Horehound or Marrubium vulgare is native to Europe and is a member of the mint family. It is a hardy plant and flourishes best in poor soil, so can often be found by roadsides, as well as in dry wastelands, fields and pastures. It can be propagated from seed sown in spring, cuttings or root division, but it doesn’t blossom until it is two years old. The whole plant should be collected when in flower and dried in the shade.
Unfortunately, horehound is declared a noxious weed in most states of Australia, as it can be a real problem for wool growers – the seeds find their way into sheep’s fleece and are very difficult to remove. Fortunately, importation and the use of the dried herb are permitted.
Horehound has been used by herbalists for centuries to promote healing, internally and externally, and as a pectoral medicine. English herbalist Nicholas Culpeper says: “It helpeth to evacuate tough phlegm and cold rheum from the lungs of aged persons, especially those who are asthmatic and short-winded.”
Useful for coughs, colds, asthma, bronchitis, hoarseness and pulmonary diseases, Horehound is also beneficial in the treatment of whooping cough, and may be sweetened with honey to improve the flavour, as it can be very bitter.
As an herbal tea, Horehound promotes sweating and therefore helps to reduce fever. The bitter action of the herb stimulates the flow and secretion of bile from the gallbladder, thereby also aiding digestion. Taken in large doses, horehound acts as a laxative, plus it may also be used externally to treat a range of skin conditions.
Horehound is mixed with less bitter herbs in the following recipe:
- 50 g Horehound
- 50 g Plantain
- 50 g Thyme
Directions: Place the above herbs in an airtight container, mix and shake well, and store the mixture in a dark place. Infuse one heaped tsp of herbs with one cup of boiling water for approximately three to five minutes and strain. Drink 3-4 cups throughout the day.