In the 19th century, people smoked mullein’s leaves or dried flowers to treat respiratory diseases and asthma symptoms- a practice borrowed from the Mohegan and Penobscot Indians.
Mullein is an Old World plant, where it was for centuries an esteemed medicinal herb. The colonists planted it in their gardens; it has since escaped and become naturalized in various species throughout the United States.
Gerard, the English herbalist writing in the 16th century, noted that “Figs do not putrify at all that are wrapped in the leaves of Mullein”, so the antibacterial properties of the leaves were noted very early on.
Shoshanna Easling of the Bulk Herb Store says, “Mullein is high in iron, magnesium, potassium, and sulfur. We consider it the herb of choice for respiratory problems and pulmonary diseases. Not only does it loosen mucus and expel it out of the body, but it also calms spasms, is a natural painkiller, and helps to reduce swelling in the glandular system.”
If you don’t want to forage for it, you can order it online. It is one of the Bulk Herb Store’s best-selling herbs.
While I am not a doctor (and cannot recommending it to you), this is one herb I like in my medicine chest. We have used it for lung and sinus congestion in capsule form for years .
This year, I want to prepare my own. It is a part of simple living and is a great way to get out on a ‘date’ and romp the countryside with a son or daughter discovering the beauty of God’s creation that you wouldn’t normally see.
How to make and use fresh mullein herb for earaches:
Step 1.) Harvest fresh mullein leaves and flowers in dry weather. Go for plants that don’t appear blighted or dying or close to heavily traveled roads, but the ones with healthy, soft leaves and a strong stalk. (Other names for it are Adam’s flannel, Velvet dock, and Beggar’s blanket). If you see/touch the leaves, you will know why.
Step 2.) Rinse the leaves under running water to eliminate excess dust, etc. As the flowers are rather fragile, use a softer flow of water or put them in a colander to rinse.
Step 3.) You can steep flowers alone, or also buds and loosely chopped leaves into a small jelly jar with a lid. You can add 1 quartered clove of fresh garlic if you desire.
Step 4.) Heat extra virgin olive oil to very warm in a small pan, but do not boil. Pour the heated olive oil into the jar over the herb and fill it to cover by ~1″. Screw the lid on tightly and allow this to sit in a dark spot for two to three weeks to create an infusion. Later, you strain off the depleted herb.
Many mothers know the soothing relief a mullein/garlic infusion can give to a throbbing ear infection. Use a dropper to insert a few drops into the ear. It is best to rewarm a little beforehand to increase the comfort when applying it to the ear.
Other common uses: The dried cut leaf is often used as a tea or packed in capsules, and fresh leaves slightly crushed can be used as a temporary dressing over an abrasion to prevent or stem infection. It is a good herb to know where it grows in your area. Some day we may be glad to be able to have it in an emergency. The world isn’t getting any more stable, you know.