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Verbascum thapsus, commonly called mullein, is a plant native to Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa, but can be found nearly everywhere. It is easy to spot with its fuzzy, thick leaves. It can grow to eight feet (2.4 m) tall and has yellow flowers at the top of its stalk. It is considered to be a noxious or invasive weed in some parts of the United States, but it has a long history of medicinal uses.
Essential oil is extracted from Verbascum thapsus for many of its common uses. Mullein oil is believed to kill germs and work as an anti-bacterial. For example, many alternative medicine practitioners combine a few drops of the essential oil with olive oil. They place three or four drops of the mixture into the ear to treat earaches or to reduce inflammation on the membranes. The essential oil is also believed to heal diseased gums and ulcers of the mouth.
The oil from the Verbascum thapsus can be purchased at herbal stores or online; however, some prefer to make it at home. To make the essential oil, take the plant's roots and flowers and crush them inside a jar. This will extract the oil from the plant. Then, cover with olive oil, and keep the jar in a warm location for about two weeks. Once it is ready to use, strain the mixture and transfer it to a new jar.
Another popular use for mullein is to drink it as a tea. It contains B2, B12, B15, and D vitamins, as well as choline, magnesium, hesperidin, and sulfer. Alternative medicine practitioners value the tea as a good treatment for lung ailments, allergies and coughs. It also is sometimes used as a sedative. To make tea from mullein, simply dry out the leaves and roots of the plant. Then, boil about one tablespoon (15 ml) in about one cup (237 ml) of water for about ten minutes. For a sweeter tea, it may be best to boil the flowers, as well. Some people recommend cooking the leaves, roots, and flowers in milk for a real treat. Mullein tea bags also are commonly available at heath food stores.
Some people prefer to smoke the leaves of the Verbascum thapsus plant. They dry the leaves and roll them in paper. Some herbalists may claim that smoking the leaves helps relieve symptoms of asthma, bronchitis, coughs, and irritated respiratory systems.
The plant's flowers are sometimes used to treat migraines. The leaves also are often made into a poultice for sunburns, tumors, and ulcers. Even the roots are crushed to treat toothaches, cramps, and seizures. The flowers also can be used to create a yellow dye. The dye can be used on hair, clothes, and in ink.
It should be noted that there are some toxic portions of the Verbascum thapsus plant. The seeds are considered a narcotic and can be deadly. The plant leaves are used as an insecticide, but will also poison fish, so be certain not to plant it near waterways. If the leaves are rubbed on the body, they may cause a rash, as well.