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Herbal Materia Medica: Horehound

David Hoffmann L. BSc (Hons), MNIMH ©



Marrubium vulgare


Name: White Horehound

Habitat: Found growing wild throughout Europe, cultivated in Britain.

Collection: White Horehound is gathered whilst the herb is blossoming between June and September. It is dried in the shade at a temperature not greater than 35 degrees C.

Part Used: Dried leaves and flowering tops.


  • Marrubiin, a diterpene lactone, with premarrubiin
  • Diterpene alcohols: marruciol, marrubenol, sclareol, peregrinin, dihydroperegrinin
  • Volatile oil, containing [[alpha]]-pinene, sabinene, limonene, camphene, p-cymol, [[alpha]]-terpinolene
  • Alkaloids; traces of betonicine and its isomer turicine
  • Miscellaneous; choline, alkanes, phytosterols, tanins etc.

Actions: Expectorant, anti-spasmodic, bitter, vulnerary, emmenagogue.

Indications: Horehound is a valuable plant in the treatment of bronchitis where there is a non-productive cough. It combines the action of relaxing the smooth muscles of the bronchus whilst promoting mucus production and thus expectoration. It is used with benefit in the treatment of whooping cough. The bitter action stimulates the flow and secretion of bile from the gall-bladder, aiding digestion. Horehound is used externally to promote the healing of wounds.

Priest & Priest: "gently diffusive tonic expectorant: relieves hyperaemia, congestion, decreases discharge where secretion is too free." They give the following indications: Colds, bronchitis, catarrh; asthma with moist expectoration, aphonia and dyspnoea . Catarrhal dyspepsia.

King's Dispensatory describes this valuable remedy in the following terms: "Horehound is a stimulant tonic, expectorant, and diuretic. Its stimulant action upon the laryngeal and bronchial mucous membranes is pronounced and it, undoubtedly, also influences the respiratory function. It is used in the form of syrup, in coughs, colds, chroniccatarrh, asthma and all pulmonary affections. The warm infusion will produce diaphoresis, and sometimes diuresis, and has been used with benefit in jaundice, asthma, hoarseness, amenorrhoea, and hysteria; the cold infusion is an excellent tonic in some forms of dyspepsia, acts as a vermifuge."

Combinations: Depending upon the specific indications it combines well with Coltsfoot, Lobelia, Elecampane, Wild Cherry Bark and Mullein

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