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Edition 113: Mabon - 21 March 2019

Edition 113: Mabon - 21 March 2019

Infused Oil Profile: Mullein

Mullein a magical folk hero

Friend to ears and foe to evil spirits

MULLEIN is one of those magical herbs so evocative to our folklore imagination.
Ulysses took it with him to protect himself against the enchantments of Circe. In India, it was and still is used to guard against evil spirits.
All the great early herbalists, such as Hippocrates, Plinius, Diorscorides and Galen prescribed mullein primarily as a respiratory and digestive tonic and a star cough remedy.
Tea, oil and tinctures from the plant helped to suppress coughs, aid in curing diarrhoea, haemorrhoids as well as migraine headaches and arthritis.
Culpepper classified mullein under the dominion of Saturn the dry planet and wrote its virtues for gout and ‘to help stiff sinews to loosen up and open up obstructions of the bladder and veins.’  
It was written that food wrapped in the leaves took longer to decompose and this procedure helped prevent, ‘corrupted tissue’.
Mullein was used as a remedy for earache, eye and toothache as well as stomach ulcers oedema and flux, ruptures and convulsions.
A yellow dye extracted from the flowers has been used since Roman times as a hair rinse as well as to dye cloth.

The witch’s torch
The custom of using mullein for torches dates back at least to Roman times. ‘Candlewick plant’ refers to the old practice of using the dried down of mullein leaves and stems to make lamp wicks.
The mullein stems were dipped in tallow and ignited to make torches and as it was historically described, either used by witches or used to repel them, hence the name ‘hag taper’.
The leaves were once placed inside of shoes to provided both warmth and softness and convenient toilet paper.

American Indians readily adopted mullein
After mullein arrived on the North American continent, the Native American people quickly learned to use common mullein’s many healing properties.
Different tribes used the leaf mainly in external applications and smoked it to relive asthma and sore throat.
Inhalation of the fumes from a mullein smoke smudge treated catarrh and as a leaf poultice for pain, swelling, sprains, bruises, wounds and headaches.
The Creek Indians drank a decoction of the roots for coughs and made healing poultices or salve made from the leaves and the oil from the flowers.
The Cherokee rubbed mullein leaves in their armpits to treat “prickly rash.”

Beauty and the mullein
Mullein leaves have been used in cosmetic preparations to soften skin and the herb would still be a valid choice to add to skin blends for its emollient properties.  
In the 19th Century girls rubbed their cheeks with the downy leaves because the slightly irritating effect of the plant hairs caused reddening.
Quaker women took up this practice as they were forbidden to use cosmetics or any beautification hence the colloquial name: ‘Quaker rouge’.
The father of Homeopathy Samuel Hahnemann, ‘proved’ verbascum to reveal that all the symptoms generated aligned with all the traditional uses for the herb. (Proving is the method by which homeopathic remedies are ‘tested’ for their effects.)  Mullein tea is a traditional treatment for respiratory problems, such as chest colds, bronchitis and asthma. 


Mullein leaf tea is slightly bitter; a tea of the flowers is sweeter. Both the leaves and flowers contain mucilage, which is soothing to irritated membranes, and saponins, which make coughs more productive.



The magic infused mullein oil
Mullein oil is made from infusing the flowering tops of the plant in olive oil that is steeped over a period of time and heated gently at a warm temperature, but not too hot.
The traditional method that dates back to the renaissance was to put mullein stalks and flowers in a bottle in the sunshine and let the oil drip down to the bottom.
There is not much colour in mullein oil, as it resembles olive oil in colour, however its aroma does change and has a pleasant nutmeg-like smell.

The Ear’s herbal best friend
Mullein is an excellent remedy for earache or ear infections and a must-have in the natural first aid kit.
A safe, gentle and soothing agent for the very young suffering from earache, even a warm compress used externally against the side of the ear is helpful.
The powerful anti-inflammatory, yet gentle chamomile essential oil is an excellent addition to plain mullein infused oil to treat ear issues, including ear eczema, rendering the simple infused oil as a superlative, soothing remedy.  
Alternatively, mullein oil is sometimes combined with garlic to make garlic-mullein oil for ear complaints.


Mullein Garlic Oil
1 clove garlic
10mL Mullein Infused Oil
10mL Sesame oil
2 drops Chamomile Essential Oil (optional)
Procedure:
Crush the garlic and place in a container.
Mix in the sesame oil and the Mullein infused oil, and cover the container and let sit for three days. Strain the mixture into another container and refrigerate. Before using, warm the oil slightly and use a dropper to place 3-4 drops into the infected ear.



Mullein oil is not only suitable for human delicate canals, but is just as helpful to treat ear issues in our pets and may be used to safely treat minor ear infections in dogs.

Yes, even mullein oil for swimmer’s ear
Mullein oil stands out as an efficacious treatment for easing the discomfort of swimmer’s ear.
Mullein oil is placed in the ear to soothe where there is pain and a sense of obstruction.
Interestingly, this oil was once an early German remedy used in deafness as a result of congested dried earwax, or too soft and insufficient earwax.
It is a good idea to gently warm the oil first in a cup of hot water to bring it to blood temperature, to ensure it does not cause a shock as it enters the delicate ear tissues. This is suggested because our ears are sensitive to changes in temperature and if the oil is too cold or too hot, it can induce dizziness or vertigo in some people.
This is only applicable for outer ear infections (otitis externa) and middle ear infections (otitis media). Mullein infused oil is safe for use by children to treat ear infections in the short term. For adults, it’s completely safe to use topically and internally, as long as the correct dosages are used and no other serious condition exists that contra-indicates its use.


Applications of mullein ear oil
Put 3 – 4 drops of the infused mullein oil into the affected ear.
Drain out the ears after three minutes to help curb even sharp ear pain and quell infections, whether they are bacterial or fungal.



The temporal mandibular joint can be a juncture of tension and discomfort and mullein oil works well when there are nerve pains in the zygomatic arch (part of the temporal muscles) related to earache and issues. In this case, a warm compress with mullein oil will be very comforting and soothing.

Mullein with chamomile for babies
The efficacious blend of one per cent chamomile essential oil in a mullein infused oil base may be utilised for babies teething pain.
The parent’s clean finger may be dipped into the oil and rubbed along the baby’s inflamed and sore gums.
It is wise to keep this chamomile and mullein oil blend at hand if there is a baby in the home.
It is superb to use as a safe, belly rub for their very young and tender skin by massaging it in a clockwise direction along the ascending, transverse and descending colon to ease colicky, abdominal pains.
Mullein oil (with or without chamomile) is a nice home remedy for cradle cap that parents can turn to even with concerns for super sensitive-skinned babies.
The mullein is soothing and the olive oil alleviates the flakiness and can be applied undiluted on the scalp.
Massage it tenderly into the scalp and very gently comb out the dead skin debris before washing the scalp after about 20 minutes.
It may need a few washes like this before the condition abates completely.

Respiratory tonic
Mullein is not useful as a food, however it is a useful medicinal herb that is an superlative respiratory tonic.
The leaves are used to help the respiratory system expel excess mucous; in fact the herb is counteractive against copious discharge of mucus associated with inflammation of mucous membranes, especially of the nose and throat.
It reduces inflammation, while stimulating fluid production and thus facilitating expectoration.
Mullein’s demulcent activity soothes and softens internal irritated or inflamed membranes of the respiratory tracts due to the slippery mucilage formed when made with oil or water.
It is considered a specific for relieving acute or chronic bronchitis, especially where there is a hard cough with soreness.
Mullein is often combined with horehound, coltsfoot or lobelia to help persistent coughs, sore throat and general lung congestion.
It is commonly prescribed for tracheitis, (inflammation of the trachea) the common cold, flu and tonsillitis.
It may also be used for gastrointestinal conditions that require delmulcency, such as ulceration, diarrhoea and haemorrhoids.
Research has shown that the herb has strong anti-inflammatory activity.
A brew of the whole plant can be used for swollen testicles and scrotum.
The infused leaves make a tea that is useful for glandular imbalances and studies show that mullein flower infusions have anti-viral properties. Experiments have been undertaken in burns units, using the external application of the leaves.
People have had success using mullein leaves as a poultice in a similar way that one would use comfrey to treat areas of the body with broken bones that cannot be set, for example the ribs or a herniated disc in the neck.

Mullein oil for the dark, hidden places
Sometimes, the insides of the nose can be dry and irritated or harbour sores that are difficult to heal. Mullein oil is a safe and gentle option to gently ease these inner linings, without being disruptive to their functional integrity or causing further irritation.
Mullein can be very healing for treating haemorrhoids and may be safely applied directly into the anal canal to safely ease the delicate tissue and address inflammation or irritation. The inclusion of certain essential oils such as cypress, myrrh or chamomile in small measured amounts to the mullein oil base will increase its effectiveness to bring relief and hasten resolution.
The vaginal canal could also be treated with mullein oil to assuage irritations or tears in the sensitive walls; a blend in equal parts with calendula infused oil would be very helpful.

Gentlest mullein oil for the skin
Mullein oil is used to treat a number of skin conditions because of its emollient, anti-inflammatory effects.
It proves to be a competent remedy used in healing or treating wounds; one can apply it directly to skin rashes, sores, boils, carbuncles, ingrown hair and cysts.
In fact mullein oil provides the perfect vehicle in which to put all those superb antiseptic essential oils.
It will be faster acting when select vulnerary and cicatrising essential oils such as lavender, frankincense, tea tree or helichrysum are included in a blend for regular application.
Use mullein oil with a compress for inflammation from ulcers, tumours or a soothing external compress for tonsillitis or mumps.
Mullein oil may also be of assistance when added to emollient, soothing blends for eczema and psoriasis.
Try using other infused oils: chickweed, calendula or St John’s Wort infused oils and perhaps rosehip oil for extra nourishment to dry skin.
Mullein can also provide safe relief from toothaches and is quite innocuous to have in the mouth while acting as an excellent base in which to add sparingly the very strong essential oil of clove.

Cold sores and scaly scalps
Mullein oil can be effective in helping to promptly resolve cold sores that are caused by HSV-1 and HSV-2 viruses because of its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.
Add a few drops of tea tree, manuka, myrrh, geranium, peppermint or chamomile essential oil to increase the healing efficacy.
The oil has been reputed as helpful in removing warts when applied as a poultice; possibly the garlic boosted version could work better with added lemon essential oil. Mullein oil can be applied on the scalp and hair as a hot oil treatment to relieve all manner of dry, irritated scalp conditions and help to curb itching.
Mullein oil is also helpful for scalp psoriasis and can be mixed with a quality, sulphate-free shampoo or conditioner to nourish the scalp and hair as well as fight dandruff.

Mullein oil for relaxation
Mullein flower oil has a strong affinity for the nervous system and thus nerve-related issues such as neuralgia.
It would partner well with St John’s Wort infused oil in this capacity that also has relaxing effect on the muscles, brain and nerves.  
Mullein oil can be added to a massage blend to calm cramps and convulsions.
Indeed these two infused oils as base provide the ideal base for nervine essential oils such as chamomile, clary-sage, manuka, kunzea, lemon tea tree or sandalwood.
Such a calming combination could be used for deep relaxation massage to address stress, anxiety or insomnia, as well as lowering blood pressure.
 


Fact File

Name: Mullein
Botanical Name: Verbascum thapsus
Family: Scrophulariaceae (snapdragon)
Common names: Jupiter’s staff, Candlewick plant, Aaron’s rod, Jacob’s staff and Flannel-leaf. The name mullein probably comes from the Latin word mollis, meaning soft, referring to the plant’s woolly stem and leaves. The name also might relate to the Latin malandrium, meaning malanders, a cattle disease for which mullein was used as a remedy.
Parts used: Dried leaves and flowers
The Plant: Common mullein is native to the Mediterranean countries and Eurasia. The species best known among herbalists is the useful common mullein, V. thapsus. Mullein is a biennial and in the first-year the plant forms a rosette of large, light-green leaves.In the second year, a rigid spike from grows from the centre of the leaves - reaching up to 2.4m. The stalk has alternate leaves that clasp the stem, a clever arrangement that directs rainwater down the stem to the roots.
Therapeutic indications: Expectorant, anti-catarrhal, demulcent, diuretic, painkiller, mild sedative, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, vulnerary.
Precautions: No adverse effects are to be expected when taken as mullein as prescribed and it is safe to use during pregnancy and lactation. Like many other herbs, mullein as a fresh or raw, dried herb is not entirely benign. Some people can find the plant’s hairs irritating to skin and mucous membranes this, however this doesn’t refer to mullein water or oil infusions. Grazing animals do not eat common mullein because the many, tiny hairs that cover the stalk and leaves irritate the mucous membranes of mammals.

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