Ballota nigra, “Black horehound” in English and “Ballotte noire” or “Ballotte fétide” in French, belongs to the Lamiaceae botanical family. It is a herb that can be 0.9 m tall.
Native to Central Asia and to the Mediterranean basin, very common in Europe, it grows in waste grounds, hedgerows, woods and shady places.
It has a long history of herbal use in spite of its unpleasant flavor. Its aerial parts were used to treat respiratory problems, convulsions, low spirits and menopause symptoms. It is now used mainly for its calming properties, to treat insomnia, anxiety, nervous spasms and menopause symptoms. An antispasmodic, it is also used against nausea, vomiting, cough…
Some of its main constituents are flavonoids, verbascoside and marrubiin. The main constituents of the essential oil obtained from stems and leaves are sesquiterpenes, β-caryophyllene, germacrene D, and α-humulene.