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Horehound - Marrubium vulgareWhite Horehound has long been noted for its efficacy in lung troubles and coughs.
The leaves and young shoots are harvested for medicinal preparations. The flavor of such preparations can perhaps best be described as an almost berry-flavored rootbeer. Horehound is used as a flavoring in stick candy, and candy "drops" (used as throat lozenges).
Horehound is used to make cough medicines for people whose upper respiratory symptoms are caused by acid reflux. The marubinic acid in the herb both stimulates the release of phlegm and stimulates the release of gastric acids so that digestion is complete more quickly and nighttime gastric reflux is minimized. This compound is also mildly analgesic, relieving pain caused by cough or indigestion.
The British herbalist Gerard says of this plant: Syrup made of the greene fresh leaves and sugar is a most singular remedie against the cough and wheezing of the lungs . . . and doth wonderfully and above credit ease such as have been long sicke of any consumption of the lungs, as hath beene often proved by the learned physitions of our London College.
Physician and herbalist Nicholas Culpeper adds: 'It helpeth to expectorate tough phlegm from the chest, being taken with the roots of Irris or Orris.... There is a syrup made of this plant which I would recommend as an excellent help to evacuate tough phlegm and cold rheum from the lungs of aged persons, especially those who are asthmatic and short winded.'
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 cough and croup, it is given to advantage in the form of syrup. It is also useful as a tonic and a corrective of the stomach.
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 teacupful doses, every two to three hours.
The plant is bushy, producing numerous annual, quadrangular and branching stems, a foot or more in height, on which the whitish flowers are borne in crowded, axillary, woolly whorls. The leaves are much wrinkled, opposite, petiolate, about 1 inch long, covered with white, felted hairs, which give them a woolly appearance. They have a curious, musky smell, which is diminished by drying and lost on keeping. Horehound flowers from June to September.
Like many other plants of the Lamiaceae family, it flourishes in waste places and by roadsides. It is also cultivated in cottage gardens for use in medicinal teas and candies. It is brewed and made into horehound ale.
Horehound isn't good unless it tastes bad (or at least bitter). The bitter taste activates a reflex action that helps normalize breathing and digestion, and the beneficial effects of the herb are not realized if it is combined with too much sugar or ot