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What Are the Uses of Mullein Leaf?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 15 April 2014
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Mullein leaf is an herbal supplement derived from the leaves of the Verbascum thapsus plant, commonly known as mullein. Both the leaves and the flowers of the mullein plant have been used for centuries as natural treatments for a variety of medical conditions. Mullein leaf remains a popular alternative treatment for lung and throat ailments as well as for hemorrhoids. As the potential benefits of mullein have not been widely studied by medical researchers, however, its true usefulness is not yet fully understood.

Generally, mullein leaf is sold in powder form. This powder is then often dissolved in a tea or smoked in a pipe. It may be taken on its own or combined with other herbal supplements. For topical use, the powder is often mixed with olive oil to create a thin ointment.

One of the most common uses of mullein leaf is the treatment of lung ailments of varying seriousness, from cold-related coughs to bronchitis. Many practitioners of herbal medicine believe the supplement soothes lung troubles by loosening mucus deposits. It is also thought to thin the mucus, thus making its expectoration easier.

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Another popular use for mullein leaf is the treatment of a sore throat. Mullein is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, it is believed to be useful in calming the inflammation which often occurs in the throat due to viral and bacterial infections or post-nasal drip. For the treatment of both throat and lung troubles, mullein powder manufacturers recommend taking one to three daily doses of the supplement while symptoms persist.

Mullein leaf contains mucilage, a viscous substance produced by some plants for purposes of water conservation. This mucilage is thought to have soothing capabilities when applied to inflamed skin. Thus, some herbalists recommend treating hemorrhoids with a topical application of a mullein leaf ointment.

While mullein leaf is widely advocated by herbal medicine practitioners, traditional medical researchers have given little attention to the supplement. Thus, sufficient evidence does not yet exist to verify or reject its medical value. In addition, the lack of attention given to mullein means that researchers have not yet documented the supplement’s potential side effects or drug interactions. Therefore, users should be aware that mullein ingestion may not have any genuine health benefits and can potentially have unforeseen side effects. Until the plant and its effects are more fully understood, pregnant and nursing women may want to avoid using it.

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