MULLEIN, Verbascum thapus or Scrophylariaceae
Mullein leaves have many uses. I am reminded of a story of a young family that went camping. They had a baby with them that had developed a bad diaper rash. The mother was beside herself as to what to do. She had a crying baby with a raw bottom, no clean diapers, and five more days of camping. She saw this big, wide, soft, mullein leaf and thought she would try it as a diaper liner. At least it would be dry on the baby's sore bottom. She took off her scarf and put the big mullein leaf in it like a diaper liner and tried it on the baby. To her amazement, the baby stopped crying almost immediately. Something within the mullein leaf counteracted whatever was making the baby's skin raw. Before they left for home, they had healed the baby's sore bottom.
Mullein is a biennial plant. In other words, it grows for two years. The first year, it grows into a rosette, which is a circle of basal leaves that lay close to the ground. The second year a spire or “pole” grows out the center of the rosette. It has little yellow flowers that grow around the top of the pole that will reach six or seven feet tall. Down below the flowers and the seed pods are furry, downy leaves. The leaves are small at the top, but grow larger as they go down the stock or pole. Some basal leaves get really big, more than two feet long and a food wide. The whole plant is a light or pale green color. The texture of the leaves is very soft like velvet on both the bottom and the top. This herb grows everywhere. It has many interesting common names, such as “Aaron's rod,” “blanket herb,” “the great mullein,” “candle wick,” “flannel-flower,” “feltwort,” “Jacob's staff,” “sheperd's club,” “old man's flannel,” “velvet dock,” and many more.
For centuries, they cultivated mullein in Scotland and England as an herb that would help lung problems, especially tuberculosis. The disease wastes the body tissue, mainly in the lungs. Dr. Shook says that the reason mullein is so good for tuberculosis is that it contains a goodly amount of potassium phosphate and calcium phosphate. These two organic salts are essential for rebuilding tissue, the nervous system and bone structure and in maintaining the body. Mullein is an excellent herb for the respiratory system. It is also very good for glandular problems, digestive and nerve disorders, ear infection, as an antidote for poison plants, pain killer, bleeding bowels, mastitis and many other health problems. Mullein is one of the best herbs for asthma. As an astringent, it opens air passages allowing the person to breathe more freely. Mullein is the leading herb in Grandma's herbal Asthma formula. Some old herbalists say that the best treatment for asthma is to make a tea out of mullein, comfrey and lobelia. You can also burn it like incense and the smoke will aid respiration. Use it very sparingly.
A lady who was nursing her baby developed mastitis. She made a fomentation of mullein leaves, soaked a cotton cloth in it, and applied it to her breast. She then covered it with plastic, a towel, and then a heat pad. By morning, she was better. Sometime later, her goat had the same problem – caked breast. The mother goat was beller'n and the goat kids blat'n cause they could not nurse. The lady made up another formentation of mullein leaves and with an old T-shirt she tied the poultice on the goat's udder. By morning the mastitis had cleared up and the goat kids could nurse. Everyone was happy.
Mullein oil is made from the little, yellow flower. It is slightly narcotic and very healing. This is the reason it works so well for earaches. It is also used topically for skin blemishes, warts, sick or migraine headaches and many more things. One old folk remedy says mullein oil is even good for bed-wetting!
Mullein is easy to grow. Why not grow some and learn how to use it?