Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus L.) is widespread throughout the US. This herb is classified in the literature as both an expectorant, to promote the discharge of mucus, and a demulcent, to soothe and protect mucous membranes. Traditionally, it has been used to treat respiratory illnesses and coughs with lung congestion. According to the Commission E (Germany’s regulatory agency for herbs) monograph, the recommended daily dose of mullein is 3-4 g.
Mullein contains a high proportion of mucilage; mucilage is usually thought to have a soothing effect. Mullein may act as an expectorant for clearing mucus from bronchial airways. The saponins are responsible for the expectorant action of mullein. On this basis, mullein has been suggested as a therapy for asthma, colds, sore throats, and coughs. Traditionally, mullein has been used as a remedy for the respiratory tract, especially in cases of irritating coughs with bronchial congestion. Other herbs commonly used as expectorants in traditional medicine include elecampane, lobelia, yerba santa, gumweed, wild cherry bark, eucalyptus, and anise.
Mullein is traditionally combined with other herbs in oil preparations to soothe the pain of ear infections. In a 2003 study of 171 children with otalgia, those who used ear drops containing mullein had a statistically important improvement in ear pain over the course of 3 days. (Oil preparations may obscure a doctor’s view of the ear drum and should just be used with a healthcare professional’s directions). The compounds mullein might be able to fight herpes and influenza viruses, and some bacteria that cause respiratory infections.In laboratory experiments reported in 2002, scientists found that mullein helped kill certain types of bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus and E.coli.