White Hoarhound (Marrubium vulgare)

Hoarhound and Calendula
Hoarhound and Calendula are two favoured herbs in our garden

Common names: White Hoarhound, Common Hoarhound

Taxonomic name: Marrubium vulgare

Family: Lamiaceae

Uses: respiratory complaints, phlegm, colds

Area of origin: Europe, Northern Africa

Warnings: none

Thick, wooly leaves are characteristic of Hoarhound. These are where the name comes from, the furry grey leaves and stem look like they are covered in frost (‘hoar’ in old English)

Hoarhound isn’t the prettiest of plants. Thick, wooly grey leaves, and annoyingly tenacious seeds that get stuck in socks and devalue sheep fleeces make it a plant that’s reviled by farmers. Its extremely bitter taste make it unpalatable to many creatures (though if you look closely at the pic above, you will see a little critter having a well disguised munch).

Hoarhound shares the square stems of others in the Mint family.

However, Hoarhound has many uses that we can examine here, afterall, it’s is one of the enormous Mint family (Lamiaceae), so you can expect some good things from it.

Hoarhound is used by herbalists for its bitterness – taste it and you won’t forget quickly! This bitterness makes it suitable for expelling phlegm, especially tenacious and sticky stuff.

I like to consider Hoarhound for when phlegm is stuck deeper down in the chest cavity and needs loosening and expelling.

The bitter principles stimulate the membranes to produce mucus, which might sound a bit strange when we’re trying to get rid of that very thing. What happens is that the new mucus produced by the membranes helps thin and move the congested thick mucus, allowing it to be moved out.

It’s bitterness also dilate arteries to increase blood flow and further ease congestion.

Hoarhound, then, is a stimulating bitter, and best used when cold has congested fluids and allowed stagnation to occur, resulting in the phlegm build up that we all know and love.

It is traditionally used at the first sign of a cold or flu, the first tickle in the back of the throat when it can be used to stop discomfort very quickly.

Hoarhound helps kick up a sweat, one of the earliest and most critical parts of our immune system’s response to a cold or infection. In herbal terms, it ‘opens the pores’, allowing fluids to escape.

Being so bitter, Hoarhound helps digestion by stimulating the gall bladder to produce bile. This aids in fat digestion and can help with biliousness. In fact, it helps stimulate secretion and balance our glands in general.

Bitter plants such as Hoarhound and Wormwood are traditionally used to expel intestinal worms and other parasites.

Unappreciated in farming circles, Hoarhound can be our a great friend when it comes to colds.

Harlequin bugs
Harlequin bugs love to live and mate on Hoarhound
Hoarhound seeds are a nightmare for hikers, gardeners and sheep
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