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Mullein


This post was inspired by my trip to Oasi Zegna. I spent a few hours hunting out waterfalls and the scenery was spectacular. But, perhaps what I loved most was being surrounded by Mullein; it looked so pretty growing through the stone walls, and it is a great herb.


Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) looks beautiful with its candelabra-like stems, alternate furry leaves, and delicate yellow flowers. Native to Europe, there are around 250 species, within the Scrophulariaceae (figwort) family.


Interestingly, the word Mullein may refer to muleyn, meaning wollen, in old English. It most likely refers to the furry leaves. I was introduced to Mullein in my first job, working as a support worker for a blind student. We did so many interesting things, including helping to make a sensory garden project - we included Mullein for its distinctive shape and tactile leaves.


Mullein is currently gaining interest within the scientific community for its potential to inhibit some antibiotic resistant bacterias; possibly due to a process where Mullein inhibits the uptake of leucine (an essential protein which cells need to respire, reproduce and grow).


First classified by Carolus Linnaeus 1707-1778 in Plantarum, 1753. Used as a herb, Mullein has long history and first used by indigenous cultures for pulmonary conditions. It is still used today for treating lung and ear problems thanks to its demulcent qualities, with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.


Finally science is proving Mullein’s traditional use. One study has shown that Mullein extract can reduce free radicals (known to cause damage to cells and associated with ageing and inflammation). Science is exploring many of the plant chemicals with Mullein. It has anti-inflammatory actions, due to the plant chemical verbascoside. Saponins create the mucilaginous properties which soothes skin linings. And Iridoids, a type of plant chemical that is produced in self-defence against microbes which likely protect us too.


Traditionally, I have always used Mullein leaves and/or flowers in a tea for colds/flu. I also use it during the Wintertime to support the respiratory system. A great example of science and herbalism coming together and a useful herb to research more.


References


McCarthy E, O'Mahony JM. What's in a Name? (2011) Can Mullein Weed Beat TB Where Modern Drugs Are Failing? Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011:239237


Mahdavi S, Amiradalat M, Babashpour M, Sheikhlooei H, Miransari M (2020) The Antioxidant, Anticarcinogenic and Antimicrobial Properties of Verbascum thapsus L. Med Chem. 16(7):991-995

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