How to make mullein oil?



What is Mullein?

The common mullein, usually found throughout the US, is a woolly-leafed biennial plant. During its first year of growth, the large leaves form a low-lying basal rosette. In the spring of the second year, the plant develops a tall stem that can grow to more than 1.22 m in height. The top portion of the stem develops yellow flowers that have a faint, honey-like odor. This, along with the stamens, constitutes the active ingredient.

Scientific Name(s)

Verbascum thapsus, V. phlomoides, V. thapsiforme

Common Name(s)

Mullein also is known as American mullein, European or orange mullein, candleflower, candlewick, higtaper and lungwort.

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Mullein boasts an illustrious history as a favored herbal remedy and, consequently, has found use in various disorders. Its traditional uses generally have focused on the management of respiratory disorders where it was used to treat asthma, coughs, tuberculosis, and related respiratory problems. However, in its various forms, the plant has been used to treat hemorrhoids, burns, bruises, and gout. Preparations of the plant have been ingested, applied topically, and smoked. The yellow flowers once were used as a source of yellow hair dye. In Appalachia, the plant has been used to treat colds and the boiled root administered for croup. Leaves were applied topically to soften and protect the skin. An oil derived from the flowers has been used to soothe earaches.

Miscellaneous uses

There is little evidence to indicate that the plant can offer more than mild astringent and topical soothing effects. It may have mild demulcent properties when ingested. Mullein has expectorant and cough suppressant properties that make it useful for symptomatic treatment of sore throat and cough. Antiviral activity of mullein has been reported against herpes and influenza. Clinical research is lacking.

What is the recommended dosage?

There is no recent clinical evidence to support specific dosage of mullein. However, classical use of the herb was 3 to 4 g daily.


Contraindications have not yet been identified.


Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.


None well documented.

Side Effects

No adverse effects have been reported.


Research reveals no reports of serious toxicities with mullein.

1. Mullein. Review of Natural Products. factsandcomparisons4.0 . 2005. Available from Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Accessed April 17, 2007.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Medical Disclaimer

More about mullein

Professional resources

  • Mullein (Advanced Reading)

Great mullein is a commonly used domestic herbal remedy, valued for its efficacy in the treatment of pectoral complaints. It acts by reducing the formation of mucus and stimulating the coughing up of phlegm, and is a specific treatment for tracheitis and bronchitis.

The leaves and the flowers are anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, expectorant and vulnerary. An infusion is taken internally in the treatment of a wide range of chest complaints and also to treat diarrhoea. The Native American Indians smoked Mullein for sore throats and lung congestion.

On top of all this, it has been proven to be beneficial for smokers’ lungs and can assist in weaning one off tobacco addiction. It has a calming effect on all inflamed and irritated nerves and this is why it works so well relieving coughs, cramps, and spasms.

Preparation: An infusion of the flowers in olive oil is used as ear drops, or as a local application in the treatment of piles and other mucous membrane inflammations.

A decoction (a method of extraction by boiling) of the roots is said to alleviate toothache and also relieve cramps and convulsions as well as a poultice made from the seeds and leaves are used to draw out splinters.

A decoction of the seeds is used to soothe chilblains and chapped skin. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh leaves to be used in the treatment of long-standing headaches.

An aromatic, slightly bitter tea can be made by infusing the dried leaves in boiling water for 5 – 10 minutes. A sweeter tea can be made by infusing the fresh or dried flowers.

Any preparation made from the leaves needs to be carefully strained in order to remove the small hairs which can be an irritant.

10 Amazing Health Benefits Of Mullein Tea Renold Rajan Hyderabd040-395603080 August 27, 2019

Did you ever hear about Mullein tea before? And are you aware that it is a special kind of tea that offers numerous health benefits? Also known as Candlewick plant and flannel leaf, this tea was used by the Greeks in the ancient times for healing cold, and also as an astringent and sedative. (1)

Would you like to know how to prepare this magical tea at home and the amazing benefits it offers? Then sit back and read on!

Mullein – A Brief

The Mullein plant is native to Europe, but later made way to the USA. In the USA, it is more of an invasive weed. It grows rapidly in abandoned fields and highway sides. Mullein tea is made from the yellow flowers of this plant. However, there are a few variants, and their flower colours can be purple and reddish. The plants can be six feet in height, and the aroma is similar to that of honey. It is also interesting to note that several alcoholic beverages contain mullein. (2)

How To Make Mullein Tea

It is quite easy to make Mullein tea, which can be consumed for its medicinal properties. You can easily grow the plant in the garden and it requires little nurturing as such. You can pick the leaves before the plant is covered with flowers. The leaves can be dried in the sun for use as tea.

  • At first, add two spoons of dry mullein leaves in a bowl.
  • Pour some boiled water over it.
  • Allow the tea to steep for some time.
  • Now use a strainer to strain the tea.

If you cannot get dried Mullein leaves, resort to fresh leaves. Remember that you will need to use fresh leaves to make tea. To add to the flavour, you can pour a few drops of honey and lemon juice to the tea. You can drink the tea both cold and hot. The tea can also be stored in the refrigerator for a few days and re-used.

Mullein tea benefits are surplus, let’s have a look at the major ones here:

1. Respiratory Ailments

Having Mullein tea can help you combat a number of respiratory ailments and conditions like cold, cough and bronchitis. It can also offer relief from sore throats. Its anti-bacterial properties help cope with inflammation and infection.

Besides, it helps discard excess mucus from the throat and nasal passages. (3) You may offer this tea to kids suffering from cold without worrying about any side effects. Apart from drinking the tea, you can also try gargling it two times a day to relieve sore throats.

2. Relief From Sleeping Problems

Insomnia is a growing issue amongst men and women belonging to various age groups. Instead of popping those OTC pills to doze off, you can resort to Mullein tea to battle insomniac nights. It acts as a natural sedative and soothes your nerves.

3. Relief From Tuberculosis

Several studies are being conducted today to establish that Mmullein can be used in the treatment of tuberculosis, skin diseases and even leprosy. (4) A number of them have also shown conclusive positive results. But did you know? Way back in the 16th century, Mullein was used to treat cases of tuberculosis. One 19th-century experiment conducted at Dublin also indicated the herb’s ability to aid in battling the ailment. It has expectorant and anti-bacterial properties, and more studies are needed to establish it as a complete remedy for tuberculosis.

4. Improving Digestive Issues

Drinking Mullein tea can help you cope with a number of digestive conditions and problems. It can provide relief to those suffering from diarrhoea and constipation. (5) It also helps cope with bowel related problems and help your body eliminate toxins easily.

5. Soothes Skin Conditions

Apart from Mullein tea, you can also use Mullein oil to get relief from a variety of skin conditions. It can work wonders on blisters, wounds and small cuts. In fact, you can apply Mullein leaf tea on sores and wounds externally too. It has a calming effect on the skin. Mullein, mixed with olive oil, can also be applied in such conditions for quick relief.

6. Relief From Joint Pain, Muscle Spasm

It is believed that Mullein tea’s anti-inflammatory properties make it ideal to use in healing joint pain. This herb can bring down the inflammation, and can also be used to treat muscle spasms.

7. Treating Asthma

Using Mullein tea can be beneficial for people afflicted with asthma. You can drink the tea, or can even inhale the vapor of the plant leaves in hot water. It can also be useful when you are suffering from nasal congestion. You can even use the dried leaves of the herb to make herbal and harmless cigarettes!

Since ancient times, Mullein leaves have been used to treat ear infections. Those suffering from ear ailments can resort to it instead of seeking antibiotic treatments. Some studies also suggest that Otikon Otic Solution, which contains mullein, can help treat ear pain and infection in children and teens.

9. Treating Thyroid Gland Problems

It is believed that drinking Mullein tea can improve thyroid related problems and bring relief from an overactive thyroid gland. However, not more than 3g of the herb should be ingested.

10. Headache Relief

When you suffer from headaches, using this tea can be more effective than resorting to OTC pain balms and sprays. The leaves and fruits of this herb have been effectively used for several years to treat migraine.

Side Effects Of Mullein Leaf

While using any herb or extract, you need to be aware of the possible side effects as well. Thankfully, Mullein plant and its tea do not have any documented severe side effects on humans. The few reactions that can occur in some users are not fatal and can be dealt with. Studies do not show any side effects even on pregnant women. However, it is suggested that expectant mothers avoid prolonged use of any compound that contains Mullein. The few not-so-fatal side effects of this herb are:

¬ Skin irritation:

Some women and men have reported skin irritation after using Mullen extracts in tea and other forms. It could be an allergy. However, avoiding the extract can cure the skin irritation in such people.

¬ Breathing issues:

Mullein leaves are fluffy and hairy. If they manage to get into throats, breathing issues can affect the users. This may happen when you make the tea and do not strain the mixture well. In some isolated cases, people taking the tea have reported difficulty inhaling and inflammation of the chest wall. However, medical intervention is not required in most instances.

While laying your hands on this herb can be difficult, do not give up. As exotic as it is, this miraculous herb can be just what you are looking for to get rid of that nagging headache or shoo away a nasty cold!

Hope you found this post helpful. Share your mullein tea recipes and experience with us by commenting below.

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Renold Rajan

A software engineer by profession, I have always harboured an interest in literature, movies and theatre! Through this portal I wish to share with readers my ideas and crafty tips that are sure to come handy in day to day life!

Make Mullein Tea From Your Herb Garden

Lately, more and more people have begun to understand just how limited — in both variety and nutritional value — our “modern” diets hove become. This realization has sparked a new and widespread interest in the culinary and therapeutic uses of herbs, those plants which although not well-known today — were, just one short generation ago, honored “guests” on the dinner tables and in the medicine chests of our grandparents’ homes. In this regular feature, MOTHER EARTH NEWS examines the availability, cultivation, and benefits of our “forgotten” vegetable foods and remedies and — we hope — helps prevent the loss of still another bit of ancestral lore.

Mullein Herb

This Mediterranean native — which can be found in fields, in pastures, and along roadsides all across the U.S. — was well-known to the early Greeks, who made lamp wicks from its dried leaves and to the ancient Romans, who dipped its dried stalk in tallow to produce funeral torches. Pliny noted that “figs do not putrefy at all that are wrapped in mullein leaves”, and Roman ladies reportedly used an infusion of the herb’s flowers to add a golden tinge to their tresses.

If you’d like to try such a hair rinse, boil just 3 to 4 tablespoons of dried mullein blossoms in a pint of water for 20 to 30 minutes, and strain the blooms out when the mixture is cool. After shampooing, pour or brush the rinse through your hair repeatedly until the desired shade is reached.


Though officially known as a weed, this prolific biennial is the herb of St. Fiacre — the Irish patron saint of horticulturists — and is a handsome garden or landscape addition. The plant — stout, erect, and growing up to seven feet tall — has large, pale green, spear-shaped leaves covered with a yellowish white velvety matting. Its straight stem is topped by a long, dense spike of yellow sessile flowers with orange stamens that bloom from June to September. The blossoms have a faint, pleasant scent that’s attractive to bees.

Growing and Using Mullein

Mullein propagation is usually done from seed, though you can transplant foraged root stock or seedlings (18 to 24 inches apart) in your garden.

During its first year, the young plant will produce only a rosette of downy leaves, followed — the second summer — by the long flowering stalk. Young rosettes make beautiful bases for larger flower arrangements. Mullein prefers chalky soil and a sunny position, but will flourish almost anywhere. However, because of its height, the herb should be either staked or sheltered from the wind. Once established, it will perpetuate itself by self-sowing.

Medicinal Mullein

Although not useful as a food, mullein (which is reportedly an antispasmodic, diuretic, expectorant, demulcent, astringent, sedative, and a non-narcotic pain killer) has, throughout history, been used in many medicinal applications. Its dried leaves have been smoked, burned as incense, and used in steam vapor to relieve lung congestion. A fresh leaf, when wrapped around a bleeding finger, makes a fine emergency bandage, and — in Appalachia — colds are commonly treated with mullein tea.

The flowers, if steeped in olive oil for about three weeks, produce an ointment that has been used to treat frostbite, chapped skin, hemorrhoids, and earache and is said to remove rough warts if applied as a poultice.

The plant’s foliage can also serve as blotters, toilet paper, containers for vegetables when cooking in a fire pit, and “gloves” when gathering such thorny herbs as stinging nettles. In pioneer days, girls in the Midwest rubbed their faces with mullein “fur” to bring a rosy flush to their cheeks, and — even today — children find that the big leaves make excellent blankets for doll beds!

For more helpful tips on how to grow and use herbs see Grow Calendula For Your Organic Garden and The Cooling Borage Herb.

Mullein has been used medicinally since ancient times, and its use and popularity only seem to be increasing as time goes on. The leaves, flowers and roots of the plant are used for the treatment of various inflammatory diseases, diarrhea, asthma, coughs and other lung-related ailments — making it one of the top herbs for healing.

An oil made from the flowers of the mullein plant is very commonly used to treat the pain and inflammation associated with earaches for children and adults alike. This plant might even be able to fight influenza, herpes viruses and some bacteria that cause respiratory infections.

Traditional use of this therapeutic plant, in its various forms, includes the treatment of bruises, burns, hemorrhoids and gout. The herb can be ingested, applied topically and even smoked. In the Appalachia region of the U.S., the plant has historically been used to treat colds and upper airway infections. Additionally, the leaves have been applied topically to soften and protect the skin.

Let’s talk about why mullein might already be, or soon will be, an impressive favorite in your herbal arsenal of natural remedies.

What Is Mullein?

Mullein is the name for any of the over three hundred species of the genus Verbascum, which are large biennial or perennial herbs native to northern temperate regions, especially eastern Eurasia.

Common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) grows up to seven feet tall and has a single stem with large, thick, velvety leaves and pale-yellow, slightly irregular flowers. This is the type that you will most commonly find in stores.

Sometimes the plant is referred to as Aaron’s rod because of it’s tall with yellow flowers.

Mullein Tea

Mullein leaf can be used to make a nourishing tea that’s been used in folk medicine. You can buy mullein leaf tea at your local grocery or health store, or you can make your own at home.

Drinking tea from this yellow flowered plant helps to relieve issues like sore throat, cough, colds, hoarseness and bronchitis. Some even use it to ease digestive complains like diarrhea and joint pain.

To make the tea, the leaves are simply simmered in boiling water and then strained.

Nutrition Facts

Research on the plant shows that it contains flavonoids, saponins, tannins, terpenoids, glycosides, carbohydrates, proteins, fats and oils.

It also contains approximately 3 percent mucilage, which is thought to be responsible for the soothing actions that the herb has on the body’s mucous membranes. Mullein’s saponins are believed to be the explanation for the herb’s expectorant actions.

Health Benefits

1. Ear Infections

Mullein has well-established emollient and astringent properties, making it an excellent choice for temperamental ear ailments.

A tincture containing the plant alone or a combination of mullein and other herbs is commonly found in health stores (and online) as a tried-and-true natural remedy for ear aches and infections.

A study published in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine in 2001 concluded that an herbal ear drop with mullein were just as effective as an anesthetic one.

People also use mullein oil to naturally treat their dog’s ear infections and other health problems with success. That’s right — don’t forget that natural remedies can be used on your animal friends, too!

2. Calm Bursitis

Bursitis is a painful condition that affects the small, fluid-filled sacs (called bursae) that cushion the bones, tendons and muscles near your joints. Bursitis occurs when the bursae become inflamed and research indicates that mullein has anti-inflammatory effects.

The most common locations for bursitis are in the shoulder, elbow and hip. To help bursitis naturally, you can simply prepare some mullein tea and soak a clean cloth in the warm tea.

The cloth can then be regularly applied over the affected region, which should help to decrease inflammation and serve as a natural remedy for bone and joint pain. You can also create a healing poultice.

3. Potent Disinfectant

Mullein oil is potent disinfectant that can treat both internal and external infections. Recent research published in Medicinal Chemistry shows that the plant has antimicrobial properties and can be used for the treatment of infectious diseases.

Internally, it has been known to treat infections in the ears, colon, urinary tract (including a vaginal yeast infection) and kidneys. When applied externally, it can help to fight infections on the skin.

4. Ease Respiratory Illness

Mullein tea can help to naturally improve a wide array of upper respiratory problems, including bronchitis, dry coughs, sore throats, general hoarseness and tonsillitis. Mullein for COPD is also used in folk medicine.

The leaves contain an extract with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that helps to rid the body of mucus and soothes the raw, inflamed tracts of your system, like your throat. Mullein as an asthma remedy may be effective because of its soothing impact on the bronchioles.

Smoking mullein is used by some for respiratory issues. In folk medicine, research suggests that dried herb can be placed in a pipe and smoked to treat congestion in your lungs. However, this is definitely a questionable way of using it and if used, should never be done for a prolonged length of time.

Plus, smoking mullein is one of the least effective means of using it’s beneficial properties. If you’re a smoker and having lung congestion, then smoking mullein rather than tobacco can be helpful.

5. Bacteria Killer

Researchers at Clemson University confirmed the antibacterial properties of mullein. In 2002, these researchers reported that the plant’s extracts are effective against several species of disease-causing bacteria including Klebsiella pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis and Escherichia coli more commonly known as E. coli.

Mullein Interesting Facts

Mullein has a lengthy medicinal history for being a therapeutic astringent and emollient. Since ancient times, great mullein has been utilized as a remedy for skin, throat and breathing problems.

The ancient Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist, Dioscorides recommended the herb for lung diseases of the lung.

The fresh leaves boiled in milk and consumed daily is a traditional Irish folk remedy for tuberculosis.

Mullein has historically been using in non-medical ways, too! People have used it to make torches and as a dyeing agent. Yellow mullein flowers have been used as a source of yellow hair dye. It’s also used as a flavoring ingredient in alcoholic beverages.

Some species have seeds that are considered toxic. The seeds of the species N. phlomoides in particular contains a type of poisonous saponin and are slightly narcotic. These seeds have been used to intoxicate fish, making them easier to catch.

How to Use

Mullein can be found in dried, powdered, tea, tincture and oil formulations at your local health store or online.

You can make your own mullein tea at home by combining 1 cup of boiling water with 1–2 teaspoons of dried leaves or flowers and letting the mixture steep for ten to 15 minutes. This tea should be consumed one to four times per day for medicinal reasons.

If you choose a tincture, then 1/4–3/4 teaspoon is typically taken three to four times per day. As a dried product, 1/2–3/4 teaspoon can be used three times per day.

For ear infections, you should follow the directions on the mullein ear oil bottle. Typically, you should drop slightly warmed ear oil into the problematic ear two to three times per day. For ages 1–10, use 1 drop and for those over 10 years old, use 2 drops.

As mentioned, smoking mullein is also possible and has been used as a natural remedy in folk medicine. Using this smokable herb can be done with a pipe, but it certainly isn’t the healthiest approach to using the plant for healing.


You can buy mullein tea prepackaged, but it’s also easy to make at home if you have some fresh or dried mullein leaves and/or flowers.

Tea: For sore throat, coughs and other upper respiratory issues, brew a strong mullein tea using 1 cup of boiled water and 1–2 teaspoons of dried leaves or flowers. Let the mixture steep for 10–15 minutes. Drink at least 1 cup per day until symptoms improve.

Hot Oil Extraction: Combine 1 cup mullein flowers with 1/2 cup olive oil in a glass double boiler over a low flame. Heat the mixture slowly for about three hours. Allow to cool and then strain using cheesecloth to remove all plant parts. Pour the strained oil into dark glass bottles and seal tightly.

Cold Oil Extraction: A cold mullein weed extraction can also be made by covering the flowers with olive oil in a glass container with a lid, set the container on a sunny windowsill to steep for 7 to 10 days, strain and store in dark glass bottles.

Side Effects and Drug Interactions

When used properly and for a short term duration, mullein side effects are highly unlikely. In general, the plant has no serious recorded side effects. However, there have been isolated case reports of people developing side effects like contact dermatitis.

Never use the herbal ear oil if your eardrum is perforated and make sure to consult a physician if symptoms are serious or do not improve quickly with natural treatment.

In terms of interactions, mullein has been reported to inhibit the effectiveness of antidiabetic drugs and it may intensify the effects of muscle relaxants and lithium. If you’re taking prescription diuretics, you should talk to your doctor before using the herb since it can also have a diuretic effect.

Mullein products are not recommended for nursing or pregnant women.

Final Thoughts

  • Mullein is probably best known these days for its use as a key ingredient in herbal ear drops. Whether its for a child, an adult or beloved pet, mullein ear drops are an effective and well-researched remedy for ear complaints.
  • But mullein’s impressive medicinal use doesn’t stop there. Whether it’s a tea or a tincture, mullein can be used to treat everything from colds, coughs and sore throat, to bronchitis, tonsillitis and asthma.
  • Having ear pain from an external infection that needs disinfecting? You can try applying a mullein compress or oil. Suffering from painful bursitis somewhere on your body? Mullein can come to the rescue once again.

What Is Mullein Tea? Benefits, Side Effects, and More

Mullein tea has been linked to several potential health benefits.

May treat respiratory conditions

Mullein has been used for thousands of years to treat respiratory conditions.

It may be especially effective at relieving asthma, which causes your airway to swell and results in symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath (4).

Animal and human research suggest that mullein tea works by reducing inflammation, thereby helping relax the muscles in your respiratory tract (5, 6).

The flowers and leaves of the plant are also used to treat other respiratory ailments, such as tuberculosis, bronchitis, tonsillitis, and pneumonia. However, no human research has studied whether mullein combats these conditions (3).

May help fight viral infections

Some test-tube studies suggest that mullein may possess powerful antiviral properties.

For instance, one test-tube study analyzed several medicinal herbs and found that mullein extract was particularly effective against the influenza virus (7).

Other test-tube studies show that mullein extract may also fight pseudorabies, a virus in the herpes family (8, 9).

Nonetheless, human research is needed.

Possesses antibacterial properties

Mullein tea may offer antibacterial effects as well.

One test-tube study found that mullein extract inhibited several strains of bacteria, including Bacillus cereus, which commonly occurs in soil and food (10, 11).

Another test-tube study noted that mullein extract reduced the growth of certain types of bacteria that cause infections, such as E. coli and Streptococcus pyogenes (12).

Although limited human research is available, one study in 180 children indicated that this herb may treat ear infections, which are often caused by bacteria (13).

This 3-day study, which used ear drops that contained mullein alongside several other herbal extracts 3 times daily, reduced ear pain by 93%, on average. However, it’s unclear to what extent this effect was due to mullein extract versus other herbs used in the ear drops (14).

Thus, additional human research is needed.


Mullein may have antiviral and antibacterial properties and help treat certain respiratory conditions. However, further studies are necessary.

By Jim McDonald

Mullein is an easily recognizable plant found throughout Michigan in fields, meadows, and anywhere the ground has been disturbed. It is a biennial, putting forth a rosette of fuzzy leaves upon the ground the first year, and sending up its characteristic yellow flowered stalk the second. After seeding, the plant dies. The dead brown stalk is an excellent indicator of where to look for first year rosettes, as they can often be found within 15-20 feet from the dead stalk. All parts of the plant offer an abundance of healing medicine.

An infused oil of Mullein flowers is perhaps one of the first remedies to think of in treating an ear infection, easing pain and speeding recovery time. The oil is simple to prepare: Find an abundance of flowering Mullein, pick the flowers and let them wilt for a few hours to reduce their moisture content, put them in a small mason jar and fill to the brim with oil… you may need to top it off again the next day. Set the jar, tightly capped, in the sun for a month or two, and then strain the oil into clean bottles. Because the flowers are quite tiny, about the size of a kernel of corn, you’ll need to have access to plenty of them, and use a small jar so you’re able to fill it. This oil can be applied with a Q-tip and allowed to work its magic. Mullein flower oil is often combined with infused Garlic oil (which is antibacterial and antiviral), and there are few remedies as effective for ear infections… I’ve also used it to treat infected piercings (not mine… so don’t go trying to figure out where I’m pierced:)! The flower oil also has an old reputation for deafness, though this assertion refers to problems arising from the accumulation of wax, in which the oil helps to clear the obstruction. It can be used to treat ear mites in animals.

Prepared as a tincture, Mullein flowers act to resolve swellings and ease the accompanying pain. I used a combination of Red Root and Mullein flowers once to treat an abscess in the ear canal, and the pain and swelling were quickly resolved (I was pretty impressed). I’ve used the same combination, along with ground ivy, to successfully resolve Meniere’s Disease that was just beginning to manifest. The flower tincture used internally is also of aid in treating swellings, and acts as a local anesthetic. It can also be mildly or even strongly relaxant; I haven’t quite figured out why it affects some people strongly.

The leaves are the most commonly used part of the plant, and among the first remedies to be thought of in treating congestion and dry coughs, as they are an excellent expectorant. An expectorant aids the lungs in expelling mucous and phlegm by loosening it from the walls of the lungs and allowing it to be coughed up; thus, Mullein will stimulate coughing, even though that’s the symptom being treated. What Mullein is really doing is assisting the body’s natural response to congestion – coughing – to be more effective. A strong tea, the tincture, and even smoking the dried leaves can achieve this end. Mullein is especially good for treating dry coughs that shake the frame of the body, and should be thought of whenever there is “wheezing”. I used a blend of Mullein and Plantain when I inhaled a bunch of plaster dust while cleaning it out of my house after the drywall was put in. It coated my lungs, and I got quite sick, with difficult wheezy breathing. The Mullein and Plantain started working immediately, and resolved the condition quickly. Mullein combines well with myriad other herbs; New England Aster for quivering, reactive lungs, a bit of Lobelia for asthma, Wild Lettuce if the uppermost reaches of the lungs feel dry and tight… I could go on and on.

Few people know, though, that Mullein is also an excellent remedy for the lymphatic system. Folk herbalist Tommie Bass says it can be applied as a compress to any instance of glandular swelling. The physiomedicalist Dr. William Cook called Mullein an “absorbent” of “peculiar and reliable power.” He recommended Mullein leaves be made into a strong decoction, then that water used to wet more leaves that were then applied externally over the swelling. To further increase the efficacy of the preparation, Mullein root would be taken internally. The use of Mullein flower tincture to relieve swellings is also due to its lymphatic actions, and among the various parts that can be used, I think it offers the most pain relieving qualities.

If few people know about using Mullein leaves for swellings, even fewer know about using Mullein Root for anything. Yet, it is an incredibly useful remedy. In addition to its effects on the lymphatic system, it is an excellent remedy for treating urinary incontinence and loss of urinary control due to a swollen prostate because it tones and strengthens the trigone sphincter at the base of the bladder. Northern California herbalist Christa Sinadinos elaborates: “Mullein root is valuable as a bladder tonifying agent for the treatment of urinary incontinence (loss of urine with out warning.) It strengthens and improves the tone the trigone muscle (a triangular area at the base of the bladder) and significantly enhances bladder function. It has soothing diuretic properties; it increases the volume of urination, while decreasing the frequency of urination.

Mullein root also has mild astringent properties which reduce inflammation in the mucosa of the bladder. It does not irritate or over stimulate bladder or kidney function. Mullein root can be used as a long term tonic for individuals with urinary incontinence, recurring bladder infections, interstitial cystitis, and benign prostatic hypertrophy.” Christa offers flat out exceptional insights on this usage here (please note that pages 2 & 3 are mixed up). One of my students used an infusion of Mullein root to treat Bell’s Palsy that occurred as a complication of Lyme’s disease, and it resolved the problem completely. Years after that David Winston told me he’d been using it for Bell’s Palsy for well over a decade, and considered it useful in other cases of facial nerve pain, along with other useful herbs for facial neuralgia like Saint John’s Wort and Jamaican Dogwood.

I also use Mullein root quite frequently to facilitate “proper alignment”. It may be that there are broken bones I need to be sure line up, or it could be a spinal misalignment. These are applications I picked up from Matthew Wood, though he uses Mullein leaves, saying, “It has a moistening, lubricating effect on the synovial membranes… so that it is hydrating to the spine and joints. It is often indicated in back injuries. People think they are untreatable and incurable, but an increase the synovial fluids will make the spine more pliable and comfortable. The vertebra will slip back into place more readily, pain and inflammation will decrease and the condition will get better.”

I can personally attest to Mullein’s usefulness in treating spinal injuries, as I’ve used it for years. The first time I ever used it, I woke up with my back out. I couldn’t stand up straight, and while my mouth was saying, “Ow, ow, ow…” within me I kept hearing “Mullein root, Mullein root, Mullein root…”. I drove out to a field where I knew it grew, and searched for it under the snow (Mullein’s fuzzy leaves insulate it and it usually overwinters). I found some, and as I was digging it up I “heard” Mullein root stores up energy the entire first year of its life to put forth its strong, straight yet flexible flower stalk; and using it gives us access to that stored energy. I chopped up a root, made tea, took a sip then a breath and was completely better.

A year or so after that (in which time I’d used the root a few more times, always to more or less immediate results), I suffered the rather dreadful “slipped disc” while, when changing a tire on the side of a dirt road my jack slipped and I jumped back away from the falling car with a heavy tire in my arms. Along with chiropractic, I used the rather agonizing experience to figure out how best to treat this condition. I ended up blending together a formula with Solomon’s Seal, Mullein Root, Horsetail and Goldenseal to excellent results (I daresay…). This was created not so much as a pain reliever, but to restore strength and integrity to the disc itself. To address the attendant muscle spasms (which were the worst part, in terms of outright agony), I used a combination of Black Cohosh and Arnica tinctures, taken in frequent small doses to help ease the sensitivity & reactivity of the muscles. The results were excellent. I could literally feel the disc growing stronger and the muscles relearning how to be relaxed. Even now, after a few years, if I overdo it and feel even a twinge of sensitivity in the disc, a few doses usually completely removes the discomfort. It’s truly kick ass stuff.

Mullein root on its own, though, is also markedly effective. Prepared either as an infusion or taken in small doses as a tincture, it’s been a lifesaver for me when working a bit too gung-ho has me wake up the next morning with my back “kinked” and not quite able to straighten up. I usually take about 7 drops of tincture, stretch out a bit, and the kink disappears and I feel perfectly aligned. While the occasions when this has worked are too numerous to recount, it doesn’t always work… just most of the time. On the most recent occasion, the Mullein tincture didn’t work immediately, but took about a week, (used concurrently with an antispasmodic blend of Black Cohosh and Arnica, a bit of Saint John’s Wort, and a visit to my chiropractor). Among these, I know the Mullein was especially important because when I broke my bottle while away for the weekend, the stiffness and misalignment went from almost better to lousy. When I resumed, virtually all the redoubled sensitivity dissipated and I felt more or less better in a couple days.

Others have found it useful as well. On a recent visit to Michigan, Matthew Wood and I were talking about this little known use of Mullein, and comparing and contrasting his use of the leaves with my use of the root. One of the participants, who, though completely new to herbalism and a bit overwhelmed by the onslaught of information, went the following week to get some Mullein (leaves; the root is quite hard to find, commercially) and sent me an email another week later, saying, “I’ve suffered with a herniated disc (the one between the lumbar vertebrae and sacrum) since my son was 15 months old. I ended up being on bed rest on a cortisone “blast” for a week at that time. The disc is really thin and the area has been fragile since then. So, My back got really whacked out a couple of weeks ago and I didn’t want to go the Motrin route. I purchased some Mullein tincture at my local health food haunt and by the time I was half way to Commerce (from Ferndale) to pick my son up my back was feeling so much better… The Mullein has been a life saver.

While I haven’t yet used the leaves in lieu of the root, I had a remarkably lucid dream about how the leaves could be picked proportionally along the flowering stalk to the area along the spine that is kinked. So, I’ll shortly be gathering mullein leaves and sorting them into “lower third”, “middle third”, “upper third” to see where that exploration leads. I could tell more stories. The point is, though, that this is an area in which Mullein excels, but is far too seldom used. Hopefully these elaborations will begin to change that.

Perhaps, as opposed to a physical complaint, the need for alignment is energetic… someone is scattered all over the place, and needs to focus and direct their energies. Mullein root will assist us in such a need. Try carrying some in a medicine bag, taking a few drops of tincture or rubbing a bit into your wrists or temples. Mullein is one of the plants that’s ideal to use in such a way, as it’s spirit has reached out and touched so many people I’ve met, and among those many who really weren’t all on board with the idea of plants having a spirit and consciousness of their own. For my part, I think I’ve had several epiphanies using Mullein each year since I began using it.

I look forward to learning what it has yet to share with me.

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Verbascum thapsus

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is a common roadside weed – part of the snapdragon family – that produces large, downy leaves and, in its second year of growth, a tall flowering spike. Native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa, the plant was eventually introduced to the Americas where Native Americans would put mullein leaves into their moccasins to keep their feet warm. They would also smoke dried mullein leaves as a tobacco substitute to relieve asthma. The therapeutic uses for mullein have expanded since then; it is now administered in teas, and oil extracts are made from its flowers.

Used for:

Mullein is commonly used for its emollient (skin moisturizing) and astringent (tissue constrictive) properties. Mullein leaf preparations, such as teas, are used for bronchial conditions, including bronchitis, asthma, dry coughs, congestion, whooping cough, tuberculosis, pneumonia, tonsillitis, colds and the flu. The flowers steeped in oil can also be used as an effective treatment for earaches and ear infections, although the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database notes there is insufficient evidence to use it for treating middle ear infections.

Some preliminary research has suggested that mullein flower extract may be useful against influenza and herpes simplex viruses.

Other preliminary research suggests that leaf extract of mullein may increase activity against herpes simplex virus type 1. It may also have antibacterial activity against certain strains of pneumonia, some strains of Staphylococcus and E. coli.

Topically, mullein is used for burns, hemorrhoids, wounds, and inflammation. Mullein leaf extract is used as a topical to soften the skin.

Available in:

Mullein is available in tincture oils, powders, lozenges, capsules, leaf forms, and extracts.

Herb / drug interactions:

None known

Other safety concerns:

Preliminary research suggests mullein may be toxic in excessive doses. Although there is insufficient information, women who are pregnant or are nursing should avoid the use of any herbal product containing mullein.

When buying:

Select products with pure 100 percent mullein.


For congestion and dry cough, adults should take a dropperful of tincture in warm water every four hours; for ear infections, a few drops of mullein oil, slightly warmed, directly in the ear and plug loosely with cotton. You can add garlic for extra effectiveness.

Child dosage:

Young children should not be given mullein for coughs. It is generally safe to use a few drops of oil in the ear for ear infections; however, contact your pediatrician before using.

Dr. Weil says:

Mullein is a particularly effective treatment for ear infections and it’s especially gratifying to make your own oil from its flowers and flower buds. Steeping the flowers in olive oil for three weeks produces an ointment that has been used to not only for earaches, but also to treat frostbite, chapped skin and hemorrhoids. Mullein is very easy to spot; stalks can reach as high as 10 feet. However, be sure to make a positive identification with a high quality field guide before making medicinal preparations.

Reviewed by Raneth Heng, M.D., December 14th, 2015.


Mullein has been a popular medicinal plant for centuries in both Europe and the U.S. As a dried herb, it can alleviate earaches, swollen glands, asthma and chronic coughs. Its leaves can be made into an ointment, tea or skin wash. It can also be smoked. To be able to use the leaves of the Mullein plant, you first have to dry them.

Pick leaves off the mullein plant. The best time to do this is later in the day, when any dew has evaporated.

Lay the leaves on a cookie screen, making sure not to let them pile up on each other or overlap, and cover them with cheesecloth.

Allow them to dry for several days. Make sure the leaves get a free flow of air and are kept away from moisture.

Test a leaf by picking it up and seeing if it crumbles easily. If it does, the leaves are ready to be stored.


  • Mullein can be harvested even if the plant is not flowering or mature enough to flower. Don’t pick more than 1/3 of its leaves to maintain a healthy plant and allow it to regenerate before harvesting again. Store dried leaves in an airtight container away from sunlight.

Mullein is a common weed prominent all over the United States, often found along stretches of the highway, on the edges of forests and on the gravely sides of railroad tracks. But this plant is much more than a bit of roadside greenery, as it holds the cures for several common conditions within it its fuzzy, pale green leaves and yellow rosettes. Originally used by the natives in several parts of the United States, this plant is still prescribed because of its proven, beneficial effects on the respiratory system. Curing common ailments such as coughing, lung weakness, respiratory constriction and chest colds, the mullein plant is truly a lung healing herb.

Known as Verbascum thapsus, its Latin name, mullein is considered beneficial for the lungs because it is an expectorant. This means that the herb helps the body remove excess mucus from lungs and soothes the mucus membranes with its emollient properties. It is therefore excellent for curing bronchitis, heavy coughing, chest colds and even asthma. Both the leaves and the flowers of the plant contain saponins, natural detergents which make a cough more productive in releasing and expelling phlegm from the walls of the lings, and mucilage, a gelatinous substance which soothes any irritated membrane.

Dried mullein leaves, flowers and roots can all be used to heal these lung abating conditions. A mullein tea is the most common method of preparing the herb and the recipe below makes one cup of tea, which can be consumed up to 3 times a day. Gargling the tea once it has cooled down is very effective for coughing and soreness in the throat.

Mullein Tea


1 ½ cups boiling water
1-2 teaspoons dried mullein leaves and/or flowers (flowers make a sweeter tea)
1 teaspoon dried spearmint (optional for flavor)
1-2 teaspoons honey (optional)


Steep the mullein leaves in hot water inside a tea ball or strainer for 15 minutes. Add honey if you like a sweeter tea.

If the flavor of mullein doesn’t agree with you, another great way to reap its benefits is by preparing an inhalant. To do this, boil the leaves in water for 5 minutes and inhale the steam to relieve coughs, congestion and asthma. Mullein can fight asthma and keep away colds because it actually prevents infections from settling into the delicate respiratory tissue by curing dryness and constriction. Rather ironically, mullein can also be smoked, thus rendering itself the only type of cigarette that could be considered beneficial in treating lung conditions.

Mullein is primarily a respiratory herb, although its benefits reach much further than our lungs. The herb is a diuretic and thus can relieve urinary tract inflammation when taken through a tea. It can also be used to decrease inflammation in the bowels, helping to reduce colitis and other issues. Mullein extract infused with olive oil has been used to reduce the inflammation of earaches, sore joints, insect bites and hemorrhoids because of its soothing properties. Simple poultices made out of fresh, mashed mullein leaves and flowers mixed with water can also be used to relieve, burns, boils and sores.

Mullein Products

  • Mountain Rose Herbs offers mullein oil, tinctures, dried leaves and dried flowers so that you can make your own fresh teas and infusions.
  • Richters sells dried flowers and leaves, extracts and seeds so that you can sow some in your own yard for the coming season.
  • Celebration Herbals offers a mullein tea made of the plant’s leaves, which are certified organic and guaranteed to soothe your lungs. One tea box contains 24 tea bags.
  • Garden of Cures makes an organic mullein salve with beeswax, coconut oil and Vitamin E for topical use as an instant pain reducer in the case of cuts, burns, boils and hemorrhoids.

NOTE: Do not ingest mullein seeds, as they are mildly toxic! Mullein leaves have fine hairs that can irritate some people’s skin and cause rashes. If you have very sensitive skin, use gloves when preparing teas, tinctures, extracts or poultices from mullein leaves and long sleeves when harvesting the plant. Always consult with your primary care physician before adding herbs to your diet, particularly if you are taking prescription medications.

Image: John Tann

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)


October Fields® herbs are organically grown and hand harvested using veganic farming methods, without the use of pesticides, herbicides and animal amendments. Consciously crafted and sustainably packaged with ♥ in small batches, Maine USA.

Single herbs consist of whole plant parts, as noted, and are not cut/sifted or processed into powders, pills or blends. You will receive whole flowers and leaves or stems and roots rough cut to +/- 1″, packaged in a biodegradable pouch. Herbs do not include usage/preparation information, as they are intended for professional herbalists and customers who have the knowledge necessary to safely prepare their own formulas.

Plants can be powerful medicinal allies, when used responsibly. Creating a relationship with their vital energy ensures a symbiotic partnership that can offer a spiritual connection to our emotional healing and physical well-being. Although most herbal preparations are safe and effective, it is important to note that there may be potential side effects and individual results may vary. Please consult your licensed herbalist or health care provider and do your own research before you place your order, so that you may become an empowered, knowledgable and compassionate caretaker of our own body.

Disclaimer: The information contained within is for educational purposes only. October Fields® products and statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult a health care practitioner before using, particularly if you have any serious medical conditions, are pregnant, breast feeding, or currently taking medication.

Benefits of Mullein

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I love watching my garden wake up in the early morning hours of the summer. As the sun readies itself to crest the eastern ridge, birds and bees and small mammals are beginning to stir. Like many mornings, I am captivated this morning by the mullein plants. In this late summer moment, their stalks of creamy yellow blossoms reach into the air, stretching up taller than I am.

Mullein is full of life. A hummingbird is visiting the nearby honeysuckle and its path crisscrosses those tall stalks. A woodpecker, intent on its foraging, doesn’t seem to notice. It goes up and down the stalk, perhaps eating the ants and other bugs as well as eating some of the millions of seeds that are forming. One morning, while I was harvesting strawberries, I found a whole family of voles underneath the thick mullein leaves. The babies were small and hairless, probably only a few days old, the large leaves perfectly curled over their nook, offering a beautiful refuge from the world.

Whether you are considering mullein’s stature, its important role in the greater ecosystem, or its gifts of medicine, it’s hard not to be impressed with this beautiful plant.

Originally from Europe and Asia, mullein species have spread all over North America. They love disturbed soils with lots of sunlight. They can grow in rich garden soil as well as gravelly roadsides. The easiest time to find and identify mullein is in the later summer months and fall, when those tall flowering stalks become a beacon.

Some folks think of mullein as a weed, an uninvited guest from faraway lands. Perhaps because of its stature, mullein is an easy target for misplaced hatred or at least misunderstanding. It’s a strange thing that humans disturb soils and habitats and then blame the plants that come to nourish and heal the bare earth. Mullein, as generous as ever, offers many gifts and virtues to humans. My hope is that fewer people see mullein as an unwanted guest and more as a bountiful herb that we are lucky to have.

Benefits of Mullein Leaf for the Lungs

This past summer much of the western United States was choking on a constant cloud of thick smoke. Looking at a map of current wildfires made it seem that everything from Montana to California was on fire.

In my own valley, the air quality was often listed as hazardous, with the recommendation to avoid going outside. Local emergency services handed out masks. A friend of mine with a newborn baby rarely left the confines of her house for months.

Not everyone can stay inside, however, and it wasn’t long before I started getting calls from folks wondering what they could do to protect their lungs.

Enter mullein.

Mullein leaf has long been loved for soothing the lungs and quelling coughs. It is a mild relaxant to the lungs and also a mild demulcent. It soothes inflammation and dryness – often the causes of irritation for people with smoke exposure. In addition to the leaf, mullein flowers can have an added benefit to these dry irritated conditions. I often combine it with another demulcent such as mallow (Malva neglecta) or marshmallow (Althaea officinalis). .

Mullein is wonderful for coughs and lung inflammation from all kinds of irritants and pathologies, whether it is particulate matter in the air or symptoms from asthma or an upper respiratory infection. Once you experience mullein’s ability to soothe the respiratory system, you’ll be amazed at the power of this ubiquitous plant. Yet it is a gentle herb that is safe for children and the elderly.

In the herbal world, it won’t do to simply call a cough a cough. Instead we need to know the quality of the cough. Is it dry or wet? Is it strong or weak? Here are some specific indications for coughs well suited to mullein:

Mullein is considered a specific in bronchitis where there is a hard cough with soreness. Its anti-inflammatory and demulcent properties indicate its use in inflammation of the trachea. In painful coughing, Mullein leaves combine well with Elder and Red Clover. – Darcey Williamson1

Mullein leaf is best when the cough is dry, irritating and unproductive, with a definite lack of mucous production.
– Robert Dale Rogers2

is particularly used for dry, irritable, tickly coughs – the tickle sensation is usually evidence of inflammation conjoined with water stuck in the mucosa or skin. It is indicated in old coughs where the velvety carpet of the lungs, the hairs, are inflamed or worn down, so to speak. There may be tightness preventing full inspiration, tightness in the throat or voice box, or tightness in the sinuses and a feeling of tightness in the brain. – Matthew Wood, Earthwise Herbal (Old World Plants)3

As long as the symptom pattern of dry, irritated and inflamed lungs fits, consider mullein for any type of cough, as a tea, tincture, or even inhaled as smoke or vapor.

Benefits of Mullein Leaf to Stop Smoking

Mullein leaf is commonly used by herbalists to aid those who want to quit smoking. It is often recommended to take the tea or tincture internally to support the health of the lungs, while concurrently using it as a smoking herb to assist with the desire to smoke something.

And while it sounds a bit counterintuitive, inhaling mullein smoke is a way to directly get mullein’s relaxant qualities to the lungs, to relax constrictions and aid in stopping a cough. Like anything, this method can be overdone, but when you get it just right it can have dramatic and quick results.

Benefits of Mullein Leaf as a Nutritive

Mullein leaf is nutrient dense. When prepared as a nourishing herbal infusion, you can drink it frequently, not only to support lung health, but also to benefit from its high levels of calcium and magnesium4.

Mullein’s roots dig deep into the earth, bringing minerals and metals into its leaves. While this can result in nutritive leaves, mullein also has the ability to uptake heavy metals, which could pose a health hazard for humans if the soil is contaminated but also have positive benefits for the soil.

Mullein Benefits for Soil Remediation

Mullein is a hyperaccumulator of heavy metals. This means it can uptake heavy metals from the earth and store it. This ability has led to some interesting research on using mullein for soil remediation. Researchers in Serbia tested five different plants for cleaning up a heavily contaminated site. Their research concluded, “Because mullein efficiently transported metal pollutants into the above-ground parts and because it fits well the desired characteristics for its use as a biomass, it is our plant of choice for further bioremediation use at the polluted industrial site.”5

Mullein is generally regarded as safe; however, it always is important to harvest plants from healthy soils and to resist the temptation of the roadside mullein plants.

Mullein Leaves in Basal Rosette

Benefits of Mullein Leaf Used Topically

Mullein boasts large hairy leaves that can feel like thick dense wool. The complex web of plant fibers covering the leaves protect the plant from the strong rays of the sun. These same plant fibers are a bit irritating to human skin, which can be annoying, medicinal, or both. When processing a lot of mullein leaves you may want to wear gloves.

The action of irritating the skin is called rubefacient. This irritation dilates the capillaries, increasing circulation to the area. This has a wide variety of therapeutic applications.

Used on the chest, mullein leaves can help move stagnancy in the lungs, increasing a healthy thin mucus that can be readily expelled.

Historically, mullein leaves were commonly used topically to address external hemorrhoids and varicose veins. The Eclectic Physicians – Cook, Felter, and Lloyd – all recommend mullein for piles, as did Nicholas Culpepper in the 17th century.6,7

Mullein leaf can also be used to address lymphatic stagnancy. It is recommended internally, as a tea or tincture, as well as used externally over the affected area.8

And if you are simply interested in seeing a rubefacient work, try rubbing the fresh or dried leaves on your skin to see the results. It was reportedly used as blush substitute in communities where make-up wasn’t allowed.

Benefits of Mullein for Joint Pain and Rheumatism

There are many historic references to using mullein leaf externally on painful and rheumatic joints.

More recently, mullein root has become popularized for back pain. Herbalist jim mcdonald says, “Mullein root on its own, though, is also markedly effective. Prepared either as an infusion or taken in small doses as a tincture, it’s been a lifesaver for me when working a bit too gung-ho has me wake up the next morning with my back ‘kinked’ and not quite able to straighten up. I usually take about seven drops of tincture, stretch out a bit, and the kink disappears and I feel perfectly aligned. While the occasions when this has worked are too numerous to recount, it doesn’t always work…just most of the time.”9

Matthew Wood describes his reasoning for mullein’s mechanism of action in his book, The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants: “It releases synovial fluid into the bursa and disperses internal fluids into the surrounding tissues, lubricating joints, muscles, bones, and ligaments. It is thus a remedy for complex fractures, where the bone needs to be lubricated to be returned to its place. It is also indicated in spinal dryness, inflexibility, and pain, and nerve pain along pinched or irritated nerve tracts.”10

Mullein Leaves and Mullein Roots

Benefits of Mullein Root for the Bladder

In addition to back pain, mullein root is also used to address a variety of urinary incontinence issues, including stress incontinence, pregnancy incontinence, menopausal incontinence, and childhood incontinence. It can also be used to assist those with interstitial cystitis and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, enlarged prostate).11 For more information about mullein root uses for incontinence see Christa Sinadinos’ article in the references.

Mullein root strengthens the bladder muscles. I am no longer a moon woman, having passed over the moon a few years back. Other than an occasional hot flash, I experienced no other discomforts associated with my new state of being ~ except, when I laughed too hard, tears rolled down my legs. Mullein root took care of that problem! Harvest the first year root, preferably in autumn, clean it well and dry it. Then grind it to a fine powder in a coffee grinder or blender and fill #00 capsules with the powder. Take two with each meal for six weeks. This is also excellent for children with weak bladders and the embarrassing side-effect of wet beds.
– Darcey Williamson12

Benefits of Mullein Flowers

Mullein’s biggest claim to fame is as an earache remedy. Mullein flower infused oil is commonly found in health food stores and apothecaries. This historic use is backed up by the experiences of countless present-day parents and children. While it is sometimes use as a simple, it is often combined with garlic and/or St. John’s Wort in the infused oil. Mullein flower infused oil acts as an anodyne to take away the pain of the earache, while also exerting lymphatic action on the area around the ear to help resolve the infection. A small bottle of the oil can be warmed in a warm water bath until the drops are about body temperature; then a few soothing drops can be placed in one or both ears and guarded with cotton balls.

Mullein Flowers

Benefits of Mullein as an AntiViral?

Michael Moore reports that mullein flower tea has a negative effect on the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) and seems especially helpful for women and children who have frequent outbreaks around the mouth triggered by sun, food allergies, or estrogen surges before ovulation.13 Preliminary (in vitro) research shows some antiviral qualities against HSV-1 as well as influenza.14,15, 16

Benefits of Mullein: The Mullein Plant

Great mullein, Verbascum thapsus, is the most common species of mullein that is readily found in North America. There are other species that are used similarly, such as V. virgatum, V. densiflorum, and V. olympicum. These two latter species have flower stalks that are denser than V. thapsus, making for an easier flower harvest. Medicinal seed suppliers often carry these other species.

The following describes V. thapsus.

Mullein loves to grow in disturbed soils. It prefers sun and can grow in poor, gravelly soils.

Mullein is a biennial plant, meaning it takes two years for it to complete its life cycle.

In the first year, a large basal rosette of silvery green and hairy leaves appears. By the late summer and fall the leaves can be very erect and easily up to a foot in length.

In the second year, it sends up a long flower stalk. The bottom of the stalk will have leaves growing alternatively and becoming smaller with height. The stalk then transitions to yellow flowers. The height of this stalk can reach two meters or more.

The flowers have five petals and five stamens. They start blossoming at the base of the stalk and then bloom progressively up the stalk.

The flower stalk darkens to brown in the fall and often persists through the winter and even into the next year.

Mullein stalks produce millions of tiny seeds that will persist in the soil for hundreds of years.

The roots are thin, branched taproots with a creamy color.

Benefits of Mullein: Harvesting Tips

The first step to making herbal preparations is harvesting the desired part at the right time. Because mullein is a biennial plant (taking two years to complete its life cycle), leaves and roots can be harvested at the end of the first and beginning of the second year, while flowers can only be harvested from the second year.

Mullein often grows in colonies – where you find one mullein plant you find many! It readily spreads by seed and its many seeds stay viable in the soil for possibly hundreds of years. While mullein is not an endangered plant and it would be difficult to negatively affect a population, I still approach it with admiration and respect.

There have been times when friends have offered to let me weed their garden of mullein; in those cases I harvest the entire plant. However, when harvesting leaves and flowers in the wild, I harvest here and there to ensure a thriving population. If you live in an area where mullein is not abundant, then it will be especially important to harvest in a way that supports further plant growth.

Mullein Leaves

Harvest mullein leaves when they are fresh and vibrant looking, ideally when the leaves are still in a basal rosette. The best times are in the fall of the first year’s growth or in the spring of the second year, before the flower stalk starts to grow. In a pinch, the leaves can be harvested from a plant with a flower stalk. When harvesting the leaves, take a few from a single plant, leaving plenty to ensure the continued life of the plant.

Mullein Roots

Harvest the roots during the fall of the first year plant or the spring of the second year plant. It’s not ideal to harvest the roots after the plant has gone to flower or seed.

Mullein Flowers

Harvest the flowers one by one as they appear on the flowering stalk, ideally harvesting from a plentiful patch of mullein, taking a couple of flowers from each plant. You may need to visit a mullein plant on numerous occasions to get enough flowers.

Benefits of Mullein: Plant Preparations

Mullein Leaves

Dry the leaves for use in teas, nourishing infusions, or as a smoking or vaporizing herb. Strain teas through a coffee filter to avoid ingesting irritating hairs.

Leaves can be applied topically as a poultice. Whole/flat leaves can be frozen to preserve them as future poultice material.

Fresh or dried leaves can be used in an alcohol extract.

  • Fresh Leaf Tincture: 1:2, 50-60% alcohol.
  • Dry Leaf Tincture: 1:5, 50-60% alcohol

Suggested dosage for leaves:

  • Tea: 10-30 grams per day (more if desired)
  • Tincture: 90-120 drops, 3 times a day

Mullein Roots

Chop and dry for use in decoctions.

Chop, dry, and powder for use in capsules.

Fresh or dried root can be used in an alcohol extract.

  • Fresh Root Tincture: 1:2, 90% alcohol
  • Dried Root Tincture: 1:5, 50-60% alcohol

Suggested dosage for roots:

  • Decoction or powder: 15 grams (Michael Moore lists 2-4 ounces for decoction)
  • Tincture: 30-60 drops, 1-3 times a day

Mullein Flowers

Dry the flowers for use in teas.

Infuse fresh or freshly dried flowers in a carrier oil for earache remedies (olive oil is nice).

Fresh or dried flowers can be used in an alcohol extract.

  • Fresh tincture: 1:2, 90% alcohol
  • Dried tincture: 1:5, 60% alcohol

(Note: Because the flowers are so light in weight, it will take a huge quantity to make a few ounces of tincture or oil.)

Suggested dosage for flowers:

  • Tea: 5-10 flowers per cup, 3 cups daily
  • Tincture: 30-90 drops, 3 times a day

The above dosage suggestions and tincture ratios were compiled from Michael Moore (Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West) and Christa Sinadinos.

Benefits of Mullein: Special Considerations

  • The Botanical Safety Handbook gives mullein its highest safety rating.
  • The dense wooly hairs on the mullein leaves can be a bit irritating. When garbling lots of mullein leaves, you may want to wear gloves. When drinking an infusion of the leaves strain it through a coffee filter or several layers of cheesecloth to remove any hairs from the tea.
  • Mullein is a hyperaccumulator of heavy metals. Be certain that the mullein you are harvesting and using comes from healthy soils that aren’t contaminated with metals.
  • Mullein oil should not be used in ear canals if the eardrum has been perforated.

Citations for Benefits of Mullein

Rosalee is an herbalist and author of the bestselling book Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients Into Foods & Remedies That Heal. She’s a registered herbalist with the American Herbalist Guild and the Education Director for LearningHerbs. Read about how Rosalee went from having a terminal illness to being a bestselling author in her full story here.

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