Since ancient Egypt, white horehound (Marrubium vulgare L.) has been used as an expectorant (to facilitate removal of mucus from the lungs or throat). Ayurvedic, Native American and Australian Aboriginal medicines have traditionally used white horehound to treat respiratory (lung) conditions. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned horehound from cough drops in 1989 due to insufficient evidence supporting its efficacy. However, horehound is currently widely used in Europe, and can be found in European-made herbal cough remedies sold in the United States (for example, Ricola®).
There is no well-defined clinical evidence to support any therapeutic use of white horehound. The expert German panel, the Commission E, has approved white horehound for lack of appetite, dyspepsia (heartburn), and as a choleretic. There is promising early evidence favoring the use of white horehound as a hypoglycemic agent for diabetes mellitus, and as a non-opioid pain reliever.
There is limited evidence on safety or toxicity in humans. White horehound has been reported to cause hypotension (low blood pressure), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) in animal studies
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Note: White horehound should not be confused with black horehound (Ballota nigra) or water horehound (Lycopus americanus, also known as bugleweed).
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Since ancient Egypt, white horehound has been used as an expectorant. Ayurvedic, Native American and Australian Aboriginal medicines have traditionally used white horehound to treat respiratory (lung) conditions. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned horehound from cough drops in 1989 due to insufficient evidence supporting its effectiveness. However, horehound is currently widely used in Europe, and can be found in European-made herbal cough remedies sold in the United States (for example, Ricola®).
Animal studies and early human studies suggest that white horehound may lower blood sugar levels. White horehound has been used for diabetes in some countries, including Mexico. Further well-designed human trials are needed.
In Germany, white horehound is approved for the treatment of heartburn and lack of appetite, based on historical use. There is not enough information from scientific studies to evaluate the effectiveness of white horehound for these conditions.
Early study shows that white horehound may lower cholesterol and triglyceride blood levels. Further research is needed to confirm these results.
White horehound has been used traditionally to treat intestinal disorders. However, there are few well-designed studies in this area, and little information is available about the effectiveness of white horehound for this use.
White horehound has traditionally been used for pain and spasms from menstruation or intestinal conditions. There are no reliable human studies on safety or effectiveness for this use.