Herb of the Month: Mullein

Herb of the Month: Mullein

Shannon Trubatch

Given that several world events with an affect on the respiratory system are converging, including the COVID-19 pandemic and wildfires raging in California and Oregon, it feels like an appropriate time to consider plant allies that will support our respiratory health. 

One such plant that we love here at The Herb Shoppe is MulleinMullein, latin name Verbascum thapsus, has a long history of utilization in traditional healing practices, was well as other innovative uses and folklore. It has numerous common names including; torches, velvet dock, candlewick plant, shepherd’s staff, and more. You'll recognize this plant for it's grey-green, fuzzy leaves in the first year and a tall, erect flowering spike with densely packed, small, yellow flowers in the second. Its leaves form a basal rosette and can grow quite large. 

A go-to for most respiratory complaints, Mullein opens the airways, soothes and moistens respiratory tissues and clears mucus and congestion. Both the leaves and flowers contain mucilage, which is soothing to irritated membranes, and saponins, which make help make coughs more productive. Some herbalists advocate smoking Mullein to alleviate cough, congestion and asthma. A wash can be applied topically to soothe and clear heat from sunburn and hemorrhoids. Mullein infused oil, often made with the blossoms of the second-year Mullein plant, is sometimes warmed and dripped into the ears to relieve earache.

“Mulleins many folk uses extend from 'nature's toilet paper' to an effective apotropaic (fancy word meaning that which wards off evil spirits), have been used extensively in folk medicine. Its magical qualities were numerous, going way beyond simply warding off evil but also was thought to instill courage and health, provide protection, and to attract love. In fact, it was believed that wearing mullein would ensure fertility and also keep potentially dangerous animals at bay while trekking along in the wilderness. Further, allegedly a practice for men in the Ozark mountains to attract love consisted of simply pointing the mullein's flowering stalk towards the direction of his love's house and seeing if the stalk went upright again indicating her reciprocated love. Mullein, like so many herbs of European origin, were introduced by the colonists and then incorporated into the Native American healing tradition. The root was made into a necklace for teething infants by the Abnaki tribe, the Cherokee applied the leaves as a poultice for cuts and swollen glands, and other tribes rubbed the leaves on the body during ritual sweat bathes." -Mountain Rose Herbs 

You can find the medicine of Mullein in dried, tinctured and infused oil form here at the Shoppe. Additionally, it can be found in our Tea Blend of the Month: Respiratory Relief.

Sending out prayers of protection for all beings affected by these fires. Drink extra water and take extra care. 

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