Mullein – A traditional herb for the lungs.

Mullein Fact Sheet –

Herba Vitae New Zealand - Mullein

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus), also known as Aaron’s Rod, Adam’s flannel, Bunny’s ears, Candlewick plant, Gidar tamaku, Lungwort,  Our Lady’s Flannel, Torch weed, Velvet plant, and Woolly Mullein among others. It is native to Europe and Western Asia, and prefers to grow in open, stony and dry areas, and is often seen on roadsides or in un-grazed paddocks.

Parts of the plant used for health:

Leaves, stems and flowers, are gathered prior to flowering or as the flowers first open.

Historical Use of Mullein:

Traditionally the plant was used by many ancient cultures including the Greeks, Romans, and other tribes among Europe, as well as being used in the far East in China as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Various uses have been recorded over the centuries, ranging from practical uses such as adding leaves to the soles of shoes for comfort, and burning as candlewicks or torches, through to the better known medicinal applications of easing coughs, and respiratory congestion, and helping earaches.

The leaves were smoked by Native Americans, as a remedy for asthma and sore throats, while Hildegard of Bingen (1100’s AD), recorded mullein as a remedy for dry and hoarse coughs. This affinity for the respiratory system and in particular the lungs earned it the name lungwort in Ireland, and was used in most cultures for these applications.

Other applications for this herb include using the flowers, which were steeped in oil, and then applied to the ear in cases of earaches, or to other areas of nerve pain (topical application).

Active chemical components of Mullein:

These include:
– Saponins, which are the main constituent responsible for Mulleins expectorant actions
– Flavonoids like Hesperidin, Verbascoside and Rutin which are anti-inflammatory, and Rutin which is reportedly an antioxidant, and known to heal and strengthen capillaries.
– Mucilage, which acts to sooth mucous membranes with demulcent and emollient actions.
– Iridoid glycosides such as Aucubin which is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial.
– Other constituents like lignans, sterols, lipids and volatile oils.

Nutrients found in Mullein:

B complex Vitamins, Vitamin D, Beta-carotene (Pro-Vitamin A), and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, sulphur, and large amounts of non-haem Iron.

Modern Research:

Modern studies on Mullein are limited, though several recent studies have assessed some actions of Mullein and have found antiviral and antibacterial activity of the plant extract. In particular, antibacterial actions were observed against Klebsiella pneumonia, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis and Escherichia coli.


There are no known, or reported side-effects, warnings, drug/herb interactions, or contraindications of Mullein use.


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