Thursday, July 23, 2009
Horehound ( Marrubium Vulgare)
I planted my apothocary garden, and Michele at Possum Creek Herbs gave me a horehound plant for free. I have heard of horehound cough drops, but was not very familiar with the plant. It grows quite large (up to 2 feet tall) and is not the prettiest of plants so it was planted at the back of the garden. Horehound is easy to grow, and will tolerate poor soil conditions, heat, and drought. (Sounds perfect for the weather we are experiencing in the south). The only thing it cannot tolerate is wet and heavy soil.
The horehound plant's leaves are soft and wooly and will bloom small white flowers the second year. You can harvest the leaves the first year, and immediately before the flowers bloom in the summer the second season . You will want to cut the plant back immediately after it flowers the second season.
Horehound has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. It posseses strong expectorant qualities and has been used for respiratory problems in children and adults. You can make a tea from the leaves, and soft stem, but it does have quite a bitter taste so you will want to sweeten with sugar or honey. Making a horehound candy is more palatable.
Horehound can be quite invasive since it self seeds and has been known to cover entire pastures. ( Horehound is a member of the mint family) Don't let this stop you from adding it to your healing garden though. Keep an eye on it, and keep it in check. Also, be sure you are buying the correct horehound, since there are a couple of plants which are known as horehound but not related. Check the plant tag for Marrubium vulgare.
The potency of horehound quickly diminishes after it is harvested, so immediately cut the harvested plant into little pieces, dry, and store in an airtight jar in a cool dry place. It will be ready for use in making horehound candy and tea.
Make an infusion from your harvested horehound. Use twice as much water as leaf. (ex: 2 cups water, 1 cup leaf (and stem if you wish). Bring the water to a boil and pour over the horehound. Allow to steep 30 minutes.
Add 1 cup honey, 1 cup brown sugar, and 1 Tablespoon butter to 1/2 cup of the horehound infusion. Bring to a simmering boil, stirring constantly. When you drop a bit of the syrup into a glass of cold water and it forms a soft ball, remove the pan from heat. Pour it out onto a baking sheet where it can cool enough to allow you to work with it. Roll into balls and wrap in parchment paper. Store in a glass jar, in a cool place. You can start taking the candy when you notice the first signs of a cold.
* While horehound has been shown to be safe for use, do not use with babies or small children. As I always warn, if you are pregnant or lactatingALWAYS check with your physician before taking any medicine or herbs. If you have any medical problems, including gastric problems (horehound may stimulate the gall bladder), consult your health care provider before taking.
Thanks to Gardensablaze for the picture.
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