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Mullein and rotenone.

From: elementalclay.webtv.net (Roxanne Brown)
To: herb.lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: [Herb] Rotenone
Date: Fri, 7 Feb 2003 00:37:59 -0600 (CST)

I was looking at mullien and came across that the leaves and seeds contain rotenone. (I'm considering making my own insecticides).

Much of the information says the plant has a narcotic poison for killing fish.

This may sound ridiculous but is rotenone considered a narcotic?


From: Henriette Kress hetta.saunalahti.fi

> Much of the information says the plant has a narcotic poison for killing fish.

Mullein seeds stun fish because they're very high in saponins. Saponins as in similar action to soap.

Now, fish depend on water tension for breathing. Throw a bit of mullein seed in bread into the water, fish gulp it up, and then have an "asthma" attack - they can't get _water_. So they float belly-side up for a while, gasping desperately. At which time they can be picked up by hand, killed, gutted, and eaten - they're not toxic. This sort of fishing, using mullein seed or other saponin-rich plants, is illegal wherever it's been practised, which is pretty much everywhere, so don't, eh? It's very unsportsmanlike, too.

Anyway, the fish go back to deeper waters after a while.

It'll temporarily hamper anything with gills. The seeds aren't overly toxic to humans - much like soap, the worst that happens is you get the runs.

And I have no idea what rotenone is or what it does ... I don't use any *cides, at all at all.


From: Dan McDonley dan.awherbals.com

Personally i think this is bullshit... I ran across this point quite a while ago. The only known reference to Mullein having rotenone in it is from Duke, everyone references him. He references himself on that from another rarer book he wrote that i managed to track down. Apparently he references Mullein having rotenone from a series of books called "The Wealth of India" if i recall. Those books are very hard to find and i have still not been able to find them to see what they say. However I am very skeptical of any of the chemical assay's that come from India. My personal theory is whatever tests they did, they got some specimens that were sprayed. Rotenone is a common spray that exporting companies spray on their herbs to pass the phytosanitary standards.

No other non Duke referenced chemical assay on Mullein says anything about Rotenone. Duke is very knowledgeable however he does not always check the accuracy of his sources very well. Several times have I found errors in the chemical assay's he lists on plants.

If mullein indeed had any significant source of rotenone i'm sure there would be major health problems being reported from its use, however as far as i have seen no one has had problems other then contact dermatitis using Mullein.

Take this however you want but i seriously doubt the validity of mullein containing rotenone.


From: Anya mccoy.newsguy.com

>The only known reference to Mullein having rotenone in it is from Duke, everyone references him.

Thanks for this bit of information. I'm surprised that Duke would make such a blunder, but s**t happens. Your theory about the residual spray sounds true. Here's a bit on rotenone and pyretherins, and I must say, as an organic gardener, I dislike using anything that 'kills' on my plants, but living in the hot, humid tropics, I *must* or I would have no harvest at all (on some plants.)

http://www.umaine.edu/umext/cranberries/organic04.htm

Here's a good reference: http://www.ontarioprofessionals.com/organic.htm

>If mullein indeed had any significant source of rotenone i'm sure there would be major health problems being reported from its use,

I second that observation.

Anya - http://member.newsguy.com/~herblady


From: "jim mcdonald" multiflorum.hotmail.com

>Thanks for this bit of information. I'm surprised that Duke would make such a blunder, but s**t happens.

With Duke, s**t happens a lot. He's a researcher and a scientist, and he justifies usage with chemicals, and uses the properties of chemicals to make assumptions of the actions of whole plants. Look through the peterson feild guide, and you'll see cautions and skull & crossbones on so many plants that if you were just using that to learn about herbs you'd be scared to death to pick -anything-.

I've heard he's not so anal in person, and perhaps he's just afraid of some kind of lawsuit. Or maybe working for the goverment makes you paranoid. Regardless, I hold -any- info I get from Duke suspect till verified by someone who actually uses the herbs they write about, or confirmed by numerous other sources.


From: hkobayas hkobayas.students.uiuc.edu

Although I regard you as an expert on herbalism, how much do you know about phytochemistry to credit or discredit a researcher in the area?


From: "jim mcdonald" multiflorum.hotmail.com

>Although I regard you as an expert on herbalism, how much do you know about phytochemistry to credit or discredit a researcher in the area?

Good gracious... an expert? That's certainly more than I consider myself (give me another 10 years, and I'll rethink the issue), and I really don't want ~my~ thoughts and opinions to be considered authorative, just sharing experience... so my thoughts on Duke are my own (as prefaced by the pronoun "I"). And I do indeed own 3 or 4 of his books, which I use for reference, though, as I mentioned, I ALWAYS verify.

What I've found most often though, is that Duke makes assumptions based on the presence of chemicals in herbs that may have no history of use to back them up. And clearly, by his own written admission, he ~hasn't used~ most of the plants he writes about. He has a database full plant names and the chemicals they contain. If he wants to see what herbs are good for, say, Cancer, he types in the name of a chemical "scientifically proven" to have some type of "anticarcinogenic" activity, presses ENTER and what comes up is what's good for cancer... you can do the same thing on his phytochemical database site. I simply can't have faith in this approach, and (personally) don't feel like its a responsible way to disseminate information. Since I am, above all else, a "folk" herbalist, this is antithetical to ~my~ approach to using herbs.

As I also mentioned, the warnings and cautions found in Duke & Foster's Medicinal plant feild guide speak volumes. MOST of them -certainly more than half- are incredibly far fetched, as I assume most must feel. His books also hail Varro Tyler as an herbal genious (scoff), and project the German Commision E as possessing some sort of sanctified authority (of, if ~they~ say so, who could agrue?). If you want to see how ~terribly bad~ the Commision E monographs are (or the PDR for Herbal Medicines, for that matter), pick them up and compare them to King's American Dispensatory. You'll see that King's is written from the collective experience of many USING the herbs, and the Commision E and PDR are based on double blind studies trying to scientifically prove (using phytochemistry) certain uses, all this being paid for by parties with a vested interest ($$$) in the outcome.

Perhaps the most amusing story I know of relating to Duke is when a woman came to me asking what I knew about rubbing fennel paste on her breasts to make them grow larger... she'd read about it in The Green Pharmacy. Now perhaps, (and I don't mean to offend, ladies) this is a very good thing for all us men and I should be as encouraging as possible, but I don't necessarily see differing breast sizes as an issue needing "alternative treatment". I could go on about circumvent measures of trying to acheive self esteem, but won't...

Really though, I don't think Duke is a bad guy at all. He's been to the jungle, he's drunk Ayahuasca... I'm ~sure~ he doesn't reduce that experience to the chemical actions of tryptamine alkaloids and monoamineoxidase inhibition (hey... I ~DO~ know some phytochemistry...). I just think he writes using science to prove points his audience (skeptical academics).

And besides... I believe in intuitive communication with plant spirits, so who am I to talk?


From: luna ladyluna.pa.net

>As I also mentioned, the warnings and cautions found in Duke & Foster's Medicinal plant feild guide speak volumes. MOST of them -certainly more than half- are incredibly far fetched, as I assume most must feel.

I have to agree here, Jim. I use the above-mentioned field guide, have for for years, and recommend it to everyone who asks. I consider it an *excellent* field guide, but not a usage reference. If everything listed in Peterson's field guide as such were toxic or outright poisonous, I would be posting from beyond the grave.

>Really though, I don't think Duke is a bad guy at all. I just think he writes using science to prove points his audience (skeptical academics).

And I am grateful that he can do this. His work helps the die-hard biochemical mechanics to consider that there "may be something" to this "herb stuff." I like to think of him as one who walks between worlds. It's a gift, to be sure.

>And besides... I believe in intuitive communication with plant spirits, so who am I to talk?

me, too. Right now, I'm trying my best to not disturb them during their winter slumbers. I've been known to stand over nettle patches, dancing around them and calling them to "wake up" as soon as the snow cover is gone. The plant spirits are _far_ more gracious that I would be under similar circumstances.

Right now, it's snowing here in PA, and I'm doing my best to maintain some self control by enjoying frozen nettles in soup, and having some violet jam on my toast. Looking forward to seeing the morels dancing in my dreams, teasing me to come look for them. :)

Be well, be happy, Blessed Be!
Luna in PA


From: elementalclay.webtv.net (Roxanne Brown)

I wrote to Dr. Duke and asked him if there were other published sources citing rotenone specifically in mullein. In his reply he mentioned Herbert Baxter and Jeffrey Harborne but did not give me the name of the book. After looking up the cost of some of the tomes by these authors I doubt I shall ever be able to personally verify the information by reading it myself but perhaps a university might have them available.


From: Henriette Kress hetta.saunalahti.fi

> Regardless, I hold -any- info I get from Duke suspect till verified by

Agreed. Duke's "Green Pharmacy" frankly sucks.


From: Ann Gerstenberger herbalanng.cox.net

>as far as i have seen no one has had problems other then contact dermatitis using Mullein.

Regarding contact dermatitis:

M Wood recommends using mullein to put broken bones back in alignment (magical use, which just means we don't understand it yet). Client used warm wet leaf, poultice on broken shoulder (no cast), against the skin and under the strap of her sling.

"The shoulder's doing pretty well -- thanks for asking. I had to discontinue the mullein leaves because, after 3 days of applying them around the clock, I broke out in a rash, with rather angry red, raised welts. But I'm thinking they did help for the time I used them."

Regarding the broken bone therapy: Client had lumpy scar and occasional pain from old stress fracture of cuboid (foot) bone. "Hasn't felt right for years." Applied Mullein leaf poultices at overnight, under sock, for three or four days. Then forgot about it. I inquired after the foot a month later. That's when she realized she had had no more pain (hadn't thought about it). Also the lump (scar tissue) was reduced markedly in size.


From: "jim mcdonald" multiflorum.hotmail.com

Contact dermatitis from Mullein is most likely the result of the fine hairs on the leaves abrading & irritating the skin. I've had people chop the leaves into a pulp and squeeze out the juice for external application, or use a compress or the tincture applied externally... a succuss would probably be ideal.

Most often, though, I've used Mullien ROOT for broken bones & spinal misalignments. I've had a few cases (some involving me) where a tea of fresh mullein root quickly corrected a thrown-out back. I recently used Mullien root, along with Solomon's Seal, Goldenseal & a variety of antispasmodics to heal a slipped disc, with pretty much full recovery in a month (again, this was me... OW! That hurt soooo bad...).

Building on what Matt Wood's offered, my experience has also suggested that Mullein helps "allign" broken bones. A student, taking this a bit farther, addressed a TMJ-like jaw misallignment (which he believed was rekated to Lyme disease) with Mullien root tincture, and he went from not being able to close his mouth (literally) to feeling perfectly fine the next morning... I still don't know what to make of that.

I almost always combine it with Solomon's Seal, sometimes adding Comfrey, sometimes adding Horsetail, sometimes adding Saint John's Wort, according to individual indications.



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