Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae), Marrubium vulgare L.
Source: Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker. 1984.
Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific Literature
on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate
Zone. Archon Books, 770 pp., Hamden, CT.
Horehound, Marrubium vulgare L., is a spreading perennial
herb native to central and western Asia, southern Europe, and
northern Africa and naturalized in parts of North America. Also
known as common horehound, white horehound, and hoarhound, the
plant reaches a height of almost 0.7 meters and is characterized
by white, pubescent leaves, woolly stems, and continually blooming
white flowers. Commercial production is centered in France. The
name "marrubium" refers to the bitter qualities of the
herb, and "hoar" refers to the white pubescence covering
the plant (14.1-3) .
The reported life zone of horehound is 7 to 24 degrees centigrade
with an annual precipitation of 0.3 to 1.3 meters and a soil pH
of 4.5 to 8.3 (4.1-31). The hardy plant grows in full sun
on poor, dry calcareous soils having good drainage.
Although still collected from the wild, horehound is primarily
grown in cultivated plantations for commercial uses. The crop
is harvested and dried just prior to open bloom. Cultivated stands,
which generally last from four to five years, can be cut two or
three times each year (4.3-48).
The chief constituent of horehound is the bitter principle marrubium.
Tannins, resins, waxes, and a volatile oil containing monoterpenes
and a sesquiterpene have also been isolated from the plant (1.1-181,
The leaves and stems of horehound are often boiled and used in
the preparation of candied products, cough drops, and syrups.
Extracts of horehound are used in bitters and liqueurs. The plant
is also grown for its ornamental value and is attractive to bees.
As a medicinal plant, horehound has traditionally been used against
asthma, coughs, colds, bronchitis, sore throats, and skin irritations.
The plant has also been used as a diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant,
laxative, stimulant, stomachic, tonic, and vermifuge. Horehound
has been used in treatment of tumors (14.1-16). The volatile
oil is a carminative and expectorant, while the bitter principle
results in gastric activity (7.5-52, 11.136). Consumption
of large quantities of horehound can induce diarrhea and nausea
Black horehound is the common name for the perennial herb Ballota
nigra L., another member of the Lamiaceae family distinguished
by its offensive odor, and is used as an antispasmodic, stimulant,
and vermifuge (11.1-50) .
Horehound is generally recognized as safe for human consumption
as a natural flavoring and plant extract (21 CFR sections 182.10,
[Note: References listed above in parentheses can be found in
full in the original reference].
Last modified 6-Dec-1997