When we first moved here to our place we named, “Cedar Rock,” living amongst the cedar trees and rocks lived a curious looking plant that neither of us were familiar with that was to teach me a life lesson. Each fuzzy leaf looked like an overgrown rabbit’s ear. Some of these plants got rather large and sent up tall stalks covered in tiny yellow flowers. While curious looking, they were seen as an invasive plant in need of eradication.
Since our cows did not eat it and we didn’t know what it was, it was deemed a weed and we took pains to get rid of it, pulling it up and casting it on the trash heap. I recall one particular stubborn weed that took my husband some time and great effort to destroy one day. One less pesky weed on the place, we rejoiced!
Fast forward several years and I began learn about using herbs for improving my family’s health. As I became more aware of my health (getting older does that) and disenchanted with being handed a prescription and no answers, I began to search for alternative ways to treat my health problems and those of my family and animals. It was a bit overwhelming to look at books and see the many plants. One of my health problems was poor memory! How was I to ever learn all this stuff?
Someone in a book I read back then, suggested you choose one herb and learn all you can about that one. After you are familiar with that one, choose another, and so on, learning herbs slowly, one by one. I began with garlic. It has been very helpful in stopping colds or lessening the duration and severity of symptoms. Along with learning about herbs, I began to learn what plants we had on our place that might have medicinal properties. Was I ever surprised when I found that the fuzzy plant we had tried to eradicate was called mullein and has many health benefits.
Mullein grows in a rosette form and can get really large with fat fuzzy leaves large enough to line a man’s shoe. And that is just what the Native Americans used them for, along with other practical ways.
Mullein has traditionally been used to treat:
And used in these non-medicinal ways:
Torches (the stalk dipped in tallow)
Shoe liners (leaves)
A sedative to make fish easier to catch!
Different parts of the plant are used for treating different ailments. The flowers are used for making an oil for ear ache. Recently I purchased an oil made with mullein, garlic and other herbs to use on my puppy’s ear mites. It worked well. You can make your own, but I needed it right away so I purchased it at a local health food store.
People have smoked the leaves for chest congestion. I don’t think that is a good idea, so I make a tea. Sometimes before drinking the tea, I take a towel, tent it over my head and the pot, and inhale the vapors. It also makes my skin soft and smooth! Keep your eyes closed when steaming and strain the tea before drinking as its tiny fuzzy fibers could be irritating. Mullein helps loosen mucous, making it easier to expel. I don’t use cough suppressants. I like to work with my body. That mucous and coughing are my body’s way of healing and I want to aid it, not suppress.
If you are interested in incorporating herbs in your life, get some good books or do some reading online. (I have placed some recommendations below this post.) If you know someone who uses herbs, I’m sure they would be glad to share what they have learned with you. The internet has many options for online courses you can take.
Plants help balance the body and are in a form that our body easily recognizes, digests, and incorporates. Plants have other properties which science has not yet discovered. So when we take just one component out of it to use, such as in a pill medication or make a synthetic version, we are missing out on many facets that work in synergy with that one useful component.
Now instead of trying to get rid of this plant, I gather the seeds and cast them all over our place. I also plant some in pots near the house for healing right outside my doorstep. Mullein is prolific, and easy to grow. It volunteers readily. I have about 10 plants by my house that are volunteers. I pick the leaves, dry them and store them for when the plants aren’t growing. In mild winters, however, they survive all winter long.
Mullein can help us in many ways to keep healthy, regain health, have comfy yellow dyed shoes to walk down to the creek and catch a mess of fish for a torch-light dinner.
One other way I have found mullein helpful is in reminding me not to judge when I lack the knowledge to make a proper, informed judgment. The fuzzy plant taught me to do some research prior to making decisions. Mullein reminds me to not destroy something when I know nothing about it. Mullein teaches me to seek to understand, to learn its story and see the good and useful characteristics it possesses underneath its fuzzy, unusual appearance.
Just because I’m not familiar with something doesn’t mean it has no use. Just because I haven’t taken the time to learn about something, doesn’t mean I should relegate it to the trash pile. I learned that just because I don’t recognize the worth, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Learn more about mullein: Dr. Josh Axe
Amazon Affiliate links:
Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs books
Various Native American Herbal books
Places to Purchase Herbs: