September 2007
The Herb Farm

Mullein Tinctures, Powders, Tablets and Teas

Mullein is an herb that grows wild in most of the eastern United States. You will occasionally see it on the side of the roads growing up to, and even over, 6-foot-tall and blooming beautiful yellow flowers this time of the year. The herb is a biennial plant and the seeds can remain viable for up to 100 years.

In this article we are going to look at some of the uses for mullein, where it’s from, why it is considered invasive and what makes it work.

Mullein is an herb of Eurasian decent that was quickly adopted by Native Americans because of its multiple uses as medicine. In fact archeologists, when looking for Indian sites, will sometimes begin with searching for mullein because the plant proliferates in alkaline soils. Alkaline soils are found near creeks and streams where Indians used to pile mussel shells. The decomposing mollusks broke down into calcium which, by the way, is the fifth most abundant element on Earth. Calcium is alkaline and makes soils right for the cultivation of mullein.

Mullein contains the following: Vitamin B-2 or thiamine, B-5 or Pantothenic acid, B-12 or Cyanocobalamin, and Vitamin D or metabolites.

Mullein also contains saponins - a derivative from the word sapon, meaning soap - which is a glycoside, giving a mullein tea a frothy characteristic when boiled in water; mucilage, which is a demulcent - an agent that forms a soothing coating on mucous membranes; choline, an organic compound usually classified as an essential nutrient and grouped within the Vitamin B Complex; hesperidin, a flavonoid which has anti-inflammatory effects and acts as an anti-oxidant; sulfur and magnesium.

A tincture of the oil extracts from the flowers has been used for treatment of migraine headaches and ear infections. This is known to contain anti-bacterial properties.

There is documentation of Indians smoking cigarettes made from mullein leaves and coltsfoot for treatment of bronchitis and asthma, but there is no scientific documentation that I could find corroborating these claims. It doesn’t seem logical to me that smoking anything could treat a breathing disorder, but I have been wrong, at least once, about medical issues.

Mullein tinctures, powders and pills are available and claim to treat everything from hemorrhoids and diarrhea to skin injuries and respiratory disorders. I have boiled the leaves to make a tea for a sore throat and cough suppressant and it worked for me.

In all of my years I have to say there is nothing like running up on a mullein plant when you’re out in the woods and you have to "go." The large velvety leaves make a great wipe in a pinch… Just check the leaves for bees and ants first.

If you have any questions about other uses for Mullein, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I’ll tell you all I know.

As always, check with an expert, such as your doctor, before using this or any other herbal remedy.

H. T. Farmer