Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)



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.


Technical Details: Mullein

Weekly Dose

Part Used

  • Leaf, root, and flower

Family Name

  • Scrophulariaceae


  • 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


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


  • Unknown


  • Salty

Duration of Use

  • Long term use is acceptable.

Botanical Information

Mullein belongs to the figwort family (Scrophulariaceae) — a family consisting or roughly 65 different genera and 1800 species.

The Verbascum genus itself contains around 250 different species.

Verbascum is a popular garden plant for its ability to thrive in dry, nutrient-poor soils, and for their incredibly long flower duration.

The herb is biennial — the first season growing in a rosette leaf pattern, the second with a large velvety flower spike. Some mullein plants can grow up to three 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.



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



Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated November 2018)


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