Some people know mullein as Bunny's Ears, Velvet Dock, Aaron's Rod, Peter's Staff, or Flannel Leaf. The large, spongy leaves of mullein are covered in a fine down -- like soft fur. The tall stems, topped with yellow blooms, are easy to spot in meadows and fields. When using mullein leaves in herbal tea, be sure to filter out the tiny "hairs" which could irritate the throat in sensitive people.
Bag of dried mullein leaf
Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus) -- this bag contains approximately 1 ounce of dried mullein depending on drying time. this mullein is wild-harvested here in the North Georgia Mountains. All of our herbs are hand-selected and held to the highest standards. They have never been sprayed or chemically treated in any way.
We also sell mullein seeds.
Mullein is useful for treating bronchitis and other lung conditions. The leaves and flowers are used in herbal remedies to treat colds, flu, earaches, emphysema, and laryngitis. Mullein tinctures, teas, and syrups help bring up sticky phlegm. Mullein is used to fight bacteria and helps inhibit the spread of flu viruses.
The following video by Herbal Jedi teaches a lot about mullein and its uses in herbal medicine. I love this guy and I bet you will, too.
The mullein plant is well known for treating lung problems like congestion and asthma. Both the leaves and flowers contain mucilage which coats and soothes mucus membranes in the sinuses, throat, and lungs. Mullein also contains saponins which loosens phlegm and makes a cough more productive. Research has shown that mullein is anti-inflammatory and antiviral -- making it an amazing herbal remedy.
When I start to get a chest cold, I reach for my pipe and smoke a little pinch of mullein, a puff or two every hour. It keeps phlegm from forming and painful bronchitis at bay.
The herb can be used in herbal teas, poultices, compresses, and tinctures to relieve scorpion stings, eye complaints, toothache, tonsillitis, and throat inflammation. When infused in carrier oil, mullein flowers are good for soothing an earache. When incorporated into an herbal salve, mullein is good for wounds, hemorrhoids, skin problems like eczema, and inflamed eyelids. Mullein is also a good herb for treating digestive problems including irritable bowel syndrome.
In cases of chronic respiratory problems, mullein is good combined with mulberry bark, cowslip root, elecampane, sweet violet, anise, or thyme. Mullein is considered a mild sedative and an excellent herbal expectorant. When using mullein to treat coughs due to colds, combine with horehound and lobelia. Mullein is also good for treating burns because of its high mucilage content.
When using mullein in tea form, use one cup of water to a tablespoon of dried, crumbled leaf and/or flowers. Steep fifteen minutes and then strain through a fine cloth. Drink three to four cups per day. As with all herbs, many doses throughout the day are best.
Photo by Janice Boling at Payne Mountain Farms
American Indians use mullein to promote sweating. This property can be utilized when treating feverish chills.
Greek physicians wrote about using mullein as an herbal medicine over two thousand years ago. Ancient Romans used mullein as a hair rinse -- the leaves were used on dark hair and the flowers on blonde hair. The first English language herbals from the 1500's pointed to mullein as a TB remedy and praised mullein for its soothing and expectorant properties. Culpeper advised mullein for treating persistent cough, tumors, and inflammations of the throat.
Published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, an article by Eibhlín McCarthy and Jim M. O'Mahony states, "The extensive historical use of mullein has inspired scientists to investigate the plant further. To date, a number of the ancient claims have actually proved to be true." Read the whole article to learn more about mullein -- and its use as a treatment for tuberculosis at The US National Library of Medicine.
Many old timers smoked mullein as a remedy for asthma. Mullein leaves were also used to wrap apples to store for the winter. The dry leaves were used to start campfires since they made an excellent tender. Mullein stalks were once used as tapers to light the way in funeral processions.
Mullen leaves also makes an acceptable toilet paper when they are fresh.
Mullein grows wild in the North Georgia Mountains and is a bi-annual. It blooms during the 2nd summer and can be spotted easily. A tall spike covered with little yellow blooms rises from a rosette of large, velvet-like leaves. It is not bright green but has a greenish-white hue. Mullein can grow up to eight feet tall although usually reaches a height of about four feet.
Mullein plants are abundant some years and rare in others. I always try to gather seeds and scatter them along driveways, fence lines, and in meadows around the farm. They grow in places where I least expect to see them. In the cracks of a cement walk, on a red clay bank, or in sandy sub-soil, you never know where you might find a big mullein plant. When you do spot a mullein plant, there are usually others nearby. Do not harvest all of them! Leave a few good plants to go to seed so that there will be a continuous supply from year to year.
Mullein likes rather dry soil. Leaves and flowers should be collected in mid-summer. Do not harvest mullein plants that grow along busy highways or in areas that might have been sprayed with herbicide.
If you happen to have a wild mullein plant, consider its value as a medicinal herb before labeling it as a useless weed. The tall plants are quite attractive in the back of a flower border.
Making herbal remedies like mullein tincture at home is easy. Tinctures are excellent ways to get the beneficial properties of herbs into the human body. Home-made herbal tinctures are easy to prepare and can be done with ordinary kitchen equipment. All you need is the herbal plant material, a mason jar, and some vodka.
Making bee balm and mullein tincture on Payne Mountain farms -- Photo by Janice Boling
Known as tinctures or extracts, these herbal medicines are easy to prepare at home. Tinctures are one of the easiest ways to preserve summer herbs for winter use. Mullein tincture and bee balm tincture may be combined and sweetened with honey to make a soothing cough syrup. The mullein helps stop coughing and the bee balm relaxes the chest.
Harvest healthy mullein leaves (and flowers if plant is blooming). Tear them into pieces and put into a quart mason jar. Do not pack the pieces down - leave them loose. Next pour vodka over the plant material until completely covered (a few ounces of water may be added to dilute the alcohol).
Keep the jar in a dark cabinet and gently shake EVERY DAY for 2 weeks. Keep the plant material pushed down into the liquid. (If you forget to shake it and mold appears, throw it all away and start over.)
After two weeks have passed, strain the liquid into another quart jar removing old plant material. The herbal liquid will be brownish and fragrant with a medicinal aroma. Add more fresh plant material and repeat the process for two more weeks. Don't forget to shake gently everyday and keep leaves covered completely. Strain a second time removing as much plant material as possible. Pour strained tincture into a bottle or clean jar, cap tightly, and store in a cool dark place.
Dried mullein can be substituted for fresh leaves if necessary. If you don't have enough mullein to do the extraction process a second time, that is fine. The tincture will still be potent medicine.
Mullein tincture is good for winter lung conditions such as coughs and colds and will keep up to two years in the refrigerator. An average adult dose is one or two teaspoons 3 or 4 times a day with a double dose given at bedtime. Vodka tinctures are not recommended for children due to their high alcohol content. For individuals with alcohol dependencies, other herbal remedies may be more suitable.
Whether preparing herbal lotions, herbal ointments, tinctures, or teas, take some time when using herbs. Inhale the scents and feel the textures of the plants. Treat medicinal herbs with respect. Find them in their natural habitat and watch the way they grow. Remember that medicinal herbs can be powerful but may require many doses over a period of days or weeks for their beneficial properties to become apparent. Give them time to work and results will be more than satisfactory. Only try one new herb at a time to see how it reacts with your body. Use common sense and do some research before jumping into natural healing.
* Never take vodka tinctures when pregnant. Do not use mullein infused oil in the ear if there is any chance of a perforated eardrum. Never eat mullein seeds -- they are toxic. Always consult a physician before using any herbal remedy especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medications.
2nd year mullein plant sends up tall flowering stalk -- photo by Janice Boling
Located in Blairsville, Georgia, Tony and I sell wild herbs and handcrafted products - all dried, produced and packaged on our family farm in the North Georgia Mountains. Inventory changes with the seasons depending on what is available and may also vary from year to year. Celebrating our Appalachian heritage where sustainable farming is a way of life, we appreciate our customers and promise to provide the best service, the highest quality merchandise, a secure shopping experience, and fair prices.
* Note - the information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
** Most of my posts in this blog were first published by the North Georgia News in my weekly column titled Every Green Herb.
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