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What is Horehound?


Horehound was first employed in ancient Rome by the physician Galen, who recommended it as a therapy for coughs and other respiratory ailments. Like Galen, Nicholas Culpeper, the seventeenth-century English pharmacist, commented that it was helpful for a cough and was also useful in expectorating stubborn phlegm from the lung.

Similarly, American Eclectic physicians of the nineteenth century remarked on its value as a medicinal plant not only for cough and asthma but also in menstrual complaints.

Active constituents:
Horehound contains a number of constituents, including alkaloids, flavonoids, diterpenes (e.g., marrubiin), and trace amount of volatile oils.

The major active constituent is marrubiin and it, along with some of the volatile oils found in the herb, is believed to be responsible for expectorant action. In addition, marrubiin and possibly its precursor premarrubiin are herbal bitters that increase the flow of saliva and gastric juice, thereby stimulating the appetite.

Usages:
The leaves and flower tops of the horehound have long been used in home remedies for the common cold. They are now used primarily as flavorings in liqueurs, candies, and cough drops. Extracts of the plant have also been used for treating intestinal parasites, as a diaphoretic, and as a diuretic.

The active ingredients are obtained from the leaves and flowers of M. vulgare. Horehound's active compound, marrubi in, stimulates secretions in the bronchioles and works as an expectorant.

It also contains antiarrhythmic properties, but is of limited use for this purpose because large doses can also cause arrhythmias.

Marrubin acid, derived from marrubiin, stimulates bile secretion. An aqueous extract from horehound may have antagonistic activities toward serotonin. The horehound extract has hypoglycemic effects. Horehound is available as dried herb, liquid extract, lozenges, powder, syrup, and tea.

Benefits Of Horehound:
Horehound is used to treat acute or chronic bronchitis, whooping cough, and sore throat. It's used as an expectorant for treating nonproductive coughs and as a digestive aid. Horehound also may be used for its transient bile secretion stimulant properties.

Administration:
Dried herbs: An infusion is prepared by pouring boiling water over 1 to 2 g of the herb and straining after 10 minutes. Dosage is 1 to 2 g by mouth, three times a day

Liquid extract (1:1 preparation in 20% alcohol): Dosage is 2 to 4 ml by mouth three times a day

Oral use: Average daily dose is 4.5 g of the drug, or 30 to 60 ml of the pressed juice.

Side Effects:
Horehound may cause diarrhea, hypoglycemia, and contact dermatitis. Antiarrhythmics, some antidepressants, antiemetics, and antimigraine drugs may potentiate the serotonergic effects when used with horehound. Enhanced hypoglycemic effects may be seen with antidiabetics and insulin.

Patients with arrhythmias or diabetes mellitus and patients who are pregnant or breast-feeding should avoid use. Patients with cardiovascular disease should use with caution.

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Herb Pharm's Horehound

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