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What is Horehound?

Horehound is a perennial herb from the mint family, known for its bitter taste and medicinal properties. Traditionally used in cough remedies and digestive aids, horehound's potential benefits are rooted in centuries of herbal wisdom. Curious about how this ancient plant can contribute to modern wellness? Discover the intriguing ways horehound might enhance your health journey.
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

An herb is a plant whose leaves, seeds, or flowers are used for flavoring food or in medicine. Other uses of herbs include cosmetics, dyes, and perfumes. The name is derived from the Latin word herba, meaning “green crops.” Horehound, Marrubium vulgare, is a perennial herb in the mint family. It is known as “white horehound” to distinguish it from another herb called black horehound that is primarily involved in medical use.

History. There are different explanations of the name horehound. One explanation is that it is from an Old English word for a grayish plant, horhune, and was influenced by the word hound. Another explanation is that the name horehound may derive from its having been an ancient antidote for the bite of a rabid dog, hore coming from hoar, meaning “old” or “grey.” The Latin name, Marrubium vulgare, may come from the Hebrew word marrob, meaning “bitter juice,” possibly indicating that horehound was one of the bitter herbs that the Jewish people ate at Passover.

Horehound candy.
Horehound candy.

Description. Native to most of the British Isles and most of Northern Europe, horehound is naturalized in the United States. Horehound grows to a height of about 1 ½ feet (1.2 m), making it a good border plant. The small white flowers bloom from June through September, but may not bloom until the second year.

Gardening. Horehound is one of those plants that thrives in poor soil – dry and sandy does the trick. It is considered a good border plant. Leaves and flowers should be harvested at the peak of blooming, and they can be used fresh or dried. Sometimes, the stems are included in recipes, and these can also be used fresh or dried.

Horehound is a perennial herb in the mint family.
Horehound is a perennial herb in the mint family.

Food and Other Uses. Because horehound is so bitter, its inclusion in food or medicinal preparations is generally offset by a large amount of sugar and/or other sweeteners. It is used in making candy, cough drops, and cough syrups, and in juice and tisane. The tisane can be made using either fresh or dried horehound.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to DelightedCooking about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to DelightedCooking about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

Learn more...

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    • Horehound candy.
      By: Bert Folsom
      Horehound candy.
    • Horehound is a perennial herb in the mint family.
      By: margo555
      Horehound is a perennial herb in the mint family.
    • The Latin name, Marrubium vulgare, may come from the Hebrew word marrob, meaning “bitter juice".
      By: vitovt
      The Latin name, Marrubium vulgare, may come from the Hebrew word marrob, meaning “bitter juice".