Mullein – Nature’s glorious golden spears
Sparked by a recent discussion about Mullein I thought I’d make it our herb of the month for September. As usual the information given here is but a small tidbit to whet your appetite and encourge you to research this herb in more detail.
Mullein – Verbascum thapsus – Great Mullein, Aaron’s Rod, candlewick plant, flannel plant, lungwort, shepherd’s staff, velvet dock and torches. Adam’s Flannel, Beggar’s Blanket, Hag’s Taper, Jupiter’s Staff, Velvet Plant, Woolly Mullin
Mullein is found in hedgerows, on roadsides and areas of disturbed ground. It is very easy to grow in a sunny position and dry soil, Mullein dislikes shade and too much water. The much coveted flowers, beautiful rods of deep yellow flowers, appear in the second season and can grow to a height of 2 m (7 feet).
When picking the flowers, choose only the straight, healthy looking tapers. Misshapen stalks are an indication of chemical contamination in the soil.
All parts of the plant have uses at different seasons with expectorant, diuretic, demulcent, sedative, astringent, anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties. The seeds are considered toxic.
Internally Mullein leaves have been used to loosen and remove mucous from the lungs while soothing mucous membranes. Having a positive effect on the respiratory system it is also used to treat coughs, bronchitis, asthma, flu, tuberculosis, laryngitis and tonsillitis. The roots are an effective remedy for urinary tract infections. The flowers are often used in an infused oil which is used as ear drops (NOT if there is a chance of a perforated eardrum). The oil can also be used to treat gum and mouth ulcers, piles, sores, eczema, wounds, rheumatic pain and chilblains.
Mullein oil: Place fresh flowers in a blender or crush in a mortar and pestle, fill jar, cover with olive oil, set in warm place for 2 weeks. Strain before use. You can also add garlic for an extra antibiotic boost.
If you add beeswax to the oil you have a very effective ointment to prevent nappy (diaper) rash.
Mullein Cough Drops: ½ cup mullein leaves, packed, 1 cup boiling water, 1 1/3 cup brown sugar
Steep the leaves in the boiled water, covered, for one hour. Strain. Add brown sugar. Boil until the mixture reaches the soft candy stage, then pour onto a greased cookie sheet. With a butter knife, score out squares while the mixture is still soft. Allow to cool completely, then break into individual squares. Wrap each drop in waxed paper.
If your child suffers from whooping cough or suffers from an exhausting and painful cough try this effective infusion. This is a calming infusing which has soothing and expectorant properties that can be used alongside other medical treatments. ***Remember that bad coughs like whooping cough can be very dangerous in little children – seek professional advice at all times.
Wild Lettuce & Thyme Tea: 5g dried elecampane root (Inula helenium), 5g liquorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra), 750ml water, 10g dried wild lettuce (Lactuva virosa), 5g dried thyme (Thymus vulgaris), 10g dried mullein flowers (Verbascum thapsus)
Simmer elecampane, liquorice in water for 20 minutes. Put remaining herbs into a teapot and pour on the simmering decoction. Cover and infuse for 10 minutes. Strain. For children over 3 years old, drink a large cupful up to 6 times a day. (Penelope Ody’s Home Herbal)