In New Zealand mullein is a naturalised weed which favours poor, stony, disturbed ground and dry soil and is often to be found growing on roadsides. At Phytofarm, mullein self selects a place in the garden. The strong flowering stem of mullein provides abundant seeds and each season establishes itself in a group. It is a majestic plant in the garden with rosettes of long, thick, hairy leaves and a tall spike bearing yellow flowers. It has a long traditional use as a plant medicine but is not well researched so often overlooked in modern phytotherapy practice. Mullein contains a mucilaginous substance that swells and becomes slippery as it absorbs water. This may account for at least some of its soothing action. At the same time, its saponin-bearing constituents and volatile oils cause it to have a cleansing effect on the respiratory system and lungs – bronchitis, respiratory catarrh, colds and coughs. The saponin content will aid expectoration and help make mucous less viscid. Antimicrobial action assists the treatment of respiratory tract infection.
A mullein steam inhalation involves inhaling water vapour to open the airways and help the lungs drain mucus. With the recent planetary events and concerns with lung, mullein has come into its own.