What Is It?
Ancient Greeks reportedly relied on horehound (Marrabium vulgare) to treat mad-dog bite, which explains the “hound” in this plant’s name. But over time, it has been this herb’s power to control a cough that has made it so popular. Soothing teas, lozenges, and syrups concocted from its wooly leaves and white flowering tops make a cough more productive by stimulating phlegm (mucus) output in the airways. Colds, bronchitis, and other minor respiratory problems often respond to horehound treatment as well.
Many people like the somewhat bitter, applelike flavor of horehound, a member of the mint family. Horehound is native to Europe but now grows in many parts of the world including North America.
Horehound may dangerously increase the blood sugar-lowering effects of drugs designed to lower blood glucose, such as insulin and oral antidiabetic agents. Avoid combining horehound with these medicines.
There are no other known drug or nutrient interactions associated with horehound.
Horehound has been safely used for centuries. But avoid taking more that commonly recommended. One of the herb active ingredients, a volatile oil called marrubiin, could potentially cause heart irregularities in large doses.
Limited research in animals indicates that substances in horehound stimulate the uterus. To be safe, pregnant women should avoid the herb.
Acute: Drink 2 or 3 cups tea a day. Or add 1/2-1 tsp. liquid extract to a 1 cup (8 ounces) of hot water.
Chronic: Use doses above during acute flare-ups; otherwise as desired.
Cough Add 1 tsp. liquid extract to 1 cup (8 oz.) hot water 3 times a day. Alternatively, drink 1 cup horehound tea (or a horehound-containing herbal cough tea) up to 3 times a day.
David Edelberg, MD