Sunday, October 2, 2011

Verbascum thapsus

Great Himalayan Mullein 
Scientific classification
Latin name : Verbascum thapsus
Other Names :  Adam's Flannel, Beggar's Blanket, Candlewick Plant, Common Mullein, Flannel Mullein, Flannel Plant, Hag's Taper, Jupiter's Staff, Molene, Mullein, Velvet Dock, Velvet Plant, Woolly Mullin
Family : Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)
Kingdom :    Plantae
(unranked) :  Angiosperms
(unranked) :  Eudicots
(unranked) :  Asterids
Order :     Lamiales
Family:     Scrophulariaceae
Genus :     Verbascum
Species :   V. thapsus

Habitat : Alien, naturalized, biennial herb. Widely distributed plant, being found all over Europe and in temperate Asia as far as the Himalayas, and in North America it is exceedingly abundant. Great Mullein is found growing on hedge-banks, by roadsides and on waste ground, more especially on gravel, sand or chalk. Sunny positions in uncultivated fields and especially on dry soils. It is also found in Gilgat, Afghanistan and IRAN

Properties :
Great Mullein has been used as an alternative medicine for centuries, and in many countries throughout the world, the value of Great Mullein as a proven medicinal herb is now backed by scientific evidence. Some valuable constituents contained in Mullein are Coumarin and Hesperidin, they exhibit many healing abilities. Research indicates some of the uses as analgesic, antihistaminic, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antioxidant, antiviral, bacteristat, cardio-depressant, estrogenic, fungicide, hypnotic, sedative and pesticide are valid.

An infusion is taken internally in the treatment of a wide range of chest complaints and also to treat diarrhea and bleeding of the lungs and bowels. The leaves, root, and the flowers are anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, nervine, and vulnerary.

Mullein oil is a very medicinal and valuable destroyer of disease germs. An infusion of the flowers in olive oil is used as earache drops, or as a local application in the treatment of piles and other mucous membrane inflammations. This infusion is a strong antibacterial. The oil being used to treat gum and mouth ulcers is very effective. A decoction of the roots is used to alleviate toothache and also relieve cramps and convulsions. It is also used in alternative medicine for the treatment of migraine headaches accompanied with oppression of the ear.

The whole plant possess slightly sedative and narcotic properties. The seeds are considered toxic. They have been historically used as a narcotic and also contain saponins.

The dried leaves are sometimes smoked to relieve the irritation of the respiratory mucus membranes, and the hacking cough of consumption. They can be employed with equal benefit when made into cigarettes, for asthma and spasmodic coughs in general. Externally, a medicinal poultice of the leaves is applied to sunburn, ulcers, tumors and piles.

Other uses :
Dye, Insecticide, Insulation, Lighting, Tinder, Wick. A yellow dye is made from the flowers by boiling them in water. When used with dilute sulphuric acid they produce a rather permanent green dye, this becomes brown with the addition of alkalis. An infusion of the flowers is sometimes used to dye the hair a golden color. The leaves contain rotenone, which is used as an insecticide. The dried leaves are highly flammable and can be used to ignite a fire quickly , or as wick for candles.

Folklore : An old superstition existed that witches used lamps and candles provided with wicks of Mullein in their incantations, and another of the plant's many names, 'Hag's Taper', refers to this. Both in Europe and Asia the power of driving away evil spirits was ascribed to the Mullein. Being a sure safeguard against evil spirits and magic, and from the ancient classics, it was this plant which Ulysses took to protect himself against the wiles of Circe.

Recipes : Tea: An aromatic tea can be made by boiling 1 tbs. dried leaves or root, in 1 cup water for 5 - 10 min. A sweeter tea can be made by infusing the fresh or dried flowers. Or for children and the elderly use milk instead of water. Sweeten if desired.

Mullein oil : Use flowers or root. Place in blender or crush, fill jar, cover with olive oil, set in warm place for 2 weeks. Strain before use.

Medicinal use of Great Mullein :
Great mullein is a commonly used domestic herbal remedy, valued for its efficacy in the treatment of pectoral complaints. It acts by reducing the formation of mucus and stimulating the coughing up of phlegm, and is a specific treatment for tracheitis and bronchitis. The leaves and the flowers are anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, expectorant and vulnerary. An infusion is taken internally in the treatment of a wide range of chest complaints and also to treat diarrhoea. The plant combines well with other expectorants such as coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) and thyme (Thymus vulgaris). Externally, a poultice of the leaves is a good healer of wounds and is also applied to ulcers, tumours and piles. Any preparation made from the leaves needs to be carefully strained in order to remove the small hairs which can be an irritant. The plant is harvested when in flower and is dried for later use. An infusion of the flowers in olive oil is used as earache drops, or as a local application in the treatment of piles and other mucous membrane inflammations. This infusion is also strongly bactericidal. A decoction of the roots is said to alleviate toothache and also relieve cramps and convulsions. The juice of the plant and powder made from the dried roots is said to quickly remove rough warts when rubbed on them. It is not thought to be so useful for smooth warts. The seeds are slightly narcotic and also contain saponins. A poultice made from the seeds and leaves is used to draw out splinters. A decoction of the seeds is used to soothe chilblains and chapped skin. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh leaves. It is used in the treatment of long-standing headaches accompanied with oppression of the ear.

Description of the plant:


Plant : Biennial
Height : 180 cm (6 feet)
Flovering : June to August

Habitat of the herb : Sunny positions in uncultivated fields and waste ground, especially on dry soils.

Edible parts of Great Mullein :
An aromatic, slightly bitter tea can be made by infusing the dried leaves in boiling water for 5 - 10 minutes. A sweeter tea can be made by infusing the fresh or dried flowers.

Other uses of the herb :
A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers by boiling them in water. When used with dilute sulphuric acid they produce a rather permanent green dye, this becomes brown with the addition of alkalis. An infusion of the flowers is sometimes used to dye the hair a golden colour. The flowering stems can be dipped in wax and used as torches. The down on the leaves and stems makes an excellent tinder when quite dry. It is also used as an insulation in shoes to keep the feet warm and to make wicks for candle. One report says that the leaves contain rotenone, though it does not say in what quantity. Rotenone is used as an insecticide.

Propagation of Great Mullein : Seed - sow late spring to early summer in a cold frame and only just cover the seed. Germination usually takes place within 2 - 3 weeks. When they are large enough to handle, prick out the seedlings into individual pots and plant them out in late summer. The seed has a long viability.

Cultivation of the herb : Sunny positions in uncultivated fields and waste ground, especially on dry soils.

Great Himalayan Mullein plant and seed materials are available at:

The Jammu and Kashmir Medicinal Plants Introduction Centre
POB: 667 GPO Srinagar SGR JK 190001
Ph: 09858986794, 01933-223705
e-mail: jkmpic@gmail.com
home: http://jkmpic.blogspot.com

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