Dioscorides and Hippocrates already knew the pectoral properties of the great mullein plant in classical Greece. Since then, it has been effectively used in phytotherapy. Its leaves have been used as candle wicks and wound bandages. Their velvet-like softness has given them the name of wild “toilet paper.”
Great Mullein Scientific Facts
- Other names: Aaron’s rod, blanket-leaf, candlewick, flannel flower, feltwort, mullein, hedge-tapper, Jacob’s staff, mullein dock, old man’s flannel, shepherd’s club, velvet dock, velvet plant.
- French: Bouillon blanc, molene.
- Spanish: Gordolobo, candelaria.
- Environment: Unfarmed, rocky soils all over Europe; it also grows in America.
- Description: Biennial plant of the Scrofulariaceae family, with an upright stem that grows up to 1.5 m high. It has large, velvet-like leaves with many wooly hairs and yellow flowers growing in thick spikes.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: Flowers and leaves.
Healing Properties and Indications
The leaves of great mullein, and especially its flowers, contain mucilage to which the plant owes its emollient (soothing) properties; saponins and flavonoids with anti-inflammatory, antitussive, and antispasmodic properties; and several glycosides and coloring substances. It has diuretic and mild sudorific properties. Its use is suggested in the following cases.
- Irritation of the respiratory mucous membrane: Pharyngitis, laryngitis, bronchial catarrh, and asthma (because of its antispasmodic properties). Greater mullein eases cough and encourages expectorations.
- In external applications, it is helpful for furuncles, burns, chilblains, and hemorrhoids. It can be applied either as compresses soaked in a decoction made with flowers and leaves or as poultices made with its leaves after cooking in milk.
How to use Great Mullein
- Infusion with 20-30 g of flowers per liter of water. Drink three or four cups daily after carefully straining the infusion with a cloth to eliminate hairs.
- Dry extract: The recommended dose is 0.5-01 g, three times a day.
- Compresses soaked in a decoction made with 60-80 g of flowers and leaves per liter of water. Apply on the affected skin area.
- Poultices: With the leaves after cooking in milk, directly applied to the afflicted area.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. Vols. 1 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 343. Print.