Mullein has not been subjected to significant clinical investigation; therefore, information is generally derived from traditional usage, phytochemical research or evidence of pharmacological activity. In practice, this herbal medicine is often combined with other herbs in order to strengthen clinical effects.
CHRONIC OTITIS MEDIA
To date, no controlled studies are available to determine the clinical effectiveness of mullein as a stand-alone treatment. However, two double-blind studies that tested a herbal combination ear-drop product (containing mullein) in children have produced positive results. The first study involved 103 children aged 6-18 years and found that a naturopathic herbal ear drop known commercially as Otikon (consisting of Allium sativum, Verbascum thapsus, Calendula flowers and Hypericum perforatum in olive oil) was as effective as local anaesthetic ear drops (containing ametocaine and phenazone in glycerin) in the management of ear pain associated with acute otitis media. Treatment lasted for 3 days and produced a statistically significant improvement. The second was a randomised, double-blind study involving 171 children aged 5-18 years who had otalgia and clinical findings associated with middle-ear infection. Children receiving herbal ear drops containing Allium sativum, Verbascum thapsus, Calendula flowers, Hypericum perfoliatum, lavender, and vitamin E in olive oil achieved better pain relief than controls; however, the pain appeared to be self-limiting with significant improvements seen in all groups over 3 days. The dose used was 5 drops three times daily.
PRODUCTIVE AND DRY COUGH
Commission E approves the use of mullein flowers for catarrhs of the respiratory tract. This is largely based on traditional use extending back to ancient times, and phytochemical investigation from in vitro and in vivo studies.
Mullein is used topically forwounds, burns, bruises, haemorrhoids, pruritis and to soften the skin. The high mucilage and tannin content of the herb provides a theoretical basis for its use in these situations as an antipruritic and astringent agent. To date, no controlled studies are available to determine its effectiveness.
Mullein: Other Uses
Mullein: Dosage Range
• Fluid extract (1:1): 1.5-2 mL twice daily.
• Tincture (1:5): 7.5-10 mL twice daily.
• Dried leaf: 12-24 g/day.
• Decoction: 1.5-2 g of herb in 250 mL of cold water, brought to the boil for 10 minutes, taken twice daily.