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Hawthorn is one of the oldest preserved medicinal plants. In contrast to some other medicinal herbs, people used it more than 2000 years ago mainly against the same ailments as today: respiratory diseases, coughing with stuck mucus and gastrointestinal complaints. Bioactive substances detected in Marrubium vulgare demonstrate these medicinal effects.
- Scientific name: Marrubium vulgare
- Common names: Common horehound, common horehound, white horehound, marie nettle, wall hawthorn, white dorant, feverfew, mountain hops, apple herb, estate forget, auxiliary herb
- family: Lipflower
- distribution: originally western Mediterranean and North Africa, today also to Central Asia, Central and Northern Europe
- application areas:
- Respiratory catarrh
- Biliary problems
- Digestive problems
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling of fullness
- in folk medicine a remedy for menstrual disorders
- Parts of plants used: Leaves and flowering tips
Hawthorn herb contains approximately 0.05 percent essential oils, including limonene, camphene, cymene, further diterpene bitter substances, among which the furanolabdan lactone marrubiin as the main substance, also premarubiin, up to 7 percent tannins, ursolic acid, choline, flavonoids with flavonic and flavonol glycosides. These include quercetin, luteolin and apigenin. The most effective substances are the diterpene bitter substances, especially the Marrubiin - the medicinally effective oils contain other plants to a much greater extent.
Bitter substances loosen mucus
The bitter substances work against mucilage in the bronchi. Bitter substance receptors are not only found in the mouth and throat, but also on the muscle cells of the bronchial system. If these receptors are now activated by the bitter substances of the horehound, the bronchi expand and the mucus can loosen.
The bitter and tannins stimulate gastric activity and promote the production of stomach acid. More bile is poured out. This helps horehound against bile complaints, flatulence, feeling of fullness, loss of appetite, but also for diarrhea. The tannins help the intestinal mucous membranes to regenerate after severe irritation and injuries.
Horehound supports the functions of the liver cells. The essential oils loosen stuck mucus in bronchial diseases and thus help to cough up. New studies in mice also suggest effects against water retention (edema) in the body. Horehound acts against pathogenic bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus. The active substances here are the essential oils.
Horehound is also a traditional remedy for high blood pressure, recent studies do indeed show a tendency in this direction, but especially of extracts of the horehound root. Hawthorn has an antipyretic effect and has served as a replacement for quinine in the past. Slightly antiseptic effects led to the fact that horehorn extract was applied to external wounds, especially with scab formation and ulcers.
According to the EMA Comitee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HMPC), horehound is recognized as a medicine for coughs caused by the common cold, mild dyspeptic symptoms (flatulence, flatulence) and temporary loss of appetite. The bitter substances promote the flow of bile. These effects are also confirmed by the European Commission E. The HMPC does not recommend use until the age of 12, and pregnant women should not use the herb.
Common uses against skin inflammation, inflamed mucous membranes and inflammation of the throat and mouth are obvious because horehound contains many tannins, but clinical studies have so far not been able to confirm such effects sufficiently.
Horehound is well tolerated and safe. If you have heart problems, you should consult your doctor before using any preparations for slimy cough and / or indigestion. Side effects are not known.
Horehound is made into pressed juice or tea, and herbal wine and liquor are also common. We prepare horehound tea by pouring 200 milliliters of hot water over a teaspoon of the herb and steeping it for about ten minutes. We then drink up to three cups of it a day, before meals.
Ready-made hawthorn products can be bought in pharmacies - tea blends with other medicinal plants, pressed juices and dried herbs. Hawthorn herb is around three to four euros per 100 grams. The tea and juice are especially recommended for tough coughs and digestive problems. In pharmacies there is also ready-made cough syrup based on horehound.
Angocin bronchial drops and cough elixir
Hawthorn is part of some finished medicinal products such as bronchial drops and cough elixirs.
The horehound grows along the way, prefers sunny places with nutrient-rich soil. We find it on dry pastures, on wasteland and debris. It grows up to 80 centimeters high, has a white leaf surface, the leaves, which sit on hollow stems with felted hair, are also hairy above and below.
The white flowers come out from June to September, they sit in the armpits of the upper leaves and form false whorls. The cup has a tubular shape, shows ten fine teeth with often hook-shaped tips. The fruits are oval with a smooth, hairless surface and enclosed at the bottom of the calyx.
The horehound can be superficially confused with lemon balm or field mint, with which it is related as a labiate. The leaves of catnip are particularly similar. However, it has rounder leaves and, unlike the other three, is hairy on the underside of the leaf.
The flowers do not sit in spikes at the end of the shoot, but, like the white deadnettle, as wreaths on several levels above the leaf roots. You can also recognize lemon balm and mint by the typical lemony (lemon balm) and minty (field mint) smell.
Horehound in medical history
Hawthorn is one of the oldest written medicinal plants. Roman physician Aulus Cornelius Celsus, for example, recommended the white horehound for respiratory complaints and severe coughing, i.e. for ailments against which horehound products are still used today. The Greek Dioskurides recommended it in the first century of our era against diseases of the respiratory tract and ear pain and, applied externally, against wounds and ulcers.
In ancient times, horehound was also said to help against poisoning. Scientific studies of the modern age show that this is not the case. In the early Middle Ages, use as an antidote appeared to be one of the most important uses of the horehound, and it was very popular in monastery gardens.
Abbot Walahfrid Strabo (809-849) from the Reichenau Monastery wrote in his work “Hortulus”: “Should I… discuss the horehound, the valuable, powerful-looking herb. There is a sharp fire in the mouth and its taste is very different from its smell: it smells sweet, but tastes hot. However, it can relieve severe chest tightness if consumed as a bitter potion. If the stepmothers ever mix hostile poisons into the drink or perishable amounts of perishable Eisenhut, a potion of the medicinal horehound, taken immediately, scares away the impending dangers to life. "
In the Middle Ages, Christian healer Hildegard von Bingen discussed the herb as effective against gastric and respiratory complaints. Hawthorn was used with sage, thyme and fennel, in liquid butter on the scalp. Herbal books from the later Middle Ages mention horehound tea and horehound wine as a remedy for mucilaginous lungs. Severe cough was treated with horehound in combination with violet root. Paracelsus even called Andorn the "doctor of the lungs".
In addition to these applications for diseases of the respiratory tract, cough and stomach problems, which are still valid today, the herb should also help against worm infestation, diseases of the liver, kidney and spleen and facilitate childbirth. A mixture of horehound, Odermennig, Borage and Alant was used as a remedy for constipation and jaundice (hepatitis), and it was used in wine. A brew of hawthorn applied externally was considered a remedy for skin problems such as grind, genital warts, eczema and dandruff.
As a wild herb, the once ubiquitous hawthorn has become very rare today - it can now be easily planted in the garden. Even more: it quickly becomes invasive. It is very hardy, provided the location is protected from the wind. If the degrees of frost are not too strong, it even retains its leaves in winter, and you can harvest the fresh leaves to make a cold tea.
The location should be sunny, the earth enriched with compost, but not overcrowded with nutrients. It is important to have a loose soil through which the rainwater can drain, because the plant cannot tolerate waterlogging. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
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