All You Need to Know About Mullein Benefits & Side Effects

Mullein, scientifically known as Verbascum thapsus, is a versatile and intriguing herb with a storied history. Often found growing in meadows, pastures, and along roadsides, it boasts a prominent flowering stalk covered in soft, downy hairs, making it a distinctive plant in the botanical world.

Mullein has earned several common names, including “flannel leaf,” “Jupiter’s staff,” “Aaron’s rod,” and “velvet plant,” reflecting its unique physical attributes. This biennial plant can grow to impressive heights, sometimes reaching up to 10 feet or more during its second-year growth phase.

Mullein is recognized by several distinguishing features:

  • Biennial Growth: Mullein typically follows a biennial growth pattern. During the first year, it produces a rosette of large, woolly leaves close to the ground. In the second year, it sends up a tall, erect flowering stalk.
  • Velvety Leaves: The leaves of the mullein plant are its most recognizable feature. They are large, soft, and covered in a dense layer of fine, downy hairs, giving them a velvety texture and a grayish-green color.
  • Flowering Spike: In its second year, the plant sends up a tall flowering spike, which is adorned with bright yellow flowers. These flowers are organized in a dense, vertical arrangement, making the plant a striking sight when in full bloom.
  • Seed Production: After flowering, mullein produces small, round seeds that are contained in capsules. These capsules eventually split open to release the seeds, allowing the plant to propagate.

Spiritual and Ceremonial Significance

The mullein plant has a rich history of use, both for practical and ceremonial purposes. Throughout the centuries, various cultures have recognized the value of mullein in different ways:

Native American Usage

Indigenous peoples in North America have long used mullein leaves for their soothing and respiratory benefits. They would often make teas or infusions from the leaves to address common ailments.

Traditional European Herbalism

In Europe, mullein leaves were historically employed for their mucilaginous properties. These properties made mullein useful in traditional remedies for coughs and respiratory issues.

Ceremonial and Folklore Significance

The tall, stately flowering spike of the mullein plant earned it the name “Aaron’s rod” in reference to the Biblical figure Aaron. According to tradition, this plant was linked to spiritual and ceremonial significance, representing guidance and strength.

mullein benefits

Mullein Medicinal Benefits

Mullein is renowned for its diverse range of medicinal benefits, which have been recognized and utilized for centuries. These benefits encompass various aspects of health and wellness, making mullein a valuable herb in traditional and modern herbal medicine. Here, we’ll explore some of the prominent medicinal advantages associated with mullein.

  • Respiratory Health: One of the most well-known uses of mullein is in supporting respiratory health. The plant’s leaves contain mucilage, saponins, and other compounds that can help soothe irritation in the respiratory tract. Mullein is often used to alleviate coughs, bronchitis, and other respiratory conditions. Its expectorant properties make it effective in promoting the removal of mucus from the airways, providing relief from congestion.
  • Anti-Inflammatory: The anti-inflammatory properties of mullein make it a valuable herbal remedy for conditions like asthma and other inflammatory respiratory issues. It can help reduce inflammation in the airways, allowing for easier breathing and improved lung function.
  • Antioxidant Effects: Mullein leaves and flowers contain antioxidants that help protect cells from oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals. This antioxidant activity contributes to the overall health benefits of mullein.
  • Ear Health: Mullein oil, made by infusing mullein flowers into oil, has been used as a natural remedy for earaches and ear infections. A few drops of warmed mullein oil can be gently placed in the ear to help soothe pain and inflammation. However, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for persistent or severe ear issues.
  • Skin Conditions: The anti-inflammatory and soothing properties of mullein extend to skin care. Mullein oil or salves may be applied topically to alleviate skin irritations, burns, and rashes. It’s essential to use products made from mullein in consultation with a healthcare provider or herbalist.
  • Anti-Bacterial and Anti-Viral: Some studies have suggested that mullein may have antibacterial and antiviral properties, which can help combat infections. While more research is needed to confirm these effects, the traditional use of mullein for immune support remains popular.
  • Digestive Aid: The mucilaginous properties of mullein make it a gentle digestive aid. It can help soothe irritation in the gastrointestinal tract and promote healthy digestion. Additionally, it may help alleviate symptoms of indigestion and acid reflux.
  • Urinary Health: Mullein has been used as a diuretic, which means it may help promote urine production and overall urinary health. This can be beneficial for individuals dealing with urinary tract issues.
  • Analgesic Properties: Some people use mullein to alleviate pain associated with conditions like arthritis. Its anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce discomfort and improve overall well-being.

It’s important to note that while mullein offers a wide array of potential benefits, its use should be approached with care. 

Find the Best Mullein Products

Thousands of customer reviews are available to help you make the right choice. Embrace the power of nature!

Herbs That Work Well with Mullein

In the case of mullein, several herbs work well in combination to address various health concerns. These herbal pairs or trios can provide a more comprehensive approach to healing and well-being. Here are some herbs that complement mullein’s medicinal properties:

  • Echinacea: Echinacea is a popular herb known for its immune-boosting properties. When combined with mullein, it can create a potent formula for respiratory health. This blend can help strengthen the immune system while soothing respiratory discomfort. It’s often used to combat colds, flu, and other respiratory infections.
  • Marshmallow Root: Marshmallow root shares mullein’s mucilaginous properties, making it an excellent addition to formulations targeting respiratory and digestive health. When combined, these herbs can help ease irritated mucous membranes in the respiratory and digestive tracts.
  • Licorice Root: Licorice is another herb that pairs well with mullein for respiratory health. It has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties that complement mullein’s effects. Together, they can help alleviate coughs, bronchitis, and other respiratory issues.
  • Ginger: Ginger is often added to herbal blends for digestive health. When combined with mullein, it can enhance the digestive benefits, offering relief from indigestion, gas, and bloating. Additionally, ginger’s warming properties can create a soothing effect.
  • Peppermint: For respiratory blends, Peppermint can be a valuable addition. Its menthol content provides a refreshing and cooling sensation that can help open the airways. Combining peppermint with mullein is a popular choice for making herbal teas that ease congestion and promote easier breathing.
  • Thyme: Thyme has antimicrobial and expectorant properties that make it an ideal companion for mullein when addressing respiratory issues. The combination can help combat infections while promoting mucus removal.
  • Chamomile: Chamomile is often used to enhance relaxation and reduce anxiety. When combined with mullein, it can be a calming herbal tea that also provides respiratory relief. The blend is suitable for conditions like asthma and bronchitis.
  • Plantain: Plantain, known for its wound-healing properties, complements mullein when addressing skin irritations. Together, they can be used topically to soothe burns, rashes, and other skin conditions.
  • Lobelia: Lobelia is another herb used in combination with mullein for respiratory support. It can help relax the airways, making it easier to breathe. However, lobelia should be used with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
  • Astragalus: When combined with mullein, Astragalus can provide immune support and enhanced resistance to respiratory infections. This combination is beneficial during the cold and flu season.

When using herbal combinations, it’s essential to consult with an experienced herbalist or healthcare professional, especially if you have specific health concerns or are taking medications. The synergistic effects of herbs can be powerful, but they should be used thoughtfully and in appropriate proportions.

Mullein Side Effects & Precautions

While mullein is generally considered safe when used responsibly, there are some side effects and precautions to be aware of. Like any herbal remedy, it’s essential to exercise caution and informed decision-making when using mullein for medicinal purposes. Here are some potential side effects and precautions to keep in mind:

Allergic Reactions: Although rare, some individuals may experience allergic reactions to mullein. If you are prone to allergies or have had reactions to other herbs, it’s advisable to perform a patch test before using mullein extensively. Apply a small amount of mullein extract or oil to a small area of your skin and observe for any signs of irritation or allergic reactions.

Contact Dermatitis: Handling the fuzzy leaves and flowers of the mullein plant can sometimes lead to skin irritation or contact dermatitis in sensitive individuals. Wearing gloves while working with mullein can help prevent this issue.

Interference with Blood Sugar: People with diabetes should be cautious when using mullein, as it may affect blood sugar levels. Monitor your blood sugar closely if you decide to use mullein as part of your herbal regimen.

Anticoagulant Medications: Mullein may have a mild blood-thinning effect. If you are taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications, consult your healthcare provider before using mullein regularly to avoid potential interactions.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: The safety of mullein during pregnancy and breastfeeding is not well studied. It’s generally advisable to avoid using mullein during these times unless directed by a qualified healthcare professional.

Overconsumption: Excessive use of mullein may lead to digestive upset. Stick to recommended dosages and guidelines when using mullein supplements or herbal preparations.

Drug Interactions: Mullein may interact with certain medications, particularly those metabolized by the liver. If you are taking prescription drugs, consult with your healthcare provider before using mullein as part of your healthcare regimen.

Lung Health Issues: If you are experiencing severe or persistent respiratory issues, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional. Mullein can be a helpful adjunct to your care, but it should not replace medical evaluation or treatment for severe conditions.

Quality and Source: Ensure that you obtain mullein products from reputable sources to guarantee quality and avoid potential contaminants or adulteration.

Adverse Effects: If you experience any adverse effects or unexpected reactions while using mullein, discontinue use and seek medical advice if necessary.

It’s important to emphasize that while mullein has a long history of use for respiratory and other health issues, it should be seen as a complementary therapy and not the sole solution to serious medical conditions. If you have chronic or severe health concerns, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Find the Best Mullein Products

Thousands of customer reviews are available to help you make the right choice. Embrace the power of nature!

Drug Interaction & Contraindications

Mullein, as a versatile herbal remedy, has the potential to interact with various medications and medical conditions. It’s essential to be aware of these interactions to ensure your safety and well-being. Let’s discuss how mullein may interact with specific medications and its contraindications:

Medications Metabolized by the Liver: Mullein may influence the cytochrome P450 enzymes in the liver, which are responsible for metabolizing many drugs. If you are taking medications that are processed by these enzymes, mullein could potentially affect their metabolism. This can lead to higher or lower drug levels in your system, potentially impacting their efficacy. Common examples of medications metabolized by the liver include:

  • Statins (used to lower cholesterol)
  • Anticoagulants (blood thinners)
  • Antiretroviral drugs (for HIV)
  • Certain antifungal medications

If you are on any of these medications, consult with your healthcare provider before incorporating mullein into your healthcare routine. They can provide guidance on whether it’s safe to use mullein alongside your current prescriptions.

Diabetic Medications: As mentioned earlier, mullein may affect blood sugar levels. If you are taking medications to manage diabetes, such as insulin or oral hypoglycemic drugs, monitor your blood sugar closely when using mullein. It’s advisable to work with your healthcare provider to adjust your diabetes treatment plan as needed.

Blood Pressure Medications: Mullein’s potential to affect blood pressure makes it important to exercise caution if you are taking medications to manage hypertension. Regularly monitor your blood pressure, and consult with your healthcare provider if you notice any significant changes in your readings.

Sedative Medications: Mullein has mild sedative properties, so if you are taking sedative medications, using mullein concurrently may intensify their effects. This could result in excessive drowsiness or impairment. Discuss the use of mullein with your healthcare provider to determine if adjustments to your medication regimen are necessary.

Anticoagulant Medications: Mullein’s mild blood-thinning properties could interact with anticoagulant medications like warfarin or aspirin. This interaction may increase the risk of bleeding. Always inform your healthcare provider about your mullein use if you are on anticoagulant therapy.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): There is limited information on how mullein may interact with hormone replacement therapy drugs. If you are using HRT to manage menopausal symptoms, consult with your healthcare provider before incorporating mullein into your routine.

Contraindications for Respiratory Conditions: While mullein is often used for respiratory issues, it should not be used as a sole treatment for severe or chronic respiratory conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Always follow your healthcare provider’s prescribed treatment plan for these conditions, and consult with them before using mullein as a complementary remedy.

Surgery: Due to mullein’s potential to affect blood clotting, it’s advisable to discontinue mullein use at least two weeks before scheduled surgery. Inform your surgical team about your mullein use, as it may impact the surgical process and your recovery.

In conclusion, mullein is a valuable herbal remedy with a wide range of potential health benefits. However, like any medicinal herb, it can interact with medications and may not be suitable for everyone.

Mullein Dosage and Forms

Mullein is available in various forms, making it versatile for consumption and application. The appropriate dosage of mullein can vary depending on the intended use, the specific form you choose, and individual factors. Here, we’ll explore the different forms of mullein and provide general dosage guidelines:

Mullein Tea:

Dried Leaves and Flowers: To make mullein tea, steep 1-2 teaspoons of dried mullein leaves and flowers in a cup of hot water for 10-15 minutes. You can drink up to 3 cups of mullein tea per day. This form is commonly used for respiratory and digestive issues.

Mullein Tincture:

Oral Use: If you’re using a mullein tincture (alcohol-based extract), a typical dosage is 30-60 drops, 2-3 times per day. You can dilute the tincture in a small amount of water or juice before consumption.

Mullein Capsules:

Oral Use: If you prefer capsules, follow the dosage instructions provided by the manufacturer. Dosages may vary depending on the concentration of mullein extract in each capsule.

Mullein Oil:

External Use: Mullein oil is primarily used for earaches. A few drops of warmed mullein oil can be applied into the ear canal to help relieve discomfort.

Mullein Topical Applications:

Mullein Poultices: For skin conditions or wounds, you can create a mullein poultice by blending mullein leaves with warm water to form a paste. Apply the paste to the affected area and cover it with a clean cloth. This can be left on for a few hours or overnight.

Smoking Mullein:

Dried Leaves: Smoking mullein leaves has a long history of use for respiratory issues. While smoking has fallen out of favor due to health concerns, some individuals still use it for its purported benefits. If you choose to smoke mullein, exercise caution and moderation, as smoking is associated with health risks.

Dosage Considerations:

  • It’s essential to be mindful of your unique health circumstances, including age, overall health, and any existing medical conditions.
  • Always start with the lowest recommended dosage and monitor your body’s response.
  • For severe or persistent health issues, or if you are uncertain about the appropriate dosage, consult with a qualified healthcare provider or herbalist.
  • Mullein can be taken with or without food, depending on your preference and any digestive sensitivities you may have.

It’s worth noting that the quality and potency of mullein products can vary between brands and preparations. To ensure safety and efficacy, it’s advisable to purchase mullein supplements from reputable sources that adhere to good manufacturing practices.

Find the Best Mullein Products

Thousands of customer reviews are available to help you make the right choice. Embrace the power of nature!

Final Thoughts

Mullein, with its rich history and diverse applications, is truly a remarkable herb that has garnered the attention and appreciation of herbalists and individuals seeking natural remedies. Its many benefits, from soothing respiratory issues to providing support for skin and ear health, make it a valuable addition to the world of herbal medicine.

While the modern scientific community continues to explore mullein’s medicinal properties, its traditional uses have stood the test of time. The gentle yet effective nature of this herb has made it popular among those seeking natural solutions for various health concerns.

As you consider incorporating mullein into your health and wellness routine, here are some key takeaways:

  • Versatile Herbal Ally: Mullein offers a wide range of uses, including respiratory support, skin care, ear health, and more. Its flexibility makes it a valuable addition to your herbal toolkit.
  • Traditional Wisdom: Traditional healers have recognized the potential of mullein for generations, passing down their knowledge of its benefits and uses.
  • Consult a Professional: If you’re unsure about the appropriate use or dosage of mullein, or if you have underlying health conditions, consult with a qualified healthcare provider or herbalist. They can provide guidance tailored to your specific needs.
  • Quality Matters: When selecting mullein products, choose high-quality sources to ensure potency and purity. Reputable manufacturers follow good manufacturing practices to provide safe and effective herbal remedies.
  • Individual Response: Everyone’s body is unique, and responses to herbal remedies may vary. Be mindful of how your body reacts to mullein, starting with a lower dosage and monitoring your experience.

Mullein is just one of the many herbal allies nature has provided to support our well-being. By exploring the benefits, uses, side effects, dosage, and precautions associated with herbs like mullein, you can make informed decisions about incorporating them into your health regimen.

Remember that herbs should be used as part of a holistic approach to wellness, which includes a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and a healthy lifestyle. As with any natural remedy, moderation and consistency are key.

Common Questions

Exploring Mullein: A Definitive Guide with 50 Questions and Answers

Article Sources

At AncientHerbsWisdom, our content relies on reputable sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to substantiate the information presented in our articles. Our primary objective is to ensure our content is thoroughly fact-checked, maintaining a commitment to accuracy, reliability, and trustworthiness.

  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Questions and Answers on Dietary Supplements.
  2. National Institutes of Health. Dietary Supplements: What You Need To Know.
  3. Blanco-Salas J, et al. (2021). Searching for scientific explanations for the uses of Spanish Folk Medicine: A review on the case of mullein (Verbascum, Scrophulariaceae).
  4. New York University Langone Health Department of Surgery. Mullein.
  5. Derakhshanfar A, Moayedi J, Derakhshanfar G, Poostforoosh Fard A. The role of Iranian medicinal plants in experimental surgical skin wound healing: An integrative review. Iran J Basic Med Sci. 2019;22(6):590-600. doi:10.22038/ijbms.2019.32963.7873
  6. Gupta A, et al. (2022). Health-promoting and disease-mitigating potential of Verbascum thapsus L. (common mullein): A review.
  7. National Library of Medicine. Magnesium in headache.
  8. Uzun L, Dal T, Kalcıoğlu MT, Yürek M, Açıkgöz ZC, Durmaz R. Antimicrobial Activity of Garlic Derivatives on Common Causative Microorganisms of the External Ear Canal and Chronic Middle Ear Infections. Turk Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2019;57(4):161-165. doi:10.5152/tao.2019.4413
  9. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary Supplements: What You Need To Know.
  10. Abuelgasim H, Albury C, Lee J. Effectiveness of honey for symptomatic relief in upper respiratory tract infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine. 2021;26(2):57-64. doi:10.1136/bmjebm-2020-111336
  11. Riaz M, Zia-Ul-Haq M, Jaafar HZE. Common mullein, pharmacological and chemical aspects. Rev Bras Farmacogn. 2013 Dec;23(6):948-959. doi:10.1590/S0102-695X2013000600012
  12. Taleb S, Saeedi M., et al. (2021). The effect of the Verbascum Thapsus on episiotomy wound healing in nulliparous women: A randomized controlled trial.
  13. Hashmi MF, et al. (2023). Asthma.
  14. Moores J. Vitamin C: a wound healing perspective. Br J Community Nurs. 2013;Suppl:S6-S11. doi:10.12968/bjcn.2013.18.sup12.s6
  15. Brown B, Wright C. Safety and efficacy of supplements in pregnancy [published correction appears in Nutr Rev. 2020 Sep 1;78(9):782]. Nutr Rev. 2020;78(10):813-826. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuz101
  16. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Zinc.