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Many people are unaware of the health benefits of mullein and regard it as a plant to eradicate from their landscape.

The truth, however, is that mullein has many health benefits and is a favorite of many herbalists for its uses and versatility. Read more to find out about the many wonders of this remarkable, healing plant. 

Verbascum thapsus L.

Mullein

Figwort Family

health benefits of mullein
Image by lumpi from Pixabay

Height

To 7 foot tall in full flower; the leaves, to 8 inches.

Spread

2-3 feet

Parts Used

Flowers & leaves

Description

Mullein leaves are soft with fine hairs, which irritate the mucous membranes of the animals that attemp to eat them. The wooly leaves protect the plant from moisture loss and insects. Mullein’s round, fibrous stem is sturdy and produces bright yellow flowers from midsummer to early autumn. Dried, the flowers have a faint, honey-like scent.

During the early spring here in the Northeast, one of the herbs we look forward to is Mullein. This magical herb of antiquity has many names such as Aaron’s rod, candlewick plant, hag’s taper (a personal favorite), cow lungwort, and velvet dock.

What are the Health Benefits of Mullein?

health benefits of mulleinThe health benefits of mullein are many and varied. Mullein is a valuable herb for treating respiratory illness, coughs and congestion, and has been used as a specific treatment for tracheitis and bronchitis.

Its particular affinity is for the respiratory system, but it is also known to calm and strenghten the nerves, digestion, and urinary system. It’s a great herb for swollen glands and overall good at releiving pain.

Mullein leaves have a soothing, hydrating effect on the lungs and contain saponins that help break up mucus.

Mullein flowers are used to make ear drops to soothe earache.

Mullein root can be used to releive back pain and inflammation.

health benefits of mullein

How Do I Harvest Mullein?

Mullein is best harvested when the plants are young.  I typically gather mid to late April and before the plant sends up its tall flower spike.

Collect young leaves and dry them whole.  Crumble them for storage and later use. 

When collecting the flowers later in the season, you’ll want to pick them carefully to avoid bruising.  Spread in a single layer on a mesh screen to dry. 

Below are three common preparations for mullein and what each one is good for. 

Mullein Tea

Good for:

  • dry irritale coughs
  • bronchitis
  • laryngitis
  • pleurisy
  • swollen glands

To prepare mullein tea:

  1. Take a rounded tablespoon of dried mullein leaf alone or a mixture of leaf and flower.
  2. Pour boiling water over herbs and steep covered for 15 minutes.
  3. Strain the mullein leaves and flowers through cheesecloth to remove any fine hairs. 
  4. Drink as needed for dry cough or any irritation to the respiratory sysstem or chest. T

Mullein Flower Oil

Good for:

  • earache
  • nerve pain
  • hemorrhoids & piles
  • chest rub
  • chilblains

To prepare mullein oil:

  1. Pick mullein flowers on a dry summer’s day, and lay them on a mesh drying screen overnight.
  2. Put the flowers in a mason jar and cover with olive oil by at least one inch.  
  3. Cover the jar with a piece of cloth held on by an elastic band.  The cloth allows any moisture to escape. 
  4. Put the jar on a warm sunny windowsill and stir twice daily for two weeks. Stirring the mixture will keep the flowers submerged and reduce the possibility of growing mold. 
  5. After a couple of weeks, you’ll notice that the flowers have gone transleucent and faded.  It’s now time to strain the oil. 
  6. Pour the oil through a fine mesh strainer into another jar. If there’s water in the first jar, you’ll want to pour slowly to avoid transferring the water into the second jar. 
  7. Store in a cool, dark place for up to a year. 
  8. For earache, put 1 to 2 drops of oil into the affected ear as needed for pain.

Mullein Poultice

Good for:

  • Removing splinters
  • Drawing oit boils
  • Soothing back aches
  • Lymphatic swelling
  • Mumps
  • Broken bones

To Prepare a mullein poultice:

  1. To soften the leaves, place in a shallow dish and pour some boiling water on them.
  2. Let cool
  3. Place leaves on affected area 
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