Black Horehound

Reviewed on 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

Ballota, Ballota nigra, Ballote Fétide, Ballote Noire, Ballote Puante, Ballote Vulgaire, Black Stinking Horehound, Marrube Fétide, Marrube Noir, Marrubio Negro.


Black horehound is a plant. The parts that grow above the ground are used to make medicine.

People take black horehound for treating nausea, vomiting, spasms, cough, and whooping cough. They also take it for relieving symptoms of nervous disorders, especially mild sleep problems. Black horehound is also used for increasing bile flow.

Some people apply black horehound to the skin as a mild drying agent (astringent) and as a treatment for gout.

Rectally, black horehound is used as an enema against intestinal worms.

Don't confuse black horehound with white horehound.

How does it work?

Black horehound has chemicals that might have a variety of functions, such as helping to stop nausea, vomiting, spasms, and other effects.


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Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Nervous disorders.
  • Whooping cough.
  • Spasms.
  • Increasing bile flow.
  • Gout, when applied to the skin.
  • Intestinal worms, when used rectally as an enema.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of black horehound for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Black horehound is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth, but the potential side effects of black horehound are not known.

There isn't enough information to know if black horehound is safe when applied directly to the skin or used rectally.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It's LIKELY UNSAFE to take black horehound by mouth if you are pregnant. Black horehound may affect the menstrual cycle, and this could threaten the pregnancy. It's also best to avoid putting black horehound on the skin or using it rectally during pregnancy, since safety of these uses is unknown.

If you are breast-feeding, don't use black horehound either. The possible effects on the nursing infant are unknown.

Parkinson's disease: Black horehound contains chemicals that affect the brain. There is some concern that black horehound might affect treatment for Parkinson's disease.

Schizophrenia and psychotic disorders: Black horehound contains chemicals that affect the brain. There is some concern that black horehound might harm people with schizophrenia and psychotic disorders.


Medications used for Parkinson's disease (Dopamine agonists)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Black horehound contains chemicals that affect the brain. These chemicals affect the brain similarly to some medications used for Parkinson's disease. Taking black horehound with these medications might increase the effects and side effects of some medications used for Parkinson's disease.

Some medications used for Parkinson's disease include bromocriptine (Parlodel), levodopa (Dopar, component of Sinemet), pramipexole (Mirapex), ropinirole (Requip), and others.


The appropriate dose of black horehound depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for black horehound. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Citoglu, G. S., Coban, T., Sever, B., and Iscan, M. Antioxidant properties of Ballota species growing in Turkey. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004;92(2-3):275-280. View abstract.

Didry, N., Seidel, V., Dubreuil, L., Tillequin, F., and Bailleul, F. Isolation and antibacterial activity of phenylpropanoid derivatives from Ballota nigra. J.Ethnopharmacol. 11-1-1999;67(2):197-202. View abstract.

Seidel, V., Bailleul, F., Libot, F., and Tillequin, F. A phenylpropanoid glycoside from Ballota nigra. Phytochemistry 1997;44(4):691-693. View abstract.

Seidel, V., Verholle, M., Malard, Y., Tillequin, F., Fruchart, J. C., Duriez, P., Bailleul, F., and Teissier, E. Phenylpropanoids from Ballota nigra L. inhibit in vitro LDL peroxidation. Phytother.Res. 2000;14(2):93-98. View abstract.

Daels-Rakotoarison DA, Seidel V, Gressier B, et al. Neurosedative and antioxidant activities of phenylpropanoids from Ballota nigra. Arzneimittelforschung 2000;50:16-23. View abstract.