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The crinkled leaves of Horehound can be used for tea or to season cakes, sauces and meat stew. Bitter and pungent, they are sometimes used to flavour herb beer or liqueurs. Horehound ale is a fairly well known drink made from the leaves. Most frequently they are made into old-fashioned candy.
An essential oil is obtained from the plant and used as a flavouring in liqueurs.
The plant has been used as a cure for cankerworm in trees. The growing plant repels flies.
The leaves are used in tonics, liquers, and ales, and are made into expectorant and antiseptic cough drops. An infusion relaxes muscles and helps expel mucus, treating bronchitis, croup, and asthma. Contains the chemical Marrubiin which studies show has phlegm-loosening(expectorant) properties. It destroys intestinal worms and acts as a digestive and liver tonic and a laxative. The tea is used internally and externally for eczema and shingles. Its sedative action works in small amounts to control rapid heartbeats. A hot infusion helps to break fevers and treats malaria when quinine is ineffective. It helps heal skin lesions. The Navajo tribe gave mothers a root decoction before and after childbirth. Horehound's woolly leaves were once used to clean milk pails, and the dried flower remains floated on oil as candle wicks.
Used as an infusion, decoction, extract, syrup and tincture. The Commission E approved horehound herb for loss of appetite and dyspepsia, such as bloating and flatulence. The British Herbal Compendium indicates its use for acute bronchitis, non-productive coughs and catarrh of the respiratory tract as well as for lack of appetite and dyspepsia, as does the French Direction de la Pharmacie et du Midicament. It is a common expectorant component of European made herbal cough remedies (e.g., Ricola. lozenges) that are sold in the United States. It was formerly official in the United States Pharmacopeia. Grieve: Preparations of Horehound are still largely used as expectorants and tonics. It may, indeed, be considered one of the most popular pectoral remedies, being given with benefit for chronic cough, asthma, and some cases of consumption. For children's coughs and croup, it is given to advantage in the form of syrup, and is a most useful medicine for children, not only for the complaints mentioned, but as a tonic and a corrective of the stomach. It has quite a pleasant taste.
Dioscorides says: "The leaves beaten with salt and applied the wound, cure the bite of mad dogs".
The Romans esteemed Horehound for its medicinal properties, and its Latin name of Marrubium is said to be derived from Maria urbs, an ancient town of Italy. Other authors derive its name from the Hebrew marrob (a bitter juice), and state that it was one of the bitter herbs which the Jews were ordered to take for the Feast of Passover.
The Egyptian Priests called this plant the 'Seed of Horus,' or the 'Bull's Blood,' and the 'Eye of the Star.' It was a principal ingredient in the negro Caesar's antidote for vegetable poisons.
Gerard recommends it, in addition to its uses in coughs and colds, to 'those that have drunk poyson or have been bitten of serpents,' and it was also administered for 'mad dogge's biting.'
White horehound is a well-known and popular herbal medicine that is often used as a domestic remedy for coughs, colds, wheeziness etc. The herb apparently causes the secretion of a more fluid mucous, readily cleared by coughing.
The leaves and young flowering stems are antiseptic, antispasmodic, cholagogue, diaphoretic, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, strongly expectorant, hepatic, stimulant and tonic.
Horehound is a very valuable pectoral, expectorant and tonic that can be safely used by children as well as adults. It is often made into a syrup or candy in order to disguise its very bitter flavor, though it can also be taken as a tea. As a bitter tonic, it increases the appetite and supports the function of the stomach. It can also act to normalize heart rhythm.
Horehound is sometimes combined with Hyssop, Rue, Liquorice root and Marshmallow root, 1/2 oz. of each boiled in 2 pints of water, to 1 1/2 pint, strained and given in 1/2 tea-cupful doses, every two to three hours.