Using mullein

On the medicinal herblist in Feb99,

by Henriette

>With all this talk of mullein...I can "see" all the plants I had last year, but didn't realize all the wonderful uses. Can someone share the best ways to use and prepare the plant? I guess I'm thinking of teas and infused I use the leaves or flowers? Any and all help would be appreciated.

I like to lop off the flowerstalks, let them dry for a couple of days, remove buds, flowers, and seedpods, dry those thoroughly, and use the resulting mass of grayish green fuzzy herb with a bit of yellow in there. I call this "mullein flowers".

That is a far more efficient use of my time than the usual "pick the flowers one at a time, dry carefully", which you'll find in most any book that mentions mullein.

Leaves are good for coughs. Flowers too. I have no idea which is better - use whichever you want, as a tea.

The smell of mullein tea is as bad as that of Scrophularia. The plant is, after all, in the Scrophulariaceae, which explains a lot of its anti-inflammatory effects. (The taste is not quite so bad.) Also, fuzzy species sometimes gives some people a scratchy throat. If you're one of the unlucky ones use a coffee filter to filter out the itchy hairs before you ingest your tea.

For a good ear-ache remedy steep 1 part of dried flowers (by weight) or 1 part flowers straight off a flowerstalk that's been drying for three days in 7 parts of a good oil, for 1-4 weeks. (Or heat flowers with oil in a waterbath for 2-3 hours. Don't let the water boil dry, don't let the oil boil or smoke - you want an herbal oil, not fried herbs.). Strain, bottle, label. Warm a small dropper bottle in one of your trouser pockets for 10-15 minutes, use a drop or five in an aching ear. It's amazing how -fast- this works.

Leaves of the more fuzzy species can be used for toilet paper in times of urgent need. They even have a floral design ... but the fuzzy species leave an unfortunate itch.

You'll find more info on mullein in most any basic herbal. Grieve's Modern Herbal is online, try that. Or try David Hoffmann's writings, on the -site. And it's in King's American Dispensatory, too, which I've scanned for this site.

Oh yes, don't pay any heed to the theory-bound folks that tell you it has to be Verbascum phlomoides (or Verbascum thapsus? I forget). You can use any species of Verbascum. Even the purple-flowered one works. As does Verbascum nigrum, the non-fuzzy species which I mostly use.