I was surprised to see Mullein being sold with the perennials at my local garden center. They are beautiful plants, I let them grow wherever they will in my gardens. They are actually biennial and they self sow readily. The leaves are used most often. The flowers and root are used as well but the seeds are toxic.
The most common use for mullein is as a cough remedy. The leaves are used for this and prepared as a tea or tincture. It’s a common ingredient in over the counter herbal cough and cold medicines. Another common use is to infuse olive oil with the leaves and flowers and use the oil externally for inflammation.
I like mullein for those nights that I have trouble sleeping. I brew a tea from the dried leaves and add milk and honey. I think it’s delicious and for me, it works better than everything that I have tried, including Passion flower and Valerian for sleepless nights. I discovered this by accident. I made a cup of mullein tea one night and noticed shortly after drinking it that I was drowsy and felt very relaxed. I slept great and tried it a few more times with the same results. I did a little research and found that in addition to its expectorant, demulcent and ant- inflammatory properties, it has sedative properties as well.
I gather the leaves in the plant’s second year, after it blooms and before the leaves turn brown. The flowers are a little trickier. They should be gathered when it’s dry. Moisture turns them brown and they are ineffective at that point. Both the leaves and flowers can be dried outside in the shade. I usually dry the leaves in my dehydrator and tincture the flowers when fresh. (tincture instructions in “Whole Plant Echinacea Tincture” post). I also infuse the fresh flowers in olive oil for topical use. (instructions for infused oil in “Calendula” post).
To make mullein leaf tea, just pour a cup of boiling water onto a tablespoon of dried leaves. Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Strain, add milk and honey if desired, or drink it plain. So simple, gentle and good!
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