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What Is Mullein Extract?

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  • Written By: Linda Harris
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 17 March 2014
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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.

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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.

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Discuss this Article

anon242435
Post 5

I have used "mullein ear oil" in a cup of warm water to stop my daughter's asthma attack. It worked immediately! She was able to breathe without distress in just a few swallows and was much better after taking the whole cup. We have since bought the tea to drink when having upper respiratory issues and it soothes breathing efforts and has a calming effect.

JessicaLynn
Post 4

@SZapper - Warming up the drops before putting them in your ears sounds like a great idea! Although, since mullein can cause contact dermatitis I would urge people to definitely test the drops on their skin before putting them in their ears. Contact dermatitis sounds like it would be very unpleasant to have in your ears!

SZapper
Post 3

@lonelygod - I've used mullein garlic drops in my ears for an ear infection many a time and never had a problem.

What you should do is take the glass bottle that the drops are in and warm it up a little. You can do this by warming up a pot of water and dunking the glass container in the water for a few minutes. Test the drops on your wrist to make sure they're a good temperature.

Then you can either drop a few drops directly in your ears and then put a cotton ball in your ear after. Or , you can put the drops on the cotton ball and then put the cotton ball in your ear. Either way I've found this to be a really effective and problem free treatment for ear infections.

lonelygod
Post 2

I was really surprised to learn that mullein extract can be added to olive oil to make a soothing treatment for earaches. I am an avid swimmer and unfortunately I tend to get more than my fair share of earaches during the swimming season.

If you are going to use mullein extract in oil as a cure for your earaches do you put it in your ear in drop form, or do you just gently massage it in?

I am always cautious when it comes to putting things into my ear as I once had a bad reaction to some eardrops that made my ear swell. It was a horrible experience I don't want to repeat.

drtroubles
Post 1

Does anyone have any experience taking mullein extract to help with their breathing issues?

I have been suffering from respiratory problems such as chronic bronchitis for many years and I have been looking for something that would help in a natural way. I also have asthma, which is a big problem because I already take so many medications I don't want anything that would interact poorly with my prescription medications.

I have also read about mullein extract helping with lung congestion. Does anyone know if this is true? I have a lot of congestion when I get bronchitis and find it difficult to get comfortable enough to sleep.

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