Home to Well Loved Goats and Gardens

Exploring Mullein

In the world of herbalism, certain plants stand out as unsung heroes, and one such herb is Mullein, (Verbascum thapsus). This versatile plant, which goes by various common names including Velvet Dock, and Candlewick plant, holds a treasure trove of medicinal properties waiting to be explored. Mullein is found in our area (Maine) and it’s perfect for that winter cough that is so familiar to us here. Let’s take a look at how to use this useful herb.

Botanical info:
Mullein belongs to the Scrophulariaceae family and can be found in disturbed areas with full to partial sunlight. Its unique star-like hairs covering the leaves make it easily identifiable. The plant is particularly intriguing because it is a biennial, flowering only in its second year before dying back. Mullein has a long taproot, making it tricky (but not impossible) to transplant, so starting it from seed is the way to go unless you are lucky enough to have dry, well drained soil where it thrives in the wild.

Medicinal Marvels:
One might initially dismiss Mullein as a weed, but its therapeutic potential makes Mullein a significantly important addition to your herbal medicine chest. It serves as a potent remedy for a variety of ailments, particularly those related to the respiratory system.

  1. Lung & Bronchial Congestion:
    Mullein’s leaves possess expectorant properties, making them effective in relieving bronchial congestion. By loosening stagnant mucus and aiding coughing, Mullein helps clear the throat and lungs. Smoking Mullein leaves can also soothe the respiratory system and act as an antispasmodic. (I have strong feelings around smoking anything as an act of healing. You can get relief from the smoke of Mullein by burning it as you would a smudge stick, in your room and wafting the smoke vs inhaling it from a smoking apparatus or rolled in paper.) Leaves are also made into tea, tincture, glycerites and extracts; offering multiple methods of herbal remedies. *For more on why smoking Mullein isn’t the best answer, please read this monograph on Mullein by Jim McDonald. He explains it so well. My version is “Smoke is ash. Your lungs are moist, pink tissue. Ash is going to stick to the tissue and dry it out, which is counterintuitive to healthy lung support.”
  2. Flowers for Earaches:
    Mullein flowers are a soothing solution for earaches and bacterial infections within the ear. They can be infused in oil throughout the growing season. Garlic is often added, but in my experience, the mullein flowers are enough.
  3. Lymphatic Congestion:
    Mullein can be used to improve lymphatic circulation. Its expectorant and demulcent properties help alleviate congestion in the lymphatic system. Applying a poultice made from Mullein leaves to swollen lymph nodes can promote lymph flow.

All parts of Mullein are useful. The leaves are generally harvested from both first and second growth. As a Biennial plant that grows only the leaves in year one, the fall of that first year is when the root has the most energy and should be harvested. The second year is when you harvest the leaves again and best of all; the flowers on the stalk.

The leaves dry easily out of the sun, just hang them or place them on newspaper in the shade. I crumble my mullein leaves to fit more into my gallon jars. Sometimes, I remove any thick pieces that my contain moisture so it doesn’t mold the entire batch in the jar.

To make the ear oil, I allow my flowers (harvested daily) to wilt for the rest of the day to remove much of the moisture (and any bugs I may have missed when harvesting) then drop them into oil. I place a coffee filter on the top of the jar instead of a lid to allow any excess moisture to escape. I like using sweet almond oil or olive oil depending on what I have on hand. Your oil will take on a rich, yellow color by the end of the season. Strain and keep it out of the sun. fill a dropper bottle with your ear oil. To use, warm that dropper bottle in a cup of hot water and drop a couple of soothing drops into the ear. It really does help! Of course, this home remedy is not to be used if the eardrum is ruptured.

I also use Mullein quite a bit in my tea blends. Here is a simple recipe for you to start if you are interested:

Breathe Easy Tea Blend

2 parts Mullein leaf, crumbled

1 part Peppermint leaf

1 part Chamomile

Honey, if desired

To use:

Combine the herbs and blend gently. Use 1 TBSP mixture to 8 ounces of boiling water. Cover and allow to steep for 8-10 minutes. Strain and add honey if desired.

Related Posts

Hot And Spicy In The Kitchen: Making Horseradish

Hot And Spicy In The Kitchen: Making Horseradish

At the farmer’s market this morning, I bought a large root of horseradish. Actually, I only bought half of the piece, because it didn’t smell that spicy, and I was worried it would be too mild. Isn’t it lovely? Making ground horseradish is pretty important […]

Farmhouse Flu Tonic

Farmhouse Flu Tonic

Flu tonic, fire cider, call it what you will, but this is a must-have for any herbal medicine chest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.