Mullein Verbascum spp.
Medicinal Uses & Benefits of Mullein
How to Use: Mullein
The ancient reputation that mullein enjoyed in both in Europe and Asia of having the power to exorcise evil spirits may be attributed to the magic mullein oil can perform on an ear ache. 1 A combination of garlic and mullein flower oil is the traditional oil used for ear infections which is both antibacterial and analgesic. 2 A combination oil of garlic and mullein is good for our animal companions as well, it works on ear mites and helps control fleas and itching.3 Mullein flowers are also used in teas to coat sore throats and calm coughing. Mullein tones and soothes irritated lungs and speeds healing of damaged tissues, which could help lungs damaged by smoking recover. Mullein is one of the traditional smoking herbs as well, which could be used as a tobacco substitute to help smokers quit as well. Mullein flowers infused in olive oil are also used to ease the pain of swollen rheumatic joints. 4
Preparation Methods & Dosage :Fresh mullein flowers can be made into extracts, infused in oil, or taken as a tea. Often combined with garlic in oil and with other herbs in teas for coughs: anise, coltsfoot, marshmallow, and comfrey. A fresh poultice of the mashed leaves make an excellent antimicrobial, astringent first aid remedy for minor burns and insect bites. Mullein combines well with black cohosh and Lobelia inflata in liniments.
Leaving the fluffy thistledown he has been kindly scattering to the four winds, the goldfinch spreads his wings for a brief, undulating flight, singing in waves also as he goes to where tall, thick-set mullein stalks stand like sentinels above the stony pasture. Here companies of the exquisite little black and yellow minstrels delight to congregate with their sombre families and feast on the seeds that rapidly follow the erratic flowers up the gradually lengthening spikes.
Of what use is this felt-like covering to the plant? The importance of protecting the delicate, sensitive, active cells from intense light, draught, or cold, have led various plants to various practices; none more common, however, than to develop hairs on the epidermis of their leaves, sometimes only enough to give it a downy appearance, sometimes to coat it with felt, as in this case, where the hairs branch and interlace. Fierce sunlight in the exposed dry situations where the mullein grows; prolonged drought, which often occurs at flowering season, when the perpetuation of the species is at stake; and the intense cold which the exquisite rosettes formed by year-old plants must endure through a winter before they can send up a flower-stalk the second spring - these trials the well-screened, juicy, warm plant has successfully surmounted through its coat of felt. Humming birds have been detected gathering the hairs to line their tiny nests. The light, strong stalk makes almost as good a cane as bamboo, especially when the root end, in running under a stone, forms a crooked handle. Pale country beauties rub their cheeks with the velvety leaves to make them rosy. Netje Blanchan Wild Flowers worth Knowing(1917)
How to Grow Mullein
This wayside weed is common to clear-cuts, burned areas, and partially developed lands in the West, where it often serves to regain biological balance and prevent erosion.
History and Traditions & Folklore
"I have come three thousand miles to see the mullein cultivated in a garden, and christened the velvet plant,'" says John Burroughs in "An October Abroad." But even in England it grows wild, and much more abundantly in southern Europe, while its specific name is said to have been given it because it was so common in the neighborhood of Thapsus; but whether the place of that name in Africa, or the Sicilian town mentioned by Ovid and Virgil, is not certain. Strange that Europeans should labor under the erroneous impression that this mullein is native to America, whereas here it is only an immigrant from their own land. Rapidly taking its course of empire westward from our seaports into which the seeds smuggled their passage among the ballast, it is now more common in the Eastern states, perhaps, than any native. Forty or more folk-names have been applied to it, mostly in allusion to its alleged curative powers, its use for candle-wick and funeral torches in the Middle Ages. The generic title, first used by Pliny, is thought to be a corruption of Barbascum( = with beards) in allusion to the hairy filaments or, as some think, to the leaves. Netje Blanchan Wild Flowers worth Knowing(1917)
Both in Europe and Asia the power of driving away evil spirits was ascribed to the Mullein. In India it has the reputation among the natives that the St. John's Wort once had here, being considered a sure safeguard against evil spirits and magic, and from the ancient classics we learn that it was this plant which Ulysses took to protect himself against the wiles of Circe. 2
It is under the dominion of Saturn. A small quantity of the root given in wine, is commended by Dioscorides, against lasks and fluxes of the belly. The decoction hereof drank, is profitable for those that are bursten, and for cramps and convulsions, and for those that are troubled with an old cough