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Black Horehound

Black Horehound

General Information

The part of the plant that grows above ground is typically used to make the natural health product. The plant has a very strong smell and has clusters of red and purple flowers.

Common Name(s)

black horehound, ballotta, black stinking horehound, marrubium nigrum

Scientific Name(s)

Ballota nigra L. (Lamiaceae)

How is this product usually used?

Black horehound is a perennial plant that is widely distributed in Europe, Asia, and eastern United States. The part of the plant that grows above ground is typically used to make the natural health product.

Black horehound is available as aerialaerialplant parts appearing above ground parts (i.e., flowering tops and dried leaves). It is taken by mouth in different forms including dry powders, infusioninfusionthe process of steeping or soaking plant material in hot or cold water to isolate its active ingredients, tincturetincturea desired active ingredient that is extracted from alcoholic solutions, and liquid extractextractto get, separate, or isolate a desired active ingredients. The adult dose of black horehound ranges from 0.3 g to 12 g per day of dried herb tops. The dose is dependent on each formulation.

Your health care provider may have recommended using this product in other ways. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What is this product used for?

Traditionally, black horehound has been taken by mouth to help relieve nausea, vomiting, and digestive spasms (“nervous stomach”), and as a mild sedativesedativean agent that induces sleep, relaxes, and reduces tension. But more clinical studies on this herb are necessary.

Black horehound has been applied to the skin for gout or as a drying agent.

Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What else should I be aware of?

There have been no studies to prove that black horehound provides benefit and causes no harm. Its effectiveness in relieving nausea, vomiting, and digestive spasms has not been clinically demonstrated. Some studies show that the plant may have some sedativesedativean agent that induces sleep, relaxes, and reduces tension properties.

Black horehound is not commonly used due to its strong odour.

Contact your health care provider if your symptoms worsen or persist.

Information on black horehound side effects is limited. Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you experience breathing problems, chest or throat tightness, chest pains, skin rash, or hives.

Drug interactions associated with the use of black horehound products include iron supplements and sedatives. Black horehound can prevent iron absorption. Also, black horehound combined with other sedatives can have an additive effect and cause further sedation.

Avoid black horehound if you have a known allergy to it or if you are allergic to any of the ingredients found in the product formulation.

Pregnant and breast-feeding women and children should not take black horehound.

Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.


  1. Health Canada. Licensed Natural Health Products. Black Horehound. http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=45&lang=eng (accessed 18 May 2014)
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. Natural Standard Monograph. Black Horehound. (accessed 18 May 2014)
  3. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Black Horehound. 2009. (accessed 18 May 2014)

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