Mullein extract is an herbal medicinal preparation used for respiratory and urinary complaints, coughs, mouth sores, earaches, inflammation, bruises and many other ailments. A mullein extract is made by using a solvent such as alcohol, along with distilled water and other extractives, with mullein leaves or flowers then steeping for an extended period of time. Mullein extract lends itself to a variety of uses, including drinking it as a tea, mixing it with oil to treat earaches and rubbing it externally to ease swelling.
Mullein, or Verbascum thapsus, is a biennial with large basal leaves and flowers in long, terminal spikes native to Europe and Asia. It is recognized by many other common names such as lungwort, candlewick, witches candle, velvet plant, grandmother's flannel and bunny’s ears. The flowers, leaves and root of mullein are prepared as an extract, oil, tea or decoction. The seeds are highly poisonous and are not used.
The active ingredients in mullein include coumarin, rotenone, mucilage, volatile oil, saponins, gum, bitter glycosides and flavonoids such as hesperidin. It is best to purchase mullein leaf extract only from established manufacturers to ensure consistent quality, because the amount of the active ingredients can vary widely from plant to plant.
Mullein extract can be taken as a tea by adding four or five drops to a cup of hot water. This tea traditionally is used to treat respiratory problems such as chronic bronchitis, asthma and croup. The tea also is an expectorant that stimulates the cough reflex. Mullein extract tea has a high mucilage content, which is soothing to the respiratory system and reduces inflammation and irritation. It is mildly sedative and is said to promote sleep and to soothe the nerves.
Mullein extract can be added to an oil such as olive oil or sweet almond oil. This oil mixture can be placed in the ears to soothe earaches and has been used to help heal ear infections. The mullein extract oil also can be used to treat swollen joints by rubbing it on the affected areas.
Mullein extract has been known to cause contact dermatitis in some individuals. Its sedative effect is sometimes more pronounced. A physician should be contacted immediately if either of these side-effects occur. Mullein might make anti-diabetic drugs ineffective or interfere with prescription diuretic drugs to cause a loss of potassium. A physician should be consulted before mullein extract is used, to ensure that no negative drug interactions will occur.