Healing Weeds - Getting a closer contact with the healing world of herbs and wild plants.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Verbascum thapsus - Family:  Scrophulariaceae

Common names: Great Mullein, Common Mullein / NL: Koningskaars / F: Molène

Mullein is probably one of the most ideal herbs to treat a wide range of conditions of the respiratory tract. The reason for this is that it contains equally balanced medicinal properties that are required to treat the most common respiratory ailments: antiseptic, astringent, demulcent, emollient, expectorant, pectoral, vulnerary and mild sedative. In short, Mullein tones the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, stimulates expectoration and reduces inflammation. Its entire aerial parts can be used in infusions or tinctures to help relieving coughs, bronchitis, asthma and and other respiratory conditions. Native Americans smoked this herb, as part of the treatment in spasmodic coughs or asthma. Some claim that smoking Mullein has helped them quitting tobacco smoking - especially if combined with Lobelia. 

When preparing the herb in infusion or tincture for internal use (also the flower infused oil if used in the ear), make sure to filter it finely, through a coffee filter or cheese cloth, so as to get rid of all the fine bristles, which could cause throat irritation.

Mullein is also very helpful to heal various intestinal conditions, including hemorrhoids. It has the property to strengthen the intestines.

An oil infused with Mullein flowers make an external remedy with bactericide action. This oil can be used to help healing bites, wounds, eczema, frostbite or to relieve earache. In fact this oil helps to relieve various types of ear problems, including otitis media, deafness resulting from mucus accumulation or ear mites in animals.

In poultices, used externally, it helps to draw splinters and boils. It also helps to speed up the recovery of broken bones.

One amazing use of Mullein - both as poultice as internally - has been shared recently by herbalist Jim McDonald (see link to his website below): to help re-align the spine. He quotes Matthew Wood's Book of Herbal Wisdom on this particular property of Mullein, which I will re-quote here: “It has a moistening, lubricating effect on the synovial membranes… so that it is hydrating to the spine and joints. It is often indicated in back injuries. People think they are untreatable and incurable, but an increase the synovial fluids will make the spine more pliable and comfortable. The vertebra will slip back into place more readily, pain and inflammation will decrease and the condition will get better."

Since Jim McDonald made this information available, Mullein has been widely tested with great results by several herbalists and their closed ones - as one can read in various herbal blogs and forums. It is really worth trying it!! Thank you, Jim!

Mullein helps to relieve various conditions where lymphatic congestions are involved - also (glandular) swellings - in which case it can be used both internally as externally.

One can still find indications for Mullein in the treatment of ringworms, erysipelas, toothache, cramps, blood-shot eyes (external compress), urinary inflammations, urinary incontinence and it can even help to treat certain types of convulsions and migraines. It contains sterol substances that reduce inflammation processes, working as a mild painkiller.

Another folk use of Mullein is to place one leaf inside each of the shoes to stimulate circulation, relieve foot-ache and keep the feet warm.

Other uses for Mullein: one can make a hand drill for making fire or a torch with the stalk, the flowers give a yellow or green dye, its dried leaves and fluffy hair serve as insulation material and can also be made into candle wicks. 

Mullein seeds has insecticide properties, meaning that they contain toxic substances. The seeds should therefore not be ingested or employed in preparations for internal use.

Verbascum nigrum
There are other species of Verbascum that have similar medicinal properties as the Verbascum thapsus. One of them is Verbascum nigrum, pictured on the side.

Want to know more about Mullein? Here is a selection of articles with more extensive details:

Verbascum thapsus, by Survival Plants Memory Course

A Golden Torch: Mullein’s Healing Light, by bearmedicineherbals.com

Mullein, by Jim McDonald

Mullein & Lobelia, by Dr Christopher’s Legacy

Mullein Benefits and side effects - Natural Alternative Remedy.com

Helpful videos on Mullein:

Plant Portrait - Common Mullein, by IdentifythatPlant.com

Mullein: video with Elindria

Mullein: Harvesting tips and how to make syrup, with Linda Bostock

Katrina Blair on some extra uses of Mullein