Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is one of the primary herbs that comes to mind regarding supporting breath. It pops up in the summer, with it’s tall spires decorated in bright yellow flowers reaching upwards to the sky and it’s downy like leaves cradling the floral spires.
Mullein is a European plant that made it’s way to the United States in the 1700s. It sometimes goes by the names common mullein, great mullein, cowboy’s toilet paper, Jupiter’s staff, Mary’s candle, velvet dock, and witch’s candle. The dried spire stalks have a history of being used as torches, which light easily or worked better when dipped in tallow. The leaves of mullein can be used to make an ordinary yellowish dye. It was also said that Mullein was used as a potent charm against demons. It has been used medicinally for a long time, being employed for coughs, toothaches, wounds, and even convulsions.
In modern times, Mullein is one of the herbs that is often brought in to breath supporting formulas or used on it’s own. Tea is the most common way to take mullein, although it also does well as a tincture and a smoking herb. And it is sometimes used topically as an oil extract.
“It is an ideal remedy for toning the mucous membranes of the respiratory system, reducing inflammation whilst stimulating fluid production and thus facilitating expectoration.”(1)
Mullein combines well with Horehound, Coltsfoot, and Lobelia. I also find it a lovely addition to formulas that contain Elecampane, helping to support Elecampanes powerful actions by bringing in some softening and ease.
Mullein is “expectorant, demulcent, diuretic, sedative, vulnerary, anti-catarrhal, emollient, and pectoral” (2)
To make a simple Mullein Infusion
Bring water just to it’s boiling point.
Pour over 1-2 teaspoons of dried leaves or flowers
Infuse for 10 to 15 minutes
As a smoking blend
Combine crumbled leaves with equal part Coltsfoot. Other herbs such as lavender or peppermint can also be added to support and compliment with flavor.
The next time you see Mullein growing, give a bit of thanks and reverence for this incredibly helpful plant and perhaps pick a few of it’s leaves to take home, dry, and save for when extra breath support is called for.
(1) The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman
(2) The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman