This interesting plant, is amazingly versitile. It is a medium to large, showy rosette of large, elongated ovate leaves which are covered with a fine, fuzzy softness.. small hair-like structures. (The medium to large.. can be from 6 inches across to as much as 2 ft. across... depending upon the moisture it receives.) This plant is a biannual.. the first year of it's growth being limited to a very beautiful rosette of leaves, and then the second year, it pushes skyward, creating a "bayonette" of brilliant small yellow flowers, which circle the spire, and bloom and alternately wither and become seed pods. This process of blooming lasts nearly a month or sometimes a bit longer. Mullein is a prolific seeder, and each seed capsule can have fifty or more seeds in each .
Since Mullein has so many varied uses, medicinally, it is hard to be sure to include all of them, but I'll do my best. The first thing about mullein is it's tonic effect on the lungs. pieces of th fresh leaf may be chewed up and eaten.. (not too bad)... although the hairs can be a bit irritating to the throat. This will have a noticable loosening effect... for example if you are slightly asthmatic... are out on a hike.. and feel that old familiar tightening of the bronchials beginning to happen. Chew a piece of mullein leaf. It will help, as it has a mild sedative effect on the lungs... gently relaxing the bronchials.
The flowers have an even stronger effect of relaxation and sedation than the leaves. They should ideally be gathered individually; however, since this takes a very long time, I have found that a reasonable compromise, which makes very good medicine,... is to high grade the flowering tips, carefully choosing the part at the top of the stalk which is completely ringed with open yellow flowers, and nearly open yellow buds.. usually, no more than 3/4 to 1 inch of the tip is taken. Allow time to let the bugs (who love this plant condo) leave the herb. After they have all gone, a wonderful mullein oil can be made by weighing the herb tips, and notating the weight. Then grind these into a coarse blend, and wet slightly with some type of alcohol... preferrably cane or grain alcohol, and toss like a salad to be sure all parts have a little bit on them, and that it is disbursed evenly through the ground herb. Allow this to sit for an hour or so, to enable the alcohol to evaporate... (covering with a light cloth during this process.) This step is imoprtant when making any type of fresh herb steeped oil, as the alcohol will kill most mold spores, and bacteria, which could later make your oil go bad. When most of the alcohol is evaporated, then you can put the herb in a pan or meat roaster.. with variable heat control base.. on which the roaster sits. Compress the herb with your hand.. but don't overfill the roaster.. and then cover with olive oil.. (or combination of oils). Let cook at about 105* - 110* for at least two days...stirring regularly.. (leaving the top askew.. to allow moisture to escape.. as the fresh plant has a bit of water in it's flesh.) At the end of this process, strain out and press out the plant material, removing as much oil and other liquid as possible. Let this mixture stand undisturbed for at least a day, and then syphon off the oil layer on top... discarding the water part, which is on the bottom.
Steeped Mullein oil is wonderful for anesthetising pain from earaches.. and should be warmed slightly before application in the ear canal. For more anti-microbial/viral effect, a garlic clove can be smashed, and added to infuse in the oil. The plain oil, (without garlic)... is a wonderful healing agent for scrapes, scratches, and rug burn or mat burn, and regular use helps make the skin more pliable, and less susceptible to tearing or scrapes.
Mullein leaves may be dried, ground/crumbled to provide a light base for herbal smoking mixtures. By itself, it has a great opening effect on the lungs, but is even better when combined with small quantities of lobelia.
Internally, drinking mullein leaf tea addresses coughing fits, which disappear nicely after a cup or two .... (be sure to strain the hairs with a fine cloth) This herb is very toning to the mucous membranes of the respiratory system. A tea of the flowers make an even more relaxing, sedating form of medicine. For coughs, mullein combines very well with the bark of cherry tree..
The freshly bruised leaves or the dried leaves.. boiled in water.. (just enough to cover), will create a very healing poultice used to reduce swelling in localized areas and to begin the healing process in cases of wounds.
The root of this most valuable plant ... (end of first year) can be used to tone the urinary tract, and especially the trigone muscle at the bottom of the bladder. This is a most valuable remedy, especially when combined with Cholla cactus root. This can be accomplished in either a tea form, or extract form.
Last, the leaves make a wonderful alternative to carrying toilet paper with you into the woods... and can help you feel like a real "outdoors" person. As always, when in the wilds, please remember to dig a hole and bury your "gift".. so it cannot wash into waterways.
DOSAGE: The traditional dosages are as follows...
Teas: Standard infusion of the herb, using 1 or 2 teaspoons dried leaves and /or flowers, letting the tea sit until 10 to 15 minutes have passed. drank 3 times/day.
Extracts: 1 to 4 ml. (20 to 80 drops) three times /day.
Poultice... enough to cover the wound... and changed at least twice daily.
Products which we carry, which include this herb are: mullein leaf extract, mullein root extract, cold soothe syrup, and bulk mullein by the ounce. Seeds are generally available, and it is an easy plant to cultivate.