Horehound has been a great cough and cold remedy since ancient Roman times. It is also a gentle expectorant and digestive aid. Laboratory tests have found that its best-known chemical constituent, marrubiin, is more potent than some well-known pain relief medications. In folk medicine, it has been used for bronchitis, whooping cough, asthma, tuberculosis, diarrhoea, jaundice, and painful menstruation. Externally, it was used for skin damage, ulcers, wounds, and as a gargle for mouth and throat irritations.

Botanical Name

Marrubium vulgare

Part Used


Common Names

Common hoarhound, common horehound, houndsbane, marrhue, Eye of the Star, maruil, Soldier’s Tea, Seed of Horus, Bull’s Blood, Haran Haran, Llwyd y cwn, hound-bane, marrube, marrubium, marvel, white horehound, hoarhound; marrube blanc, blanc rubi, bonhomme, bouenriblé, grand bon- homme, grand-bonhomme, herbe aux crocs. Herbe vierge, maltrasté, mapiochin, mariblé marinclin, marrochemin, marrube, marrube commun, marrube des champs, marrube officinal, marrube vulgaire, mont blanc (French); mastranzo, marrubio, concha (Spanish); Skilokhorto (Greek); Szanta, Krzecina Pospolita (Polish); Weisser Andorn (German)

Brief History

Marrubium vulgare

Horehound has been used medicinally since ancient times. Julius Caesar recommended it as an antidote to poisons, while seventeenth-century English herbalists recommended it to help expel the placenta after childbirth. Early European settlers brought the plant to the New World, where it quickly naturalised and found use among Native Americans; the Navajo, for example, used it to ease childbirth.


Diterpene lactones, marrubiin, sesquiterpene bitters

Therapeutic Properties

Bitter tonic, Digestive tonic, Expectorant (relaxing)

Vitalist Properties

Temperature: Cool

Moisture: Dry

Therapeutic Indications

Bronchitis with a non-productive cough.

Primary Uses

Bronchitis, Colds, Sinusitis.

The compound marrubiin (sometimes spelled marubin) in horehound stimulates the central nervous system. This results in the secretion of fluids into the bronchial passageways, softening phlegm and making expectoration easier. It also combines the action of relaxing the smooth muscle of the bronchi while promoting mucus production and expectoration.


Marrubiin’s stimulation of the central nervous system, in turn, stimulates the stomach to secrete digestive juices. This relieves feelings of fullness by helping the stomach digest food. The reaction also stimulates the flow of bile, which eases flatulence by changing the chemical composition of the contents of the large intestine. Marrubiin is responsible for horehound’s distinctive bitter taste. Horehound also stops high and low blood sugar reactions after eating high-carbohydrate meals and snacks.

Dosage (Divided Daily)


  • None known

Side effects

  • None known

Interactions with other drugs

  • None known


  1. Bone, K. (2003). A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs: herbal formulations for the individual patient. St. Louis, MI: Churchill Livingstone.

  2. Chevallier, A. (2000). Encyclopedia of herbal medicine (2nd American ed.). New York: DK Pub.

  3. Herbalpedia (2013)

  4. Mars, B. (2007). The desktop guide to herbal medicine: the ultimate multidisciplinary reference to the amazing realm of healing plants, in a quick-study, one-stop guide. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Pub.

All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.

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