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Mullein: Ancient Herb Against Ailments

Colin Stuckert

Mullein, also known as the Velvet Plant for the exceptionally fuzzy leaves, is a flowering herb native to Europe and Asia. Although relatively new to North America, Mullein has been used historically in herbal medicine.

The first recorded use dates back almost two millennia ago when Dioscorides, a Greek physician-botanist, recommended mullein for lung conditions. With an affinity for the upper respiratory system, the leaves have been smoked for centuries to relax and sedate spasmodic lungs.

Although most widely applied for its medicinal purposes, its uses and benefits do not stop there. In ancient Roman times, mullein was used to alter hair color - the leaves to darken and the yellow flowers to lighten. Since its original discovery, mullein has been used as wicks for candles, natural toilet paper, tinder to light fires, as protection to ward off evil spirits, a natural teething ring for infants, and even improves the very soil it grows in.

Mullein is comprised of flavonoids, saponins, tannins, terpenoids, glycosides, carbohydrates, proteins, fats and fixed oils. These constituents are responsible for its antispasmodic, anti-tubercular, wormicide, expectorant, sedative, diuretic, astringent, demulcent, and emollient properties.

Let’s now discuss how you can incorporate the use of mullein into your all-natural, happy, healthy lifestyle.


Respiratory Disorders

An expectorant is any substance that promotes the expulsion of mucus from the respiratory tract. Mullein has a pronounced influence on conditions of the upper respiratory tract and is useful in treating ailments such as chest colds, coughs, bronchial infections, sore throats, colds, asthma, and tonsillitis. In addition, it is the only known plant prescribed to heal lung diseases by smoking its parts.

Consume mullein tea up to three times per day for optimum results. If you don’t prefer the taste, an inhalant may be a better option. Keep reading for recipes.


Ear infections are one of the common - and painful - ailments that afflict children. It is said that 90% of all American children will contract acute otitis media at least once during their childhood and over 31 million physician visits are attributed to this condition. With such a high recurrence rate, treatment is controversial. Antibiotics are often prescribed to treat the condition, but come with a plethora of negative side effects that make them undoubtedly a poor choice when they can be avoided.

This is where mullein steps in. Using herbal ear drops that contain mullein have proven to reduce pain from earaches just as effectively as anesthetic drops. In one study, patients who were given herbal drops alone had greater pain relief than children who had taken them in conjunction with antibiotics. The prescription followed was 3 times per day with 5 drops per time.

It is important to note that Mullein should not be used in the treatment of ruptured eardrums.

Bacterial Infections

People suffering from IBS and SIBO have been seeking alternative herbal and naturopathic therapies to treat their conditions. In a 2014 study, the use of mullein was paired against Rifaximin in the treatment of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

The herbal remedy proved to be more effective after first dosage over the antibiotic. Some people treated with the medication saw no improvement after the initial round and were then prescribed 3X the medicine before negative test results were yielded.

Not only is Mullein less harsh on the body, but also more cost effective. The average monthly cost of Rifaximin is $1247.39, whereas Mullein as an herbal remedy cost no more than $130 per month.

In another 2002 study, Mullein was tested for its antibacterial and antitumor efficacy. Mullein extracted in water showed antibacterial activity against Klebsiella pneumonia, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis and Escherichia coli. Mullein has also proved useful in inhibiting tuberculosis-causing mycobacterium.

Skin Infections

Mullein fights infections on the skin, nose, and additional parts of the body. It is anti inflammatory in nature and reduces inflammation caused by toxic substances. Mullein is also antiseptic and inhibits bacterial growth on affected areas. It also boosts white blood cells and platelets within the zone that will kill any microbes that invade the wound.

Bone and Joint Health

Mullein has relaxant and antispasmodic properties. A mullein poultice is beneficial at healing bruises and relieving rheumatic and arthritic conditions. Mullein essential oil can relax the muscles, nerves, and other systems and gives relief from muscle cramps, aches, and spasms.


Mullein Tea

Steep 1-2 teaspoons of dried herb in 12 ounces of water for 15 minutes. Let cool, then drink. For a flavor boost you can add 1 tsp spearmint to your steep and finish with honey. Drink up the three times per day for optimum results.                                                                                          

Mullein Inhalant

Boil 1-2 teaspoons dried mullein leaves or flowers, and 1 teaspoon dried spearmint (for flavor) for 5 minutes. Inhale the steam to relieve colds, coughs, and asthma.

Mullein Drops

Hot Extractions: Combine 1 cup crushed mullein flowers with ½ cup olive oil over low heat. Heat the mixture for 3 hours, slowly. Allow to cool, then strain (best if done in a cheesecloth). Pour your extraction in a dark glass and seal.

As a quick fix, you can make your own herbal drops by crushing dried mullein leaves in warm olive oil to yield a mullein extraction. (Cold extractions take longer, so this is best if you are in a bind.)

Cold Extraction: Combine 1 cup crushed mullein flowers and ½ cup olive oil in a glass jar. Set in a window sill and allow extraction for 7-10 days. Strain and store in a dark glass jar.

Mullein Poultice

Take dried or powdered form of the herb and combine with just enough water to moisten. Apply to infected area and wrap with gauze. The required amount of Mullein will vary depending on the size of the area.