by Taylor Myers
It comes as no surprise that in a world filled with alternative lifestyles and religions that the people of the twenty-first century would also be fond of alternative medicine. Some consider any remedy not created in a laboratory and sold en masse to be the workings of a voodoo-witch-doctor; however, an herbal remedy known as mullein has worked its way back into mainstream popularity. In fact, muellin is making quite a splash.
Native to Europe and Asia, with the highest species diversity in the Mediterranean region, mullein plants have been a part of the American landscape for over two centuries. In fact, one species, Verbascum thapsus (Great mullein), has been used for generations by the Catawba Tribe of North and South Carolina as a herbal remedy for sore throat, cough and lung diseases. The root is boiled and a sweet syrup made to aid and accelerate healing. Herbalists around the world still use this same method to create cough syrup as an aid for those ailed by asthma and similar sicknesses.
Asthma is not the only ailment treated with mullein plants today; a similar syrup-like substance has been developed to help treat ear infections and piercing cites that have become inflamed or infected. The salve is often diffused with garlic oil because of its antibacterial and antiviral properties, thus making the natural remedy incredibly safe and desirable to use. This same medicine works similarly on animals as a cure for ear mites, easing pain while simultaneously taking care of the root issue. It is quite rare to find a medication that can safely be used on animals as well as humans.
Herbal remedies are not completely different from Western Pharmaceuticals when it comes to different reactions amongst the medicine’s users. Much like the laundry list of side-effects heard daily on television commercials and radio ads for any drug, salves and ointments made from mullein plants can also lead people to different reactions. However, the beauty of natural products is the miniscule amount of side-effects—usually limited to allergic reactions and the intensity of intended relief.
Undoubtedly, the effect of mullein as well as any medication is influenced by a number of factors. For example, the cough syrup from mullein could immediately relieve the pain and irritation of a sore throat for one person and make little to no change in the symptoms of another. The mullein plant’s local anesthetic properties are what make it such an effective remedy because it targets the affected area by healing or managing the pain of commonly aggravating problems.
Another interesting factor of the plants themselves is the overall usability of the plant. Every part of the mullein plant can be used to treat some sort of problem. The leaves are most commonly used as an expectorant for issues in the lungs such as bronchitis. Administered by smoking the dried leaves or creating an herbal tea and drinking it, the medicine enters the lungs and loosens mucous and phlegm from the lung walls, allowing the substances to be coughed up and expelled from the body.
It is amazing that with all of the technological advances in modern medicine that some of the most effective and non-habit forming medicines used today were discovered and utilized by the very people our ancestors underestimated and assumed to be ignorant. So, the next time you feel a cough coming on, or are suffering from an ear infection, think twice before “coughing up” the big bucks on a doctor’s visit or prescription. Your solution might just be waiting at your local health food store or organic market.
Taylor Myers lives in Jupiter and is a sophomore at Palm Beach State’s Eissey Campus in Palm Beach Gardens. She is pursuing both an Associate of Arts degree in English and an Associate of Science degree in paralegal.