Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus) - Mullein is also known as velvet dock, Aaron’s Rod, and Peter’s Staff. The large, soft leaves are covered in a fine down and the tall stems were once used as tapers to light the way in funeral processions.
Mullein grows wild in the North Georgia Mountains. It blooms during the summer in our area and can be spotted easily. A tall spike covered with little yellow blooms rises from a rosette of large, velvet-like leaves. It is not bright green but has a greenish-white hue. Mullein can grow up to eight feet tall although usually reaches a height of about four feet.
Mullein is useful for treating coughs and other lung conditions. The leaves and flowers are used to treat bronchitis, colds, flu, earaches, emphysema, and laryngitis. Mullein tinctures, teas, and syrups help bring up sticky phlegm. Mullein is used to fight bacteria and helps inhibit the spread of flu viruses.
Mullein has many uses. It can be used to relieve scorpion stings, eye complaints, toothache, tonsillitis, asthma, and throat inflammation. When infused in carrier oil, mullein is good for soothing an earache. When incorporated into a salve, mullein is good for wounds, hemorrhoids, eczema, and inflamed eyelids. Mullein is also good for digestive problems including irritable bowel syndrome.
In cases of chronic respiratory problems, mullein is good combined with mulberry bark, cowslip root, elecampane, sweet violet, anise, or thyme. Mullein is considered a mild sedative and an excellent expectorant. When using mullein to treat coughs due to colds, combine with horehound and lobelia. Mullein is also good for treating burns because of its high mucilage content.
When using in tea form, use one cup of water to two teaspoons of dried, crumbled leaf and flowers. Steep fifteen minutes and then strain through a fine clothe. Drink three to four cups per day. As with all herbs, many doses throughout the day are best.
American Indians use mullein to promote sweating. This property can be utilized when treating feverish chills.
Many old timers smoked mullein as a remedy for asthma. Mullein leaves were also used to wrap apples to store for the winter. The dry leaves were used to start campfires as they make an excellent tender.
Mullein is a bi-annual that likes rather dry soil. Leaves and flowers should be collected in mid-summer. Do not harvest mullein plants that grow along busy highways or in areas that might have been sprayed with herbicide.
Mullein used to grow in abundance, but is quickly disappearing due to its reputation at a weed. If you happen to have a wild mullein plant, consider its value as a medicinal herb before labeling it as useless. Some popular seed companies now sell mullein seeds. The tall plants are quite attractive in the back of a flower border.* Do not use mullein infused oil in the ear if there is any chance of a perforated eardrum. Always consult a physician before using any herbal remedy.
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