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The yellow herbs of summer: Mullein.


Excellent for earaches.


Slice off the flowerstalks when they're at their yellowest, or, if you have more than enough time and nothing to do with it, pick off the flowers one by one by one, as they open. All mullein species work, it doesn't matter what colour the flowers are.

Dry your take until it's dry (even the thickest bits snap instead of bending).

If you used common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) or similar thick-stalked species: put your gloves on (to avoid getting sticks in your fingers), drape a cloth or something over your mouth (to avoid inhaling the itchy hairs), and pull everything - flowers, unripe (and ripe) seedpods and flowerbuds - off the stalk, against the grain (cos that's easiest).

If you used dark mullein (Verbascum nigrum) or similar thin-stalked species: get out your scissors and snip everything into 2-3 cm (1") bits. Put the dried mullein "flowers" into a glass jar, close the lid, add your label.


Oil: an oil from the flowers (or "flowers" - everything off the flowerstalks) is very good for earaches and various inflammations. Make an oil from the dried herb (see SJW for details on making an oil, and Goldenrod for details on the "dried herb oil" bit), and pour your cheesecloth-strained oil through a coffee filter. Those itchy hairs really are insidious, and yes, they're on the flowers, too.

Put 1-3 drops of the oil into an achy ear (the ache will disappear right away), or, if the ear-whatnot is punctured, put a few drops behind the ear and massage them in (the ache will disappear, but it takes a bit longer).

Or use the oil for various musculo-sceletal inflammations. Carpal tunnel springs to mind, but that one needs a bit of cayenne or similar added to the oil, else the oil won't quite reach the ouch. Do magnesium and B-vitamins, too, if you have carpal tunnel problems.

Tea: a tea from the flowers and leaf helps with inflammations (do remember the coffee filter ...). For nocturia (bedwetting) the root of mullein is best, but some get results from the leaf, too. A friend wrote not all that long ago that their two kids (5 and 8, or similar) only wet the bed twice each, after their diaper ages ended ... cos he had the kids change the sheets, put the soiled ones into the washing machine, and take a shower in the middle of the night, then go back to bed, and then he had them hang the sheets to dry in the morning. Said kids thought twice about not going for a pee before bedtime, after that.


You'll find itchy hairs on all parts of the mulleins, except for the root. You'll have to strain everything through a coffee filter, even though you've already strained things through cheesecloth, or a sieve. And don't go for the "let's pick a nice large leaf to wipe with - ah, there's mullein..." fallacy. Pick a nice large dock or burdock leaf instead. If you don't believe me, the hairy mulleins in particular will make your life very uncomfortable indeed, if you chose one of them.


Related entries: Fishing and saponins - Mullein itches - Quick fix: earache - Herbs in salves - Yellow herbs: St. John's wort - Dandelion - Goldenrod - Yellow bedstraw - Elecampane - Calendula - California poppy


I got an email from Scott:
"In your article about Mullein you said that any Verbascum species can be used. I have read that V. blattaria is a toxic narcotic. I found one reference.
Some people have experimented with this herb and found it to be narcotic (possibly opioid) when smoked."

Many thanks for that, Scott!