HERB FOCUS: Mullein
A member of the Snapdragon family, mullein reduces the formation of mucus and is also a potent expectorant. It is a valued herb that can be helpful with treating bronchitis, asthma, and emphysema.
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
Qualities: leaf – cool/neutral, slightly moist, root – neutral, slightly drying, flower – cool/neutral
Therapeutic Actions: anodyne (flower), anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, astringent (root), demulcent (leaf), expectorant, lymphatic, vulnerary
Mullein is a wild herb with many medicinal uses. Each part even seems to have its own special therapeutic actions. Among its medicinal attributes, the leaf has a particular affinity for the respiratory system. In particular, mullein is called for in chronic, sub-acute infections like a persistent or recurrent bronchitis, but some sources even call for its use with pneumonia and tuberculosis. This herb is especially useful for instances of a dry, hot and hacking cough with pain about the ribs. Perhaps nodding to its own soft fuzzy hairs, the herb is also indicated to increase the health of weakened cilia (the moving hairs of the lungs and respiratory tract) due to smoking and infection. There is also ample anecdotal evidence to support mullein use when addressing inhaled particulate matter – think drywall dust and certain fibers being worn on the face right now.
Beyond its respiratory benefits, mullein is also considered an outstanding lymphatic tonic, and is traditionally used to get congested lymph “moving”. Both leaf and root are indicated for musculoskeletal concerns, particularly that of misalignment and broken bones. The root is an herbal option when there is a weakened pelvic floor and urinary incontinence. The characteristic yellow flower is exceptionally useful when infused into oil (sometimes with garlic) to address ear pain and wax build up – this being perhaps the most widely known and used herbal remedies in the general population. I have even used this mullein/garlic ear oils for a family member that was experiencing vertigo (likely due to sinus inflammation related to allergies, pressing against her inner ear) with profound and almost immediate effect.
Mullein leaves (and root) can be tinctured, dried/ground/encapsulated, or used as a tea or infusion. The wilted or dried flower also can be infused in oil for topical use.