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Herb Spotlight - Mullein

Updated: Apr 2


Herb Spotlight - Mullein

Welcome to part two of our Herbal Spotlight Series. Today, we’ll be exploring the exquisitely fuzzy and completely under appreciated Mullein. A plant that many consider to be nothing more than a weed. On our homestead and in ourApothecary, however, we like to give Mullein an elevated position, especially since my husband Dan and I both suffer from lung and breathing issues.   


What is Mullein?

Today, common Mullein ( Verbascum thapsus) goes by many names, including great mullein, velvet dock, witches torch, and feltwort. Mullein is a wayside herb that often takes up residence in unlikely places, like the space between rocks or cracks in concrete. It’s also common to find on mountain roadsides. If you live in a mountain region, chances are you’ve seen mullein growing, possibly even in your yard.


Mullein is a biennial plant, meaning it grows small and close to the ground in its first year. In its second year, it grows to a towering height, reaching as high as eight feet tall, with a central flower stalk. If mullein doesn't grow near you, you can also purchase wild foraged mullein from our apothecary.


Dried Mullein

Foraging and Storing Mullein

As with any foraged plant, it is imperative that you use ethical harvesting practices. To sustainably wild harvest mullein, start by selecting leaves from near the bottom of the plant or flowers from the top of the stalk. Remember never to decimate a single plant. Unless you are harvesting specifically for the roots, leave the roots undisturbed so that the plant can return next season.


To store mullein, you will first need to dry the plant. Whether you have harvested leaves, flowers, or roots, place them on a screen or hang them to dry. You can also dry them in a dehydrator or oven on the lowest setting. Once dried, they can be stored in an airtight container for 9-12 months or until they begin to lose color. 


History and Folklore

Mullein has left its footprint throughout history, having a significant impact on cultures around the world. In America, Mullein’s use dates back to the late 1630s when it was first brought to our shores by the Puritans, who carried the seeds with them for use in medicinal gardens. Though the plant is not native to America, it wasn’t long before native tribes began utilizing the fuzzy plant for both moccasin lining tea. The Romans commonly made use of mullein’s long flower stalks for torches. Later, the Greeks utilized parts of the mullein plant as a wick for lanterns.


In addition to being a healing herb, from a magical and folkloric standpoint, mullein has long been associated with keeping away demons and driving away evil spirits. In India, it has a reputation among the natives as a sure safeguard against evil spirits and magic…


Mullein has been documented throughout time for use in folk remedies and herbal medicine. Pedanius Dioscorides (40-90 AD), a Greek botanist, pharmacologist, and physician, who is considered the father of pharmacognosy wrote the famous Greek encyclopedia of herbal medicine, De Materia Medica. In his text, he speaks of using Mullein for everything from rashes to lung issues and pulmonary diseases.


Constituents, Actions and Energies

Constituents of the Mullein Plant

Saponins, iridoid and phenylethanoid glycosides, mucilaginous polysaccharides, verbascoside, flavonoids, vitamin C, and other minerals.


Herbal Actions of Mullein

Demulcent, and  Expectorant, Diuretic 


Herbal Energies of  Mullein

The root is warming, astringent and bitter. The leaves and flowers are cooling, astringent and bitter.


Precautions, Contradictions, and Interactions

There are no known interactions with mullein. However, when making teas or tinctures with the leaf, use a coffee filter to strain out the hairs as they may be irritating to the throat. Contact with fine hairs on the leaves may cause skin irritation for some. 


Making Mullein Tincture

Typical Usage of Mullein

Research has shown that different parts of the mullein plant support different parts of the body. It has also been shown to aid wellness and help combat several health issues.


The Mullein Leaf

The leaves are the most commonly used part of the plant. Due to their demulcent and expectorant actions, Mullein leaves have been connected to aiding the respiratory system in a few ways, including:

  • Soothing a cough

  • Reducing respiratory tract inflammation 

  • Clearing phlegm from the lungs

The Mullein Root

While the leaves are associated with the lungs, the roots support the excretory system, specifically the urinary tract. In cases of UTIs, the diuretic and astringent properties help tone and strengthen the muscles around the bladder while reducing inflammation and easing symptoms.


The Mullein Flower

The mullein flower is best known for combating and reducing the symptoms of the early stages of ear infections. The most common application is mullein flower oil. The flowers have also been used historically to make dye. 


Wrapping Up

Mullein is among our favorite herbs. It can be found in the formulations of our Man Hands salve, our First Aid Stick, and our Lung Tonic. I hope this article has sparked your curiosity about this magestically fuzzy plant. Don’t forget, If Mullein is not native to where you live, and foraging is not an option for you, you can purchase sustainably foraged Mullein in our Apothecary at any time. 


If you already use Mullein, what is your favorite way to use it? Tell us all about it in the comments below, and we would love to see your recipes as well! Until Next time,











Disclaimer: 

Content from thisunboundlife.com is meant to be informational in nature and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. Remember that just because something is “natural” does not always mean it is safe for every person. When it comes to herbal medicine, many plants should be avoided when pregnant or nursing and some can cause extreme interactions with prescription and over-the-counter medicine. 


While we strive to be 100% accurate, utilizing information from scientific studies, trusted sources, and verified publications, we are not health professionals, medical doctors, or nutritionists. It is solely up to the reader to verify nutritional information and health benefits with qualified professionals for all edible plants listed on this website and to ensure proper plant identification. 


The information provided by this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Before using herbal preparations, always research, speak to a professional regarding any significant concerns, and never fail to seek medical advice when needed.



Herb Spotlight - Mullein


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