You’re Reading The Third Of A Weekly Series Featuring My Favourite Plants and Herbs, Along With The Simple Ways That I Use Them!
>>>Featured This Week: Mullein
Mullein has demulcent, emollient and astringent properties which makes it an exceptional herb for the treatment of pulmonary issues. It also possesses some powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties which enable it to work effectively against many bodily ailments including ear infections, ringworm, and eczema. For it’s tea, oil infusion, or as a poultice or cough syrup, mullein is one of my favorite medicinal herbs to grow and keep in the garden.
I first discovered mullein while canoeing down the beautiful Peace River and was immediately taken aback by just how beautiful and prominent it was on the shoreline. Towering over the bushes and grass around it, it stood nearly 6 feet tall and glowed with bright yellow flowers. I folded some seeds into a receipt and brought them home to grow in my garden. It wasn’t until a year later that I learned Mullein’s name or of the many health benefits it offered.
Being a biennial, Mullein doesn’t fully mature until the end of it’s second growing season. In the first year, mullein produces no flowers or stalk, just a fanning out of leaves from it’s base. In the second year, the leaves will have survived some of the worlds harshest climates and will lead the way for the growth of the stalk that carries the flowers. It’s no wonder mullein is often called the torch flower, that’s exactly what it looks like when in full bloom.
Mullein is known to grow in places that are polluted or contaminated, so before harvesting any parts of the mullein plant, ensure that the area is free from pollutants or contaminants
For several years now I have been harvesting mullein from my own garden for use in homemade medicines to treat the following conditions:
Persistent Cough, Chest Tightness, And Congestion:
Mullein Leaf or Flower Tea:
- Simmer fresh or dried mullein leaves or flowers in water for 5-10 minutes. A person who may be suffering from congestion or asthma can use this opportunity to find relief by hovering over the steaming tea with a towel draped over their head.
- If using the leaves, strain through a cotton cloth to filter out the tiny hairs and avoid any irritation they may cause to the throat*.
- Stir in honey to taste and drink 3 times per day to calm a cough and soothe the chest and throat.
*I have never strained my mullein tea but as a precaution I would advise first-timers to take this extra step as the hairs apparently do irritate some people more than others.
Mullein Flower Cough Syrup:
- Fill a glass jar with fresh unwashed mullein flowers and then pour raw, unfiltered honey over flowers to cover.
- Place something on top of the flowers to keep them submerged in honey*
- Place the jar in a sunny window for three weeks. Alternatively, if you’re in a hurry, you can place the jar in water in a slow-cooker on low for 48 hours.
- Drape cheesecloth over a sieve rested atop a jug and pour the mullein honey mixture into the cheesecloth. Allow the mixture to drip into the jug for an hour or so and then wrap up the remaining mixture in the cheesecloth and squeeze what you can out of it into the jug. This is your cough syrup!
- Pour syrup into a brown glass bottle and label it with the date the flowers were collected. Store in the fridge for up to one year from the date labelled. To use, take about a tablespoon 3-5 times daily to treat cough or loosen congestion.
*a good thing to use for this process is a plastic screen held down with a smaller canning rim. I use a wide-mouthed jar to hold my syrup mixture and a regular-mouthed canning lid to keep the screen buried beneath the surface of the honey Inside the jar.
This cough syrup would be double-awesome if you used garlic fermented honey like I plan to do for the first time this fall! I am in the process of fermenting my garlic now as I mentioned recently in this post.
Earache and Infection
Mullein has been shown to effectively treat earaches and infections quickly and easily. This is a recipe for garlic mullein oil that I have used for two years. It works wonders for my kids who often get earaches following a cold during the winter months. It’s easy to make and lasts a long time.
Garlic-Mullein Infused Olive Oil
- You’ll need to dry you mullein flowers before proceeding to the next step of this recipe. Moisture can lead to mold in oil infusions. Removing any trace of it from the plant material before making your oil infusion is important.
- In a small pot, submerge 6 cloves of crushed garlic in olive oil and very gently simmer for 30 minutes. Swirling but not bubbling is the optimal temperature for this step.
- Fill a jar with your dry mullein flowers.
- Using a sieve, strain your oil into the jar to cover the flowers. Place a lid on the jar and set in a warm place for 3 weeks.
- After three weeks, strain your oil through cheesecloth into a clean container. A bottle with a handy dropper lid is perfect for this recipe. Store oil in a dark place for up to a year. To treat ear pain or infection, add 1-3 drops of oil in affected ear once or twice a day.
If after 3 days the infection hasn’t cleared, you’ll need to see a Dr. for heavier artillery
- You can use this on your pets to treat mites and itching!
Since becoming a mullein cultivator, I have learned of some other neat uses for mullein:
- You can use it as a poultice to relieve hemorrhoids, or to treat ringworm.
- It is known to be a mild tranquilizer and drinking the tea is said to be able to paralyze parasites, making it a natural option for fighting tapeworm.
- One of my favorite alternate uses for mullein is as a candle! Once you’ve harvested your seeds, leaves and flowers, you’ll be left with a large stalk that resembles a mammoth sunflower stalk. Chop a single stalk into 5 or 6 ‘candle sticks’ and soak them in melted tallow. Allow the tallow to harden and then light a flame to them. If you missed my post about how to render tallow, you can visit it here. You can even add some of your favorite essential oils to the tallow as it melts before soaking the mullein sticks in it!
For more information on Mullein, I recommend checking out these sites (no affiliation):
Mountain Rose Herbs (my favorite Supplier of Herbs and Herbal Ingredients)
Grow some Mullein! If you cannot find any and really wish to give it a shot, contact me. I have more mullein seeds than I can use and would be happy to share (until, of course, I don’t have any left to share)!
Update April 3/2017
I have sent out my first batch of seeds to those who requested. I still have some left if anyone would like, just reach me through the contact section of the blog or by private messaging me on Facebook.
Check out last weeks feature: Pansies, and come back next Wednesday for Part 4 of the Plants And Their Uses Series!
Happy Homesteading Xx
I’m happy to bring to you lessons and information I’ve picked up along my journey towards developing a more intentional lifestyle! To find out more about who I am and what the heck I am doing with my life, read about my family and I here. Thank you for visiting! We are so glad you came.