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OE wyrtig, adj: Garden-like, full of plants;
On anum wyrtige hamme, Homl. Skt. ii. 30:312




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Horehound. Many thanks to the British Library for providing this image from  
747:62, c. 1300 CE.






In Early Sources...






Growing horehound in your garden


Medieval Names for Horehound


Marubium horhune, harehune; marrubium harhune; marrubia harun; marubio harehune vel [...] roil

Herbarium Apuleii

Harehun; e grecas prassion 7 romane marrubium nemna 7 eac angle harehune hata; hre hunan; prassion ƀ is hare hune.


Haran hunan;  marubian sd, t is harenune



Walafrid Strabo



Horehound has been called common, white, wild, and woolly horehound, haran, horehound, houndsbane, llwyd y cwn [grey hound], marrubium, maruil, and prasion. It was known to the ancient Egyptians, and was described by Dioscorides (40-90 CE) in his Materia Medica; by Pliny (23-79 CE) in Natural History; and by Columella (4-70 CE) in De Arboribus -- all works known in Europe in the Middle Ages.


At the site of a Roman fort near Carpow, Scotland, a piece a large storage jar dating to 208-211 CE was found that was labeled with the Greek word prasion, horehound. The fort was the home of the VI Legion and it appears the legionnaires drank a cough remedy known to Pliny:

Most medical writers have spoken highly of marrubium, or horehound, as a plant of great utility…  The leaves  and seeds pounded together are good for snake bite, chest pain, and chronic cough. Mixed with grease, horehound is good for scrofula.

For a cough, mash horehound and fennel together, press out the juices. Take three sextarii, boil it down to two, and then add a sextarius of honey. Reduce again by a third. Give one spoonful a day, in water...

Pliny, Natural History, Vol. 20, Book 89

X. Marrubium

Quid refeream iuxta positi nimique potentis Marrubii ... Dulce enim olet, non dulce sapit; sed pectoris conprimit angores, tristi dum sumitur haustu, praecipue talis caleat so potus ab igni... Si quando infensae quaesita venena novercae potibus inmiscent, dapibusve aconita dolosis tristia confundunt, extemplo sumpta salubris potio marrubii suspecta pericula pressat.

Walafrid Strabo, Hortulus

10. Horehound

What shall I say about the powers of nearby horehound... 

Indeed, sweet smelling, not sweet tasting, but it can relieve a severe chest pain if you take it as a bitter draught, especially imbibed warm from the fire ... If, when a hostile stepmother seeks to do harm with poison, mixing deadly aconite into your meal, confound sorrow by promptly drinking horehound, and dispel the danger.

Walafrid Strabo, Hortulus

Ƿi lungen adle . Ȝenim hwite hare hunan . 7 ysopo 7 rudan . 7 Ȝalluc . 7 bryse wyrt . 7 brun wyrt . 7 wude merce . 7 Ȝrunde swylian . 7 of lcere isre wyrte . xx . peneȜa wiht . 7 Ȝenim nne sester fulne ealdas ealo . 7 seo a wyrtan . oet se sester ealo sy healf Ȝesoden . 7 drinc lce dȜ fstende neap fulne caldes . 7 on fen wearmes ltst . hit is haluwende bote.

Leechdoms, Cockayne, p. 374

For lung disease, take white horehound and hyssop and rue and comfrey and daisy and figwort and celery and groundsel, and of each of these plants 20 pennyweights, and take a pint of old ale, and seethe the plants until the the pint of ale is half boiled away, and drink it cold each day at breakfast, and at evening warm a little; it is a healing remedy.

Cockayne, Leechdoms, page 374.

is herbe dronkyn in olde wyn wole destroye sone alle venym and helpi e chinke [chin cough, bronchitis] ofte and e comone cogh eke. ...For women at trauaillen, hit wole also short a womans trauayle and abregge here rowes, in e same wyse drunken, and eke hastely bringe out e afterburden. Men seyn it is not goode to ete ne drinke horhowne for hem at hauen disease in e bladder or in e reynes [kidneys].

            Macer, Horhowne

This plant, drunken in old wine, will soon destroy venom and heal the chin cough [bronchitis] and often the common cough as well ...For women in labor it will shorten labor and ease their pain, in the same way drunken, and also quickly bring out the afterbirth. People say it is not good to eat or drink horehound for those who have disease in the bladder or the kidneys.
                             Macer, Horhowne

Harehune XLVI

Ƿi Ȝeoru 7 Ƿi t man hefelice hrce Ȝenim as Ƿyrte e Ȝrecas prassion 7 romane marubium nemne 7 anȜle harehune hata seo on Ƿtere syle drincan am e hefelice hrcen heo hine Ȝehle Ƿunderlice.

Herbarium Apuleii Platonici

Horehound XLVI.

For colds in the head, and for someone who coughs heavily, take this plant [that] the Greeks [name] prassion and the Romans name marrubium and the English, horehound; seethe it in water, give them to drink who cough heavily; it will heal them wonderfully.

Herbarium Apuleii Platonici,
in Cockayne, Leechdoms, pp 149-151

Ƿi …Ƿyrmas abutan nafolan Ȝenim as Ƿyrte marubium 7 Ƿermod 7 elehtran ealra … Ȝelice fela be ȜeǷihte seo on Ȝes Ƿetton … Ƿine tǷie oe riǷa leȜe to am … cǷel Ƿyrmas.

Herbarium Apuleii Platonici

For worms near the navel, take this plant marrubium, and wormwood, and lupin, of each the same weight; simmer in sweetened water with wine; two or three times a day lay on [[the navel]… it kills the worms.

Herbarium Apuleii Platonici,
in Cockayne, Leechdoms, pp 149-151

Ƿi lia sare 7 Ƿi ȜeǷind Ȝenim as ylcan Ƿyrte brn to ahsan do to am sare sona hit Ȝehl

Herbarium Apuleii Platonici

For sore joints and for fatigue, take this same plant, burn it to ashes, apply it to the sore; soon it heals.

Herbarium Apuleii Platonici,
in Cockayne, Leechdoms, pp 149-151

Ƿi attres iȜne Ȝenim ysse ylcan Ƿyrte Ƿis syle on ealdum Ƿine drincan sona t attor tofr

Herbarium Apuleii Platonici

For snakebite, take this same plant, simmer in old wine, drink; soon that the poison goes away.

Herbarium Apuleii Platonici,
in Cockayne, Leechdoms, pp 149-151

Ƿi sceb 7 Ƿi teter Ȝenim as ylcan Ƿyrte seo on Ƿtere Ƿeh one lichoman r mid r t sar sy . heo ofȜenim one scruf 7 one teter.

Herbarium Apuleii Platonici

Against scab and against impetigo, take this same plant, simmer in water, wash the body there where that sore is; it takes away the scurf and the impetigo.

Herbarium Apuleii Platonici,
in Cockayne, Leechdoms, pp 149-151

Ƿi lunȜen adle Ȝenim t yclan Ƿyrte seo on huniȜe syle ǷiȜȜean he bi Ƿondorlice Ȝehle.

Herbarium Apuleii Platonici

For lung disease, take this same wort, simmer in honey, give it to swallow; he will be wonderfully healed.

Herbarium Apuleii Platonici,
in Cockayne, Leechdoms, pp 149-151

Ƿi eall stinessa s lichoman Ȝenim at ylcan Ƿyrte . cnuca mid rysle leȜe to am sare heo hl Ƿondorlice.

Herbarium Apuleii Platonici

For all stiffness of the body, take the same plant, pound it with lard, lay it on the soreness; it heals wonderfully.

Herbarium Apuleii Platonici,
in Cockayne, Leechdoms, pp 149-151


Please note: Many plants have been used in past and present times for medicinal purposes, and as one of the focuses of Wyrtig is the history of gardening, these uses are discussed here. However, common sense requires that you consult your family physician or other health care provider before using any plant materials for medicinal purposes. The old saying that "A doctor who treats him- (or her-) self has a fool for a patient" is no less true in herbal medicine than in any other branch of the healing sciences. Herbal remedies should not be used by the uninformed; medical advice should be sought before using any herbal remedy.


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