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White horehound (Marrubium vulgare Labiatae)

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Also listed as: Marrubium vulgare, Horehound, Ricola®
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Acylated flavonoid, alkaloids, almindelig kransburre (Danish), andorn (German, Swedish), Andornkraut (German), antioxidants, bitter lactone, blanc rubi (French), bonhomme (French), borremynte (Norwegian), bouenriblé (French), bull's blood, common hoarhound, diterpene alcohols, diterpene marrubiin, diterpenoid, eye of the star, flavonoids, Gemeiner Andorn (German), Gewöhnlicher Andorn (German), glycosides, Gotteshilfe (German), grand bon-homme (French), grand-bonhomme (French), haran haran, herbe aux crocs (French), herbe vierge (French), hoarhound, horehound, Horus frø (Danish), hound-bane, houndsbane, Hvit andorn (Norwegian), Hvit marrau (Norwegian), jablecník obecný (Czech), kransborre (Swedish), kransburre (Dutch), labdane, Labiatae (family), ladanein, Lamiaceae (family), lectins, Llwyd y cwn (Welsh), maltrasté (Spanish), mapiochin (French), mapoichin mont blancmariblé (French), mariblé, Mariennessel (German), marinclin, marrochemin (French), marroio (Brazilian Portuguese), marroio-branco (Brazilian Portuguese), marromba, marrube (Danish), marrube blanc (French), marrube commun (French), marrube des champs (French), marrube officinal, marrube vulgaire (French), marrubenol, marrubic acid, marrubii herba, marrubiin, marrubinic acid, marrubio (Spanish), marrubio commune (Italian), marrubium, Marrubium vulgare, marruboside, maruil, marvel, mastranzo (Spanish), monoterpenes, mont blanc (French), okseblod (Danish), orvosi pemetefu (Hungarian), p-menthane-5,6-dihydroxy-3-carboxylic acid, phenylethanoid glycosides, phenylpropanoid esters, premarrubiin, Ricola®, saponin, seed of Horus, sesquiterpene, soldier's tea, sterol, stjernens øye (Danish), szanta zwyczajna (Polish), tannins, thymol, ürt-penimünt (Estonian), vitamin C, Weisser Andorn (German), Weisser Dorant (German), wild horehound, witte malrove (Dutch), woolly horehound.
  • Note: White horehound is not to be confused with black horehound (Ballota nigra) or water horehound (Lycopus americanus, also known as bugleweed).

Background
  • Since ancient Egypt, white horehound (Marrubium vulgare L.) has been used to help remove mucus from the lungs or throat. Ayurvedic, Native American, and Australian Aboriginal medicines have used white horehound to treat 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 used in Europe, and can be found in European-made herbal cough remedies sold in the United States (for example, Ricola®).
  • The expert German panel, the Commission E, has approved white horehound for an appetite stimulant, heartburn, and as a stimulant for bile acid secretion. There is some early evidence favoring the use of white horehound as a blood sugar-lowering 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 low blood pressure, low blood sugar, and abnormal heart rhythms in animal studies.

Evidence Table

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. GRADE *


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. In clinical research, treatment with white horehound significantly reduced plasma glucose, as well as total cholesterol and triglycerides. Further well-designed human trials are needed.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Analgesic (pain relief), antioxidant, anorexia, antibacterial, antifungal, antihelminthic (agent for worm infections), antispasmodic (preventing spasms), asthma, bile secretion, bloating, bronchitis, cancer, cardiovascular disease prevention / atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), cathartic, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), colic, congestion, constipation, cough, long-term debility (disability), diarrhea, digestive aid, diuresis (increased urine), dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), emetic (vomiting stimulant), expectorant (remove mucus from lungs), fever reduction, flatulence, food flavoring, gallbladder complaints, heart rate abnormalities, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, immune system regulation, indigestion, insecticide, intestinal parasites, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), laxative, liver disease, liver protection, lung congestion, menstrual pain, nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (morning sickness), pain, pneumonia, rabies, respiratory ailments (other than cough), skin conditions, skin ulcers, snake poisoning, sore throat, stomach ulcers, sweat stimulation, tachycardia (rapid heart rate), tuberculosis, upper respiratory tract infection, vasodilator (widening of blood vessels), vasorelaxant, warts, water retention, wheezing, whooping cough (pertussis), wound healing (vulnerary).

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

  • For indigestion or to stimulate the appetite, 4.5 grams of cut white horehound herb, two to six tablespoons of fresh white horehound juice, or the equivalent has been recommended for daily use by the German Commission E. Other traditional dosing suggestions have included one to two grams of dried white horehound or an infusion of white horehound three times daily.
  • For cough and/or throat ailments, doses that have been used include 10 to 40 drops of white horehound extract in water by mouth up to three times daily, or lozenges dissolved in the mouth as needed. Ricola® drops are recommended by the manufacturer at a maximum of two lozenges by mouth every 1-2 hours as needed.
  • For diabetes mellitus, infusions containing one gram M. vulgare powder added to a cup of boiling water for five minutes have been taken by mouth three times daily prior to meals for 21 days.

Children (younger than 18 years)

  • There is a lack of sufficient information to recommend the safe use of white horehound in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid with known allergy or sensitivity to white horehound, its parts, or to members of the Lamiaceae family (mint family).

Side Effects and Warnings

  • White horehound is likely safe when used by mouth in amounts commonly found in foods.
  • White horehound is possibly safe when above-ground parts of are used by mouth, in recommended doses, for limited duration in otherwise healthy adults.
  • White horehound may raise or lower blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs or herbs and supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • White horehound may raise or lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or low blood sugar, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood sugar levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • White horehound may also cause abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmias), decreased potassium levels in the blood, diarrhea, dizziness, dry mouth, excess saliva, expansion of the intestines, fluid retention, increased sodium in the blood, loss of appetite, muscle weakness, nausea, skin irritation, and vomiting.
  • Use cautiously in doses above the recommended range or when used long-term.
  • Use cautiously in people taking agents for depression (SSRIs), agents that suppress the immune system, agents for estrogen or hormone therapy, or penicillins.
  • Use cautiously in people with stomach and/or intestine diseases, with sensitive skin, or with musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Use cautiously in people undergoing surgery, as white horehound may interfere with the action of inhaled anesthetics.
  • Use cautiously in people taking agents that are metabolized by the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system.
  • Avoid during pregnancy or breastfeeding, due to abortion and menstruation promoting effects reported in animal studies, as well as reports of uterine stimulant activity.
  • Avoid with known allergy or sensitivity to white horehound, its parts, or to members of the Lamiaceae family (mint family).

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Avoid during pregnancy or breastfeeding, due to abortion and menstruation promoting effects reported in animal studies, as well as reports of uterine stimulant activity.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • White horehound may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. People taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
  • White horehound may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking drugs that lower blood pressure.
  • White horehound may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be altered in the blood, and may cause altered effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. People using any medications should check the package insert, and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
  • White horehound may also interact with 5-HT receptor agonists (triptans), agents for abnormal heart rhythms, agents for depression, agents for the stomach and intestines, agents that affect the immune system, agents that cause increased urine, agents that cause vomiting, agents that help remove mucus from the lungs, agents that prevent spasms, analgesics (agents for pain), anesthetics (loss of sensation), antibiotics, antifungals, bile acid sequestrants, blood vessel constricting and blood vessel widening agents, cancer agents, cholesterol lowering agents, estrogens, fertility agents, hormonal agents, liver toxins, penicillins, pesticides, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), stomach acid-reducing agents, and stomach ulcer agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • White horehound may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
  • White horehound may cause low blood pressure. Caution is advised in people taking herbs or supplements that lower blood pressure.
  • White horehound may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system. As a result, the levels of other herbs or supplements may be altered in the blood. It may also alter the effects that other herbs or supplements possibly have on the P450 system.
  • Because white horehound contains estrogen like chemicals, the effects of other agents believed to have estrogen-like properties may be altered.
  • White horehound may also interact with herbs and supplements for abnormal heart rhythms, herbs and supplements for depression, herbs and supplements for the stomach and intestines, herbs and supplements that affect the immune system, herbs and supplements that cause increased urine, herbs and supplements that cause vomiting, herbs and supplements that help remove mucus from the lungs, herbs and supplements that prevent spasms, analgesics (herbs and supplements for pain), anesthetics (loss of sensation), antibacterials, antifungals, antioxidants, bile acid sequestrants, blood vessel constricting and blood vessel widening herbs and supplements, cancer herbs and supplements, cholesterol lowering herbs and supplements, estrogens, fertility herbs and supplements, hormonal herbs and supplements, liver protective herbs and supplements, liver toxins, pesticides, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), stomach acid-reducing herbs and supplements, and stomach ulcer herbs and supplements.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Ahmed B, Masoodi MH, Siddique AH, et al. A new monoterpene acid from Marrubium vulgare with potential antihepatotoxic activity. Nat.Prod.Res 2010;24(18):1671-1680.
  2. Alkhatib R, Joha S, Cheok M, et al. Activity of ladanein on leukemia cell lines and its occurrence in Marrubium vulgare. Planta Med 2010;76(1):86-87.
  3. Berrougui H, Isabelle M, Cherki M, et al. Marrubium vulgare extract inhibits human-LDL oxidation and enhances HDL-mediated cholesterol efflux in THP-1 macrophage. Life Sci 12-14-2006;80(2):105-112.
  4. Boudjelal A, Henchiri C, Siracusa L, et al. Compositional analysis and in vivo anti-diabetic activity of wild Algerian Marrubium vulgare L. infusion. Fitoterapia 2012;83(2):286-292.
  5. Carrasco-Gil S, Siebner H, Leduc DL, et al. Mercury localization and speciation in plants grown hydroponically or in a natural environment. Environ.Sci Technol. 4-2-2013;47(7):3082-3090.
  6. Daoudi A, Aarab L, and Abdel-Sattar E. Screening of immunomodulatory activity of total and protein extracts of some Moroccan medicinal plants. Toxicol.Ind.Health 2013;29(3):245-253.
  7. Firuzi O, Javidnia K, Gholami M, et al. Antioxidant activity and total phenolic content of 24 Lamiaceae species growing in Iran. Nat.Prod.Commun. 2010;5(2):261-264.
  8. Garcia-Sanchez A, Murciego A, Alvarez-Ayuso E, et al. Mercury in soils and plants in an abandoned cinnabar mining area (SW Spain). J Hazard.Mater. 9-15-2009;168(2-3):1319-1324.
  9. Gonzalez MJ and Marioli JM. Antibacterial activity of water extracts and essential oils of various aromatic plants against Paenibacillus larvae, the causative agent of American Foulbrood. J Invertebr.Pathol. 2010;104(3):209-213.
  10. Juarez-Vazquez Mdel C, Carranza-Alvarez C, Alonso-Castro AJ, et al. Ethnobotany of medicinal plants used in Xalpatlahuac, Guerrero, Mexico. J Ethnopharmacol. 7-9-2013;148(2):521-527.
  11. Paula de Oliveira A, Santin JR, Lemos M, et al. Gastroprotective activity of methanol extract and marrubiin obtained from leaves of Marrubium vulgare L. (Lamiaceae). J Pharm Pharmacol 2011;63(9):1230-1237.
  12. Perez-Cruz F, Cortes C, Atala E, et al. Use of pyrogallol red and pyranine as probes to evaluate antioxidant capacities towards hypochlorite. Molecules. 2013;18(2):1638-1652.
  13. Robles-Zepeda RE, Velazquez-Contreras CA, Garibay-Escobar A, et al. Antimicrobial activity of Northwestern Mexican plants against Helicobacter pylori. J Med Food 2011;14(10):1280-1283.
  14. Salama MM, Taher EE, and El-Bahy MM. Molluscicidal and Mosquitocidal activities of the essential oils of Thymus capitatus Hoff. et Link. and Marrubium vulgare L. Rev.Inst.Med Trop.Sao Paulo 2012;54(5):281-286.
  15. Zarai Z, Kadri A, Ben Chobba I, et al. The in-vitro evaluation of antibacterial, antifungal and cytotoxic properties of Marrubium vulgare L. essential oil grown in Tunisia. Lipids Health Dis 2011;10:161.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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