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What Is Mullein Used for Today?
Mullein contains a high proportion of mucilage (large sugar molecules); mucilage is generally thought to have a soothing effect. Mullein also contains saponins that may help loosen mucus. 1 On this basis, mullein has been suggested as a treatment for asthma, colds , coughs , and sore throats. However, as yet there is no meaningful evidence that it is useful for any of these conditions.
Mullein is traditionally combined with other herbs in oil preparations to soothe the pain of ear infections (otitis media, or middle ear infection, but not “swimmer’s ear,” an external ear infection), and one study provides preliminary support for this use (see next section).
As with many herbs, test tube studies have found that mullein can kill viruses on contact. 2 In addition, an interesting but highly preliminary study suggests that mullein might help certain medications used for influenza work better. 3 These findings, however, are far too scant to show that internal use of mullein will fight viral infections.
Oral mullein is said to be most effective when combined with other herbs of similar qualities, such as yerba santa , marshmallow , cherry bark, and elecampane , but there is no evidence to support this belief.
- Tyler V. The Honest Herbal. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Pharmaceutical Products Press; 1993: 219–220.
- McCutcheon AR, Roberts TE, Gibbons E, Ellis SM, Babiuk LA, Hancock RE, Towers GH. Antiviral screening of British Columbian medicinal plants. J Ethnopharmacol. 49(2):101-10.
- Serkedjieva J. Combined antiinfluenza virus activity of Flos verbasci infusion and amantadine derivatives. Phytother Res. 2000;14:571-574.