- Family Scrophulariaceae
- Verbascum thapsus
- Verbascum densiflorum
- Torch Weed, Aaron’s Rod, Blanket-leaf, Candlewick Plant, Flannelflower, Feltwort, Hedge-taper, Jacob’s Staff, Shepherd’s Club, Velvet Plant, Velvet Dock, Shepherd’s Staff, Torches, Our Lady’s Flannel, Blanket Herb, Woollen, Rag Paper, Wild Ice Leaf, Clown’s Lungwort, Golden Rod, Adam’s Flannel, Beggar’s Blanket, Clot-bur, Cuddy’s lungs, Duffle, Feltwort, Fluffweed, Hare’s Beard, Hag’s Taper, Cow Lungwort
- None listed.
Native to central and southern Europe and western Asia, mullein can now be found in many temperate zones. It grows in open, uncultivated land and along roadsides. Mullein is a hardy biennial that can grow to six feet in height, but is usually only a foot or so, producing oval to lance-shaped, hairy, grayish-green leaves and spikes of bright yellow flowers. Both the leaves and flower stems can be picked during the summer. The plant is so well constructed that the soft hairs on the leaves and stems protect it from insects and grazing animals. It also allows drops of rain to spill from its small leaves down to the larger ones and on into the root system, thus protecting the entire plant from moisture loss. Mullein is from the same family as the Foxglove, a noted source for the heart stimulant, digoxin.
The Latin name is thought to be a corruption of barbascum from barba, meaning “beard,” likely referring to the plant’s furry leaves.
The tall stems of the herb were once burned as tapers in funeral processions. The soft, fine hairs on the leaves make superb tinder.
Dioscoides used the herb for scorpion stings, eye complaints, toothaches, tonsillitis, and coughs. It was also used as a tonic for such wasting diseases as tuberculosis.
The infused oil made from the flowers was a standby in many parts of Europe for such diverse ailments as hemorrhoids and ear infections.
Like many other herbs, mullein was considered to have mystical, as well as medicinal, values; and even Gerard, the 16th century herbalist, expressed both.
This unassuming plant has attracted over thirty common names.
The Catawaba, Delaware, and Cherokee made a syrup from the leaves to soothe and relieve coughs. Mullein tea was also used to relieve pain, especially that of arthritis, as well as other painful conditions. The Delaware heated the leaves and applied them as a poultice to treat the pain of rheumatism, while the Cherokee treated swollen glands by applying the scalded leaves.
- heals wounds
- mild diuretic
- mucilage (3%)
- triterpene saponins (mainly verbascosaponine)
- volatile oil
- flavonoids (including rutin, diosmin, quercetin, hesperidine, apigenin)
- bitter glycosides (including aucubin)
- Flowers, leaves, seeds
- Tinctures are used for chronic, dry coughs and throat inflammations.
- Gargles made from an infusion are used for throat inflammations.
- Syrups are taken for chronic, hard coughs.
- Infused oil is made by the cold infusion method and used by drops for earaches if the eardrum has not been perforated.
- Salves made from the infused oil are used to treat wounds, hemorrhoids, eczema, and inflamed eyelids.
- Strong infusions are used for chronic coughs and throat inflammations; and, since they promote sweating, are useful in treating feverish conditions.
- Tinctures are useful for chronic respiratory disorders; and, when combined with such stimulating expectorants as mulberry bark, cowslip root, elecampane, sweet viotlet, anise, or thyme, are a good remedy for coughs where phlegm needs to be expelled.
The plant is high in mucilage that coats and soothes inflamed mucous membranes, making it especially valuable in treating sore throats and other inflammatory conditions. It also has a long and validated, history of being a valuable remedy for coughs and congestion and is a specific treatment for tracheitis and bronchitis — which is why it is sometimes called lungwort.
At the other end, it can also remove the pain and itching of hemorrhoids.
Internal use can help heal ulcers and control diarrhea.
The seeds are sometimes used as a mild sedative.
Leaf and flower infusions are used to reduce mucus formation and to stimulate the coughing up of phlegm. It combines well with other herbs for internal and topical use.
As an emollient, poultices and compresses from infusions of the herb makes a good wound healer and commonly used on skin abrasions, burns, insect bites to help heal and prevent infection.
In Germany, the flowers are steeped in olive oil, with the resulting fixed oil used to treat ear infections and hemorrhoids.