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Mullein is a great herb to know and very easy to identify. It is a large plant with soft velvet-leaves coming from a tall stalk, growing up to 8 feet. In the first year it appears as a basal rosette of leaves, and in the second year, it sends up huge flower spikes with many bright densely clustered yellow flowers. There are over 200 species and it is native to northern Africa, Asia, and Europe, but has been naturalized throughout the world.


Mullein has primarily been used for respiratory complaints. It is a very gentle herb, with an affinity for the upper respiratory system, and exerts a mild sedative action upon the lungs. Colonists introduced mullein into North America, and the Indians adopted it for coughs, bronchitis, and asthma.  The Eclectics Physicians recommended mullein for colds, coughs, asthma, and tonsillitis, as well as diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and urinary tract infection. 

Other UsesMullein had other uses as well.  The leaves were dried, rolled and used as wicks for candles and the entire dried flowering stalks were dipped in tallow and used for torches, hence the names ‘candlewick plant’ or ‘torches’.  The flowers were seeped in oil and used for earaches.  The leaves are soft and velvety which gained the use of “nature’s toilet paper”.

Healing Actions

Mullein’s theraputic properties are sedative, diuretic, expectorant, astringent, demulcent, emollient.   It has been found that mullein does inhibit the growth of the bacteria tha causes tuberculosis.  It also contains mucilage shich swells and becomes slippery as it absorbs water. This is said to most likely account for its soothing action on the throat.  Mullein contains tannins, which are astringent, which could account for its effectiveness for hemorrhoids and diarrhea.

Mullein is a great herb and would be a good one to be able to identify as there is much of it in the Midwest.

We’re here to help YOU!Amy Willis, MHYour Local Herbalist

April 3, 2017

Resources:The Healing Herbs,  Michael Castleman, pp. 265-267