Mullein uses to know include affinity for the lungs and respiratory system, as well as pain relief and an antispasmodic capability
Today we are talking about mullein uses. You can see Chris Marano talking about the plant in the video below.
Mullein typically has large, rabbit-ear leaves, and in the case of the species of mullein pictured here, the leaves have a curliness to them. The typical mullein found in our area is Verbascum thapsus. Called common mullein, it is known for putting up one tall flower spike and its leaves are flat. In our garden right now we are growing Greek mullein (Verbascum olympicum puts out multiple flower stalks and whose leaves are curly. The medicine is the same. Mullein is a biennial, or sometimes a short-lived perennial, meaning that it might stretch its life to three years before sending up a flower stalk. Like other biennials, mullein does not put up a flower stalk in its first year. You can see mullein in several stages of growth in this video.
First-year mullein plants display a beautiful rosette of fuzzy, whitish green leaves. When you touch them you notice that they have a very soft, velvety texture. In the physical language of plants, This is an indication that this plant is useful for mucous membranes, and lungs and respiratory system in particular. I will talk more about this in another video on the Language of Plants.
Second-year mullein plants typically send up a flower stalk. Flowers gradually emerge and blossom over a succession of weeks rather than all at once, so pollinators and people can enjoy the food and beauty for much of the summer.
Mullein is a medicine chest unto itself. Usually when we are picking medicinal plants there is one specific part of the plant that is used medicinally. Or multiple parts may be used as medicine, but they are usually for the same issue. For instance, with echinacea, the blossom, leaf, stem, seed and root all contain the same medicine. Mullein, on the other hand, provides multiple medicines that have different effects.
Mullein uses: Leaf medicine
Mullein leaf medicine is a preeminent lung and respiratory tonic. It does have some antimicrobial properties, but it’s more of a tonic for the lungs, making them stronger, making the mucous membrane tissue more normalized in its secretions, and encouraging a more productive cough. Mullein leaf’s ability to allay weakness and congestion in the respiratory system is so good that that it can be used alone for this purpose. I am a formula maker and rarely use a single plant in an herbal regimen. This is true even with mullein, but even when I do mix it with other respiratory herbs, in my mind mullein is always the leading, central herb in that remedy.
I also use it as a tonic for mucous membranes in general — such as digestive and genitourinary tracts — but in those formulas it would take a more supportive role rather than a central one.
Mullein uses: Flower medicine
Mullein flowers work best as an oil preparation. My preferred way to do this is to have a mason jar handy, and simply pluck the flowers and collect them in the jar until it’s moderately packed. Leave about an inch of space at the top and then pour extra virgin olive oil over the flowers until all material is completely submerged.
If I only have one mullein plant in my garden, I will stow the jar of oil in the shade right near the plant and as the flowers slowly emerge over time, I keep adding new ones to the jar. After a few weeks of doing this, the jar is full, the flowers have had time to infuse in the oil, and I finish by gently decanting off the oil while disposing of the plant material and remaining sludge. What you are left with is a superior ear ache remedy. Mullein flower oil is one of the tried-and-true folk remedies from the herbal world. Simply make an infused oil and drop some in the ear canal. It is pain relieving, soothing, and helps to resolve infections of the ear canal. If you want to kick it up a notch, make an infused garlic clove oil preparation and mix them together. You can also add a drop of tea tree essential oil. This is a potent combo and is exactly what the doctor ordered for ear infections.
Mullein uses: Root medicine
The root medicine is very good — and very underrated — pain relief medicine. Mullein root provides serviceable antispasmodic and narcotic pain relief, especially for pain in the face and head, such as jaw pain, facial nerve pain, trigeminal neuralgia, TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder), and Bell’s palsy. It also relieves pain that settles in the vertebra or rib cage. and truthfully, its mild, narcotic-like medicine can be used to relieve pain anywhere in the body. Most people do not realize this as they reach for other medicines.
As mullein is a biennial, there are only two specific times one should gather mullein root. First opportunity is at the end of its first year when it is going dormant for the winter. If you miss harvesting it in the fall, you can harvest it at the beginning of its second-year growth in the spring if its second year. You can tell first-year growth from second-year growth because the leaves of first-year plants will be small in comparison to the second-year’s. Second-year mullein emerges from the ground with a large, fully-formed leaf rosette.
In summary, we pick mullein medicine throughout the season and for different medicines. Leaf is harvested throughout, flowers are harvested when in bloom, and the root is harvested in the fall of its first year or the spring of its second year. All parts can be made into an in infusion (tea) or into a tincture; and as mentioned earlier, the flower works even better as an infused oil.
Mullein uses: In smoking blends
Something else that mullein leaves are very useful for is as an ingredient in smoking blends.
If you want to make a smokers’ blend for enjoyment or as a method for weaning off tobacco, mullein leaf is superior smoking medicine. The lung-tonifying medicine in mullein is conferred through the smoke, so you can wean off tobacco at the same time that the mullein leaf is helping to tonify your lungs, even though you are inhaling the smoke.
The leaves are harvested and hung up to dry. You want the finished product to be soft, so remove the stiff, main stem. Once fully dry, you can roll the leaf material between your fingers to make the texture smoother and fluffier. It is then primed to provide an amazing, even smoke.
Mullein is all-purpose medicine and one of the best for lung health.
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