Mullein - Verbascum thapsus
by Ellen Evert Hopman
Mullein is another common " weed " that everyone should learn to identify and use.
Remember that a " weed " is a plant whose attributes have yet to be appreciated. It is called Verbascum thapsus in Latin and it is found in Europe, North America, and in temperate regions of Asia.
Mullein is a tall biennial plant, meaning that it blooms in its second year. Its leaves and stalk are a pale shade of green and have a cloth like, fuzzy texture.The yellow flowers grow on single or branched, spiky stems andbloom from June to September.The dried stalks were once used to make torches forout door uses such as funerals and processions.They were dipped in fat and then burned like candles.
The leaves and flowers make a tea that is a deep acting lung tonic for bronchitis, coughs, and hoarseness of voice. The tea of the leaves or flowers can also help with cramps in the digestive tract. To make the tea steep 1 teaspoon of the herb per cup of boiled water for 20 minutes and take 1/4 cup four times a day. An interesting use of the leaves is in smoking mixtures. The dried leaf can be smoked in a pipe or as a cigarette for asthma and for spasmodic coughs of any kind.
An oil can be made from the flowers that is a remedy for earaches, especially when there is a discharge from the ear, and for eczema that occurs around the ear. To make the oil gather the fresh flowers as they come into bloom and place them in an amber glass jar. Just barely cover the flowers with good quality olive oil and allow the closed jar to sit in the hot sun or on a radiator or other heat source for three weeks.
The flowers will ferment in the jar, creating their own preservative and after three weeks the jar is opened and the flowers are strained out. The resulting oil should be kept in an amber glass jar or in a cool dark cupboard.
Mullein oil has been found to have anti bacterial properties. The usual dose is three drops of the oil, dropped into the ear, three times a day and packed into the ear with cotton at night. The oil can be rubbed diractly onto the external ear for cases of eczema. Crushed mullein flowers are applied to warts to remove them and a poultice of the crushed leaves can be applied to wounds and sores.