What is Horehound?
Horehound may not sound like something you want to involve yourself with, however, this member of the mint family may provide you with some beneficial medicinal benefits. A perennial plant, horehound grows in abundance and looks a lot like its sister, mint. Covered in tiny hairs, the leaves of this plant have a cloudy or hoary appearance, giving the plant its name. The health benefits of horehound include aiding digestion and lowering cholesterol.
History of Horehound
Horehound’s medicinal abilities were first noticed in ancient Rome. Medical writer A. Cornelius Celsus wrote about horehound’s ability to treat respiratory ailments as well as its use as an antiseptic.
Horehound’s medicinal abilities popped up again in the 16th century, when British herbalist John Gerard concluded that syrup made from horehound is a possible antidote to poison. He also confirmed A. Cornelius Celsus’s findings that horehound is a suitable treatment for respiratory issues.
Benefits of Horehound
For centuries, horehound has been valued for its ability to treat cough and remove excess phlegm. Listed here are other benefits associated with horehound.
Horehound is believed to have anti-inflammatory effects. Those suffering from arthritis may find pain relief resulting from painful, inflamed joints. The anti-inflammatory effects even extends itself to improving circulation by reducing inflammation of the blood vessels.
This greatly benefits the whole body, making it easier for blood and oxygen to get to all organs and greatly reducing the pressure placed on the heart. When pressure is taken off the heart, instances of strokes, heart attacks, and heart disease are greatly reduced.
Finally, horehound may also reduce inflammation in the respiratory system and therefore help soothe sore throats and irritation.
2) Reduces Cholesterol
There has been some indication that white horehound extract may help to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is considered “bad cholesterol” because it clogs the arteries with plaque and often leads to the development of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
3) Muscle Cramps
Horehound is considered to be an antispasmodic, meaning it helps to alleviate cramps and spasms. By drinking a tea made of horehound leaves, you can relax the nervous system and body, greatly reducing spasms.
4) Menstrual Cramps
Horehound’s antispasmodic abilities also lends itself to alleviating menstrual cramps. Horehound may not only help soothe cramps, but it also may help to get hormones under control and improve mood.
5) Balances Blood Sugar Levels
Some research indicates that horehound may help reduce blood sugar levels. Horehound helps the body handle sugar by improving the body’s response to it, as opposed to going haywire when large doses of sugar are consumed. This will help diabetics get a better handle on their glucose levels.
6) Facilitates Digestion
White horehound reduces inflammation in the gastrointestinal system and colon, helping the body better able to digest food and reducing instances of gas, indigestion, and bloating.
The antiseptic properties help prevent the GI tract from falling pray to bacteria and viruses. Some studies indicate that the anti-inflammatory properties also help to reduce instances of hemorrhoids.
7) Boosts Immune System
Horehound is considered a medicinal plant due largely in part to its many healing compounds, such as its antimicrobial and antibiotic properties. These properties help protect the body and help your immune system fend off illness and disease.
The antiseptic properties contained in horehound are why it’s commonly used in toothpastes and mouthwashes currently on the market.
8) Removes Toxins
Horehound has the ability to induce sweating, helping the body to eliminate toxins, as well as excess sweat, fat, and water. Horehound’s ability to facilitate sweating is also an effective way to help break a fever and cool the body down.
How to Take Horehound
The flavor of horehound is described as having a menthol and minty taste, often used to flavor cough drops and syrup. Horehound is available in the following forms:
- Tea (both cut and tea bags)
- Cut and Sifted
- Liquid extract
Horehound can also be made into an extract, infusion, syrup, and tincture. When combined with other herbs such as ginger root, marshmallow root, and licorice root, horehound can make a natural, effective cough syrup.
Consult an experienced herbalist before making your own horehound cough syrup. When consuming horehound, make sure to follow the dosing instructions on the packaging carefully.
Precautions and Side Effects
Before using horehound, please consider the following:
- As with any medicine, supplement, or herb, you should always consult a physician before using horehound.
- Due to the compounds and chemicals found with horehound, it is not recommended for the use of pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, or children.
- There is currently no strong scientific evidence backing up any claims associated with horehound. More rigorous scientific testing is needed and therefore should not be used in place of traditional medical treatments.
- Horehound may cause stomach upset in some people. Horehound may exacerbate the symptoms of ulcers and other serious stomach issues.
- Using horehound in large amounts may cause an abnormal heartbeat.
- Because horehound has been found to reduce blood pressure, take caution or speak to a physician if you plan on taking horehound while on blood pressure medication.
- Because horehound affects blood sugar, consult a physician and take caution when taking horehound while on water pills and diuretics.
- If you are currently on hormone therapy, consult your physician before taking horehound. Horehound contains estrogen-like compounds and glycosides and may cause interference.
- Taking horehound may increase the effects of the following drugs and medications: laxatives, cold medicines, cholesterol-lowering drugs.