Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

Parts used and where grown: In Europe, the flowers from Verbascum phlomoides or Verbascum thapsiforme, both close relatives of North American mullein, are the source of most mullein herbal products. The leaves and flowers of mullein are typically used in herbal preparations. The leaves are collected in mid-summer and the flowers between July and September.

In what conditions might mullein be supportive?

Â¥ asthma

¥ bronchitis ¥ chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

¥ common cold/sore throat ¥ cough

Â¥ recurrent ear infection

Historical or traditional use: Mullein is classified in the herbal literature as a expectorant and demulcent herb. Historically, mullein has been used as a remedy for the respiratory tract, particularly in cases of irritating coughs with bronchial congestion.1 As such, bronchitis sufferers often find relief with this herb, particularly when combined with white horehound and lobelia. Some herbal texts extended the therapeutic use to pneumonia and asthma.2 Because of its mucilage content, mullein was also used topically as a soothing emollient for inflammatory skin conditions and burns.

Active constituents: Mullein contains about 3% mucilage and small amounts of saponins and tannins.3 The mucilaginous constituents are primarily responsible for the soothing effects on mucous membranes noted for mullein. Many herbal experts feel that the saponins are responsible for the expectorant actions of mullein.4

How much should I take? A tea of mullein is made by pouring 250 ml (1 cup) of boiling water over 1-2 U.S. teaspoons (5-10 grams) of dried leaves or flowers and steeping for ten to fifteen minutes. The tea can be drunk three to four times per day. For the tincture, 1-4 ml is taken three to four times per day. As a dried product, 1-2 grams is used three times per day. As mentioned above, mullein is usually combined with other demulcent or expectorant herbs when used to treat coughs and bronchial irritation.

Are there any side effects or interactions? Mullein is generally safe, and there are no known contraindications to its use during pregnancy or lactation, except for rare reports of skin irritation.


1. Hoffman D. The Herbal Handbook: A User̥s Guide to Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1988, 67. 2. Grieve M. A Modern Herbal, Vol. 2. New York: Dover Publications, 1971, 562 Р6. 3. Wichtl M. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1994, 18&endash;9. 4. Tyler VE. The Honest Herbal, 3d ed. Binghamton, NY: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1993, 219 Р20.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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