Mullein: Uses, herbal medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Mullein: Uses, herbal medicine, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

The mullein is native to central, eastern and southern Europe, North Africa, Ethiopia and Asia Minor. The drug material comes mainly from cultures in Egypt, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. The dried yellow flower crowns and the stamens (Verbasci floss) are used medicinally. The plant leaves (Verbasci folium) are also used more rarely.

Mullein: Special Characteristics

The mullein is an up to 2.5 m high biennial plant with felty hairy, long rosette leaves and alternate stem leaves.

Bright yellow flowers develop in the second year of growth, arranged in a dense, long spiked raceme. The flowers are 5-fold and have a diameter of up to 5 cm. Inside are the five thread-like stamens.


Use of mullein in herbal medicine

The most commonly used in herbal medicine are the felted mullein and the large-flowered mullein, which are very similar. However, the small-flowered mullein is also considered an acceptable source of drugs.

The drug consists of many yellow corollas, three larger and two smaller petals with woolly hairs on the outside. Other components of the drug material are flower fragments and isolated thin, reddish-yellow stamens.

smell and taste of the wool flowers

The smell of wool flowers is relatively weak and reminds me of honey. Wool flowers taste sweet and slightly slimy.

Mullein – application

Mullein flowers are used in inflammatory diseases of the respiratory tract. They have a soothing effect on inflammation of the mucous membranes (catarrh of the respiratory tract) and the associated cough, cold symptoms, flu-like symptoms and increased mucus production. The drug can also support bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchi). Wool flowers are traditionally used to help clear mucus in the airways.

Mullein: use in folk medicine

Folk medicine has long used the plant’s healing properties to treat chronic coughs and promote ejection of bronchial secretion (expectorant).

Wool flowers are also used in folk medicine as: 

  • water pill (diuretic)
  • remedies for rheumatism
  • antiperspirant

Furthermore, the flowers contribute to faster wound healing and healing of various skin ailments when applied externally. In homoeopathy, the fresh, above-ground parts of the mullein plant collected during flowering, without the woody stems, treat diseases of the upper and lower respiratory tract and the peripheral nervous system.


Ingredients of the mullein

Mullein flowers contain about 3% mucilage and iridioides such as aucubin, saponins such as verbascoside, flavonoids and about 11% inverted sugar.

Mullein: indication

Indications for which the mullein can be used are:

  • Inflammation of the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract
  • catarrh
  • Cough
  • a cold
  • Flu
  • Bronchitis

Mullein – dosage

Wool flowers are contained in a few tea blends in a chopped form, also in filter bags. In addition, various combination preparations in cough syrup, ointments and oils contain wool flower extracts.

Dosage of mullein

Unless otherwise prescribed, the average daily dose is 3-4 g of the drug.


Mullein: Preparation as a tea

To prepare a tea from wool flowers, 1.5-2 g of the finely chopped flowers (1 teaspoon corresponds to about 0.5 g) are poured over with boiling water and strained after 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, the drug can be mixed with cold water and then heated to boiling.

A cup of tea should be drunk twice a day. 

What should be considered when using it?

There are no known side effects, interactions with other agents, or contraindications for taking mullein flowers.

Due to the pleasantly sweet taste and the mild effect of wool flowers, they are trendy in paediatrics.


Notes on storage

Wool flowers should be kept dry and protected from light. If stored incorrectly, the flowers will turn brown to dark brown or mouldy. They may then no longer be used.

Mullein – Synonyms

German plant name: mullein

German synonyms of the plant: Large-flowered mullein (syn. large-flowered mullein) 

Common mullein (syn. windflower mullein, felt mullein) 

Small-flowered mullein (syn. small-flowered mullein)

Latin plant name: Berbascum densiflorum

Latin synonyms of the plant: Verbascum densiflorum BERTOL., Verbascum thapsiforme SCHRAD (large-flowered mullein) 

Verbascum chlorides L. (common mullein) 

Verbascum thapsus L. (small-flowered mullein)

German drug name: wool flowers

German synonyms of the drug: Mullein Flowers, Woolweed Flowers, Himmelbrandstee, Windflowers

Latin drug name: The flower of Verbasci

Latin synonyms of the drug: Flowers of Thapsi beard, Flowers of Verbasci, Flowers of Verbasci

English name: Mullein, Great Mullein, Common mullein, Dense-flowered Mullein, Large-Flowered Mullein, Orange Mullein, Wooly mullein, Verbascum, High-taper, Torch-weed, Adam’s flannel, Bunny’s ears, Candlewick, Flannel plant, Jacob’s-staff, Jupiter’s staff, Velvet dock, Velvet plant, Aarons Rod

Plant family Latin: Scrophulariaceae

Plant family German: Figwort family


Mullein – effect

The mucilage contained in wool flowers forms a viscous solution with water, which forms a protective film on the surface of the mucous membranes and has a soothing effect. This reduces the urge to cough, and the inflammation subsides more quickly.

Effect of saponins and iridoids

On the one hand, saponins lead to liquefaction of the bronchial secretion and, thus, to an easier mucus detachment from the respiratory tract. On the other hand, however, they also promote the removal of mucus by increasing the activity of the so-called ciliated epithelium – small mobile cell extensions that transport the mucus upwards with their beat, where it can then be coughed up.

The contained iridoids also have an anti-inflammatory effect; the diuretic effect is attributed to the flavonoids.

Mullein: no known side effects

There are no known side effects, interactions with other agents, or contraindications for taking mullein flowers.


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