Scientific Name: Verbascum
Common Names: Great Mullein, Flannel Plant, Candlewick Plant, Hag's Taper, Velvet Dock, Velvet Plant, Clown's Lung-wort, Torches, Our Lady's Flannel, Jacob's Staff, Aaron's Rod
Family: Scrophulariaceae (Figwort)
Mullein, sometimes called Great Mullein, Flannel Plant, Candlewick Plant, Hag's Taper, Velvet Dock, Velvet Plant, Clown's Lung-wort, Torches, Our Lady's Flannel, Jacob's Staff, Aaron's Rod, and many other names. Its scientific name is Verbascum, and it is native to North Africa, Asia, and Europe, though it can now be found throughout most of the world. Mullein is a biennial member of the figwort (Scrophulariaceae) family and has wide, flat petals that are usually yellow in the United States. The petals grow on a flower spike up to 8 feet tall, while the leaves stay near the ground. The tell-tale leaves are large and fuzzy (1).
Benefits of Mullein
How I Use Mullein
Benefits of Mullein
An antibacterial property is when a substance, or in this case, an herb, can destroy or suppress the growth and reproduction of bacteria (2). Studies have shown that mullein leaf has antibacterial properties in Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria such as Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli (E. coli), and Staphylococcus aureus (3).
Some test-tube studies indicate that mullein may have potent antiviral properties. An antiviral property is when a substance, or in this case, an herb, can kill a virus or suppress the virus' ability to replicate, multiply, or reproduce (4). One study found the Verbascum species to have antiviral activity against influenza A and herpes (5). Another study found combining the medication amantadine with mullein improved antiviral activity against influenza (6).
Although inflammation is a natural bodily response, chronic inflammation can lead to detrimental health effects. Chronic inflammation has been linked with many diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, and certain cancers (7). Mullein’s wide array of plant compounds assists in combating respiratory inflammation. According to animal and human research, mullein reduces inflammation and helps relax the muscles in the respiratory tract (8,9).
An astringent property is when a substance, or in this case, an herb, can cause the contraction or shrinkage of tissues and dry up secretions (10). Astringent herbs are typically used internally to reduce mucus and/or discharge and externally to remove the infection or unwanted bacteria from skin wounds. Mullein’s astringent properties make mullein an excellent choice for infections, and science agrees. One study found that a mullein ear drop used on a middle ear was just as effective as an anesthetic on a middle ear infection (11). I love Earthley’s Earache Ease for this reason!
May Promote Respiratory Health
Chronic lower respiratory diseases, such as asthma and COPD, are the sixth leading cause of death in the United States (12). These respiratory diseases often require controlling inflammation for proper respiratory health management (13,14). Thankfully, mullein leaves, flowers, and roots contain saponins that help rid the body of phlegm and mucilage.
Traditionally, mullein was used for tuberculosis (15). Throughout history, mullein has been used to help coughs, bronchitis, asthma, and just about every respiratory issue under the sun. Native Americans often smoked mullein for asthmatic relief and used mullein tea from the roots to calm coughs. Mullein holds expectorant and demulcent effects, which accounts for this herb's documented use as an antidote for the respiratory tract (16). I use Earthley’s Cough-B-Gone for these benefits.
Due to mullein’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, mullein can provide exceptional skin-soothing properties. Mullein has been used to assist in the healing of eczema, exanthema, cysts and zits, insect bites, nail infections, and other types of wounds (17).
Additionally, mullein seeds have been used to soothe chilblains and chapped skin (18). That explains why Native Americans often used the leaves and flowers as a poultice for hemorrhoids, burns, tumors, and other skin problems. Mullein oil is excellent for post-birth hemorrhoids.
Studies have found mullein to have both anticancer and antioxidant properties, which is important since antioxidants can help fight damage from harmful free radicals. The buildup of free radicals has been linked to chronic diseases like cancer (20). One study found that 300 mg of mullein extract resulted in 91.31% inhibition of DPPH free radicals and concluded it could be used for cancer and infectious diseases (21). In vitro studies found mullein extract possessed a notable anti-tumor effect and safety profile (22).
⚠️ Warning: The Holistic Hipppie is not a functional medicine practitioner. The FDA has not evaluated these statements. This content is not medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or replace medical guidance. The Holistic Hipppie assumes no liability for the application of the information discussed.
Contraindications & Interactions
The mainstream narrative will tell you to talk to your doctor before using mullein. They claim there isn’t enough reliable information to know if mullein is safe or the side effects; they even claim it may be toxic as they caution against its use with infants and children or if pregnant or breastfeeding (23). Like always, take the mainstream’s cautions with a grain of salt because herbal experts say otherwise.
Richard Whelan, a trusted herbalist since 1989, has had no documented adverse reactions or effects with this herb. He states there may be an increase in coughing, and cleansing of the lungs is expected with Mullein when it is taken for respiratory troubles, but this is not a bad sign but rather a sure indicator that the herb is doing its job! Otherwise, no adverse effects are expected from Mullein, even in high or frequent doses. It may be confidently taken during pregnancy or while breastfeeding and used by the young or old for safety (24).
Additionally, the mainstream mentions that some species of mullein may cause contact dermatitis. Although Richard Whelan does not say this, I personally experienced this. I recommend doing a patch skin test before topical use, especially if you have sensitive skin or are prone to allergic reactions.
How I Use Mullein
When I make my own products herbal remedies, I try to buy herbs locally. When buying locally isn’t an option, I typically purchase from one of the following brands I trust:
My go-to mullein remedy is my homemade mullein tincture, but I am trying to formulate this recipe with a few more herbs for an optimal synergetic blend (I'll share once I have perfected it).
Products Recommended with Mullein Ingredients
Earthley's Cough-B-Gone is a liquid supplement that combines elderberries and other immune-supporting herbs for everyday wellness. It’s an elderberry tincture (not syrup) that’s a potent cold and flu fighter, shelf-stable for up to 2 years, and super concentrated, which makes it the most cost-effective option.
Earthley's Earache Ease is the go-to, all-natural product for all ear complaints. Sinus Pressure? This can help. Swimmer’s Ear? We got you covered! Just plugged up and achey? No worries, we can help with that, too. This organic formula is strong enough to work for adults but gentle enough to ease earaches in kids.
Earthley's Elderberry Elixir is a liquid supplement that combines elderberries and other immune-supporting herbs for everyday wellness. It’s an elderberry tincture (not syrup) that’s a potent cold and flu fighter, shelf-stable for up to 2 years, and super concentrated, which makes it the most cost-effective option.
Earthley's Herbal Throat Spray provides relief from sore throats without compromising ingredients. This spray is infused with anti-viral herbs and has a pleasant, sweet flavor. Banish sore throats naturally with cooling peppermint while your immune system gets the support it needs.
Earthley’s Metabolism Support synergistically helps promote whole-body wellness. Encourages a healthy metabolism by helping to balance blood sugar, reduce stress, balance cortisol levels, and nourish your body.
Earthley's Pain Potion is an herbal tincture that helps relieve headaches and other body pains. We combine five herbs to extract their anti-inflammatory, cooling, and soothing properties to help relax muscles and ease the pain. Skip the OTC pills and their dangerous side effects and opt for the natural help that Pain Potion can provide.
The Brother’s Apothecary Breathe Well CBD Tea combines powerful respiratory supporting herbs and antioxidant-rich rooibos tea with delicately sweet vanilla beans. This delicious and smooth drinking tea packs 30 mg of CBD per bag.