Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mullein-Verbascum Thapus

Mullein, verbascum thapus, is a stately bienniel with wooly, greyish green leaves and pretty yellow flowers that appear in the second year. I love the texture of the leaves and and enjoy its presence in my flower borders! It offers a nice contrast to the more refined flowers and the bees just love it too. It grows wild throughout most of North America and Europe. Ulysses took mullein with him on his famous voyage to protect him from Circe who changed his crew into pigs. In India it has been used as protection from evil spirits.
Mullein also has some more everyday uses for those not plagued by enchantresses and evil spirits! Historically mullein has been used to treat respiratory ailments such as asthma and bronchitis. In herbal classification, it is considered an expectorant and demulcent. Topically it has been used to treat burns and skin irritations. The active constituents are mucilage, which soothes mucus membranes, saponins, which act as an expectorant and tannins.
Mullein is virtually side effect free and considered generally safe to use. There have been rare reports of skin irritation in sensitive individuals. Mullein seeds are toxic and should NEVER be used. All other parts, with the exception of the flower, are mildly toxic and should be used with caution under the supervision of a qualified herbalist.
To make a tea, pour one cup of water over 1-2 teaspoons of the dried flowers and steep 10-15 minutes. Drink 3-4 times a day.
Collect the flowers as they first open and dry gently without artificial heat to preserve for future use. The healing power is connected to the yellow coloring, so store in an airtight container out of the light.
For more info on healing herbs pick up a copy of The Natural Pharmacy edited by Skye Liniger. It is a comprehensive resource that includes herbs, homeopathy and supplements. It includes dosage recommendations, side effects and interactions with other herbs as well as pharmaceuticals.

Information offered on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease and none of the statements has been evaluated by the FDA.

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