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Horehound

Horehound

Uses

Common names:
White Horehound
Botanical names:
Marrubium vulgare

Parts Used & Where Grown

Horehound is a perennial plant with small white flowers found growing in the wild throughout Europe and Asia. All parts of the plant are used medicinally.1

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
1 Star
Bronchitis
Refer to label instructions
Horehound is an expectorant herb, meaning it helps loosen bronchial secretions and eliminate mucus.

Expectorant herbs help loosen bronchial secretions and make elimination of mucus easier. Numerous herbs are traditionally considered expectorants, though most of these have not been proven to have this effect in clinical trials. Horehound has expectorant properties, possibly due to the presence of a diterpene lactone in the plant, which is known as marrubiin.3

1 Star
Cough
Refer to label instructions
Horehound has a long history of use for relieving coughs.

The mucilage of slippery elm gives it a soothing effect for coughs. Usnea also contains mucilage, which may be helpful in easing irritating coughs. There is a long tradition of using wild cherry syrups to treat coughs. Other traditional remedies to relieve coughs include bloodroot , catnip , comfrey (the above-ground parts, not the root), horehound , elecampane , mullein , lobelia , hyssop , licorice , mallow , (Malvia sylvestris), red clover , ivy leaf , pennyroyal  (Hedeoma pulegioides, Mentha pulegium), onion , (Allium cepa), and plantain (Plantago lanceolata, P. major). None of these has been investigated in human trials, so their true efficacy for relieving coughs is unknown.

1 Star
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
Refer to label instructions
Horehound’s major active constituent increases the flow of saliva and gastric juice.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.4 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine , wormwood , gentian, dandelion , blessed thistle , yarrow , devil’s claw , bitter orange, bitter melon , juniper , andrographis , prickly ash , and centaury .5. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

Horehound contains a number of constituents, including alkaloids, flavonoids , diterpenes (e.g., marrubiin), and trace amounts of volatile oils.6 The major active constituent marrubiin and possibly its precursor, premarrubiin, are herbal bitters that increase the flow of saliva and gastric juice, thereby stimulating the appetite.7 Similar to horehound, elecampane has been used by herbalists to treat people with indigestion.

Carminatives (also called aromatic digestive tonics or aromatic bitters) may be used to relieve symptoms of indigestion, particularly when there is excessive gas. It is believed that carminative agents work, at least in part, by relieving spasms in the intestinal tract.8

1 Star
Loss of Appetite
Refer to label instructions
Horehound contains a constituent that may increase the flow of saliva and gastric juice, to stimulate the appetite.
The major active constituent in horehound is marrubiin, which is thought to be responsible for the expectorant (promotion of coughing up of mucus) action of the herb. In addition, marrubiin contributes to the bitter taste of horehound, an action that increases the flow of saliva and gastric juice, thereby stimulating the appetite.9 These actions likely explain the long-standing use of horehound as a cough suppressant and expectorant as well as a bitter digestive tonic.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

Horehound was reportedly first used in ancient Rome by the physician Galen, who recommended it as a therapy for coughs and other respiratory ailments. Like Galen, Nicholas Culpeper, the 17th-century English pharmacist, commented that it was helpful for a cough and was also useful in helping remove stubborn phlegm from the lung. Similarly, American Eclectic physicians (doctors who recommended herbs) of the 19th century remarked on its value as a medicinal plant not only for coughs and asthma but also in menstrual complaints.2

How It Works

Common names:
White Horehound
Botanical names:
Marrubium vulgare

How It Works

Horehound contains a number of constituents, including alkaloids, flavonoids , diterpenes (e.g., marrubiin), and trace amount of volatile oils.10 The major active constituent in horehound is marrubiin, which is thought to be responsible for the expectorant (promotion of coughing up of mucus) action of the herb. In addition, marrubiin contributes to the bitter taste of horehound, an action that increases the flow of saliva and gastric juice, thereby stimulating the appetite.11 These actions likely explain the long-standing use of horehound as a cough suppressant and expectorant as well as a bitter digestive tonic.

How to Use It

For adults, the German Commission E monograph recommends approximately 3/4 teaspoon (4.5 grams) of horehound per day or 2–6 tablespoons (30–90 ml) of the pressed juice.12 Alternatively, horehound tea can be prepared from approximately 1/4–1/2 teaspoon (1–2 grams) of root boiled in about 7 ounces (200 ml) of water for ten minutes. Three cups (750 ml) of this tea can be drunk per day. Horehound is sometimes found in herbal lozenges that are used for coughs.

Interactions

Common names:
White Horehound
Botanical names:
Marrubium vulgare

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.

Interactions with Medicines

As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Common names:
White Horehound
Botanical names:
Marrubium vulgare

Side Effects

Since horehound acts as a bitter and may increase production of stomach acid, people with gastritis or peptic ulcer disease should use it cautiously. Horehound should not be used during pregnancy , as it may stimulate contractions.

References

1. Wren RC. Potter's New Cyclopedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations. Essex, England: C.W. Daniel Co., 1988, 146.

2. Castleman M. The Healing Herbs. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1991, 216-7.

3. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1996, 303.

4. Schulz V, Hänsel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy: A Physician's Guide to Herbal Medicine. 3rd ed, Berlin: Springer, 1998, 168-73.

5. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 425-6.

6. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1996, 303.

7. Bradley PR. British Herbal Compendium, vol 1. Great Britain: British Herbal Medicine Association, 1990, 218-9.

8. Forster HB, Niklas H, Lutz S. Antispasmodic effects of some medicinal plants. Planta Med 1980;40:303-19.

9. Bradley PR. British Herbal Compendium, vol 1. Great Britain: British Herbal Medicine Association, 1990, 218-9.

10. Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, 2d ed. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1996, 303.

11. Bradley PR. British Herbal Compendium, vol 1. Great Britain: British Herbal Medicine Association, 1990, 218-9.

12. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 127-8.

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