Mullein, Verbascum thapsus; (Scrophulariaceae)
Mullein, Verbascum thapsus; (Scrophulariaceae)
In the first season of the plant's growth, there appears only a rosette of large leaves, 6 to 15 inches long, in form somewhat like those of the Foxglove, but thicker--whitish with a soft, dense mass of hairs on both sides, which make them very thick to the touch. In the following spring, a solitary, stout, pale stem, with tough, strong fibers enclosing a thin rod of white pity, arises from the midst of the felted leaves. The leaves near the base of the stem are large and numerous, six to eight inches long and two to two'-.and-one-half inches broad, becoming smaller as they ascend the stem, on which they are arranged not opposite to one another but on alternate sides. They are broad and simple in form, the outline rather wavy, stalkless, their bases being continued some distance down the stem, as in the comfrey, and a few other plants, the midrib from a quarter to half-way up the blade being actually joined to the stem. By these decurrent leaves the Great Mullein is distinguished from other species. The leaf system is so arranged that the smaller leaves above drop the rain upon the larger ones below, which direct the water to the roots. This is needed because Mullein grows mostly on dry soils. The stellately-branched hairs which cover the leaves so thickly act as a protective coat, checking too great a giving-off of the plant's moisture, and also are a defensive weapon of the plant, for not only do they prevent the attacks of creeping insects, but they set up an intense irritation in the mucous membrane of any grazing animal that may attempt to browse on them. The hairs are not confined to the leaves alone, but are also on every part of the stem, on the calyces and on the outside of the corollas, so that the whole plant appears whitish or grey. The tea should be strained thorough a fine cloth to remove these irritating hairs.
Towards the top of the stalk, which grows four or even five feet high and in gardens has been known to reach eight feet, the much-diminished woolly leaves merge into the thick, densely crowded flower-spike, usually a foot long, the flowers opening here and there on the spike, not in regular progression from the base. The flowers are stalkless, the sulphur-yellow corolla, a somewhat irregular cup nearly an inch across, formed of five rounded petals, united at the base to form a very short tube, being enclosed in a woolly calyx, deeply cut into five lobes. The five stamens stand on the corolla; three of them are shorter than the other two and have a large number of tiny white hairs on their filaments. These hairs are full of sap, and it has been suggested that they form an additional bait to insect visitors, supplementing the allurement of the nectar that lies around the base of the ovary. The three short hairy stamens have only short, one-celled anthers, the two longer, smooth ones have larger anthers. The pollen sacs have an orange-red inner surface, disclosed as the anthers open (Gri: 563).
Although it is a common herb, Dr. Christopher esteemed Mullein as one of the most valuable healing agents that we have. He said that we should always have some of the Mullein ointment or oil available for an emergency, whether serious or minor. Mullein is the major part of Dr. Christopher's wonderful glandular formula, which is three parts of Mullein and one part of Lobelia
He told the story of a boy and his friend playing by a two-wheeled trailer, the tongue of which was balanced on a log. The little fellow was sitting cross-legged by the trailer; the tongue dropped from the log and hit him between the legs, mashing the testicles and splitting the scrotum open. When his parents rushed out to see what all the screaming was, he was in a really serious condition. They called their family doctor, who said, “Bring him right up here and I'll castrate him”. That wasn't what the father wanted, though, so he called Dr. Christopher, who rushed over. Since the testicles are glands and Mullein is the basis for the glandular herbal aids, Dr. Christopher told him to make a strong tea of Mullein and Lobelia, making a fomentation and applying it to the crushed scrotum, removing the old and providing a fresh fomentation when needed, always keeping it wet. The scrotum as well as the testicles were healed with no scar. The boy grew up normal. Dr. Christopher mentioned that this fomentation, together with drinking the tea, has been used for enlarged swollen testicles and also for those that have dropped down into the scrotum. Mullein has another specific use. At one time, Dr. Christopher was at the hospital visiting someone, when a man came up to him. “You're Dr. Christopher, aren't you? My friend just pointed you out to me. He said you could help me. I am bleeding at the bowels.” Dr. Christopher said, “Well, you're here at the hospital aren't you? Aren't they able to control this?”
“No, he said, they haven't been able to help me. I'm bleeding worse. I'm taking blood transfusions now and I'm going home. I would like you to help me.”
The man came to Dr. Christopher's office in Salt Lake. He went immediately to the bathroom because the blood flowing down into the bowel made him feel that he had to have a bowel movement. While he was there, Dr. Christopher called on the intercom into the herb lab, “Fix me a cup of tea right quick. This will be one ounce of Mullein to a pint of whole milk.” A shout came over the intercom, “MILK?!” They knew that Dr. Christopher recommended the use of no dairy products in the mucusless diet. Dr. Christopher told them, “This is medicinal”. They raced out and got some from a store. They made it into a tea, ready by the time the gentleman came out of the bathroom. Dr. Christopher had him drink the whole pint down. It was warm, and had been strained. After he drank the whole pint, Dr. Christopher said, “That's the whole program. Every time you feel like you have a bowel movement, which could be blood, go have the bowel movement and then drink immediately after that a pint of the Mullein tea made with milk. The next day, just take it three times a day, and then once a day for three days. As time goes on, you'll find that you have fewer of these bowel movements. That's it. Dr. Christopher sent some Mullein herb home with the man, instructing him to get some milk on his way home. This poor man was so sickly that he needed someone on either side of him to support him as he came to see the Doctor. He said he would come back later to pay, but that he was too sick to stay and take care of it then.
Dr. Christopher mentioned that he used milk in this program rather than water because milk has a high casein content. Nutritionists claim that cow's milk has around twenty times more casein than can be assimilated by the human body; Casein is the protein part of the milk, but it is extremely sticky, gluey and hard to digest. The casein glues the Mullein right to the hemorrhaging area. Milk does the same for ulcer patients, gluing or painting over the affected area for temporary relief. A few days later, the man came bouncing in and said, “Hey, where's the Doctor?” Dr. Christopher didn't recognize him at first. “I was here just three or four days ago”, he said, “and you told me what to do about those bleeding bowels. I had planned not to return to the hospital, as we decided to go home for the blood transfusions. They were going to operate on me if things settled down, but I've decided not to go back. I am all clear.” The man was overjoyed.
A woman in Roy, Utah, had mastitis; she was a nursing mother. Her breast was double its regular size, with red streaks. Anyone experiencing mastitis knows that it is terribly painful, and accompanying symptoms resemble flu. A mastitis fever is really uncomfortable. Her baby had nursed from the other side, but the mother couldn't let it get near the inflamed breast, which sometimes can relieve the pain and swelling if possible. The baby was crying from hunger; the mother was crying from pain; what misery for the two of them! The Doctor made a fomentation of three parts of Mullein and one part of lobelia. Plastic was put over the fomentation, and the mother was told to drink half a cup of the tea each half hour until time to sleep, then a half cup each hour the next day if needed, which the Doctor did not think would be necessary.
The next morning she called Dr. Christopher, happy to tell him that the swelling was all gone, as well as the soreness and flu symptoms, and the baby was nursing happily again on that side.
Another lady told Dr. Christopher that she had used the same fomentation on her nanny goat who was bawling with a painful case of mastitis. She put the goat's udder into a bag with the fomentation in it and secured it to the goat with a harness. The next morning the goat was well and the little goat kids were nursing again.
You may recall the story of the two children with swollen glands behind their ears and on the backs of their necks. If you have ever seen these on your children, you will know how distressing they are. Most doctors will tell you that the child cannot eliminate wastes fast enough, so that the lymphatic system stores them until the body can eliminate them. They say that the swollen glands will do no harm, yet we have seen the child debilitated and sickly because of this condition. Dr. Christopher recommended the same Mullein-Lobelia fomentation. The stronger child, a robust boy often, experienced the reduction of the gland and the absorption and elimination of the poisons through his system. The weaker child, also ten years old, couldn't support that many toxins going through his system; his gland continued to swell, though with no pain, until it came to a head and broke open. Nearly a cup of infectious pus poured out and continued to drain a day or so longer; the mother considered that this saved the child's life.
One of Dr. Christopher's students had gone with others into the hills for a day's outing. They had left a beautiful modern home with all the conveniences to go to a one-room shack with torn screens, broken-down wood stove, etc., for a change of pace. Everyone was having fun except for the woman who was left alone with a fretful baby with diaper rash. The baby had used up all the diapers--this was before the days of Pampers--and there was no way to wash any more. The woman looked out the door and saw a beautiful large Mullein plant. She remembered that it is called “blanket weed”. Using some of the large leaves as a diaper and her head scarf as a fastener, she put the new diaper on the infant. In just a few minutes, the child was relaxed and happy, not fretful at all. Dr. Christopher said that the Mullein relieved the symptoms on the affected area although it did not restore health to the toxic system that caused the rash in the first place--but sometimes it is mighty nice to take off the pressure. The American Indians used various plants for diaper material, and certainly Mullein could work well as a diaper. It's also quite possible to follow the example of other primitive peoples and use no diapers at all; that will clear a diaper rash, too, eventually.
The Mullein and lobelia will reduce the swelling of mumps and the swollen palate, Dr. Christopher taught. It is also an excellent remedy for poison ivy or poison oak, etc. Dr. Christopher said that if you run into a patch of these plants, or perhaps stinging nettle, if you will look around the area, within view will be Mullein, plantain, or hound's tongue. Take only one of these leaves, bruise it, and rub it over the area. You will get immediate relief from the plant “sting” and not have to suffer for weeks with it. One man said that his little six-year-old was helping him in the garden and all of a sudden he ran into a stinging nettle. He let out a yip as he started to dig. He said, “I'll take care of it, Dad”. He walked over to where some Mullein was, bruised it in his hand, rubbed it over the affected area, and smiled. “There it is," he said. “How did you know that?” his dad asked. “Well, you know, you told me when I was five last year about that. I remembered. I know what Mullein is and I know what stinging nettle is.” Dr. Christopher said that the herbs will automatically neutralize the poison; the Lord has put an "eraser on the pencil.''
Mullein is part of the natural order Scrophulariaceae, the snapdragon family, an important group of plants comprising about 200 genera and 2,500 species, occurring mostly in temperate and sub-tropical regions, many of them producing flowers of great beauty including familiar garden flowers and herbs. Most of their curative powers lie in resinous substances instead of volatile oils. The genus Verbascum contains about 210 species, most of which live in the northern hemisphere.
The generic name, Verbascum, is said to be a corruption of the Latin barbascum, meaning bearded, on account of the whiskery appearance of the leaves. The specific name refers to an ancient town on the Mediterranean coast, Thapsus. The plant boasts a large number of common names. Its rigid uprightness has earned it such titles as Aaron's Rod, Jupiter's Staff, Jacob's Staff, Shepherd's Club, Peter's Staff, Shepherd's Staff. Because it was picked and ignited and used for a light, it was called Torches, Hedge Taper, High Taper and Hag Taper, because witches used it to light their incantations, brews and love potions. It was called, because of its velvety leaves, blanket herb, velvet dock, old ladies flannel, velvet plant, woollen, flannel flower, rag paper, flannel leaf, Adam's flannel, Feltwort, old man's flannel, Feltwort, our Lord's flannel, hare's bear, and beggars blanket! Because the silky down of its leaves was used to form wicks and tinder before lamps and regular wicks were in use, the plant was called Wick plant or candle plant. Its color earned it the name wild ice plant. Because of its well-known medicinal properties, it was called variously clown's lungwort, bullock's lungwort (it is given to cattle to help the with affections of the lungs), and Clot. Other interesting names include gorches, wood blade, and duffle. In France, it is called bouillon blanc, “white soup”, the French always alluding to gastronomic delights (Complete Book of Herbs: 148), but it is also the Herbe de St. Fiacre, the patron saint of gardeners, whose saint's day is August 30.
The common name is a derivation of the Latin mollis, meaning soft, because of the plant's thick gray-green woolly leaves. Mollis is also the root for mollify, emollient, and mollusk, the invertebrate marine creatures who were the “soft ones”, the mollusca.
Mullein is one of those patriarchal plants used by the ancients. Pliny described its uses, and Dioscorides wrote that “as much as a knucklebone is profitably given with wine in a drink to ye fluxing. But the decoction of it is good or ruptures & convulsions and Squatts, & old coughs, and being colluted assuageth ye toothaches, but ye golden-coloured in ye flowers, dyes the hair, & wheresoever it be put, draws to it woodworms.. .But with Acetum, it heals wounds & helps ye Scorpion-smitten. But ye leaves of ye wild kind are cataplasmes for ye ambusti. And they say that ye leaves of the female being laid up together with figs, doth keep them from corrupting”. He also said that the mixtures of Mullein seeds, camomile flowers and dry Venice turpentine would relieve piles. This mixture was placed in a pot on the coals and the fumes were inhaled. Agrippa, a general and minister under Caesar Augustus, felt the fragrance of Mullein leaves was an excellent defense against demons. Ulysses took this plant to protect himself against the wiles of Circe, who wanted to turn him and his men into pigs.
Both in Europe and Asia, the power of driving away evil spirits was ascribed to Mullein, possible because of the ghostly appearance of the whitish-grey leaves. Monks grew Mullein in large quantities in their gardens for medicinal purposes. In India it had the reputation among the natives of being a sure safeguard against evil spirits and magic. In ancient England it was believed that those who trafficked with the devil used dried Mullein stalks, dipped in tallow, to light their witches' sabbaths. In southern Europe, Mullein torches were formerly burned at funerals. The stalks were dipped in suet or wax for private use as well, and the silky down of the leaves was made into candlewicks, as they ignite readily and burn very slowly. It was also used as tinder. The vernacular name of hag taper also derives from the Anglo-Saxon hoege or haga, “a hedge”, denoting the usual habitat of the plant, where its tapering growth looked like candles or torches as they stood in the hedges to light the harvest-home procession (Complete Book of Herbs: 148).
Gerard said that the country people, especially the husbandmen in Kent, “give their cattle the leaves to drink against the cough of the lungs, being an excellent approved medicine for the same, whereupon they call it Bullocks Lungwort”. He said that the plants “grow in great plenty neere unto a lyme-kiln upon the end of Blacke heath next to London, as also about the Queenes house at Eltham neere to Darford in Kent; in the highwayes about Highgate neere London, and in most countries of England that are of a sandy soile” (Wood: 159).
Dr. Prior of England states that the word Mullein was Moleyn in Anglo-Saxon and Malen in old French, derived from the Latin malandrium, that is, the malanders or leprosy; he wrote: “The term `maldre' became also applied to diseases of cattle, to lung diseases among the rest, and the plant being used as a remedy, acquired its name of Mullein...” (Gri:564).
Because Mullein could effect so much healing, wild claims arose about it which far exceeded its powers. Some said that merely carrying a bit of Mullein about the person would prevent ones being infected with any illness (Gib:229). A decoction of the root was thought to cure toothache, cramps, and convulsions. The juice of the leaves (although not much juice can be squeezed from a Mullein leaf) was said to get rid of warts. The distilled water of the flowers was believed to cure gout. A poultice of the crushed leaves and seeds was used to draw out splinters and thorns that had become imbedded in the flesh. The thick, woolly leaves were used to keep the feet warm, worn inside the stockings--especially since the herb is rubefacient, this may be true. A piece of the herb carried with the person was supposed to prevent epileptic fits, according to Gerard.
Mullein may have been carried to the New World by a sympathetic herbalist who wanted to introduce its healing principle, but it was more likely brought in the ballast of a ship and scattered quite unintentionally. In North America, there are about a dozen species of Mullein. Two of these are found in the Rocky Mountains; however, these two species have long been used by the Indians. One early botanist, Brickell, thought the plant to be indigenous to America, although F.A. Michaux in 1802 said the he saw none of it west of the Alleghenies (Vog:327). It must have spread rapidly, for Edwin James saw it along the Missouri west of St. Charles in 1819 and remarked that “it follows closely the footsteps of the whites”. Peter Kalm said that the Swedish settlers called it wild tobacco and tied the leaves around their feet and arms when they had the ague. Some prepared a tea for dysentery from the leaves. A decoction of the roots was injected into the wounds of cattle when afflicted with worms, which caused the worms to die and fall out (Ibid.). He wrote, “The humming bird always builds its nest in the middle of a branch, and it is so small that it cannot be seen from the ground.. .the one in my possession is quite round, and consists on the inside of a brownish and quite soft down, which seems to have been collected from the leaves of the great Mullein, which are often found covered with a soft wool of this color, and the plant is plentiful here.. .(Peter Kalm, Travels into North America, 1748-1751).
Some early Indian tribes soaked their sprains in Mullein water to cure them, and pneumonia was cured by bathing the patient in its cool essence. Strong Mullein tea was used for severe colds, as it calms nerves and induces sleep (Herbalist:I:3,101). Some of the early Indians suffered from respiratory problems and lung infections due to the dusty terrain in which they lived. Mullein roots were used to treat pulmonary diseases, and in combination with prickly ash, they were helpful in fighting bronchial infections as well. Some Indians smoked Mullein leaves as tobacco; women smoked only to cure a cold, while men carried their pipes with them for use in ceremonies as well as for pleasure smoking. The Mohicans smoked the leaves to relieve asthma and sore throat, and the Penobscots smoked the dried and powdered leaves for asthma. The Forest Potawatomis smoked the dried leaves for asthma, though it is thought that they might have learned of this practice from the whites. The Menominees smoked the roots for pulmonary diseases. The Navajos called Mullein “big tobacco”; they mixed the dried leaves with ordinary tobacco and smoked the mixture for the relief of coughs and bronchial troubles, and the Indians even claim that smoking these Mullein cigarettes will correct mild mental disturbances, such as thinking bad thoughts or a tendency to use bad language. Ewell Gibbons said he would like to prescribe these cigarettes to some of our modern novelists (Gib:228)! Mullein smoke was blown under a child's clothing to cure colic, and for earache it was blown into the ear (Herbalist:Qp cZlt).
The Catawba tribe boiled the root and sweetened it to make a syrup for croup in children. The leaves were mashed and applied as a poultice for pain and swelling, sprains, bruises and wounds. The Choctaws put the leaves on the head as a headache poultice. The Creeks boiled the roots with those of button willow, for a drink used internally for coughs. The leaves were also boiled and the patient bathed in the infusion while it was still hot. The flowers were believed to be diuretic and have been used by the Indians for tuberculosis (Vog:327-8).
The Indians of New Mexico soaked Mullein leaves in mula blanca (an extremely potent local corn whiskey) and inhaled the resultant concoction for asthma. They also used Mullein for diarrhea. The season of the year indicated the different herbs to be used in combination with Mullein (Herbalist:Qp cit.).
The early settlers in America used Mullein in similar ways; the dried leaves were sometimes smoked in ordinary pipes or cigarettes, or the smoke was inhaled from a dish of the burning leaves for the relief of cough, bronchitis, or asthma. Early settlers of the west made a tea from the young Mullein plant by boiling it in milk. This was said to relieve griping pains in the bowels. The early Americans also used the herb cosmetically. Quaker girls considered it immoral to paint their faces, and yet they wanted to appear attractive to the boys. They learned that rubbing a Mullein leaf on the cheeks would cause extra blood to flow to that area, giving the cheeks an attractive glow. Ewell Gibbons said that he tried this, but since he was already so florid, it made little difference. He persuaded a young friend to try it. The second-year leaves from the flower stalk had little effect, but when she rubbed the woolly, first-year leaves rapidly over her cheeks for a few minutes, a rosy hue appeared. This pretty glow persisted for over an hour, and the girl said she felt no discomfort (Gib:230). “Quaker rouge” might be useful one day if we cannot obtain cosmetics!
In his journals Thoreau wrote: “Here are Mulleins covering a field where three years ago none were noticeable, but a smooth, uninterrupted pasture sod. Two years ago it was ploughed for the first time for many years, and millet and corn and potatoes planted. Now, where the millet grew, these Mulleins have sprung up. Who can write the history of these fields? The millet does not perpetuate itself, but the few seeds of the Mullein which perchance were brought here with it are still multiplying the race (July 8, 1851)."
Mullein, also known as Donkey's Ears, Bunny's Ears and Bull's ears, is not commonly grown in the flower garden, although we have a friend with a very prim and proper garden who brings in a Mullein plant or two for its beauty. “We are afraid of that word 'weed', and the name Mullein in the minds of many of us is synonymous with this outlaw term.. .We do not countenance weeds. But can anyone with an eye for line and color view without interest a raw roadside cut rescued from blatant hideousness by the amazing dignity and beauty of crowding, towering stalks of what we are pleased to call our native Mullein?. . .Garden plants are required to hit you in the eye, so to speak, before they are admissible, and the common Mullein has a stingy way of opening its blossoms one by one, or a few at a time; and so this plant is not deemed fit for garden circles (Louise Beebe Wilder, What Happens in Mv Garden, 1935).
Because Mullein has a specific affinity for the respiratory organs, it is a valuable remedy for all pulmonary complaints, and it is famous for this use. Moore says that Mullein is an herb for the lungs and throat and can be consumed in any rational quantity needed, being nontoxic. It is a mild sedative--one of the few sedative plants available with no toxic effects--and is especially useful in the initial stages of an infection when there is a mild fever, a raspiness in the throat, and a hot, dry feeling in the chest (Moore: 113). Its effect decrease when the infection is broken and an expectorant is needed. The flowers work for a more serious infection. Mullein soothes the lungs and helps bring up the phlegm. It can be combined with sage and plantain for use in asthma. Sometimes a vapor treatment of Mullein is good for asthma, which is made by simmering a strong pot of Mullein tea and inhaling the steam with a towel over your head. This is also good for bronchial troubles of various kinds.
The herb was formerly used, before tuberculosis was so well-controlled, to relieve the cough of that ailment and facilitate expectoration (Coon:204). We do not know if modern medicine may someday be unavailable to us as the last days come upon us, so it is good to know that Mullein is considered, in Ireland, a specific for all lung troubles, especially tuberculosis, and that it is extensively cultivated there and kept on hand for that purpose. Mullein contains both potassium and calcium phosphate. These two organic minerals are absolutely necessary for the nervous system and bone structure. As the ravaging effect of tuberculosis is to feed on all the tissues of the body until they are literally wasted away, it is possible and probable that the presence of these two vital salts renders the Mullein so effective in checking this disease (ShoA: 194-5). A simple infusion, sweetened with honey, is good for the beginning stages of the disease, as well as for hemorrhage of the lungs, stomach, intestines, or other internal parts. When the disease is more advanced, a strong decoction is more useful. It calms and quiets the nerves, soothing the inflamed tissues markedly. Shook said that tuberculosis has been cured in its earlier stages by this one remedy alone; in all stages it is said to give prompt relief and promote rest and sleep. Its narcotic principle is not well-known, but it is well known that it is non-poisonous.
Enormous amounts of it have been taken, and there is no case on record of injury or harm to patients who have taken as much as a quart a day (ShoA: 195). Shook did recommend for advanced stages of tuberculosis a strong decoction of Mullein mixed with the mucilage of comfrey root, to help expectoration and to soothe, and a syrup of garlic, to stop the decay of cells in the body. This also helps with almost any serious condition of the body, he said, especially all diseases that show a marked deficiency of calcium and sulfur. It is indicated in all wasting diseases, and gives prompt relief to any pulmonary troubles. Since Mullein has been reputed to have some antibacterial properties, mild and inoffensive as the herb is, it is not surprising that it can help with these serious problems. Garlic, of course, is the superior antibacterial.
Garlic is used internally for the treatment of gastro-enteric problems. It is simmered in milk and taken for bowel hemorrhage; interestingly enough, the same treatment works to stop diarrhea and to help ease out the hard, dry stools of constipation. It can also relieve the accompanying hemorrhoids that accompany this condition, as hemorrhoids are usually congested veins, filled with toxic matter that the body is unable to eliminate. Mullein ointment is applied, or a fomentation or wash of the hot infusion or decoction can be applied. The Mullein oil is used in Germany for irritated hemorrhoids, as well as for bruises, frost-bite and other external problems.
The oil is often used in the ears to relieve earache. The ointment, which is made from the oil, is used in the same way. We have had earaches in our family which resulted from congested lymph glands and colds. Although we treated the problem with garlic oil and B&B tincture, the problemdid not clear up. By inserting oil of Mullein into the ear, however, we were able to stop the irritation in the ear as well as in the accompanying glands. The oil can be inserted into the ears to soften hard ear wax, or to moisten the area where the ear wax is insufficient; hearing losses due to ear wax have sometimes been thus alleviated. The oil may be used as a lotion and applied to wounds, skin rashes and burns. Chilblains are soothed by the application of the oil, as are insect bites. We can report near miraculous results with Mullein ointment in the wilderness. We camped in one of the most mosquito-infested areas in the world, Alaska. The children (and adults) were bitten a great deal. Although we have not yet found a really effective natural mosquito repellent (we didn't rub ourselves with a garlic clove as someone suggested, however; that might work), we found that a simple dab of Mullein ointment was enough to stop the itching and inflammation immediately. We felt very lucky to have the ointment along with us.
The tea is said to be good to relieve the belly-ache or colic pains. The flowers have a stronger pain relieving action than do the leaves.
Mullein is used to treat lymphatic congestion and the conditions that accompany it. It is marvelous to see how quickly these conditions clear. As we have mentioned before, we had a child with extremely large lumps behind his ears and on the back of his neck. We tried Vitamin C, herb teas, massage, rest; all which helped some, but did not really get rid of the problem. Finally we read about the Mullein-Lobelia combination. Lacking the Lobelia herb, we rubbed some Mullein ointment behind his ears and around his neck, hoping the next day to go and buy some Lobelia. The next morning, the lumps were gone--entirely. We are simply amazed at the power of the herb.
The herb is also used for bladder problems. If there is bleeding in the urinary tract, the Mullein-milk tea will stop it, as it will also stop hemorrhage throughout the system. The root is diuretic and a urinary tract astringent. One-half teaspoon in one-fourth cup water drunk before - retiring will increase the tone of the triangular base of the bladder (the trigone) and aid in preventing bedwetting, or incontinence (Moore: 113).
In dryness of the windpipe, with a constant desire to clear the throat, attended with little expectoration and considerable pain, Mullein smoked through a pipe acts like a charm and gives instant relief. It seems to act as an anodyne in allaying irritation, while it promotes expectoration and removes sticky mucus which gathers in the windpipe (Luc: 146). People who have smoked Mullein say that it has a pleasant and interesting taste, although anything smoked too much will irritate the windpipe. Mullein has been used to help people stop smoking. An old gentleman who had smoked for many years began to mix the Mullein with his tobacco, one-fourth at first, then half, then three-fourths. It satisfied as tobacco and healed him of a cough which he had from an inflammation of the lungs. The flavor has been favorably compared to tobacco smoke (Luc: Ibid.). One herbalist says that he knows several people who have detoxified their bodies by using Mullein this way and broken the smoking habit (Neb:72).
He also says that the herb is mixed with other herbs, such as comfrey, spearmint, rose hips, orange peel, and a touch of golden seal; this, he claims is a “Detox Brew”, an herbal mixture given to drug addicts to cleanse their bodies from the drugs therein. The Mullein helps the drug addict return the breathing process, which is essential to his detoxification and transformation (lbid).
A conserve of the flowers has been employed on the Continent against ringworm and a distilled water of the flowers was long reputed a cure for burns and erysipelas (Gri:565).
The Doctrine of Signatures claims that the woolly hairs on the leaf, like horehound's, indicate a tickling sensation of the throat and therefore of the branchial (Harris:130).
The herb has been used to expel tapeworms in cattle. The leaves, cut into long strips, are used as candle wicks. Along with the dried thistle heads, the leaves are some of the best emergency tinder available. The plant has been used to fatten poultry. The herb is famous for helping cattle with lung and bronchial problems (Lev:91). The woolly leaves can be put into the socks to warm the feet; not only the thick “flannel” of the leaves helps here, but also the rubefacient nature of the leaves.
The flowers impart a yellow color to boiling water and a rather permanent green color with dilute sulphuric acid, the later becoming brown upon the addition of alkalis (Gri:566). An infusion of the flowers was used by the Roman ladies to dye their hair a golden color. According to an old authority, the ashes of the plant made into a soap will restore hair which has become gray to its natural color. The seeds, being slightly narcotic, are said to intoxicate fish when thrown into still water, and are used by poachers for that purpose. The seeds contains a fish poison which is not strong, but can stun the fish for a short time (Bar:25).
Used for enlarged swollen testicles, to control bleeding bowels, for mastitis, swollen glands, diaper rash, mumps, poison oak, poison ivy and stinging nettle, toothaches, cramps, warts, gout, to draw out splinters and thorns, sprains, pneumonia, severe colds, to induce sleep, for pulmonary diseases, for bronchial infections, asthma, sore throat or croup, for colic, earache, diarrhea, griping, as a mild sedative, for infection, mild fever, to bring up phlegm, for tuberculosis, for hemorrhaging, congested veins, hemorrhoids, frost-bite, lymphatic congestion, bladder problems, to stop smoking, for burns, erysipelas, for a dry windpipe, tapeworms in cattle, fallen poultry and restores hair to natural color.
CULTIVATION, COLLECTION, PREPARATION
Mullein is easy to grow in the garden. The seeds germinate in about ten days, and the resulting plants will self-sow freely. The plant is a biennial, the stalk growing tall during the second year. The seeds are tiny, but they have a high germination rate, so either thin them or transplant them once they come up.
You can uproot the whole plant, dry it upside down and then strip the leaves and the flowers as you wish. Moore objects to this, as he does to the “rape-and-pillage” method of stripping off the flowers, buds and pods indiscriminately. He prefers to pluck them out singly with a pointed grapefruit spoon, delicately prying them out with the spoon tip and his thumb.. .a sort of Mullein flower yoga (Moore:112). It may seem easier to uproot the plant, he says, but doing so allows the sap to draw back into the thick woody stem, thus making the leaves and flowers less medicinally active. The fresh leaves are best, but the dried leaves work well. Be sure not to bruise them when preparing them, or they will turn black.
In storage do not pack them so hard that they turn black. The plant is given in the standard infusion or decoction, though tinctures can be made and used. The oil of Mullein is made by combining equal parts of Mullein flowers and olive oil, sun-steeping them for a week or so, or low-heating them for three or four hours. You can repeat this three times or even more if you like; this makes an extremely strong and effective oil. Be sure to press every little bit of oil out of the flower before proceeding. You can make a good ointment by low-heating the leaves of Mullein with olive oil until the leaves are crisp. This may also be repeated. Mix in enough beeswax to solidify the ointment. Lobelia may be mixed with the Mullein herb, and peppermint oil or other aromatic oils will sweeten the smell.
This herb is said to be absolutely nontoxic, one authority considering this to be so because the herb has little medicinal activity (Spoerke: 126). However, some say that overdose of the herb produces ear discomfort, numbness, urge to urinate, constrictive and pressive pains in the bones and musces and weakness of the lower limbs. It is considered that the Malic acid contained in the herb causes these symptoms (Mills:433). Such a reaction is really quite rare, however.
Moore says that Mullein can be used in place of floral-scented bathroom tissue; it has sort of a floral design and it is not easily confused with poison oak (Moore: 113).
There are many different kinds of Mullein. Commonly known are V. nirum, the dark Mullein, and V. blattaria, the Moth Mullein. The seeds of V. sinuatum are said to poison fish very markedly. Y. phlomoides and V. thapsiforme are common in the south of Europe and are used for the same purpose. V. pulverulentum of Madeira is also thus used and V. phlomoides is employed as a taeniacide, an expeller of tapeworms.
The leaves contains gum, with 1 to 2 percent of resin, one part of which is soluble in ether, the other not. Also present is a bitter substance, tannin, saponin, mucilage, and an iodine principle which has not been identified. The flowers contain stronger amounts of these, plus a chlorophyll-like substance, a glucoside, fatty matter, free phosphoric acid, sugar, mineral salts of potassium phosphate and calcium phosphate, a mucilaginous saponin, a volatile oil, an astringent, narcotic, and sedative principle. The herb has not been subjected to careful scientific scrutiny, as have other herbs which have been more prominent in the medical world. However, this vagueness does not detract from the wonderful healing properties of the herb.
None of these chemicals is harmful if taken in the Mullein herb in its natural form.
DR. CHRISTOPHER'S COMBINATIONS CONTAINING MULLEIN
Resp Free, the combination to heal the respiratory tract, contains Mullein.
B F & C, the marvelous combination which heals the bones, flesh, and cartilage, even restoring bone to a disintegrated spine, contains Mullein.
The famous Mullein and Lobelia formula features the herb.
The Yellow Dock Combination, which contains high-grade vitamins and minerals in an organic, assimilable form, contains Mullein.
The Adrenatone combination, which heals the adrenal glands, contains Mullein.
VB., the vaginal bolus which heals the internal female system, contains Mullein.
Mullein oil is prepared and sold, as is Poke and Mullein oil.
The Comfrey-Mullein-Garlic syrup is used in the treatment of colds and flu and respiratory problems.
BF&C syrup is used to supplement external bone, flesh and cartilage applications.
The Black Ointment, Dr. Christopher's famous preparation which heals all sorts of external problems and also has been known to relieve ulcerated surfaces and cancers, contains Mullein.
Mullein and Lobelia ointment is a convenient way to apply externally that wonderful healing combination.