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March 2018--Horehound


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Marrubium vulgare

[ma-ROO-bee-um vul-GAY-ree] 

Family: Labiatae 

Pharmaceutical Name: Herba marrubii 

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) 

Description: Small, rounded shrub with a height of 1 ½ feet.  The flowers are small,  whitish, in dense whorls that circle around the stems, getting smaller near the top.  The leaves are pale green, wrinkled, and very woolly, giving the appearance of being white, somewhat oval-shaped, to 2 inches.  Hooklike appendates on the seeds fasten them to animals, spreading the seeds extensively, accounting for the plant’s weediness.  Blooms from June to September. 

Cultivation: Horehound is a perennial hardy to Zone 4.  It can grow in the absolutely worst conditions with poor soil and extended drought but it requires good drainage and full sun.  Propagate by seed, cuttings and divisions.  Seed germinates in 10-15 days and is ready for transplanting in 12 weeks.  Cuttings root slowly and at a low percentage. Divisions are done in early spring and are somewhat easy.  Seedlings are transplanted by hand or transplanter, spring through fall.  Cuttings are not recommended unless you just want a couple of plants.  Divisions should be planted immediate after they are done.  Plant at 12 inch spacing in the rows with row spacing at 24-30 inches.  Horehound might benefit from irrigation every 2-3 weeks in the west.  Drip irrigation would be best as it reduces weeds and won’t splash dirt on the plant. No problem with pests or disease.  Horehound is deer proof.  Harvest the above ground herb when it starts to flower which doesn’t happen until the second year.  Harvest with pruning shears.  It should continue to produce through years 4 or 5 before it should be tilled in and replaced.  Yields of dry herb should be about 2,000 pounds per acre.  Do not water before harvesting.   

History: Horehound has been used at least since the early Egyptians brewed it into a cough remedy and referred to it as the “Seed of Horus.”  It was also considered an antidote for poison, being particularly effective against the bites of made dogs and serpents.  Horehound was probably one of the bitter Passoverherbs—the word marubium is thought to be derived from the Hebrew marrob, for “bitter juice.”  Har hune (which later became horehound) is old English for “downy plant.”  The “hore” in horehound is thought to derive from the Middle English hor, and Old English har, meaning white or frosty and is simply a reference to the white pubescence covering the plant.  “Hound” may refer to the use by the ancient Greeks of the plant as an antidote to bites from mad dogs.    The Greek physician Dioscorides recommended a decoction of the herb for tuberculosis, asthma, and coughs.  In 1597, the herbalist John Gerard praised horehound as “a most singular remedy against the cough and wheezing.” 

Constituents: Essential oil includes pinene, limonene, and campene; diterpenes (marrubiin, marrubenol, marrubiol); flavonoids (apigenin, luteolin, quercetin); alkaloids (betonicine and stachydrine); sterols; saponin; bitter lactone; waxes, lipids, tannins, resins, vitamin C. 

Properties:  expectorant 

Energetics: bitter and cool 

Meridians/Organs affected: lung, spleen, liver 

Medicinal Uses: Horehound’s bitterness stimulates the appetite and also promotes bile, making large doses laxative. The whole herb and its derivatives are used in thousands of lung medications around the world, especially for treating bronchitis and coughs.  The essential oils and marrubiin dilate the arteries and help to ease lung congestion. The herb apparently causes the secretion of a more fluid mucus, which is more readily cleared by coughing.    Marrubiin also normalizes the heart beat and is a weak sedative. At one time, horehound was suggested for relieving menstrual pain and slowing a rapid heart beat.  Since it also induces sweating, it has been used to reduce fevers, even those associated with malaria. It is less commonly used as a decoction for skin conditions.  Old recipes call for the leaves to be boiled in lard and applied to wounds. 

Combinations: Combines well with coltsfoot, lobelia and mullein

Dosage: simple tea – ½ cup drunk 4 times a day; as a tonic, drink cold, ¼ cup before each meal.           

Fever/Flu Remedy
:  2 parts boneset flowers and leaves, 2 parts white yarrow flowers, 1 part horehound flowers and leaves, 1 part calendula flowers, 2 parts mullein leaves.  Use as a tea or tincture.  For acute symptoms, children can take 2-5 drops of tincture or 1/8-1/2 cu tea every one to two hours; adults 25-50 drops of tincture or 1 cup of tea every one to two hours until acute phase diminishes.  Continue using the same amount of drops, three times a day for at least 7-10 days after the acute symptoms have subsided. 

Pneumonia Tea
1 tsp coltsfoot leaves
1 tsp horehound leaves
1 tsp elderflowers
1 tsp marshmallow root
1 tsp ground ivy
4 cups boiling water
Combine the above herbs in a nonmetallic container and cover with the boiling water; steep for 30 minutes; strain. Take warm, a tablespoon at a time, up to one cup per day. 

Asthma Tea
1 tsp elecampane root
2 tsp horehound herb
1 tsp blue vervain leaves
2 cups water
Combine the herbs in a pan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes; strain and cool  Drink up to two cups a day, a mouthful at a time.

Large doses can be laxative.  Prolonged use can contribute to high blood pressure 

Ritual Uses: Herbe of Mercury and Gemini; Herb of Protection; Religious Herbe, Vesionary Herbe; Gender: hot; Element: Earth.  Linked with both the Magician card and the Wheel of Fortune card I the tarot, horehound is sacred to the god Horus.  It was called the “Seed of Horus” by ancient Egyptian priests. Horehound is an excellent herbs to use in blessing one’s home.  A moderate amount may be added to the ritual cup.  As a general herbe to use when working ritual forms, horehound increases your concentration and focus. It increases the mental skills needed to keep distraction at bay and the ability to integrate one’s mind and body into the realm of the spiritual  Horehound can give you the freedom to weave your creativity into your magick.  Small bunches of the flowering stems may be gathered when the bloom is ripe.  These should be bound with a ribbon and hung in one’s home to keep it free from negative energies.  As an oil, horehound may be used in spiritual and psychic healing or any type of healing or restorative work involving magick and energy.  Some believe that horehound corresponds with Hod on the Tree of Life.   

Culinary Uses: Horehound has been used as a bitter condiment and as a candy, but is too bitter for most tastes.  In Europe, the plant has been used to flavor salads, soup, fish and chicken.  It’s been recommended as a seasoning for meat, stews, sauces, cakes, and cookies and suggested that it would also be suitable for stronger-tasting vegetables.  Extracts are used to flavor liqueurs, non-alcoholic beverages, ice cream, candy, and baked goods.  A substitute for hops in beer, it is still sold as Horehound Ale in Europe. 

Hominy and Beef
1 Tbsp bacon fat or margarine
1 medium-sized onion, thinly sliced
½ cups celery, thinly sliced
1 lb ground beef
1 15-oz can hominy
1 4-oz can mushroom pieces and stems
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp dried horehound or 1 leaf fresh horehound finely cut
Melt fat in skillet; add onion and celery; stir and cook 2-3 minutes.  Add beef; stir until well mixed.  Cook, stirring constantly, until meat is no longer red.  Add hominy, mushrooms, and seasonings.  Cover and cook over low heat, just barely boiling, for 10 minutes.  Stir frequently and add water if needed to prevent sticking and burning.  (Minnie Muenscher’s Herb Cookbook) 

Old-Time Horehound Candy Cough Drops

2 cups fresh horehound, including leaves, stems and flowers (or 1 cup dried)
2 ½ quarts water
3 cups brown sugar
½ cup corn syrup
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp butter
1 tsp lemon juice
In a large saucepan, cover the horehound with the water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer 10 minutes. Strain through cheesecloth and allow the tea to settle.  Ladle 2 cups of the horehound tea into a large kettle.  Add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and cream of tartar.  Boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 240F.  Add the butter.  Continue to boil until the candy reaches 30F (hard crack).  Remove from the heat, and add the lemon juice.  Pour at once into a buttered, 8-inch square pan. As the candy cools, score it into squares.  Remove from the pan as soon as candy is cool.  Store in aluminum foil or ziplock plastic bags.  (Herbal Treasures)

Horehound Beer
1 lb horehound
4 oz ginger
2 oz block juice
2 oz coriander seed
2 oz foam essence
35 grns saccharine 550
2 ½ lbs sugar
10 gallons water
Boil the horehound, ginger, and coriander seeds in half the water for 15 minutes; add the block juice, and stir until dissolved; strain and pour on to the sugar and saccharine. Stir well, and then add the foam essence and ferment.  (Culinary Herbs and Condiments) 

Horehound Beer
6 oz horehound
2 lbs treacle
3 gallons water
2 Tbsp brewer’s yeast, spread on both sides of a piece of toast.
            Boil the first 3 ingredients for 1 hour, strain, and cool to lukewarm.  Float the brewer’s yeast spread on toast on the surface and let stand for 24 hours before bottling. (Mastering Herbalism) 

A Compendium of Herbal Magick
, Paul Beyerl, Phoenix Publishing, 1998; ISBN: 0-919345-45-X
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
, Andrew Chevallier, Dorling Kindersley, 1997; ISBN: 0-7894-1067-2
Herbal Treasures,
Phyllis V. Shaudys, Storey, 1990; ISBN: 0-88266-618-5
The Illustrated Herb Encyclopedia
, Kathi Keville, Mallard Press, 1991; ISBN: 0-7924-5307-7
Los Remedios
, Michael Moore, Red Crane Books, 1990; ISBN: 1-878610-06-6
Mastering Herbalism
, Paul Huson, Stein and Day, 1975; ISBN: 0-8128-1847-4
Medicinal Herbs in the Garden, Field & Marketplace
, Lee Sturdivant and Tim Blakley, San Juan Naturals, 1999; ISBN: 0-9621635-7-0Min
nie Muenscher’s Herb Cookbook
, Minnie Worthen Muenscher, Comstock Publishing, 1978; ISBN: 0-8014-1166-1
Secrets Native American Herbal Remedies
, Anthony J Cichoke, Avery Books, 2001; ISBN: 1-58333-100-X

Companion Plants, www.companionplants.com  plants
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