Monday, August 3, 2009

Mullein moxie

If Mullein volunteers in your flower beds or herb garden, rejoice! Learn to recognize baby mullein, so you don't weed them out. There are two small youngin's here, in typical mullein-friendly soil. Well-drained, lots of sand and pebbles.

Mullein leaves are softly grey-green, and fuzzy. One old-fashioned name for the plant was "grandmother's blanket". Another name was "flannel leaf". Makes you think warm and comfy, doesn't it? The leaves were stuffed into shoes and boots to provide warmth during the winter. A savvy wildcrafter would do the same even now!

Medicinally, to narrow the broad use of this herb, the mullein leaves offer relief for respiratory related issues, as well as other areas such as skin problems.

Mullein is a bienniel, blooming the second year. Leaves are gathered from first-year plants, and from second-year plants before blooming. In the above photo, a small second-year mullein is shouldering up to a clump of comfrey. Take a close look at the leaves, they are very similar, especially as babies. But there are definate differences - the mullein is soft, the comfrey is harsh feeling. Comfrey also has a defined texture, while mullein is smoothly surfaced with a single center vein.

Mullein leaves can be dried by spreading on screens and kept in a warm area until crispy. A dehydrator may also be used, handy for smaller leaves. The flowers can be dried as well, to be used in teas and in combination with the dried leaves. Both leaf and flower may be used fresh during summer for brewing medicinal teas. The leaf tea is slightly bitter, and a bit pungent. I don't find it off-putting, but I eat 3 dandelion leaves straight up every day, too. So consider the source on that taste recommendation...

Mullein leaf tea is a good drink for people who tend to get colds that settle in their lungs. Herbs such as mullein and garlic are health supporting by helping to prevent or treat the respiratory problems we usually seem to deal with during fall and winter.

One account reported that mullein tea is useful for people who are grieving. Grief is the emotion associated with the lungs and colon in Traditional Chinese Medicine. I found that of interest, something to pursue since I have been having both lung and colon challenges.

Tea prepared with dried mullein flowers can be used as a gargle for sore throat or to soothe a chronic cough. Mullein leaf can be used alone or added to a tea mix along with red clover, plantain, calendula blossoms.

To make a mullein tea, use two teaspoons of dried leaf and/or flower per cup of hot almost boiling water. Cover and steep 10-15 minutes. This can be taken three or four times daily.

All the possible uses of mullein would take several more postings. This should be enough to get you safely started.

NOTE: Medicinal use of mullein or any other herb mentioned on EarthHeart should be done with knowledge and consideration. The information I share will hopefully provide a springboard for your own research. I do not mean to imply medical expertise in any of the information I pass on. A naturopathic doctor is my recommendation for health issues greater than those relatively simple dis-eases discussed here.

(This is known as "covering my rear"!)

1 comment:

  1. It is also recommended as one of the best natural "toilet paper" alternatives. ;-)