Horehound Lozenges: The Homemade Remedy For Sore Throats, Coughs, and Asthma

Horehound is a perennial herb from the mint family. Known for it’s bitter taste and incredible curative properties, it is used primarily in the treatment of respiratory and bronchial illnesses–such as sore throats, coughs, and asthma.

It acts as an expectorant as it loosens phlegm in the chest. Marrubiin, one of the compounds in horehound, stimulates bronchial secretions thereby helping to break up congestion. Research also indicates that marrubiin acts as an antibiotic as well as an anti-viral.

Additional Benefits of Horehound

In addition to the respiratory system, horehound is also beneficial for the digestive system. In fact, horehound may help with all of the following:

  • Intestinal gas
  • Nausea
  • Parasites
  • Jaundice
  • Sore Throats
  • Cough
  • The common cold
  • Asthma

Horehound is often prepared as a syrup or tea. However, our family prepares horehound lozenges to have on hand for a quick go-to remedy, should the need arise.

Horehound Lozenge Recipe

Ingredients

-1 cup dried horehound leaves
-1 cup water
-1 1/2 cup raw, local honey

Equipment

-stainless steel pot
-cheesecloth
-spoon
-cookie sheet
-candy thermometer (optional)

Directions:

1. In a small stainless steel pot, boil the horehound leaves and water, covered, for 25 minutes.

2. Cool and strain the mixture using a cheesecloth.

3. Reserve the liquid and compost the leaves.
4. Add the honey to the liquid, return to the pot, and bring to a boil once again.
5. Once boiling reduce to a simmer.
6. Cook mixture, stirring constantly, until the syrup reaches 300 degree F (this will take a while). Or, if you’re like me and don’t have a candy thermometer, use the “test” (see below).
7. Grease a cookie sheet with butter or coconut oil and pour in the syrup.

8.When the syrup has cooled and is pliable, begin pulling off small piece and rolling between the palms of greased hand, form a small ball. Work quickly as the mixture hardens pretty fast. I like to institute the help of little hands! The children love helping at this step:)

9. Allow lozenges to cool on pan.
10. Store in a cool, dry place.

Notes

-The “test.” I do not own a candy thermometer so I use the “test” method when making this remedy. To insure that the syrup has reached the right temperature/consistency, I place just a drop or two of the syrup into a bowl full of ice water. If the syrup turns and stays hard (like a cough drop) then you know it’s ready. If it is still soft and sticky, it needs to keep cooking.

-Yes, these lozenges will have a slightly bitter taste. That is part of what makes them so effective as an expectorant.

-The yield is dependent on the size of your drops. I like to make some larger for adults and some smaller for the children.

-I purchase some of my herbs from a local health food store that sells herbs in bulk. Otherwise, I like to purchase from Mountain Rose Herbs or The Bulk Herb Store.

-Check here to find a source for raw, local honey.

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DISCLAIMER: The statements made here are the sole opinion of the author and have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure or prevent any disease. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Please consult a medical professional prior to using this remedy.

Comments

  1. I do remember horehound candies as a kid; my dad had COPD and asthma and sucked on these ALL THE TIME!

  2. Anybody have any suggestions for motion sickness? My 7 yr old gets carsick. Fortunately we've never had a vomiting episode! But she is miserable. And we live on some country roads, not to mention the current trend of 'stay-cations'!

    • I used to get carsick as a child and my mom would have me suck on lemon drops. Not sure if it was just in my head or if it actually helped but either way, it made me feel better. And of course the window rolled down for fresh air always helped too. HTH Poor little one. Carsick is just miserable.

    • We use the magnet bracelets. They work great. We bought ours at the pharmacy, but I’m sure you could find them on line as well.

    • Ginger root capsules work amazing on motion sickness. I used to open it and mix it into applesauce for my toddler. Growing up my mom gave it to our motion sick dog too. And I still use it with 100% success, I used to get them at health food store, but even walmart carries it now.

    • Betty Walsh says:

      Ginger, either candied or chews work great for motion sickness.

    • Margaret Asman says:

      Have her look straight ahead at the road and breath in and out with the motion of the car. I used to get so car sick and it is miserable. It’s even better if she sits in the front seat. After she gets adjusted to the motion still have her keep looking straight ahead and not to the side.

    • You could make your daughter some ginger or ginger-anise drops. Both are very good for nausea/vomiting. Make a strong tea of each herb and proceed as above.

      • sharon jeffrey says:

        My husband has suffered for 50+ years with motion problems. After many sick times and Dr. visits a neuro-surgeon told him about ginger. There is ginger gum, tea, NOT ginger ale there isn’t enough real ginger to do anything. Ginger Beer (non alcoholic) and Preggy pops. Found in the maternity aisle. Never motion sick again.

    • Simon Wolfers says:

      Ginger every time. When I go on a ferry etc I always take ginger beer with me.

    • As a passenger, if I have to endure a particularly long stretch of winding road, I intentionally look with my eyes far to the opposite way the care is turning. If the car is winding to the right, I look with my eyes to the left, then back to center as the car straightens, and so on. As a passenger this has saved me many times from getting that miserable sick feeling. Those winding parking ramps are the worst. Sitting in the front seat can help also, but a young child is supposed to be in the back for safety. I also cannot read in the car and that includes maps and electronic gadgets. (Immediately sick feeling) Gets me out of being the navigator with maps.

    • !I used to get sick myself when I was younger. Have her not read or looking out the wimdow.your eyes move rapidly when looking out the window. Have a movie to watch or play games. Hope this helps

    • I suffered with this as a child and still suffer with it now if not careful. Here’s what I found, sitting in front seat of car helps enormously, as does looking forward and having window down. But this is now always possible. Ginger, if she can handle it, is great for suppressing the upset feeling in the stomach, and pressing firmly on the pulse point of the wrist actually helps me a good deal, especially if I’m on a boat where I suffer badly with motion sickness. In the health food store you can find motion sickness tablets (if she doesn’t like ginger but can swallow a ‘pill’ form this is useful as the tablet is filled with ginger) as well as bracelets specifically to prevent motion sickness which has a little round marble like bump that is placed over the pulse point on the wrist. Peppermint, Lavender or even Orange Essential Oils all work well, a drop on a tissue and held to the nose when needed can make a huge difference. I found Peppermint to work the best for me. Another good alternative, if you can find it in a suitable size – sunglasses that have a wrap around, to help the eye from seeing all the things moving past at the sides. I had it so bad as a child, I would have to go to sleep almost as soon as we got in the car, and even now, if I start feeling car sick but discovered the peppermint thing when we were visiting a garden one day and .I picked a bit, on the way home I kept sniffing it and it was the first time I could remember where I wasn’t sick while being awake in the car. Hope she finds something to help her soon, it’s awful suffering like that!!

    • Henriette Verschuren says:

      fresh garlic with warm water and honey

    • richard1941 says:

      I had a passenger in a small airplane I was piloting. He was about to vomit. However, he recovered immediately when I handed control of the aircraft over to him. (At which point, he began to make ME airsick!)

      When you are driving, you don’t get motion sickness. That is the cure. Of course if you are six years old and have no driver’s license, the police might be interested in you.

      • Ginger. We have a car diffuser and put ginger essential oil in it. The drops behind the ear, ginger candy and ginger gum did not help us.

    • Tina Hoffman says:

      I use crystallized ginger and it really helps, you only need a small amount . You can get wrist bands to put on her wrist. They push on a pressure point and help with motion sickness.

    • A couple of things for Nausea/ motion sickness that are non-prescription are #1 Peppermint,(can be in candy form,) #2 using rubbing alcohol, on a swab, and inhaling the vapors through the nose,( this works about 50% of the time for post-operative patients experiencing nausea before moving on to prescription medicine, #3 There are several types of over-the-counter meds, such as Dramamine and Scopalamine, and last but not least, #4 You can purchase acupressure bracelets in most pharmacy’s, these have rave reviews by people whom they work for, but I have not had them work for myself, or my children. :) Hope this helps, Andrew.

    • Dr Frank Penunuri Loe MD says:

      3 drops of gasoline on a esquer of sugarbut I have not had them work for myself, or my children Hope this helps, Frank

    • Myself and all my kids get car sick. My 10-year old daughter would not take ginger, so I bought her Accupressure bracelets. She puts them on an hour or so before the ride. They just put pressure on her points on her wrist. She says they work! Try them for sure. They are are most drug stores or Whole Foods for sure.

    • Use Motioneaze! it is amazing! You can buy the stuff at Wally World, CVS, etc. It is a mixture of Lavender, Peppermint, Frankincense, Chamomile, Myrrh, Ylang-Ylang and Birch oils. You just dab the stuff behind your ears and in about 10 min it soaks in and is completely effective. I can even ride on the city bus again since I found this amazing stuff! It even works AFTER you start feeling sick. It just takes a little more time then.

    • You could do this same thing with ginger and it would help with motion sickness. My brother also used the bracelets when he fished in AK and they helped a little. I found that when I was a kid that looking out the front window helped to. Best of luck.

    • Connie French says:

      My sister used to get car sick when her feet touched the floorboard. As long as we let her keep her feet in the seat, she wasn’t sick.

  3. Stacy Makes Cents says:

    Another one to print…..I really need to buy that book you're using!

  4. Neato! we'll have to do this!

  5. These look very interesting Ill HAVE To find time to try it out too.
    For motion sickness I heard that nibbling on ginger snap cookies helps. or sipping on gingerale
    KAT

  6. Sounds great! I do have one question – why use raw honey when you are going to boil it? Doesn't that erase the benefit of raw honey?

    @Anon – you could try sea bands for the motion sickness.

  7. @Tammy Excellent point concerning the honey! It's just habit;) And it's what I have on hand.

  8. Hannah Elise says:

    I love this idea, but I can't help but wonder if I can even use them. *wah* :( During my teen years I developed an allergy – I have never been tested for it but we think it is menthol, as, for example, I can handle the DayQuil gelcaps but when I had the liquid, I reacted… and the only difference in ingredients that we could see was menthol, for the throat-soothing properties. I've also reacted to Halls cough drops, Ricola cough drops, mint candies/gums/ice creams. And yet, my JASON SeaFresh toothpaste involves mint… and I don't react to THAT. *head scratch*

    I would love to know if I could have these or not. Maybe I'll just have to make some up and try one with Benadryl on hand. Even if I can't have them, my husband could.

    • I’d use caution here Hannah you sound like I did about four years ago. Eventually I couldn’t use Benadryl my save me medicine to go to. That Jason stuff is the best ;) After years of suffering allergies I developed nasal polyps I didn’t even know of such a thing! I had surgery to remove them. Now I am extra cautious. Just FYI-ing because your comment sounds like I did exactly.

      • p.s. I’m no doctor but since you have trouble with ice cream, candies, gum look into sorbital, guargum,HFCS, I tried a long time to pin point allergy symptoms by trial and error and stand by me Benadryl. Best of luck….you’ll save more money in the long run if you just have an allergy test.

    • I’m allergic to cough medicines but I’ve never discovered what part I’m allergic to. As a baby I had seizures, a child I would vomit extensively, and now as an adult I just get a really bad stomach ache. Horehound cough drops don’t bother me a bit, except for the taste… SLIGHTLY bitter? Umm no. I actually change mine up a bit by adding cinnamon and rolling in powdered sugar to keep them from sticking to each other in whatever container I put them in. Been making these off and on for years! Adding lemon helps too.

  9. Anon – my daughter always used wrist wraps with pressure points and never got sick again – purchase at any drug store.

  10. Excellent post, we grew a couple large patches of horehound this year and plan on using it medicinally next year…this is just the recipe we have been looking for. Thank you for sharing it.:)

  11. ginger is great for nausea. you can get it in chewable candy form or in pill form.

  12. Very cool! Will have to try this recipe! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Very interesting~I tend to have allergies to honey, so I wonder if I could find another way to make those lozenges.

  14. @Teresa You can substitute the honey for 2 cups of sugar:)

  15. Michelle L. says:

    Cool tutorial and what a fascinating blog!

  16. KarenLynn@Lil'SuburbanHomestead says:

    I am a huge believer in hore hound drops! They work!

  17. This is awesome. I'll have to order the horehound.

  18. Jill@ RealFoodForager.com says:

    Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

    http://realfoodforager.com/2011/12/fat-tuesday-december-27-2011/

  19. DISCLAIMER: The statements made here are the sole opinion of the author and have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

    This is even more of an encouragement than a warning! Thanks for sharing this info and keep up the good work ~Cohesive1

  20. What a great idea ! I have an abundance of horehound growing in my garden and now know what I can do something with it! Thanks !
    PS. I love your blog !

  21. This looks like a good recipe! Thank you!

  22. I have a question. I’m making these, but the horehound absorbed ALL the water in the pan. There was no liquid left at all. I added another cup of water and am trying that, but do you have any idea why? My horehound looks the same as your photo.

    • It does absorb the water but as you simmer and then strain you should have about 1/2-3/4 cup of liquid. Don’t worry though…you didn’t mess it up by adding the water just be sure to only use about 3/4 cup of the brewed horehound tea in the recipe and save the rest (or drink it).

      • Mine also cooked all the water out within 5 minutes, but because you said it would I left it ;)… Well I wonder if it’s a elevation issue or something, but the water was all gone and before I knew it I had burnt horehound :( It’s so expensive too! :( It’s okay though, I salvaged some off the top and am boiling water separately now… I will try making an infusion this way… Thank you so much for showing us how to make these wonderful things! I just finished the cough and cold syrup and love it! :)

      • I’m making this right now and I’m also having to add extra water. I tried making only half the batch (1/2 c. horehound) but have had to put in 1 1/2 c. water just to keep it from burning!

  23. Lori Savage says:

    I really liked this idea. I made them today and they turned out very well. My question is how do you store them. I tossed them in some powdered sugar and stuck them in a sandwich bag but I thought maybe you might have some good suggestions.

  24. How long would you say i could keep these and they would remain potent?

  25. As a person who reads your blog a lot since finding it I must say something to this article. I suffer sinus problems, allergies, & asthma. This would not help me I have tried this method but ‘because’ it produces mucus or breaks it up , it would make me have uncontrollable coughing, nose dripping, accompanied by sinus headache and all over achy feeling. Until I drink enough water to wash it out of my system. I only use herbal remedies so I have to research what I use thoroughly. Just letting you be aware it may not work for the very reasons you state for some of your followers like me.
    **I enjoy reading your blog**

  26. I really liked this article I never knew that one could make their own cough drops. My 3 year olds are having a cough right now. Do you know if I could do this with Mullein I don’t have any of the horehound?

  27. Bernadette says:

    I just bought a bulk amount of horehound candy, which my kids take when ever they have a cough or the sniffles. It works well, but I’m interested in trying this recipe..just a quick question..do you think there is a limit to the amount of horehound you can ingest? Like not more often than every 4 hours or something? Also, I know for a fact that my kiddos are not going to enjoy the bitter taste, would it effect the consistency of the candy if I added more honey or an addition of sugar to make it more palatable for a childs taste buds?
    Thanks!~

  28. Mariah Ward says:

    Wouldn’t the high temp used to create these kill off the benefits of the herb/ raw honey??

  29. I’ve been studying herbal medicine for years and have NEVER boiled any herbs, EVER! I was taught that it degrades the herbs and the healing properties of the raw honey. So, I cook it a lot longer at a much lower temperature. I also never put my tinctures in a sunny window, as another recipe here says to do. Always in dark jars in dark places. Not sure if it would make a difference with tinctures, but definitely oils stay in the dark. I also use Everclear, the alcohol content is higher than vodka.

  30. Could you reduce a little of the water by an equal amount of lemon juice?

  31. I’m from the Phoenix area as well – could you provide the name of the store that sells herbs in bulk becuase I haven’t been successful in finding one – Thank you.

  32. Hello. I was wondering about using Lemon essential oil in these…

  33. Could I also use the left over dried herbs I used for the cold/flu tincture in this recipe? Or should I just do horehound by itself?
    Thanks for posting all ur natural meds. I love them instead of worrying about weird stuff in store bought ones. Especially for my 18 month daughter since she is too young for the store stuff. I give her a little bit of natural meds and she is fine. Thanks

  34. I just made this and found that i had to use a lot more water to just saturate the horehound. Is there any harm? I feel like so much evaporates anyway with the boiling time. I had to simmer mine to avoid burning the pan…

  35. I need you advise on these. We made them but they are darker, even though I had candy themoometer in watching for right temp. Now we dried them for 2 days on cookie sheet. Now i have them in a jar and tin and we can’t get them out. So suck together. First what did I do wrong? Second can I melt them to maybe make a cough syrup instead? Really could use some advise. Don’t want to throw away all of my Honey!

  36. I made these to a beautiful lemony result on the 2nd attempt. It’s very important to get the ‘simmer’ step correct. I rolled the cooling mixture into round lozenges and coated them in icing sugar. I had a couple to try. I must say I slept like a baby too and completely forgot about my cough except for bringing up ….well, it seems to have an expectorant effect anyhow. Thanks so much.

  37. I tried this and failed miserably….wish I wouldn’t have used my expensive honey! I’m sure it was my fault as I have a very high-need little boy underfoot and was not able to pay close attention to the boiling processes. Did a taste test and it was definitely BITTER! Would highly recommend adding lemon/cinnamon etc. if giving it to little ones. My little ‘eat anything in site’ man cringed. Good luck to everyone else! Might be one of those ‘make after the kiddo is sleeping’ recipes for me…but I might just stick with making herbal tea! ;-)

  38. I recently made a batch of these. They are bitter but very good. My husband likes to put a lozenge in his morning coffee. Mine also stuck together so I found that I had to individually wrap them. I used some old mini-cupcake papers that I have had for years!

  39. I tried this recipe and never could get the mixture to reach even soft ball candy temperature after almost an hour, what was I doing wrong? Huge waste of expensive herbs :(

    • Mine didn’t either. I think maybe next time I will keep mine boiling until it reached 300. VERY unhappy at the waste of herbs and honey.

  40. Thankyou for this post. I grew horehound in my garden after learning it was good for sore throats but never knew how to make it into cough drops. I am so excited to try this (after about three yearrs of just cutting the herb back!).

  41. so cool. you could use a candy mold to make nice little shaped lozenges.

  42. OK what am I doing wrong? I used 1 cup of water and 1 cup of horehound dried leaves. The water was immediately absorbed into the leaves and was impossible to boil. I added 2 more cups of water. It also states when we add the liquid and honey to bring to a boil, reduce and simmer to 300 degrees. Mine boiled before 300 degrees. Therefore, it never reached it. Will this still turn out?

  43. Peppermint/Ginger Tea to carry in the car

  44. we always took drives in Ak and the crooked roads made me sick but if I ate some chips pickles or fruit I never got sick.maybe just the chewing helped

  45. hoy leuke webblog ik zou graag een andere naam voor horehound, wat is dat ik probeerde de vertaling in het nederlands maar het blijft hetzelfde. zou graag weten waar ik het kan verkrijgen. met de vriendelijke groeten

  46. My mother would always buy these at the heath food store~Thank you so much

  47. Hard candy making seems easy for those with experience doing it. For those who have not made Hard candies before this, It can be very difficult due to the complexity of extracting the herbs before using this as your candy base. Hard candy with plain sugar water can be difficult to first time candy cooks. I would strongly suggest asking a friend with some candy experience to help until you learn the ropes, and remember, Time, temperature, and humidity, are the main factors in hard candy making. Hope this helps, ;) Andrew.

  48. Please do not boil honey EVER. Boiling honey will kill all the medicinal properties rendering it a normal sugar. For that, you might as well use brown sugar. :)

  49. scenic route says:

    i made these. i have first degree burns where it spilled a little on my arm! (ive made candy before, this was a little different!) and they are inedible. its just too much. the horehound is too astringent and no amount of sugar can cover that up. plus, the cost outweighs the cost of buying a small package to have on hand. If i was up in the wilderness somewhere and i was homesteading and this was my only option — nope. i;d inhale thyme tea steam or do something like that i would not waste my prime ingredients and fuel and time on these. yuck. and a pain in the neck t make.

  50. scenic route says:

    i harvested the horehound i grew. used it in other ways just fine…

  51. Iris Mendez says:

    Hi! My daughter and I greatly enjoyed making this recipe and initially the drops looked exactly like in your picture but 24 hrs later the honey began to ooze out… I rolled them in sugar hoping that that would be enough but now (3 days later) they are a sticky mess. Any recommendations? thanks, greetings from Oaxaca, Mexico.

  52. Where do you find horehound leaves????

  53. When I was a kid, my grandmother would ask, “Would you like some candy?” when I came to visit. I thought, “Oh boy…candy! Maybe a Hershey bar or some M&Ms.” Instead she gave me a horehound lozenge…I thought she was trying to kill me! Yuk!

  54. Trying out your receipe now that I have a sore throat. I didn’t want to make these ahead as your article has no info on shelf life or storage methods. Honestly so far I’m not impressed. After 25 minutes the horehound ducked up all the water completely. So I added an additional cup of water and now brewing yet again for another 25 minutes. I also don’t understand boiling honey. I think your receipe might need to be revised. What say you?

  55. Trying out your receipe now that I have a sore throat. I didn’t want to make these ahead as your article has no info on shelf life or storage methods. Honestly so far I’m not impressed. After 25 minutes the horehound sucked up all the water completely. So I added an additional cup of water and now brewing yet again for another 25 minutes. I also don’t understand boiling honey. I think your receipe might need to be revised. What say you?

  56. I ended up with about 1/2 c liquid after the brewing. I added 1/4 c lemon juice and several drop of lemon oil. I followed the instructions here and it came out wonderful! I would guess it took almost half an hr to reach 300 degrees.

  57. I’ve made hard candy before, but never with honey as the only sugar. Didn’t turn out well. the honey scorched long before reaching hard crack, even with continuous stirring. Now my kitchen smells like burnt honey and the drops are too bitter to eat. Think next time I’ll try substituting 2 cups sugar for the honey and see how it turns out. I used fresh horehound out of my garden, so didn’t have any issues with the water getting absorbed during boiling.

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