Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mullein magic

You have probably noticed the tall, single-spired stalks dotted with yellow blossoms, rising from softly colored greyish green leaves. They are easily identified by their height, along roadsides, maybe in your yard borders or garden. This is our common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus), and it is in prime season right now. Which is why it is our next herb to get to know and harvest.

Mullein is currently taking the lead in my collecting. With cold and flu season creeping up, I want a good supply of this herb. Mullein oil is used to soothe earache pain - if you have punks, you'll want some on hand. Mullein leaves provide important lung-support. We'll get into that part next time.
For this post, I want to encourage you to find some mullein, and harvest enough flowers to fill a glass jar - any size, depending on your supply of mullein. Then fill the jar with olive oil, to cover the flowers. Put a label on that jar: Mullein in olive oil, date. Let them infuse for at least two weeks in a warm place.

(While you're at it, do the same with Calendula flowers, and St. John's wort flowers, if you are sure of your identification - we'll be collecting these flowers this week, also, so don't panic. They will play a part in an up-coming earache oil...)

If you have enough Mullein flowers, also start a jar of tincture. Fill a second jar, with at least 2 cups of flowers, and cover with 2 cups of 100 proof vodka. 80 proof is OK, if that's all you can find. The 100 proof is 50% alcohol, the 80 proof is 40% alcohol. More on the tincture to come.

This oil and tincture are the start of your arsenal against fall and winter ear and lung afflictions.

Check back tomorrow for more on Mullein.

Your homework: locate some Mullein. Don't forget to ask permission if it's on private property...most people consider mullein a weed and will be astonished to hear you actually want it! You will want to return several times to the plant(s), to harvest more flowers since they don't all come on at the same time.

Go forth and FIND MULLEIN!!


  1. Candy, do you use only the yellow parts of the flowers, or the whole flower head? Also, are there other oils you might suggest besides olive? I've gotten reactions (itching) every time I've tried to use olive oil soap, so I'm a little nervous about using it for an infusion.

  2. Yes just the yellow part - they should pop right off the little green part. You can use any oil that agrees with you. Just plain vegetable oil is OK. Some oils have more inate medicinal qualities of their own, than others. Some good ones, albeit more pricey, are avocado, sesame, jojoba. If you have reacted to O-O soap, it might be other ingredients - maybe try a dab of O-O on the inside of your arm, see what it does.