Mullein is another popular herb that has been used and validated by those from the Older World. More about the health benefits of Mullein and its related features & side effects are covered in this article.
What Is Mullein
Mullein is a plant which is botanically known as Verbascum Thapsus and it belongs to the Scrophulariaceae or the figwort family. Plants belonging to the Verbascum genus are also known as velvet plants. Mullein is an herb with woolly and soft stems and leaves. The name Mullein has been derived from the Latin language and from the term Mollis which means ‘soft’.
Mullein is also known by the following other names – Common Mullein, Clown’s Lungwort, Candlewick, Our Lady’s Flannel, Aaron’s Rod, Golden Rod, Beggar’s Blanket, Bouillon Jaune, Velvet Plant, Shepherd’s Club, Torch Weed, Adam’s Flannel, Blanket Herb, Candle flower, Clot-Bur, Duffle, Hedge-Taper, Jacob’s staff, bunny’s ears etc.
The herb is known as the Candlewick plant as in older times the dried leaves and stems of Mullein were used to make candle and lamp wicks. Mullein has tall flower stalks and due to this feature it is also known as Aaron’s rod and Golden Rod.
Mullein is native to Asia and the Mediterranean region. However, today it is seen even in the following regions – North America, Hawaii and Australia.
Mullein can be termed as a perennial as well as a biennial plant that can grow up to a height of 3 meters. The plant has a very tall flowering stem with hairy leaves and flowers. The flowers of Mullein have the following colors – yellow, orange, red, blue, white and purple. The plant is also extensively used in gardening due to its attractive leaves and flowers.
The medicinal parts of Mullein include the following – flowers, leaves and even roots. The flowers of Mullein usually are fragrant and smell like honey. The leaves of the plants are bitter tasting and slimy in nature.
For herbal remedies, Verbascum Thapsus or the Common Mullein must not be confused with other Verbascum species.
How Does It Work
Mullein has about three percent Mucilage content with chemicals such as galactans and xyloglucans. The herb also has the following compounds – Triterpene saponins including verbascosaponine, Iridoide monoterpenes, Caffeic acid derivatives and Flavonoids such as rutin, quercetin-7-O-glucoside and apigenin.
Health Benefits Of Mullein
Mullein as an herb has the following health related properties – expectorant, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and diuretic. The following are some of the important and popular health related benefits of Mullein:
Upper Respiratory Tract Disorders
Mullein as an herb has been approved by the German Commission E for treating cough and bronchitis. Even before getting approved by the Commission E, Mullein was used by Native Americans and in folk medicine as an effective treatment for upper respiratory tract disorders including Asthma, tuberculosis, cold, cough, whooping cough, sore throat and other forms of lung diseases.
In folk medicine, the thick and soft leaves of Mullein are used to treat respiratory disorders as they relieve chest congestion and clear the lungs. Herbal tea made from Mullein leaves is extremely popular in traditional medicine for treating asthma, cough and cold. The Creek Indian tribe has also used the roots of the plant as a decoction for treating cough and some tribes even smoke it to treat asthma. Mullein tea has strong anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties as suggested by few clinical studies.
A popular usage of Mullein is in treating ear related problems. The herb is used topically to treat problems such as earache, middle ear infection, furuncles and even eczema of the auditory canal. The oil derived by steeping Mullein flowers in olive oil help in easing ear pain, reduce inflammation and also can fasten the healing process. However, it must be noted that any form of herbal supplementation must not be used in the ear if there are chances of a ruptured eardrum.
Mullein has anti-viral properties that can help in treating influenza and is even effective against herpes virus.
For The Skin
Another extremely popular health benefit of Mullein extracts is in treating skin related conditions. The herb when applied externally can treat the following conditions – wounds, burns, bruises, frostbite, insect bite, cellulites, hemorrhoids and eczema including weeping eczema.
Mullein also helps in reducing the itching associated with the genital and anal regions of the body. Mullein flowers can be added with beeswax to prepare a balm that can be used to treat diaper rashes in babies. The members of the Cherokee tribe of North America use the leaves of the herb to treat armpit rashes.
The plant has diuretic properties and therefore can be used to treat bladder problems and kidney related minor ailments.
Mullein can also be used to treat the following conditions - rheumatism, intestinal pain caused by colic, painful diarrhea, gout etc. It is believed that Mullein helps the overall immune system of the body due to its anti-inflammatory effects.
The herb is also used by tribal members to enhance the natural beauty in women. It is said that leaves of the herb can be rubbed to the cheeks to get a natural blush. Even during the ancient Roman times, the flowers of the herb were used as a natural form of hair dye and cloth dye.
In the market, Mullein extracts are available in 250 mg/mL and 285 mg/mL dosage levels. It is said that daily dosage level of Mullein extracts must not exceed 3 grams. In case of tincture, an effective dosage would be 20 to 30 drops three times a day.
The most popular form of Mullein supplement available in the market and used by its supporters is the Mullein tea. To make an herbal tea, add about 2 grams of dried and powdered extract of the herb in boiling water and strain after 15 minutes. To prepare Mullein oil, add olive oil to fresh Mullein flowers and keep it outside in the sun for about three weeks and stir the solution occasionally.
Side Effects, Overdose & Other Considerations
Mullein is considered a safe herb and no health hazards or side effects are known with the proper administration of this herb. However, the hairs found in the plant stems and leaves might irritate some and therefore care must be taken to filter the extract.
Mullein is an Old World herb that does not have many scientific studies to back its health related benefits. However, the herb has been approved by the German Commission E for treating cold and cough. In the market, Mullein is available in the following forms – whole, cut, powdered, fresh and dried. While harvesting Mullein, always go for plants with straight stalks and avoid those with crooked stalks. Mullein extracts are extremely bitter tasting and therefore the herb is more popular in tea form.