Plant profile – Mullein
“When we draw in a breath, we share that air with all other human beings and all other life on our planet. Through respiration, our oneness with trees becomes a manifest fact, and our communion with the oceans has immediate impact. The reality of the planetary whole reveals itself, with implications for all human life, through the circulation of the gases and energy of the atmosphere. This vision underlies holistic healing as much as it does ecology. The anatomy and physiology of the respiratory system is a complex and beautiful embodiment of integration and wholeness.”
Botanical name: Verbascum Thapsus
Common names: Great Mullein, Aharon’s Rod, Hag’s Taper, Velvet Plant, Torches, Our Lady’s Fennel, Big Taper, Velvet Dock.
Botanical Family: Scrophulariaceae
Part used: Flowers leaves roots.
Description: Mullein is a biennial plant. A rosette of large leaves (6-15 inches long) appears close to the ground in the first year. The leaves are light green and covered by soft, velvety silver hairs.
In the 2nd year, one undivided stem rises from the center of the rosette (about 5ft tall). The leaves that emerge from the lower stem are oblong but gradually change shape to ovate leaves.
Small yellow flowers bloom around the upper part of the stem. The flowers are half-inch in diameter, calyx five-parted; corolla open, wheel-shaped, and five-parted.
Growing and Habitat; Mullein likes rocky dry or well-drained disturbed soil and full sun.
Harvest mullein leaves from the first year of growth.
History and lore: Ulysses took Mullein with him as protection from the spell of circa the sorcerer. The long stems were dipped into suet (fat) and used as torches in religious processions in medieval Europe. In India, it was used to ward off evil spirits. After it arrived from the “old country,” Native Americans adopted Mullein as smoke and medicine.
Psychological Profile: Mullein is for people that are hardened. The plant grows on hard rocky soil but softens it with velvety leaves. It is for overly critical and judgmental of other people and themselves.
Prabhava (special potency): Mullein’s entire gesture is of shooting upward and outward. The short silvery hairs that cover the leaves are signatures to the villi of the lungs.
Mullein Leaves for the Lungs
Herbalist Matthew Woods points to Mullein when the lungs and kidneys are weakened. The lungs do not send water to the kidneys. Instead, the kidneys lose their capacity to drain the lungs. Edema and congestion ensue.
Mullein leaves are used for dry stuck coughs. As moistening expectorant, mullein leaves help release dry, thick mucus from the walls of the lungs so it can be expelled.
Although Mullein is used for cough and congestion symptoms, it will initiate cough as part of its attempt to support the body’s effort to expel the mucus. Mullein will turn an ineffective cough into an effective cough.
Mullein is especially beneficial for a hard, dry cough that is ineffective and that shakes the body’s frame and leaves the ribs sore.
Herbalist Micheal Moore indicates Mullein for the initial stages of infection when the chest feels warm and tight with raspiness in the throat and low fever.
Mullein leaves were used to reduce swelling in the lymph. William Cook called them “absorbent,” which I tend to understand as astringents.
Mullein leaves were also used for diarrhea. The combination of demulcent and astringent is strengthening for the bowel.
Mullein Flowers for Ear Infection
Mullein flowers are used for ear infections. They relieve pain and speed recovery. Mullein flowers are anti-inflammatory and analgesic; they move congested lymph when applied topically.
Mullein flowers oil was commonly used with garlic-infused oil, which is strongly antimicrobial.
Warning: never apply any kind of oil if the eardrum is perforated.
Preparation and dosage:
“The leaves should be used when the condition involves the lungs and kidneys; the flowers are better for the nerves. I like to use the tea made from the leaves, the tincture of the leaves or flowers, and the oil of the flowers.”
Safety: For some people, especially those with very sensitive skin, the hairs of Mullein can be irritating to the throat and lungs. In these cases, strain the tea through a fine mesh.
To learn more about Mullein , other herbs and how to use them join the Inner Circle.
A modern herbal. (n.d.). Mullein, Great. Retrieved December 23, 2021, from https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mulgre63.html
Easley, T., & Horne, S. (2016). The modern herbal dispensatory: A medicine-making guide. North Atlantic Books.
Herb profile: Mullein. (2019, January 26). My WordPress. https://grassrootsremedies.co.uk/herb-profile-mullein/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=herb-profile-mullein
Home. (n.d.). HerbalRemediesAdvice.Org. Retrieved December 23, 2021, from https://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/mullein-plant.html#Citations
Hughston, M. (2020, July 24). Mullein Monograph — Max The Herbalist. Max The Herbalist. https://www.maxtheherbalist.com/myplantallies/mullein-monograph
Moore, M. (2003). Medicinal plants of the Mountain West.
mullein… by herbalist jim mcdonald. (n.d.). Retrieved December 22, 2021, from https://www.herbcraft.org/mullein.html
Sajah, Popham. Materia Medica Monthly, Mullein. Retrieved December 23, 2021, from https://members.evolutionaryherbalism.com/members/mmm/materia-medica/mullein/
Sinadinos, Christa. Medicinal uses of Mullein Rot. Retrieved December 23, 2021, from http://medherb.com/eletter/Mullein-Sinadinos.pdf
Verbascum thapsus. Mullein. (n.d.). Henriette’s Herbal Homepage. Retrieved December 23, 2021, from https://www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/cook/VERBASCUM_THAPSUS.htm
Wood, M. (2017). The Book of Herbal Wisdom: Using Plants as Medicines. North Atlantic Books.