Herbal Information Sheet: Mullein


(Verbascum thapsus)



Excerpted from:

The Earthwise Herbal, A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants

By Matthew Wood


“The infusion of Mullein Leaf releases a salty mucilage. Thus, it is used as an emollient to bring water into hardened, closed places. It draws water into dried out tissues. This activity causes the release of secretions from the tissues, and this brings a favorable conclusion to the disease process. Hence, Mullein is indicated in conditions where the tissues are dry or where water is caught in isolated pockets. It is particularly useful for dry, irritable, tickly coughs – the tickle sensation is usually evidence of inflammation conjoined with water stuck in the mucosa or skin. It is indicated in old coughs where the velvety carpet of the lungs, the hairs, are inflamed or worn down. There may be tightness preventing full inspiration, tightness in the throat or voice box, or tightness in the sinuses. Mullein opens the lungs, reduces coughing and tightness, lubricates the mucosa, relaxes the larynx, opens the sinuses, and causes a more open feeling in the head. The movement of the plant is upward, from the lungs to the head – this is analogous to the way the herb rises sharply upward from the ground.


“Mullein has actions on the veins and lymphatics that pick up water and food. It promotes absorption in cellular dropsy, chronic abscesses, pleuritic effusions, swollen glands, and similar accumulations of fluid.


“Mullein improves the lubrication of the connective tissue in joints, hence improving the health of cartilage. It releases synovial fluid into the bursa and disperses internal fluids into the surrounding tissues, lubricating joints, muscles, bones, and ligaments. It is thus a remedy for complex fractures, where the bone needs to be lubricated to be returned to its place. It is also indicated in spinal dryness, inflexibility, and pain, and nerve pain along pinched or irritated nerve tracts.


“Mullein also has an influence on the nerves and mind. Louise Tenney writes, ‘Mullein is called a natural wonder herb with narcotic properties, without being habit forming or poisonous. It is a great pain killer and helps induce sleep. It has a calming effect on all inflamed and irritated nerves. This is why it works so well in controlling coughs, cramps, and spasms. It has the ability to loosen mucus and move it out of the body. It is valuable for all lung problems because it nourishes as well as strengthens. The crushed fresh flowers have been used to remove warts. The tea has been used for dropsy, sinusitis, and swollen joints. The hot tea helps when applied to mumps, tumors, sore throat, and tonsillitis.’


“Mullein is for people who think too much and congest the mind. It gives such a person a feeling like the mind is opened up to breezes on a fresh spring day.”


Excerpted from:

The Herbal Handbook, A User’s Guide to Medical Herbalism

By David Hoffmann


“Mullein is a very beneficial respiratory remedy useful in most conditions that affect this vital system. It is an ideal remedy for toning the mucous membranes of the respiratory system, reducing inflammation while stimulating fluid production and thus facilitating expectoration. Mullein can be thought of as one of the best toners and normalizers for the whole chest. It is considered a specific in bronchitis where there is a hard cough with soreness. Its anti-inflammatory and demulcent properties indicate its use in inflammation of the trachea and associated conditions. Externally an extract made in olive oil [Cheryl’s Herbs Mullein Infused Oil] is excellent in soothing and healing any inflamed surface.”


Excerpted from:

The Book of Herbal Wisdom, Using Plants as Medicines

By Matthew Wood


“The two qualities of sharpness and softness capture the spirit of Mullein. It is a remedy for conditions where sharpness has impinged on softness (rough, brutal coughs wearing down the soft villa of the lungs), or when the sharpness has lost its edge (edema and mucus congestion).


“The flavor of the leaf is mildly bitter and pungent, the temperature is slightly cool and definitely dry; there is a mucilaginous quality in the leaves and a slight aromatic quality in the flowers and roots. This indicates that Mullein will soothe irritated membranes (as a mucilage), reduce fever and increase secretion (as a bitter), and open the lungs (pungent, aromatic). In short, it is useful for harsh, racking coughs with a dry, irritated cough reflex, where there is a lack of secretion.


“There is a mutual weakness of the lungs and kidneys with this remedy. The lungs do not send water down to the kidneys, and the kidneys lose the capacity to drain the lungs. The result is retention of urine and edema. Mullein has an affinity for the lungs, kidneys, and nerves.


“Mullein is useful in patients who have been hit hard by a bronchial infection, in the recent or remote past. The cough reflex is irritated and hyper-reactive so that there is a painful, dry, irritative cough. The patient may complain of pain in the diaphragm, lower ribs, or abdomen – from the force and frequency of the cough. With every outburst the frame is shaken. The cough tends to develop a deep, hollow sound. The mucus membranes tend to be dry and very little phlegm is raised.


“The soft, hairy, downy leaves of Mullein are similar to the villa, or hairs lining the mucus membranes of the lungs. Harsh coughing and dryness of the membranes wear down the villa. Mullein should be remembered when a cough progresses from a more superficial condition to a sub-acute condition where there is an overactive cough reflex.


“Mullein has a strong affinity for the nervous system and neuralgia. It has been used for pain relief since antiquity. Mullein flower oil is an old German folk remedy for earache. It is placed in the ear to soothe earache when there is pain and a sense of obstruction. It soothes the nerves, lubricates the passages, and helps to clean out deposits of material.


“Mullein is particularly well indicated when there are nerve pains in the zygomatic arch related to ear pains and problems. There may also be dryness in the larynx and bronchi. The temporal-mandibular joint is sometimes the focus of difficulty. My belief is that these symptoms occur after cold winds in fall and winter. They may also be related to some trauma to the nervous system.


“The large, downy leaves of Mullein look somewhat like those of Comfrey, and have been used in herbal medicine as an external wound-wort. They have been placed on burns, injuries and broken bones to promote healing and soothe nerve-pain. I find that it is excellent for stubbed or broken fingers and toes. It is also good for setting the bone and may be used to ease pain after setting a joint.


“The leaves should be used when the condition involves the lungs and kidneys; the flowers are better for the nerves. I like to use the tea made from the leaves, the tincture of the leaves or flowers, and the oil of the flowers.”



Mullein Leaf cut

Mullein Flower whole

Mullein Leaf & Flower liquid extract

Mullein Leaf glycerin extract

Mullein infused oil

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