Mullein (Artemisia absinthium) is a perennial herbaceous plant native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. It grows from 2 to 6 meters tall with slender leaves up to 3 cm long and 1 mm wide. Its flowers are white or pinkish purple in color and have 5 petals each. They bloom between April and June. It is used as a flavoring ingredient in food products, cosmetics and medicine.
The leaves contain many active compounds including quercetin, kaempferol, ursolic acid and other phenolics such as erythrinae. Quercetin is thought to exert its anti-inflammatory effects through inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX). Other studies suggest that it may act as an antioxidant.
In addition, the leaves have been shown to possess antimicrobial activity against several strains of bacteria and fungi. It is also believed that they inhibit the growth of some viruses such as HIV/AIDS virus, hepatitis B virus and human papillomavirus.
Mullein contains high amounts of vitamin C which helps prevent skin damage caused by ultraviolet rays from sunlight. It also contains ursolic acid, which helps to retain moisture in skin and improve skin elasticity.
It also contains rosmarinic acid, which helps to protect the skin from sun damage, and it effectively eliminates dead skin cells and promotes new skin cell growth. This leads to the improvement of skin elasticity, hydration and firmness.
Mullein also contains flavonoids such as luteolin and quercetin, which have anti-inflammatory activity. These compounds are known to inhibit the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals such as nitric oxide, prostaglandin and cytokines.
Mullein has anti-inflammatory activity. It is believed that this activity is caused by the flavonoids in mullein. It has been shown to have analgesic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory effects.
It is commonly used to treat respiratory conditions such as asthma, coughs, sore throats and bronchitis. It can also be used to treat whooping cough and laryngitis. It helps to soothe and protect the mucous membranes of the throat.
Mullein tea is useful for soothing irritated skin, treating hemorrhoids, vaginal discharges and helping with problematic urination due to its astringent effects on the tissues of the body.
Mullein has anti-inflammatory and wound healing effects. It is used to treat wounds, abscesses, bed sores, burns and scalds. It helps to speed up the healing process and reduce pain and swelling.
Mullein is used as a treatment for respiratory conditions such as asthma, coughs, bronchitis, whooping cough and laryngitis. It can be inhaled or boiled and the steam used for the relief of nasal obstructions and sinus congestion. It also has expectorant effects and is used to clear mucus from the lungs.
Mullein is used in some countries to treat gastric and duodenal ulcers. It is thought to help protect the mucous membranes that line the stomach and gastro-intestinal tract. It also helps to relieve pain and reduce inflammation in these areas.
In some countries, mullein is used as a treatment for diabetes. It is thought to help stabilize blood sugar levels. It may also help to prevent nerve damage caused by the disease.
Mullein is used as a diuretic to treat urinary tract infections. The increase in urine production helps to eliminate microbes and toxins from the body.
In Mexico, mullein is used as a treatment for tumors, cysts and abscesses. A poultice of crushed leaves can be applied to the affected area.
When mullein leaves are boiled they produce a yellow dye that can be used to color wool, silk and cotton.
Mullein flowers are edible and have a bland taste. They can be eaten raw, cooked or dried and used to make tea.
Mullein flowers contain a lot of food energy and can be eaten in emergencies as a survival food. Eating large quantities of mullein flowers, however, can cause diarrhea and stomach cramps.
Men have traditionally smoked dried mullein leaves to ease the symptoms of respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis.
Mullein leaves can be applied directly to warts and verrucas to helps them to disappear. To treat a wart, cut it off with a knife and then applying mullein leaf juice directly to the wound. The wart should disappear within two weeks.
The Ojibway people of North America used to use a mixture of mullein leaves and lard as a salve to soothe the pain of earache. The Cherokee people chewed the flowers to relieve toothache pain.
The juice of the flowers can be used as an alternative to rayon when making paper.
In the past, the dried leaves were once used as a substitute for tobacco. They were also smoked or chewed to relieve respiratory problems such as colds and asthma. In some countries, the flowers are still used in herbal smoking mixtures today.
This is very dangerous, however, and can lead to serious health issues.
The leaves can be dried and smoked as a legal alternative to marijuana.
Leaves can be steeped to make tea.
Mullein flowers can be eaten raw, cooked or dried and then used to make tea. The taste is very bland and the texture is slightly hairy.
In France, mullein flowers are added to ice cream and are sometimes sold there as a sweet called “flowers of gold.”
Mullein is used in the production of textiles, paper, paints and ceramics.
The dried, boiled leaves can be used as a fabric dye.
In ancient times, preparations of mullein were used as a ritual incense by the Druids. It was also commonly used by the Romans as a healing herb. In the 16th century, it was introduced into English gardens to use as a medical plant.
The dried leaves are widely used in pipe smoking.
Mullein is rich in essential oils and was sometimes used by shoemakers in the past to soften leather.
“How does he, a vile quaking fool,
Fear everything–but chiefly the smoke?
That damned hypochondriac, dull and deaf,
Sits smoking night and day like a chimney.”
-British Poet and Playright, Sir John Suckling (1609-1641)
In Europe, the dried leaves are sometimes smoked as a legal alternative to marijuana.
In Victorian England, mullein leaves were mixed with tobacco to produce a mild sedative for use in pipes or cigars.
Mullein is mentioned several times in Shakespeare’s plays. In Henry V, a character says, “You see, my lord, how men of noble blood are worn; our swords as barren leaves as they–
This story shall serve for all. I set as little by it as you: It is not glory that I seek; I desire no name in the story.
In Henry V, another character states, “I would not wish any side, to give the other breathing time. I wish the king had but as many horsemen and troops of foot as there are flowers in May.
In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a character says, “And if I had bedlamites flinging pebbles against my window, I would have love and madness so much–in my favor that they could not reach me.
In The Merchant of Venice, a character states, “The man that hath a tongue, I say, is no man, if with his tongue he cannot win a woman.”
Sources & references used in this article:
Pollination in Verbascum thapsus (Scrophulariaceae): the advantage of being tall by SE Donnelly, CJ Lortie… – American Journal of …, 1998 – Wiley Online Library
Antinociceptive and Anti-inflammatory Activities of Seven Endemic Verbascum Species Growing in Turkey by II Tatli, EK Akkol, E Yesilada, ZS Akdemir – Pharmaceutical Biology, 2008 – Taylor & Francis
Ecological genetics of plant invasion: what do we know? by SM Ward, JF Gaskin, LM Wilson – Invasive Plant Science and Management, 2008 – BioOne
Reduction of mercury in coal combustion gas system and method by BM Knowles – US Patent 5,787,823, 1998 – Google Patents