Black Horehound.

Black-horehound Ballota nigra.

Also see Hool, 1922: Horehound.

Natural Order—Labiatae.
Linnean System: Class 14, Didynamia; Order 1st, Gymnospermia.

This plant is most frequently found amongst rubbish, by roadsides and in sandy places. There are two kinds of Horehound known to Botanists, viz., White and Black. White Horehound (Marrubium vulgaris) is a well-known pectoral remedy, extensively used in coughs, hoarseness, asthma, bronchitis, and consumption; but when boiled it gives off a peculiar, bitter, nauseous principle, which tastes and smells like Bitter Aloes, and is liable to purge freely if taken by persons of weak constitution; for which reason it is best to use Black Horehound only.

Black Horehound grows with leaves ovate, two at a joint opposite each other, on leaf-stalks, dented at the edges, dark green on the top, paler underneath, netted, veined, and slightly hairy. The stem grows from one to four feet high, is four-square angled, branched, rough and hairy, and green or dark brown in colour. The flowers grow in whorls, the calyx being funnel-shaped, abrupt, with short, spreading teeth, and dilated at the mouth. The corolla is dark purple—the upper lip cleft—and is covered externally with small white hairs, the lower part marked with small white veins. It is perennial, flowering in July and August. The whole plant is used in medicine.

Therapeutic Principles: Resin, Resinoid, Alkaloid, and Neutral.

Medicinal Properties: Diuretic, Diaphoretic, Emmenagogue, Febrifuge, Expectorant, Pectoral, Alterative, Tonic, Nervine, Antacid.

It may be employed in amenorrhoea, menorrhagia, dysmenorrhoea, hysteria, gravel, dropsy, stomach affections, coughs, hoarseness, bronchitis, consumption, loss of appetite, debility, general weakness, loss of energy, nervous affections, &c. It may be used in infusion, decoction, fluid extract, solid extract; in powder, pills, or tincture; or it may be chewed in the mouth either in the fresh or dried state, and the juice swallowed.

Black Horehound is one of the most efficacious remedies we have for the cure of biliousness, bilious colic, and sour belchings. In the above complaints it is as near a specific as any remedy well can be. The relief it affords is both prompt and certain, for if only a leaf or a piece of the stem be chewed, and the juice swallowed, it will be found to act as if a current of electricity had passed into the stomach, allaying all the symptoms momentarily. In coughs, bronchitis, and asthma it is exceedingly useful. In chronic coughs, accompanied by spitting of blood, it will be found most excellent, either alone or combined with other reliable remedies, such as Lobelia, Marshmallow, Hyssop, &c. Its action is most reliable, as it resolves the viscidity of the mucus secretions, and acts as an alterative-tonic upon the mucous follicles, deterges and heals the diseased membranes, and corrects the acrimony of the discharges. In all cases of consumption it will be found a most useful remedy, as it not only corrects the acrimony of the mucus discharges, but soothes the irritation of the nerves caused by the fit of coughing, thereby making it easier for the patient in nervous affections. In the pains of labour, combined with Motherwort it will be found an excellent remedy.

In suppressed, and also in excessive, menstruation it is simply wonderful. It may seem contradictory to the ordinary reader to say that it may be prescribed in what are generally considered to be opposite conditions of the system; but when it is understood that in either case the disturbance of the physiological condition is simply due to a loss of equilibrium, and that the Black Horehound exerts such an influence as will restore the necessary nnequilibrium, it will be seen that it may be intelligently applicable to either case.

It should always be remembered that disease arises from obstruction, and that until this obstruction is removed and any injury to the part is repaired, there is always a disturbance of the equilibrium of the blood circulation and the nerve force.

Health from British Wild Herbs was written by Richard Lawrence Hool, N.A.M.H., in 1918.