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Mullein is a herbaceous biennial that is soft (almost velvet-like) and has star-shaped trichomes on its leaves giving them a silvery appearance. Mullein thrives in compacted, poor dry soil with full sun and can grow very up to 8 feet tall, producing a basal rosette of leaves in its first year of growth. In the second year of growth a flower spike emerges with bright yellow, densely clustered flowers that bloom from June to August and open only in the day. The flowers are hermaphrodite meaning they have both male and female organs and are pollinated by flies and Lepidoptera (moths & butterflies).
Mullein is in the Scrophulariaceae family, which also includes Figwort, Butterfly Bush and Summer Lilac. It is native to northern Africa, the Canary and Madeira Islands, many regions in Asia and Europe, and now naturalized throughout the rest of the world. Mullein has over 200 hundred species which can be used interchangeably for their traditional properties. The genus name Verbascum comes from the Latin word barbascum and means “bearded”, which is in reference to the hairy stalk and leaves of some species. Some of the common names for Mullein throughout history were, Beggar’s Blanket, Velvet Plant, Felt-Wort, Tinder Plant, Candlewick Plant, Witch’s Candle, Lady’s Foxglove , Donkey’s Ears, Hag’s Taper, Torches and Quaker Rouge.
Mullein Leaf has been traditionally used for its properties for over 2000 years since the time of Dioscorides, a Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist in Rome, who first recommend Mullein for conditions of the lungs. Also used as a hair rinse in ancient Roman times, the Leaf ash was used to darken hair, and the yellow flowers used for lightening it. The leaves were dried and rolled as wicks for candles and the entire dried flowering stalks were dipped in tallow and used for torches.
Mullein has been used in European folk medicine for centuries and like so many herbs of European origin, Mullein was introduced by colonists and then incorporated into the medicine of North American Indigenous people. Mullein was used as European folk medicine to ward off evil spirits, to instill courage and health, provide protection and to attract love. The Abnaki indigenous tribe in North America used the root to make a necklace for teething infants, the Cherokee applied the leaves as a poultice to wounds and swollen glands and the Navajos smoked mullein, referring to it as “big tobacco”.
In 1854, Mullein was first published in the King’s American dispensatory, bringing light to American physicians for its use of the upper respiratory tract. Mullein was prescribed by Eclectic Physicians in the early 1800 and 1900s as an effective remedy for its demulcent, diuretic and mild nervine properties.
The taste of Mullein Leaf is aromatic, slightly bitter, slightly sweet and earthy with energetics that are cooling and moistening. Mullein has an affinity to the respiratory system, lymphatic system, immune system, bladder, kidneys, nervous system, musculoskeletal system and digestive system.
For a lung tonic combine Mullein Leaf with Mint, Plantain Leaf, Licorice Toot, Red Clover or Sage Leaf. For a lymphatic tonic combine Mullein Leaf with Cleavers, Red Clover, Calendula Flowers or Chickweed.
How to use:
1 teaspoon of Mullein Leaf to one cup of boiling water. Simmer for 15 minutes, strain and drink up to three cups a day.
Add Mullein Leaf to a carrier oil, let sit completely covered by the oil in a warm place for 2 to 4 weeks or keep warm in a crockpot for 8 to 12 hours and strain to apply topically to the lungs, throat or sore joints and muscles.
Cautions & contraindications:
Some species of Mullein may cause contact dermatitis , a skin reaction that can cause itching, rash and irritation.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or illness. Please consult your health care provider prior to the use of this product if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medications or have a medical condition. Individual results may vary.