Mullein - History and Uses

Mullein is a common flower that can be found on every continent in the globe, often found sprouting from disturbed landscapes and once-tilled fields. I’ve even found these weedy flowers sprouting through the sidewalks in Chicago. Far from being of common quality, if not in quantity, this herb never fails to leave me feeling refreshed and invigorated. Although the mullein flower is a genus consisting of about 360 species, I will be focusing on Verbascum thapsus, whose dried leaves and flowers feature prominently in the long history of traditional medicine. 

Mullein was first recommended as a treatment for pulmonary conditions by the botanist Dioscorides 2,000 years ago, and has since been smoked by a range of cultures. It spread far and wide from the mediteranean to the Native American peoples who used mullein to suppress coughs and diarrhea, and to England where it was once a common treatment for tuberculosis. Today, Sono uses mullein in four out of five of our herbal blends, because we consider it an essential ingredient to clear your respiratory system, and aid in relieving anxiety symptoms.

This plant can get a bad rap--it’s an invasive species in the U.S., and it doesn’t give up easily. You might find it in a walk through nature, a local park, or even your backyard. But as we learn how to control the spread within our ecosystems, we can learn how we can benefit from mullein through cultivation. It’s a true herb of the people; its history runs as long as ours, and it’s as strong as the myriad of cultures that have used it on every continent across Earth.

Mullein’s leaves and flowers are commonly used in the treatment of both people and animals, usually in three forms: teas, oils, and smokables. Some people point to oil as a useful aid in healing wounds, and sweet mullein flower tea has been a favorite migraine reliever in Asia since ancient times. When consumed as a smokable, mullein is able to boost your respiratory system, and users frequently report a sense of calm.

Research into the effects of herbal treatments is scarce, but recent lab studies conducted by university students in Houston, Cairo, and Tehran have discovered key benefits that make mullein look highly promising. As it turns out, mullein is full of a variety of polyphenols, a compound that can have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Additional research has shown that Verbascum thapsus has demonstrated antiviral activity, and the mullein leaf itself has strong antibacterial properties.

It’s clear that this ancient flower still has many secrets hidden within its leaves, but both tradition and research show us the benefits of consuming mullein, particularly as a smokable. We have a lot in common with mullein; we both sprout up everywhere, and we’re both strong. When I add it to an herbal blend, I can smell the earth and taste the sweet flower. I inhale, lean back and let mullein refresh my system, bringing me sacred calm and a clear mind. You can try it yourself in four of Sono’s herbal blends, and feel the difference in your lungs and your mind with every inhale.


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