Off-grid medicine – horehound

horehoundNow I’ve gone and done it, (a Texas phrase), this is such a rare thing to happen to me, I am sick. There I said it. About 4 days ago I could feel my throat getting sore, this does happen from time to time, but usually it lasts 3 days and is very mild. Not so this time, I  have been coughing so much that it feels like someone is punching me in the chest. I haven’t had a fever though, just this miserable cough. Now is as good a time as any to try out some herbal remedies.

horehoundThis particular herbal remedy is well known.  A few months ago I found a clump of horehound growing up the road from my place. It grows wild around here in abundance, so I dug up a few plants and transplanted it with some other herbs growing in pots on the deck. I am talking about white horehound, there is a black horehound, but for this purpose, get and use white horehound,  Horehound is in the mint family. It it a rather straggly looking plant, not something you would grow for its beauty, and you wouldn’t grow it for its taste either. Even though it is in the mint family, it has a rather vile, bitter taste. The bees seem to love it though, it has tiny, tiny little flowers that grow along its stem, the flowers are almost invisible they are so small, but they make up for it in volume. I can’t imagine that the little bees get more than a microscopic drop from each flower, but they go from tiny flower to tiny flower at a feverish pace, so they must be getting something from it.

Now back to my cough, I don’t have any store bought (commercial) cough syrup, I was wishing I had some NyQuil, but I don’t. I did have horehound right outside. I cut off a few stems, flowers and all, being careful not to get the honey bees. I also picked a few stems of chocolate mint to help offset the bitter flavor of the horehound.

I placed everything, stems and all in a stainless steel sauce pan and covered with water, I didn’t add a lot of water, just enough to cover. I chose stainless steel because it is non-reactive, either use stainless steel, glass (Pyrex) or enamled metal, I wouldn’t use aluminum, copper or cast iron. I turned on the fire under the pan and started a boil. In a clean jar, I poured in some honey, I don’t have exact measurements, it was about half a squeeze bottle of honey, the kind that comes in a bear shaped bottle. I put in about a shot of Everclear, that is a very stong, grain alcohol, I mixed this together. When the water in the pan had boiled down about half way (from the original amount of water) I pulled out the spent stems and leaves, what I had was a tea colored liquid, it was pretty strong. I strained that into the jar with the honey and Everclear. I mixed this together and tasted it, I took about a tablespoon full. Yup, it tasted sweet and bitter at the same time. I don’t care for the full on taste of honey, I find it to be too strong, but using it like this, that is a good thing, you need something to overcome the bitterness of the horehound.

The best way I can describe the measurements is I put in approximately equal amounts of honey to the horehound tea, the horehound tea is very strong, dark golden in color. Along with the shot of Everclear, the total amount of liquid is between a cup and a half to two cups. This should be refrigerated, especially if you choose not to add the alcohol.

EverclearIt is not necessary to add the alcohol, the honey and horehound will work just fine all by itself. The alcohol helps to preserve it, it also helps (IMHO) you get over your cold quicker, and it helps you to sleep better, it’s a main ingredient in NyQuil. If you don’t have Everclear, you can use whiskey, vodka or any other strong alcohol. I remember when I was a kid, my parents always had a bottle of whiskey, honey and lemon, it was dispensed one or two teaspoons at a time whenever anyone had a cough, you took the medicine then you want to bed to sweat out the cold.

All I know is when I take a spoonful of this mixture, once I get past the taste, my throat feels better, my cough is lessened, it’s no worse (tasting) than some of the other cough medicines I’ve taken in my life.

Of course you don’t have to go to all this trouble to make your own horehound cough syrup, you can find horehound candy in just about any health food or herb shop.

Disclaimer, this is not meant to replace proper medical care, we are not making any medical claims, we are not responsible for anything that happens as a result of your actions based on anything stated or inferred in this article.  We are not medical professionals. Keep this remedy out of the reach of children, especially if you used alcohol in it. Do not use if you are nursing or pregnant or allergic to any of the ingredients.






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6 Responses

  1. Horehound jelly delivers more of a candy flavor, good on pumpkin bread, etc.

    As you’re making jelly out of white grape or apple juice, add a large “tea bag” of pulverized horehound.

    Be be careful – The flavor will run from mild to bitter, depending on how strong you make it.

    This herb is also good for food poisoning.

    Or, potent steams can be inhaled to clear the chest.

    The ashes of cleansing plants have been used in fuller’s lye.

    1. penlem18, this has nothing to do with cooking or flavoring foods, perhaps you misunderstand the article, or maybe you are just adding more things that horehound is good for. Yes, it is bitter, that’s one of the reasons why it is mixed with honey. I made the original infusion of horehound very strong, so I added the same amount of horehound tea to honey, then added everclear alcohol, that makes you sweat, it also preserves the concoction.

      I didn’t know it was good for food poisoning, I’ll have to research that more, sounds good!
      Thanks for commenting. :)

  2. Hey Wretha get well soon!

    I normally make up a mixture of the cheapest smallest bottle of whiskey, honey, lemon juice mix real well and store for the first case of sore throat. But I like our recipe.

    Since you are home I have been curious as to what your web site shows as a location for me.

    I accessed site about 12:40+/- 2 minutes.

    1. Thanks Herb, I am on my way to getting better, I still feel like, well you know, warmed over manure, but it’s still better than how I felt a couple of days ago. :)

      My tracker shows you in Houston, I’ll email you the rest of the info I got from your visit.

  3. I hope you get to feeling better soon. Your remedy is interesting but I think I will pass. I have found that whisky, brandy, tequila or any liquor really with honey and lemon like you mentioned works wonders…at least you pass out and sleep soundly, lol.

    1. MsBelinda, I can say that (at least for me) it does work, I was teasing my hubby about the placebo effects wearing off and needing another dose. ;) He thinks it’s just the warmth of the alcohol and the soothing of the honey that makes my throat feel better.

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