Mullein – Verbascum thapsus

Parts used: root, leaf, flower

Traditional uses: Leaves and flowers can be used to clear chest congestion (smoked or as an infusion), as an analgesic for rashes, aches and pains. Leaves can be wilted and used in poultices for swollen glands. Roots can be used in decoctions for gynecological issues.

“The Mullein has very markedly demulcent, emollient and astringent properties, which render it useful in pectoral complaints and bleeding of the lungs and bowels. The whole plant seems to possess slightly sedative and narcotic properties…The dried leaves are sometimes smoked in an ordinary tobacco pipe to relieve the irritation of the respiratory mucus membranes, and will completely control, it is said, the hacking cough of consumption. They can be employed with equal benefit when made into cigarettes, for asthma and spasmodic coughs in general. Fomentations and poultices of the leaves have been found serviceable in haemorrhoidal complaints. Mullein is said to be of much value in diarrhoea, from its combination of demulcent with astringent properties, by this combination strengthening the bowels at the same time. In diarrhcea the ordinary infusion is generally given, but when any bleeding of the bowels is present, the decoction prepared with milk is recommended.” ~Grieve MH

Flower tea for colds and other illnesses – “Mullein-flower tea is supposed to be good for colds, sore throat, flu, and even pneumonia.” ~Randolph OMF 93

Poultice for many complaints – “Some folk seem to think that a poultice of mullein leaves simmered in vinegar is helpful in almost any sort of painful condition. I have seen such a poultice applied to a wound made by a charge of bird shot; it not only eases pain, I was told, but ‘loosens up the shot’ so that the doctor can easily extract the pellets.” ~Randolph OMF 99

Used in love divinations – “There are many ways of determining whether or not one’s sweetheart is faithful. If the fire which a man kindles burns brightly, he knows that his sweetheart is true to him, but if it smolders, she is likely to prove unfaithful. As a further test, he may go into a clearing and bend down a mullein stalk so that it points toward her cabin; if she loves him the stalk grows up again, but if she loves another it will die. Mrs. Addah Matthews, Monett, Missouri, says that ‘a girl used to name’ a mullein stalk, then bend the stalk toward her fellow’s house; if it grew bent in that direction he loved her.’” ~Randolph OMF 172

For summer stomach complaints – “Wild mullien tea biled down is a good cure fer summer stomach cramps.” ~Pompey GG

Tea made for colds – “Mullein tea. Take the leaves off of mullein, boil them.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

“Mullein leaves…made into a tea and used to wet a poultice on the chest for congestion…” ~Parler FBA II 1833

For colic – “They used mullein too for colic. They made a tea.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

For sprains – “Mullein’s good for sprains. Put that leaf in vinegar and salt and bind it on that sprain, it’s supposed to help.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

Wilted for sprains – “Get mullein and wilt it. Mom used to just lay it on the cook stoke and kind of turn it and turn it until it’d wilt…Put that on there, take out the swelling.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

Poultice with vinegar for arthritis – “A strong solution of vinegar and mullein leaves, get that real hot, hot poultices and put that on arthritis and rheumatism. It’ll relieve the pain and take the swelling out.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

Juice used on a sting – “Squeeze mullein juice out of a leaf, put that on there.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

“Take mullein and boil it to about half water and half leaves. Strain that liquid, good for stings and bites.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

Smoked for hay fever – “I’ve heard of people smoking mullein for hay fever and breathing problems.”  ~Carter and Krause HRIO

Tea for asthma – “They used mullein leaves for asthma. Made a tea out of it.” ~Carter and Krause HRIO

For chronic appendicitis – “Take the root of a ‘mullin’ plant (mullein). Make a tea of it and drink it. It will kill the infection.” ~Parler FBA II 1395

Smoke inhaled for asthma – “Dry mullin (Mullein) leaves and crumble them up and up them in a tin pan and set them on fire. Make a funnel out of newspaper and place over the smoke and inhale.” ~Parler FBA II 1412

Nine mullein flowers for cold – “Select nine buds out of nine different mullein…plants and make a tea out of them. Use for colds and pneumonia.” ~Parler FBA II 1832

Tea for the flu – “If you have la grippe, get several bunches of old field mullein. Boil in enough water to cover it. After it has thoroughly boiled, add enough honey to make it very sweet. While this is still hot, drop in a small piece of tar which is wrapped in a white cloth. Your cough will be gone if you drink it frequently during both night and day.” ~Parler FBA II 2551

Tea used for jaundice – “Use Mullein tea…for jaundice.” ~Parler FBA III 2576

Root solution for hemorrhoids – “Boil mullein roots…to make a solution good for bathing hemiroids with to reduce and relieve.” ~Parler FBA III 2845

For sore throats – “…boil mullen…root and sweeten with honey. give to children.” ~Parler FBA III 3201

For stomach troubles – “My grandmother used to boil mullin…leaves and use the water for a variety of ills including stomach ache and colds.” ~Parler FBA III 3288

For swelling – “Boil mullen…leaves then take the large cooked leaves and wrap around the place on the body that is swelled. This will take the swelling out.” ~Parler FBA III 3372

Poultice for typhoid – “Mullen…polaces are good for Typhoid fever.” ~Parler FBA III 3485

Seeds for worms – “For worms in adults. A tea made from mullen seeds…or stir into homemade candy after it cooks and as it is taken off the heat. The candy is a remedy for children when eaten.” ~Parler FBA III 3886


Carter, Kay & Bonnie Krause Home Remedies of the Illinois Ozarks (HRIO)

Grieve, Margaret A Modern Herbal (MH)

Moerman, Daniel E. Native American Ethnobotany (NAE)

Parler, Mary Celestia Folk Beliefs from Arkansas (FBA)

Randolph, Vance Ozark Magic and Folklore (OMF)

Pompey, Sherman Lee Granny Gore’s Ozark Folk Medicine (GG)