Mullein, Verbascum densiflorum and Verbascum phlomoides, is an herb mostly used to protect and soothe the air passages as well as treat skin conditions. Moreover, Mullein is a vulnerary and a nervine.
Verbascum sp is mostly a biennial and a member of the figwort family (Scophulariaceae). It originally stems from Europe, northern Africa, and Asia, and has been introduced in the Americas and Australia. It grows to 2 meters tall forming a candle-like flower stalk covered with flowers that don’t bloom together. Instead, a few flowers come to bloom in the morning and wither, usually in the afternoon, after being pollinated.
Medicinal use of Mullein
Mullein flower tea protects the respiratory tract by preventing it from drying out. In addition, it soothes the throat from the drying effects of air pollution, vehicle emissions, dry air, cigarette smoke or smog.
Specially relevant are the saponins and mucilage in Verbascum sp. which work together to soothe persistent cough, reduce hoarseness and clear extra mucus. The saponins loosen mucus making it easier to cough up and remove hardened phlegm from the bronchi while the emollient mucilage forms a protective layer on the mucosa which also serves as a defensive barrier against bacteria.
Aucubin is an antibacterial compound that hinders the growth of Streptococcus and Staphylococcus, lowers fever and calms the nerves. Making a tincture will better preserve the antimicrobial properties of aucubin and make for a more potent remedy.
Mullein flower infusion’s astringent, antimicrobial and emollient properties make it a great addition to a bath to soothe skin ailments such as eczema, forstbite, warts, boils, hemorrhoids and anal pruritus, sores, rashes and etc. As an alternative, make a salve to relieve these very conditions and to apply on wounds. Lastly, Mullein provides relief from insect bites and stings.
Internally, Mullein is good to:
- Protect the air passages
- Relieve a dry cough
- Soothe a raspy or hoarse voice
- Treat laryngitis
- Loosen mucus
- Encourage expectoration (chronic bronchitis)
- Lower fever
- Calm the nerves
- Soothes skin ailments (eczema, frostbite warts, boils, hemorrhoids, anal pruritus, sores, rashes, etc)
- Speed up healing of wounds
- Relieves insect bites and stings
Saponins, mucilage, flavonoids, iridoids (aucubin), some essential oils
3-4 g dried flowers
Verbascum loves an open, sunny area. Don’t cover the seeds with soil as they need light to germinate. They don’t tolerate shade and need a well-drained soil. Furthermore, Mullein is a great addition to the back of the border, giving it height and drama.
Harvest Mullein in a dry morning and be very careful when harvesting it as the flowers are very delicate and easy to damage. When a flower is damaged, it immediately starts to absorb water and eventually turns brown, an indication of loss of medicinal value.
First lay the flowers on a linen sheet in a dry and shady area immediately after picking. Then, carefully turn the flowers everyday to avoid damaging them. When they are fully dried, store them in an amber jar and close tightly. Discard any flowers that have turned brown.
Sensitive people can develop contact dermatitis.
Try to make a Mullein sorbet. Add it with Thyme to butter and use it in soups or spread it on bread as a delicious expectorant.