Mullein

Scientific names: Verbascum thapsus, V. phlomoides, V. thapsiforme

Common names: Mullein also is known as American mullein, European or orange mullein, candleflower, candlewick, higtaper and lungwort?.

Efficacy-safety rating:

ÒÒ...Ethno or other evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...No safety concerns despite wide use.

What is Mullein?

The common mullein, usually found throughout the US, is a woolly-leafed biennial plant. During its first year of growth, the large leaves form a low-lying basal rosette. In the spring of the second year, the plant develops a tall stem that can grow to more than 1.22 m in height. The top portion of the stem develops yellow flowers that have a faint, honey-like odor. This, along with the stamens, constitutes the active ingredient.

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What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Mullein boasts an illustrious history as a favored herbal remedy and, consequently, has found use in various disorders. Its traditional uses generally have focused on the management of respiratory disorders where it was used to treat asthma, coughs, tuberculosis, and related respiratory problems. However, in its various forms, the plant has been used to treat hemorrhoids, burns, bruises, and gout. Preparations of the plant have been ingested, applied topically, and smoked. The yellow flowers once were used as a source of yellow hair dye. In Appalachia, the plant has been used to treat colds and the boiled root administered for croup. Leaves were applied topically to soften and protect the skin. An oil derived from the flowers has been used to soothe earaches.

Miscellaneous uses

There is little evidence to indicate that the plant can offer more than mild astringent and topical soothing effects. It may have mild demulcent properties when ingested. Mullein has expectorant and cough suppressant properties that make it useful for symptomatic treatment of sore throat and cough. Antiviral activity of mullein has been reported against herpes and influenza. Clinical research is lacking.

What is the recommended dosage?

There is no recent clinical evidence to support specific dosage of mullein. However, classical use of the herb was 3 to 4 g daily.

How safe is it?

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/nursing

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Side Effects

No adverse effects have been reported.

Toxicities

Research reveals no reports of serious toxicities with mullein.

References

  1. Mullein. Review of Natural Products. factsandcomparisons4.0 [online]. 2005. Available from Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Accessed April 17, 2007.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

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