So many healing remedies abound in nature, and you can take advantage of them easily because mullein comes as a tea, herbal supplement, ear drop and more.
Today I want to teach you about mullein, a common plant that grows pretty tall, about 6 or 7 feet. Mullein is known botanically as Verbascum thapus. It has soft fuzzy leaves as well as gorgeous yellow flowers towering at the top. For a “weed” it has amazing medicinal benefits and practical uses that have been utilized for centuries. Common mullein blooms from June through September so it’s a good time for me to write about it.
It’s also misunderstood and assumed to be an unwelcome weed but that perspective couldn’t be further from the truth. Mullein has many generous offerings for us, and the medicinal properties rival that of many other so-called weeds like stinging nettle, plantain, Japanese Knotweed (resveratrol) and yarrow.
Mullein is a bountiful plant, it grows in soils that are not very welcoming and it still blossoms beautifully giving us a sight to behold and many incredible benefits. For one thing, it’s incredibly relaxing, and it has a strong anti-inflammatory effect, so much so, it has been used on painful joints, inflamed goiters and skin wounds.
The leaves are so awesome to touch and feel! If you can’t touch this plant, I’ll tell you it feels like a soft tee shirt, but different and it’s hard to explain. That said, like any other leaf, peel, or rind some people who are sensitive could experience mild dermatitis, so make sure you’re not allergic.
Medicine from mullein can be extracted and used practically for many conditions and the compounds could come from the leaves, flowers and/or root, but not the seeds.
Your grandma might have even steeped the leaves of mullein to make you a cough syrup or hot tea which is great for colds and flu. The reason behind this natural remedy is the strong anti-viral effect of mullein. Harvesting mullein is pretty easy, I just recommend that you get it from a trusted source where it was grown in nice, clean soil and preferably organically.
7 Benefits of Mullein Root
Mullein root has numerous benefits that make it worth keeping around, including the following.
Relieve Ear Aches.
Thanks to mullein’s strong anti-inflammatory effect, it can help with ear aches and infections. Research from over a decade ago revealed that little fact. If you look at health food stores, and Amazon, you’ll find mullein-based ear drops, and according to one scientific paper, it might be just as effective as conventional treatments. Some anecdotal evidence suggests it could help relieve the symptoms of Meniere’s Disease too.While deadly to fish, mullein can be helpful to dogs, and canine ear problems.
There are specific instructions though, you shouldn’t overdo a good thing. For example, if you’re using mullein leaf tea for dogs, then you’d want to give something like 5 to 10ml per 30 pounds of weight once or twice daily. There is a whole article on this, The Benefits of Mullein for Dogs.
Seek a qualified holistic veterinarian to make sure it’s right for your own dog.
Increase Lymph Flow.
Mullein has natural benefits for your entire lymphatic system. This is why it’s especially useful for bruises and skin infections. Herbalists know to take the large leaves and utilize them as compresses whenever there is swelling. The leaves are quite large, sometimes 12 to 16 inches long. They can be picked off, and steeped gently and then when cool, applied directly on to the skin. This reduces inflammation and pain.
Likewise, you can also purchase a tincture, supplement or tea and drink internally (if indicated on your particular product), and the mullein will help move lymph flow from the inside out. Of course, with any herb, there could be allergies so I’m not saying this is right for everyone.
May Reduce Goiter.
Mullein is a strong anti-inflammatory and has been studied for its effect in reducing glandular inflammation of the thyroid. This condition is sometimes termed a goiter, and could be related to iodine insufficiency.
Mullein can be extremely useful in some cases but not all, as it may help reduce goiter. Mullien may be taken internally as a dietary supplement, but also, the beneficial compounds can be put into jojoba or apricot oil and rubbed onto the thyroid gland area (goiter area), rubbed onto the thyroid gland area (goiter area). This works in part because the biologically active oils are absorbed transdermally and could help reduce inflammatory cytokines.*
It was for this reason, that I added mullein to my custom thyroid-supportive formula called Thyroid Script.
Mullein can also be taken in commercial preparations as a dietary supplement or extract, and I found this Organic Mullein Tea on Amazon. If you’re interested in making your own tea (it’s really easy!) just CLICK HERE to view my recipe for Mullein Elderberry Tea.
Leaves from mullein are helpful with lung congestion and mucus production. Commercial preparations are useful, and in older times, the leaves were actually smoked! It appears to work by dilating capillaries and therefore increasing circulation. This helps relieve stagnancy and congestion making it an interesting adjunctive remedy to people with respiratory conditions, COPD, bronchitis, asthma and more.
It is well-documented to have calming effects on asthma and dry coughs. Obviously check with your pediatrician or practitioner about how to make the best use of mullein, and if it’s right for your particular situation. I couldn’t possibly know from here.
If there’s a smoker in your house, and you get a dry cough from smoking, or second-hand smoke, mullein tea could be useful, simply because it’s a natural demulcent. FYI, smokers need extra Vitamin C.
Soothe Skin, Cold Sores and Hemorrhoids.
Mullein leaves can benefit your skin if a compresses applied topically (unless of course, you’re allergic). It’s useful for external hemorrhoids and minor varicose veins. There are many ways to explore this. One way is to make a tea using a commercial tea bag, and cool it off. Apply it directly to your cold sore or hemorrhoid.
Likewise, you can also make a commercial tea preparation and then throw away the tea bag, and use the tea-infused water as your medicine. This is more subtle in terms of effect. What you’d do is cool the liquid and take a small hand towel and dip it into the cold liquid, making a compress. Apply your cool compress (soaked in the tea infusion) to your skin wound, or your hemorrhoids.
Another way that some herbalists suggest you use mullein is to to clean a leaf and apply it directly onto the site. I’d be remiss if I didn’t caution you to do the common sense thing and be 100% sure you’r not sensitive to it by first testing another area of your skin.
Like I said above, some people get a dermatitis reaction to plants, and you just have to be sure before playing around with herbs. They are medicine too!
Finally, and this could be very helpful for some of you, you can literally make your own medicated cream by adding mullein extract to your favorite gentle face cream or skin balm. If you do that, you could take it one step further and add a squeeze of hydrocortisone to the blend making your own DIY compounded hemorrhoidal cream, or rash cream.
Mullein Hemorrhoidal Cream
You will need:
Mullein leaf, cut and sifted
1 cup of water
1 tablespoon hydrocortisone
Gentle cream or moisturizer (preferably unscented)
Mason jar or cream jar
Take a pot and fill with 1 cup of water. Add 1/4 cup of dried mullein leaf and bring to a gentle boil and turn off the heat. Allow to steep for about an hour. Drain off the herb so all you have is liquid. Discard the herb. Mix the liquid with your cream until you have the consistency that you want for your specific application. You can thicken the mixture with corn starch if necessary, or thin it with more water. Add your hydrocortisone. Let cool. Apply as needed.
Mullein Massage Oil
Put the dried flowers into your favorite massage oil and leave them there! It’s pretty simple. You can take a dab or two and apply to your skin, your throat, or your sores as needed. The ratio can be up to you, but if I were doing this, I’d use a half cup of dried flowers to a pint. I’d also add 5 drops of essential oil of ylang ylang and 1 drop of eucalyptus or tea tree.
Improves Joint Function.
Mullein leaf can make a difference for painful aches and joints, and even mild back pain just because it is lubricating. The herb contains compounds that are lubricating to the synovial joints and tissue. This hydrating effect on the spine, joints and cartilage can have a soothing effect on mild injuries.
This and the reduction of inflammation go a long way in helping to increase your range of motion. There is some research suggesting it can help with nerve pain, irritated nerves and bone health. Incidentally, if you are struggling with joint pain, CLICK HERE to get a supplement that helps.
Aids Urinary Incontinence.
Mullein has this interesting effect that (over time) it can help strengthen bladder muscles, so in that regard, it could support healing of urinary incontinence and/or urgency. It helps with kidney and bladder function.
Research on mullein shows that it can tone and strengthen the little sphincter at the base of the bladder. It’s called the “vesical trigone” sphincter and this area is extremely sensitive to expansion.
Once the bladder is stretched (expanded) to a specific threshold, a signal is sent to the brain, and then you ‘feel’ that familiar urge to go. The fact that a plant from nature can improve the tone of the vesicle trigone sphincter is kind of amazing, especially if you’re a post-menopausal woman dealing with this issue. Also, mullein could be of medicinal value to women who have stress-induced incontinence or interstitial cystitis.
I have another article you might be interested in entitled, The Green Tea Pee Connection: Bladder Control and Cancer.
If mullein is good for bladder health, could it aid men with an enlarged prostate? The research implies it could, but of course, you’d want to find out if that BPH was being driven by something else, for example estrogen dominance. There are many causes for BPH so I don’t want you to think that mullein is the fix for all etiologies. Like all herbal medicine, it could be adjunctive and supportive, and a possible solution before resorting to expensive medications.
I have a delicious recipe for Mullein Elderberry Tea which can be useful for all of the above health concerns, as well as infections, immune problems and DNA damage. CLICK HERE to see it. You can make it in about 15 minutes or less.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.