecticides made from horehound are used as a natural mosquito repellant.

Side Effects

The use of horehound can lead to reactions with other complimentary medicines and it would be advisable to contact herbalist before consuming horehound extracts further. The use of horehound is not recommended for women when they are pregnant as the chemical components may interfere with the natural development of a child. In addition, a lactating mother should not use horehound. There are cases of dermatitis that have been reported and it is always safe to consult a doctor or herbalist.


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