Verbascum thapsus, also known as mullein, great mullein, or lungwort, is a woolly-leafed biennial plant brought to the US by settlers. Due to the plant’s ability to propagate quickly under certain conditions, mullein spread quickly and earned a reputation as an undesirable, invasive weed. It produces yellow flowers with a faint, honey-like odor where the health benefits of mullein reside.
[Note: The Right Flowers is not a medical site. Knowledge of and information about the therapeutic benefits and applications of flowers, while known through the ages, does not constitute medical advice. If you are having health issues, you should consult with a physician.]
Mullein has a long, illustrious history as a herbal remedy. Its medicinal properties were discovered centuries ago which explains why early American settlers brought the plant from Europe as they relied on it to treat common ailments including diarrhea and coughs.
Traditionally, the settlers used the herb to manage respiratory disorders such as tuberculosis, asthma, and coughs. It was also used to treat bruises, hemorrhoids, burns, and gout.
Unlike most herbal remedies, the great mullein can be applied topically as a poultice or ointment. Alternatively, mullein extracts can be ingested as infusions. Apart from being used as a herbal remedy, the flowers were once used as a source of yellow hair dye.
The Right Flowers in Your Inbox!
Sign up for our free notifications of new articles!
Mullein contains compounds that are thought to act as demulcents and expectorants. Demulcents are compounds that calm and soothe inflamed skin and internal tissues in the mouth, nose or throat. On the other hand, expectorants stimulate the secretion or production of phlegm.
In 2002, lab tests established that mullein was highly effective in killing certain bacteria including Escherichia coli, commonly known as E. coli.
Health benefits of mullein have the potential in the following areas:
Treating respiratory conditions
Treating respiratory conditions is one of the popular uses of the woolly plant. Taken as an infusion, mullein helps to soothe sore throats, calm dry coughs and ease congestion. It is also known to assist in managing inflammatory conditions such as bronchitis and asthma.
Mullein is said to help in easing viral infections. Studies show that extracts from lungwort have active ingredients against influenza A virus and Herpes simplex type 1.
Mullein contains active antibacterial and antiseptic compounds which make it handy for treating scrapes and wounds.
Mullein is great for promoting hair health. Extracts from the plant’s blossoms eradicate dandruff, conditions your hair and enhances the hair’s natural color.
Though the plant is still considered an invasive weed due to its ability to spread quickly, the health benefits of mullein, coupled with its beautiful flowers have endeared it to gardeners. As a result, it has been domesticated in many regions of the world.