respiratory

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

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Mullein Summary:

Mullein is considered a staple in herbal medicine. It wasn't native to North America, and was brought over by European settlers. Despite the new introduction of the herb, it was quickly adopted into use by the local native Americans, and is even referred to commonly as Indian Tobacco.

Mullein is a very safe herb, and offers benefits to a number of different systems in the body. Out of all systems, mullein is most commonly used for respiratory and digestive system conditions. It's popular as an anticatarrhal, and for both soothing dry coughs, and eliminating catarrh with productive coughs. Although the entire plant can be used for either one, the leaves are generally preferred for dry coughs, and the roots for productive coughs.

Mullein is as useful topically as it is internally for inflammation, muscle spasms, and infection.

 

+ Indications

  • Arthritis (Topical)
  • Bed wetting
  • Desentery
  • Dry coughs
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Inflammation
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Irritable Bowel Disease (IBS)
  • Kidney dysfunction
  • Lower respiratory tract infection
  • Muscle aches (Topical)
  • Otitis media (Topical)
  • Parasites
  • Skin irritations
  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Water retention
  • Wet coughs

+ Contraindications

  • The fresh leaves can be irritating to the skin.
  • In general, this is a very safe herb, and there are rarely any reports of adverse reaction, even at high doses.

Main Herbal Actions:

  • Anthelmintic
  • Anti-catarrhal
  • Antispasmodic
  • Astringent
  • Expectorant
  • Lymphatic
  • Antibacterial
 

What Is Mullein Used For?

Mullein is mainly used for treating respiratory infections and persistent coughs. Somewhat ironically, it's often smoked for its soothing effect on the lungs. It tends to increase moisture of the lungs, especially the leaves, making it especially useful for unproductive, dry coughs.

It's also used for gastrointestinal inflammation, parasitic infection, and muscle aches. It tends to have a humidifying effect thoughout the body, providing a soothing effect, especially with dryness.

One of the most well-known uses for the herb is in the form of an infused oil for ear infections.

 

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Leaf, root, and flower

Family Name

  • Scrophulariaceae

Distribution

  • Originates from Europe around the Mediterranean, but has spread all around Europe & North America

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Constituents of Interest

  • Iridoid glycosides

Common Names

  • Mullein
  • Lady's Flannel
  • Gordolobo
  • Punchón
  • Candelaria

Quality

  • Root: Neutral, drying
    Leaf: Cool, moistening
    Flower: Cool

Pregnancy

  • Unknown

Taste

  • Salty

Duration of Use

  • Long term use is acceptable.
 

Botanical Info:

Mullein belongs to the figwort family (Scrophulariaceae). The Scrophulariaceae family contains 65 different genus', and 1800 different species. The Verbascum genus itself contains around 250 different species.

Verbascum is a popular garden plant for their ability to thrive in dry, nutrient poor soils, and their long flower duration. Some can grow as tall as 3 meters tall.

 

Research Overview:

Still compiling research.

 

Clinical Applications Of Mullein:

Although there are many ways to use mullein, it excels with treating respiratory tract conditions. The leaves are excellent for treating dry coughs, while the root is much better for productive wet coughs.

Mullein is useful as a topical treatment for skin irritations, and as an oil for ear infections, especially the more drying flower of the plant.

Mullein also makes for an excellent lymphatic, both internally and externally.

 

Cautions:

Caution advised when working with the fresh leaf of this plant, as it can cause contact dermatitis in some individuals.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated November 2018)

 

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Magnolia (Magnolia officinalis)

magnolia-cover.jpg

Magnolia Summary

Magnolia is one of the oldest flowering plants in existence, dating back as far as 95 million years ago. The first angiosperm is thought to have originated 130 million years ago. this is long before bees first appeared. To no surprise then, magnolia have evolved to be pollinated by beetles instead, which have been around for much longer.

Magnolia is a common herb in traditional Chinese medicine for treating Qi stagnation and removing obstructions.

It remains popular for reducing sinus infection and congestion, sinus headaches, asthma, coughs, and catarrh as well as anxiety and heightened cortisol levels.

 

+ Indications

  • Abdominal pain
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Amoebic dysentery
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Bloating
  • Catarrh
  • Coughs
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Poor digestion
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Rhinitis
  • Sinus infection
  • Stress
  • Typhoid
  • Ulcers

+ Contraindications

Avoid use during convalescence.

Main Herbal Actions:

  • Antioxidant
  • Antiallergic
  • Antiasthmatic
  • Anxiolytic
  • Antibacterial
  • Antifungal
  • Antispasmodic
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Emmenagogue
  • Expectorant
 

How Is Magnolia Used?

Magnolia is used for its anxiolytic and digestive effects.It's often combined with Phellodendron for treating both acute and chronic stress.

Magnolia is also commonly used for upper respiratory tract infection, sinus congestion, and catarrh.

 

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Bark

Family Name

  • Magnoliaceae

Distribution

  • Eastern Asia, North America, Central America

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Constituents of Interest

  • Honokiol
  • Magnolol

Common Names

  • Magnolia
  • Ch'Uan Pu (China)
  • Chinese Magnolia
  • Choon Pok
  • Hou Pu

Quality

  • Warm

Pregnancy

  • Unknown

Taste

  • Bitter

Duration of Use

  • Long term use acceptable, but should be monitored by a professional.
 

Botanical Information

Magnolia officinalis is a medium sized tree, ranging from 5 to 15 m in height. It's deciduous, with purple brown bark.

Magnolia is a member of the Magnoliaceae family of plants. There are 2 subfamilies in this family, including Magnollioideae and Liriodendroideae. The latter of which only includes Liriodendron (Tulip trees). In The Magnoliaceae family there are approximately 219 species, distributed into 17 genera. The vast majority are included in the Magnolia genus, which has about 210 different species.

One interesting note is that it appears magnolia appeared before bees did. The flowers are instead evolved to be pollinated by beetles, due to the extremely tough carpels on the flower. There have also been fossils discovered with plants contained in the Magnoliaceae family as far back as 95 million years ago, making Magnolia one of the oldest remaining angiosperms.

 

Research Overview:

Still compiling research.

 

Clinical Applications Of Magnolia:

Magnolia increases the activity of GABA receptors, as well as the muscarinic receptors. This is why magnolia is useful for both its sedative effect, as well as some mild stimulating effects. While most anxiolytic herbs have a particular effect on the parasympathetic nervous system (through GABAergic effects), magnolia also increases the activity of the sympathetic nervous system through the muscarinic acetylcholine receptors in a similar way to GABA.

Magnolia is especially useful for eliminating nasal congestion, sinus infections, coughs, and catarrh. it's used to improve indigestion and dysentery, though is not commonly used for bacterial or fungal infections alone.

Magnolia is also used for reducing symptoms of stress and anxiety. It can reduce cortisol levels in stressed individuals, especially in combination with Phellodendron. It's primary actions for this involves GABAergic activities, and have been shown to lower salivary cortisol levels in stressed individuals.

Magnolia should be avoided in those who are chronically fatigued, or who are suffering from convalescence. Traditional Chinese medicine suggests that magnolia should be avoided with any condition involving yin deficiency.

 

Cautions:

Avoid use with convalescence.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated November 2018)

 

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Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)

Marshmallow root has a high concentration of soothing mucilage. It can be concentrated and used as a vegan alternative for egg whites. Medicinally the mucilage is used to...

Elder (Sambucus nigra)

Elder leaves and berries

Elder Overview:

Elder is an invasive tree or shrub spread throughout most of the world. it can be found in cold climates like Canada and Scandanavian countries, as well as tropical areas of Central and South America as well as throughout Southeast Asia and Australia. It's even frequently found in remote areas like the Pacific Islands.

Elder has many uses, especially for upper respiratory infections for its antitussive and antiviral activity. As an antiviral, it has a fairly narrow range of efficacy, which is specific to enveloped viruses like influenza, and will only have a potent effect in the early stages of viral infection. For this it is highly effective however, and is one of the best herbs to keep around in in the event of an acute infection.

Full monograph still under construction

+ Indications

+ Contraindications

Main Herbal Actions:

  • Antiviral
  • Emetic (high doses)
  • Antitussive
  • Nervine (leaves)
 

Main Uses:

Used in the acute stage of respiratory infection, as a diaphoretic or emetic, coughs, and arthritis.

 

Part Used

Flowers and berries

In some cases the leaves, bark, and roots can also be used with caution.

Family Name

Caprifoliaceae

Distribution

Invasive the world over. Common in North America, Western Asia, Europe, The Pacific Islands, and Austalia.

Sambucus australasica and Sambucus gaudichaudiana (Australian white elder) are found primarily in Australia and South America.

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Constituents of Interest

  • Cyanidin-3-O-glucoside
  • Ribosome-inactivating proteins (RIPs)

Common Names

  • Elder
  • Black Elder
  • Elderberry
  • European Elder
 

Botanical Info:

There are about 30 different species of elder, 3 of which are most commonly used as medicine. The common names for these species includes blue elder (Sambucus nigra), red elder (Sambucus racemosa), and white elder (Sambucus australasica).

 

Research Overview:

Still compiling research

Research Quality

 

Clinical Applications Of Elder:

Elder is a great antiviral herb, especially for Influenza and some of the other enveloped viral species if used at the early stages of infection.

 

Cautions:

Elder is an emetic, especially in preparations that contain fresh plant material (unheated). If nausea occurs, dial back the dose. Contrary to popular belief elder is NOT posionous. Emetics are frequently misinterpreted to be dangerously poisonous.

Elder is thought to decrease the effectiveness of morphine.

 

Recommended Products Containing Elder:

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Elder Extract

Herb Pharm

Made from the berries of Sambucus nigra

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Elder Berries

Starwest Botanicals

Dried berries of Sambucus nigra

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Sambucol® Syrup

PharmaCare

Made from Sambucus nigra

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Full monograph still under construction

 

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