MULLEIN

Verbascum thapsus 

Common Names: Mullein, great mullein, torches, witches’ candle, hags taper
Family: Scrophulariaceae
Part/s Used: Leaves + Flowers + Roots 
Energetics: Leaves: cooling Flowers: cooling Roots: warming
Taste: Leaves: salty, bitter, astringent. Flowers: slightly sweet and bitter Root: bitter, astringent
Actions: Leaves: expectorant, anti-tussive, antispasmodic, demulcent, astringent, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, alterative, diuretic, emollient, demulcent, vulnerary. Flower: analgesic, anti-inflammatory, demulcent, nervine, sedative. Root: anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, diuretic, nervine
Tissue state: Dry/Atrophy, Damp/Stagnation
Organ System Affinity: Respiratory, Urinary 
Constituents: Carotene, choline, flavonoids, mucilage, tannins, triterpenes, gum, resin, sulfur, bitter glycosides, saponins, volatile oils
Element: Air
Planet: Saturn  
Herblore: The name Hags Taper were made from the dried stalks and dipped in tallow or wax and burned as a primitive candle for witches.

Medicinal Preparations:

Tincture: Fresh 1:3 or 1:4  Dry (ratio & % alcohol): 1:5 60%
Drops: 15-60   Times a day: 4x

Tea: Standard or cold infusion of the leaves
Ounces: 8-12 oz Times a day: 3-4x
Decoction: Strong decoction or cold infusion of the root 
Ounces: 4-8 oz   Times a day: 2-3x

Habitat and Botanical Description: 

Mullein is native to central and southern Europe and western Asia but is mostly widespread.  A plant of dry, sandy, chalky soils often seen in hedge grows and field boundaries. Mullein is a striking biennial that can reach 6-8 feet tall. In the first-year mullein grows basal rosettes covered in wooly gray-green hairs. In the second year it shoots up a long hairy flowering stalk with small yellow 5 petaled flowers that bloom a few at a time. Each flower opens before dawn and closes by midafternoon. Mullein is a beautiful addition to any garden and is attractive to many types of insects, butterflies, and honeybees. Seeds appear in the fall and are pitted, rough and grooved and can stay dormant for many years and still germinate.

Medicinal Uses:

The leaves of Mullein are anti tussive and contain mild demulcent properties that soothe the mucous membranes. Mullein leaves are both astringent and demulcent. It opens the airways to the lungs soothing dry, unproductive coughs as well as effectively aid the body in removing congestion. Helpful for a number of respiratory complaints including bronchitis, asthma and general lung weakness. The leaves are often found in smoking mixtures for their expectorant and antitussive properties as well as a bulking agent. Drink the leaf tea for mild sore throats and raspy voice. Can be used as a long term tonic.The tincture, however, is much stronger and is best used as needed. It contains strong constituents that have a fast and remedial action.

The flowers contain expectorant properties as well but are a bit more demulcent than the leaves. Water based preparations of the leaf and flower have demulcents and astringent properties that reduce inflammation in the digestive tract.

The root is a valuable diuretic, urinary tract astringent and bladder tonifying agent. It strengthens the trigone muscle, a muscle at the base of the bladder when there is passive leakage. Urine leakage caused by laughing, running, pregnancy or postpartum. Combine with herbs such as corn silk, yellow pond lily and nettle root. Mullein root contains anti-inflammatory properties beneficial for the prostate treating conditions like BPH. Its diuretic effect increases the volume of urination while decreasing frequency. Helpful with children with urinary incontinence such as nighttime bedwetting. 

An infused oil, glycerin/alcohol-based extracts of mullein flowers is a popular natural earache home remedy used by herbalists. Used with other disinfectants or anti-inflammatory agents such as garlic for increased effectiveness. Combine equal parts mullein flower with St John’s Wort in oil, then combine fresh garlic 8-12 hours before straining. Place 3-5 drops of the oil into the ear canal at the onset of an ear ache or an early stage of an ear infection. It is also important to note that the infection should not be fungal. In the case of a fungal infection, use the tincture to be safe. Additionally the alcohol also acts as a drying agent. The oil can also be used for nerve pain, piles, and chest rubs.

Mullein has an affinity for the musculoskeletal system, lubricating the joints, bones, ligaments and cartilage by improving synovial fluid secretions. Used for injuries, misalignment, and complex fractures when the bones need to be lubricated so that they can move effortlessly back into place.The tall stalk has a signature here resembling the spine. Commonly used for pinched nerves, easing pain alongside inflexibility with the neck and spine.

Energetically, Mullein is specific for grief that can often turn to anger when not dealt with. Ruled by Saturn, Mullein in its essence softens what is hard. Mullein grows in the dry, rocky soil. Often a plant grows in the conditions in which it treats. Our emotions are water, meant to flow like a river and move through us. Grief can be like a heavy stone damming the river. Grief that sits in the chest. Mullein teaches us strength in vulnerability and a wonderful ally for bringing softness and acceptance into the heart and help emotions to move again. The essence is best for energetic work. Useful for folks who are hard on themselves and have a lot of negative self-talk. Drink mullein tea or include in your herbal smoking blend to bring stability from emotional upsets.

Harvesting: 

Harvest Mullein away from roadsides and construction zones, where it often likes to grow. Gather the tender young leaves during the spring or summer before it sends up a flowering stalk. Lay the leaves on a drying rack or a dehydrator. Pick the bright yellow flowers in the second year of growth (first years do not produce stalks). Unearth the roots in the fall, wash well and allow to dry and cure for about a week. Store in an airtight container for up to 18 months. For extra magick, harvest Mullein on its planetary day, Saturday, and its planetary hour. Click here

Contraindications:

For some folks, Mullein can resemble fox glove in its first year of growth. Be sure you know what you are harvesting. Mullein is covered in small fine hairs, so strain thoroughly for any internal medicine use through a fine mesh strainer. In addition to treating bladder issues, individuals will experience a faster recovery when they avoid bladder irritants such as coffee, chocolate, alcohol, refined and processed foods.  Also identifying food allergies if helpful. 

 

References:

Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth by Dr. Sharol Marie Tilgner
The Essential Guide of Western Botanical Medicine by Christa Sinadinos 
Northwest School for Botanical Studies. Class Notes. Christa Sinadinos
The Science and Art of Herbalism by Rosemary Gladstar 
Evolutionary Herbalism:Vitalist Herbal Practitioner Program. Class Notes.Sajah Popham
Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West: Plant Profile: Mullein Leaf and Mullein Root by Michael Moore
The Way of Herbs by Michael Tierra 
Dandelion Herbal Center: Beginning with Herbs. Class Notes. Jane Bothwell