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Natural health supplements sometimes have unexpected side effects or interactions with medication that can lead to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening. The following is a list of cautions that you should be aware of before using mullein (Verbascum thapsus). These are referred to as drug/herb interactions.

Warning 1 - Contraindications: Mullein should not be taken by children, pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding.

Warning 2 - Anticoagulants: Mullein contains coumarin, which may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Examples include aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin®) and heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).

Common mullein is a bluish-green plant with woolly leaves. In the second year of growth, the plant produces yellow flowers along approximately half of the stem or stalk. Common mullein grows in areas where there is plenty of sunlight and an annual precipitation of 3 to 6 inches. The growing season for mullein is around 140 days. The plant doesn't grow well in shady areas, and typically grows in open pastures, industrial areas and along roadsides. The best time to harvest the mullein is in the summer when the flowery spike in the middle of the plant can get up to eight feet tall.

The dried leaves have been used throughout history as wicks for candles.

Used as a natural health remedy: mullein is used for the following benefits and conditions:
  • analgesic
  • antibacterial
  • anti-cancer
  • antihistamine
  • anti-inflammatory
  • antioxidant
  • antiseptic (topical)
  • antispasmodic
  • anti-tumor
  • antiviral
  • asthma
  • astringent (topical)
  • bladder incontinence (mullein root)
  • bronchitis
  • catarrh
  • colds
  • convulsions (root)
  • cough (spasmodic) (Mixed with molasses to make a tea)
  • cramp pain (root)
  • cystitis
  • deafness (prevention of)
  • demulcent (soothes irritated tissue)
  • diarrhea
  • diuretic
  • earaches (oils of the flower)
  • eczema (of the ear)
  • estrogenic effects
  • expectorant
  • fungicide (topical)
  • hay fever
  • headache
  • hemorrhoids (topical poultices)
  • herpes (topical)
  • hoarseness
  • migraine headache
  • influenza
  • nephritis (inflammation of the kidney)
  • neuralgia (nerve pain)
  • orchitis (inflammation of the testicle)
  • pain relief (anodyne)
  • pulmonary problems
  • pyelitis (inflammation of the renal pelvis)
  • rheumatism
  • sedative
  • sore throat
  • sunburn (topical)
  • toothache pain (root)
  • tuberculosis
  • ulcers of the mouth and gums (oils of the flower)
  • urinary irritation
  • warts (topical)
  • wound healing (topical)

Side Effects of Mullein

Mullein is one of the safest herbs and usually causes no side effects when consumed in amounts commonly used.

Mullein Leaf Tea Caution: If you make your own tea with mullein leaves be sure to use a fine mesh strainer to remove the silver, felt like hairs as these may irritate your digestive tract.

Applied to the skin, mullein may cause redness and irritation.

As with any herb, a serious allergic reaction is possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction. These may include a rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.

Other side effects may also occur when using mullein. (See form below)

Dosage and Administration:

The most common way mullein is used is by creating a simple tea from the leaf. This method is very effective as long as it is carefully strained through a very fine mesh to eliminate the soft velvety hairs. The tea is typically steeped for 10 minutes in boiling water in order to make a tea for coughs or lung problems. A teaspoon of the herb is used per cup of water. It is then strained well, and sweetened with honey.

The seeds of mullein contain rotenone, a toxic substance which may cause adverse side effects if it is ingested, especially if the seeds are consumed on a regular basis. According to reports at the PAN Pesticides Database, ingesting rotenone might induce convulsions, diarrhea, abdominal cramps or vomiting. For this reason it is necessary to check for the presence of seeds on the mullein plant flowers before using them for mullein tea.

Common mullein is also known as Aaron's rod, Adam's flannel, blanket leaf, bullock's lungwort, candlewick, cow's lungwort, feltwort, flannel leaf, flannel mullein, flannel plant, hare's beard, hedge taper, ice leaf, Indian tobacco, Jacob's staff, Jupiter's staff, lady's foxglove, old man's flannel, Peter's staff, shepherd's club, torch-wort, and velvet dock.

Return to the Herb List.

For questions and answers about the side effects of herbs see the Herb Forum

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This consumer advocate website is protected by copyright © 2011 Askdocweb, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This is a layman's report on mullein and is not intended to replace discussions with a health care provider. Do not use the information on this forum as a substitute for your doctor's advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any drug and follow your doctor's directions. Sources: Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines, American Botanical Council, and those who are concerned about side effects and healthcare.
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