WHEN THE AIR GETS BAD CONSIDER HOREHOUND
by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
Poor air quality increases the risk of chest and sinus infections.
I have a small herb garden in my yard; it consists of those herbs that thrive on abuse. One such herb is Horehound. Some of you may be old enough to remember horehound candy drops; others may remember a nasty syrup that you were given as children for chest colds or coughs. For me, I have a recollection of a grandfather who carried horehound drops in his pocket. Apparently, I thought they were the “cat’s meow” as a three-year-old…. Proof that little kids will believe anything you tell them.
Horehound is a garden mint with green and white leaves and a distinctively bitter taste. It is native to Asia and Europe but is naturalized in North America. Although the herb grows in a wide range of climates, the best quality is produced in the desert heat. Its primary use has been as an expectorant and is a common ingredient in cough medicines.
The name may suggest a breed of dog, but that is misleading. “Hore-” does mean hoary (gray or white) in Old English, but “-hound” is not canine; it is simply an old name for the herb. The generic name Marrubium is the name by which the Romans knew the herb, and vulgare means common.
Horehound has been used to make lozenge candies that are believed to help heal sore throats, improve your appetite and relieve intestinal gas. Horehound is also recorded as one of the “bitter herbs” eaten at Passover.
Horehound contains a variety of nutrients that are needed for the immune system to work they include; Examples include B-complex vitamins, iron, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and E.
Horehound primarily acts on your lungs. The late herbalist and naturopath, Dr. William Mitchell Jr., noted that horehound serves as a respiratory stimulant, expectorant and cough suppressant. It reduces the thickness of the mucus in your lungs and your bronchial tubes, which makes it easier to expel the mucus. According to the University of Michigan Health System, because of Horehound’s ability to loosen bronchial secretions and expel mucus, this herb may be especially useful in treating bronchitis.
This herbal remedy is prescribed by natural health care practitioners and some medical doctors for a broad range of health problems. The University of Michigan Health System states horehound may be useful for increasing your poor appetite, treating your coughs and reducing your indigestion by aiding the gallbladder in its function. Other conditions that horehound may help include sinus inflammation, hay fever symptoms, and abdominal swelling. Horehound is also known to increase immune system activity.
Horehound is used to make cough medicines for people whose upper respiratory symptoms are caused by acid reflux. The marubiinic acid in the herb both stimulates the release of phlegm and stimulates the release of gastric