Is it a weed? White Horehound


There is a plant that grows everywhere around here and I’ve always wondered what it was. Grows like a weed so to speak. I knew it was in the mint family as the stems were square but was definitely not a mint. I just ID it from a book, Weeds of the West.

The plant growing in my gardens is white horehound which is a herb. There are two types of horehound—black horehound and white horehound. Black horehound can be toxic while white horehound can be beneficial. They are easy to tell apart because black horehound has little purple flowers while white horehound has little white flowers.

Since ancient Egypt, white horehound has been used as an expectorant. Native American and Australian Aboriginal medicines have traditionally used white horehound to treat respiratory conditions. Some people make homemade cough drops out of them and some use the dried leaves to make a tea. They actually sell the seeds in Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds but around my place it definitely grows like a weed on its own without my help. I use to pull it out because it is not a particularly attractive plant and frankly grew where I didn’t want it to grow.

But since I became a beekeeper, I noticed the bees are wild about it with its small white flowers, so now I leave it for them. The US Food and Drug Administration banned its use in US made cough drop saying it has no proven benefit. However it is widely used in Europe and you can buy it in European cough drops, just not US made ones.

I recently had pneumonia and a dry hacking cough that would give me fits. The only cough drop that would help stop the coughing that I tried is called ‘Ricola’ Cough Drops’, which is a Swiss made cough drop. Guess what is in those cough drops? Horehound! Only I didn’t know about white horehound, or Ricola cough drops or what that weed was growing in my gardens.  I found all this out while I was recovering and on the computer a lot-how serendipitous!

5 comments on “Is it a weed? White Horehound

  1. L Roberts says:

    Thanks, Jannine, for all of this information about (white) horehound…Yup, it grows all around here “like a weed.” And Ricola cough drops ARE the only cough drops that work for me when I have a cough/cold…

    Hope that you are feeling much better after your bout with pneumonia…

    I’ve just identified the rotten little insect that sucked all the life out of my precious grape vines over the last two weeks: the FLEA beetle…a pretty little iridescent green-black flying monster, that sucks every leaf until they look like ‘ghost’ leaves or skeleton leaves…And nothing seems to be safe from them and their voracious appetites…


  2. Solis Lujan says:

    Are the leaf hoppers still around? They got to my tomatoes and peppers, so sad. Next year I will cover them. going to go to the nursery and buying some more, but mine were from seed and different varieties than the nurseries carry. Pulling them up is a real bummer. Solis


  3. Fran says:

    I have a ton of black horehound…too bad for me!


What do you think??

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.