Horehound belongs to the large mint plant family and has been known and used medicinally in Europe, where it is a native species, since the Middle Ages. Long before the advent of modern medicine, horehound (Marrubium vulgare) was a favorite remedy for ancient peoples for soothing the symptoms of flu, colds, laryngitis, bronchitis and other ailments that affect the lungs. Horehound is often dried in modern times and used in potpourris and dried flower arrangements. It makes a tasty tea, either fresh or dried, that some people still believe can ease cold and flu symptoms.
Preparing and Using Horehound
Grow horehound in your herb garden if you are so inclined. Starter plants are sometimes available at nurseries that carry a good selection of herb plants. Seeds are easy to begin and grow and are available through seed catalogs and online sources. (See Resources.)
Make fresh tea from horehound leaves and flowering tops. For each cup of tea, snip three to four tablespoons of fresh plant material, rinse it in clean water to remove any dust or insects, and then chop it up into ½ inch lengths. Put it in your teacup, either loose or in a tea ball, and then pour boiling water over it. Wait about 10 minutes, strain it and enjoy your tea with honey, lemon, sugar, milk or any other additions you favor.
Prepare a tincture or herbal vinegar with your fresh horehound. Pick, rinse and chop up your horehound to fill a glass jar about ½ full with the plant material. Then fill your jar with vodka, rum, brandy or apple cider vinegar, cap it tightly and then allow it to sit in a dark spot for one month. Shake the jar every day, and then strain it after 30 days. Store it in a tightly sealed jar in a cool, dark place and use it by droppel when you need relief from a cold or the flu. Take three to four full droppers full three times a day until your symptoms improve.
Dry horehound when the branches have flowering tops. This can occur throughout the summer. Snip off the flower spikes and strip off any yellow or dead, dry leaves. Tie the lower ends of several flower spikes together with string and then hang them upside down in a warm, dark, dry, well-ventilated area for about one week. When the plant material feels dry and crunchy to the touch, strip the leaves and flowers off the stalks and store them in tightly sealed jars or plastic zipper bags. You can later use the dried plant in the same ways you use the fresh plant—use a little more than you would of the fresh plant material for your tea or tincture.
Make a cough syrup from fresh or dried horehound leaves and flowering tops. Combine about ½ cup of plant material with two cups of water and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes. Strain your mixture and then mix in three cups of honey, mixing it well. Store in bottles or jars with tightly fitting lids. When you need to relieve a cough, take this remedy by the teaspoon as needed.