Herb Profile: Mullein - Verbascum thapsus


Last week my daughter and I went for a walk around our neighbourhood and we came across a lakefront lot that looks fairly abandoned. Up through the steel bars of an old trailer pad reaching for the sun stood over a dozen Mullein plants. This herb loves disturbed poor soil and can often be found alongside gravel drive ways or growing up through concrete cracks. I have found that the places that I used to harvest Mullein are becoming more overgrown and the other plants are choking the Mullein out, or creating a less favorable growing condition. I have seen this happen with St. Johns Wort aswell, both herbs grow like lone wolves, being the first to break through landscapes that seem baren, undesirable and hot.

Its fuzzy, fluffy leaves and tall stalk streatching to 5 or 6 feet topped with smallish yellow flowers make it a very easy to distinguish this biennial plant that was naturalized from the mediteranean and who grows as far into asia as the Himalayas.

Mullein has several notable uses; the flowers of the plant make a wonderful oil for treating ear

infections, just add the flowers to oil along with a clove of garlic or two and let it infuse either in the sun for roughly 5 days or in a dark cool spot for several weeks. You need to be careful when using the heat method as it can mold quite easily if you are not paying attention. Add a few drops of the oil to an infected ear several times a day until the infection is gone.

A tincture of the leaves and roots makes a wonderful muscular pain remedy that can be used daily.

Mullein is most notably one of the worlds best lung allies. Used as an infusion it can treat a whole

variety of chest complaints including smoke irritation due to fire or cigarettes, bronchitis, pneumonia, SARS and a general cough. It helps to remove excess mucous, clear the bronchial tubes and reduce inflammation of the lung. When consuming an infusion it is reccommended that you strain it through a tightly woven cloth, like several layers of cheesecloth or a think tea towel/scarf to be sure you are not drinking the hairs which could be irritating to the throat. I found this infusion very helpful for my daughter who at 18 months felt the smoke of a nearby forest fire particularily irritating. Interestingly you can also smoke this herb to help clean and clear the lungs.

Research indicates some of the uses of Mullein as analgesic, antihistaminic, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antioxidant, antiviral, bacteristat, cardio-depressant, estrogenic, fungicide, hypnotic, sedative and pesticide to be true.