Action: Pectoral, demulcent, astringent, expectorant, alterative,
sedative, analgesic, antispasmodic, antiseptic, diuretic.
Systems Affected: Lungs, glands and lymphatic system, nerves.
Preparation and Dosage (thrice daily): Dried leaves and flowers,
dose 2-5 grams by infusion.
Mullein is a Eurasian native now naturalized in some temperate
zones. In the first year's growth there appears a rosette of large
leaves somewhat like those of foxglove. In the following year the
plant develops a tall spire-like flowering stem clustered with
yellow flowers often reaching 2 meters or more in height.
Both in Europe and Asia the power of driving off evil spirits was
ascribed to Mullein, and according to the classics it was the plant
which Ulysses took to protect himself against the wiles of Circe.
The Romans used the dried stem dipped in tallow as a torch.
Mullein has a special affinity for the lungs and is regarded as one
of the outstanding pectoral herbs. It is useful in all pulmonary
complaints, especially those characterized by lung weakness and/or
congestion. It has a long history as a specific treatment for
tuberculosis, for which purpose it is often combined with Garlic and
It is prescribed for pneumonia, pleurisy, bronchitis, colds, asthma
and dry coughs, its action being demulcent, astringent, antiseptic,
expectorant, tonic and sedative (slightly narcotic in effect, it
allays pain and calms the nervous system but without any adverse or
The dried leaves are sometimes smoked as a cigarette to relieve lung
congestion, asthma and spasmodic coughs. An infusion of the leaves
prepared as an inhalant in a bowl of water (keeping the head beneath
a towel) is effective for asthma, hayfever and sinus congestion; as
a gargle it is useful for throat complaints, especially laryngitis.
The herb exerts a beneficial effect on the glands and lymphatic
system. A poultice or compress is applied locally for treating
lymphatic congestion, mumps and swollen glands.
A strong infusion of the leaves is used as a remedy for bleeding
from the nose, mouth, lungs, bowels and urinary organs. Its diuretic
action is tonic to the kidneys, and is useful in fluid retention,
especially when combined with local application of the herb as a
compress to dropsied limbs.
The demulcent and astringent action of Mullein is useful in
diarrhoea and dysentery. In diarrhoea the ordinary infusion is
given, but where any bleeding of the bowels is present, a decoction
prepared with milk is preferred, taken in small frequent doses.
Mullein oil is produced by placing 50 grams or so of the dried
leaves in a wide-mouthed jar with enough olive oil to cover. Seal
the jar and keep in a warm place for a fortnight or so, shaking
daily. Strained and bottled for storage, it is used as local
application to haemorrhoids, frost bite, bruises and nappy rash. In
Europe it is valued as one of the best possible remedies for all ear
complaints, a few drops placed in the ear overnight.
For rheumatism and painful, stiff or swollen joints, place 50 to 60
grams of dried leaves in 500 ml of vinegar, cover and simmer slowly
for half an hour. Applied directly as a compress it will ease the
pain and, in almost every case, reduce the swelling.
Concerning storage and preparation: the flowers must be dried in a
dark place and stored in tins or light-proof containers. They turn a
dark brown/black in a bright light once they have been removed from
the plant, and should not be used if they are in this condition. The
infusion should always be strained before use through a filter of
fine cloth or cotton wool to eliminate the fine hairs which cover
the whole plant and which otherwise would irritate the throat.