Skip to content

Mullein (verbascum thapsus)

    mullein

    Family: Scrophulariaceae

    Grow zone: 3-9

    Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) has a long history of use in traditional herbal medicine for various respiratory and inflammatory conditions. While scientific research on mullein’s medicinal properties is limited, it is believed to have several potential health benefits. Here’s an overview of the traditional uses and potential medicinal applications of mullein:

    1. Respiratory Health: Mullein is commonly used to support respiratory health and soothe respiratory ailments. It is often used for conditions such as coughs, bronchitis, asthma, and congestion. Mullein is believed to have expectorant properties, helping to loosen and expel mucus from the respiratory tract.
    2. Anti-Inflammatory and Analgesic Properties: Mullein is considered to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. It has traditionally been used topically for relieving pain and inflammation associated with conditions like arthritis, joint pain, and muscle aches.
    3. Soothing Effects: Mullein is known for its soothing effects on the body. It is often used to help calm and soothe irritated tissues, making it beneficial for conditions such as sore throat, dry cough, and irritated skin.
    4. Ear Infections: Mullein oil, made by infusing mullein flowers in a carrier oil, is sometimes used as an herbal remedy for ear infections. It is believed to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that may help alleviate pain and inflammation associated with ear infections.
    5. Skin Health: Mullein has been used topically for various skin conditions, including wounds, burns, rashes, and insect bites. It is believed to have soothing and antimicrobial properties that may help promote healing and reduce inflammation.

    Mullein can be used in various forms for medicinal purposes, including:

    • Herbal Infusion: Prepare an herbal infusion by steeping dried mullein leaves and flowers in boiling water. This can be consumed orally or used as a steam inhalation for respiratory conditions.
    • Mullein Oil: Infuse mullein flowers in a carrier oil (such as olive oil or almond oil) to create mullein oil, which can be applied topically to the skin or used in ear drops for ear infections.
    • Poultice: Crush fresh or dried mullein leaves and flowers into a paste and apply it directly to the affected area for skin conditions, wounds, or insect bites.

    It’s important to note that while mullein is generally considered safe for most individuals, it’s always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified herbalist before using mullein or any herbal remedy, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications. They can provide personalized guidance on the appropriate usage, dosage, and potential interactions.

    It’s also worth mentioning that individual responses to herbal remedies can vary, and some people may have allergies or sensitivities to certain herbs. If you experience any adverse reactions or discomfort after using mullein or any other herbal remedy, discontinue use and seek medical attention if necessary.

    Medicinal Effects:

    Alterative (Health - increase; Vitality - increase): Restoring proper functioning to the body's metabolism, increasing health and vitality as well
    Anti-inflammatory: Alleviate inflammation throughout the body
    Anti-viral: destroy and inhibit the spread of viral infections
    Antibacterial: destroy or inhibit the growth of bacteria  
    Antispasmodic (syn. Spasmolytics; Spasms - reduce): prevents and eases spasms and relieves cramps  
    Cough And Cold (Decongestant; Demulcent; Anti-catarrhal; Antitussive):
    Demulcent (Cough & Cold - Soothe inflamed tissues/mucous membranes):
    Emollient (Skin - soften and smooth):
    Expectorant (Mucus - resolve): expels mucus in the respiratory system  
    Skin - Soften/Smooth (Emollient; Mucilage):
    Vulnerary (Wounds - Healing; Healing - Wounds;): Vulnerary herbs possess healing properties that promote tissue repair, aid in wound healing, and soothe skin irritations and injuries.

    Here are the steps to grow and harvest mullein:

    1. Planting:
      • Choose a location that receives full sun or partial shade.
      • Mullein can tolerate various soil conditions but prefers well-draining soil.
      • Sow mullein seeds directly into the soil in spring or early summer, as they require cold stratification for germination. Alternatively, you can start with nursery-grown seedlings.
      • Scatter the seeds on the soil surface or plant them at a depth of about 1/8 to 1/4 inch.
      • Gently press the seeds into the soil and water the area thoroughly.
    2. Watering and Care:
      • Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged during the germination and early growth stages.
      • Once established, mullein is somewhat drought-tolerant and requires less frequent watering. However, it’s still important to provide regular moisture during dry periods.
      • Mulching around the plants can help retain moisture and suppress weed growth.
      • Mullein has a deep taproot, so it generally does not require additional fertilization.
    3. Maintenance:
      • Mullein is generally a low-maintenance plant.
      • Remove any weeds around the mullein plants to minimize competition for nutrients.
      • While mullein can tolerate some degree of shade, providing adequate sunlight will promote better growth and flowering.
      • Mullein is a biennial, meaning it completes its life cycle in two years. The first year, it produces a basal rosette of leaves, and in the second year, it sends up a tall flower stalk. Be patient, as the flower stalk can take a year or more to develop.
    4. Harvesting:
      • Harvest mullein leaves and flowers when they are at their peak.
      • Select individual leaves or the entire flowering stalk as needed.
      • You can harvest the leaves by snipping them off close to the base of the plant.
      • For the flower stalk, cut it just above the basal rosette using clean pruning shears or a sharp knife.
      • It’s best to harvest mullein in the morning when the plant’s oils are at their highest concentration.
      • If you want to dry mullein for later use, gather the leaves and flowers in small bundles and hang them upside down in a cool, dry location. Once dry, store them in an airtight container away from sunlight.

    Keep in mind that mullein is a biennial plant, so it may not produce flowers until the second year of growth.

    Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) has a long history of use in traditional herbal medicine for various respiratory and inflammatory conditions. While scientific research on mullein’s medicinal properties is limited, it is generally considered safe for most individuals when used appropriately. Here is a general overview of how mullein can be prepared for medicinal purposes:

    1. Harvesting or sourcing: Identify and collect mullein leaves and flowers. Harvest them from mature plants during the appropriate season. Ensure that you have positively identified the correct species (Verbascum thapsus) and that the plants are harvested from areas free of pollutants or pesticides. If sourcing from a supplier, choose a reputable one that offers high-quality dried mullein leaves and flowers.
    2. Drying the plant material: Once harvested, carefully rinse the mullein leaves and flowers to remove any dirt or debris. Allow them to air-dry in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight, until they become crisp and brittle. This process may take several days or weeks, depending on the humidity and environmental conditions.
    3. Infusion preparation: Once the mullein leaves and flowers are dried, they can be used to make an herbal infusion. Here’s a simple method:
      • Crush or chop the dried mullein leaves and flowers.
      • Measure approximately 1-2 teaspoons of the crushed herb for every 1 cup (240 ml) of boiling water.
      • Place the herb in a heat-resistant container, such as a teapot or mason jar.
      • Pour the boiling water over the herb and cover the container.
      • Allow the herb to steep in the water for about 10-15 minutes.
      • Strain the infusion using a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth to separate the liquid from the herb.
    4. Dosage and usage: The dosage and usage instructions for mullein as medicine can vary depending on the specific health condition being addressed. Mullein is commonly used for respiratory ailments such as coughs, bronchitis, or sore throats. It can be consumed orally or used externally as a compress or poultice for skin conditions. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional or herbalist who has experience with mullein and can provide personalized guidance. They can recommend the appropriate dosage, frequency, and duration of use based on your individual needs.

    Please note that the above method provides a general guideline for preparing a mullein infusion. However, for more complex preparations or specific formulations, it is best to consult a qualified practitioner with expertise in herbal medicine.

    As with any herbal remedy, it’s important to remember that individual responses to herbal preparations can vary, and some people may have allergies or sensitivities to certain herbs. If you experience any adverse reactions or discomfort after using mullein or any other herbal remedy, discontinue use and seek medical attention if necessary.