Came back from out of town about two weeks ago to find a new plant out back: a long stalk of yellow flowers with a basal rosette of long, velvety leaves on the bottom.
Actually, it isn’t a new plant. It’s been there for a few weeks now -- ever since we decided not to mow that particular patch of land anymore -- but this was the first time I'd taken a good look at it.
So I grabbed my go-to book on wild edible plants and to my delight discovered that this new plant is mullein. Marvelous mullein. We have exactly seven of them growing just a few feet from our doorstep.
Why is mullein so great? It is very good for the lungs. I’m a life-long asthmatic, and have spent the better part of two decades trying to free myself from the pharmaceutical industry in an effort to manage this condition. Can’t say I’ve been completely successful -- I still suck on an albuterol inhaler every few days or so depending on the season -- but my lungs are a LOT healthier than they used to be.
No daily use of nasty bone-depleting steroids, no more trips to the ER (unless I'm exposed to something particularly toxic, like pesticides). Yoga breathing exercises, a largely anti-inflammatory diet and the use of herbs have all been a part of my regimen. And for the last two winters, I've included mullein.
As an anti-inflammatory and expectorant, mullein is used for coughs, colds, asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and hay fever. It can be made into tea, an infusion -- which is just a more potent type of tea -- a tincture, or smoked. I have no experience with that last method.
Here is how I make an infusion out of mullein during cold and allergy seasons:
-Place about two cups of dried mullein leaves in a mason jar (mullein is available online or in the bulk section of the health food store)
-Fill jar completely with boiling water and cover with the metal lid that comes with the mason jar
-In the morning strain through cheesecloth or a cloth sprouting bag
Then I put it in the fridge and ingest it over the course of a couple of days. I drink mullein infusion every day for two weeks, then take a week or two off. It really clears the lungs and has helped me stay away from the doctors. I have also experienced no side effects from mullein, and it’s very inexpensive compared to some asthma meds (for example, one month supply of Advair at my local big-box pharmacy goes for $300).
And now that I have it growing in the yard I'll be sure to spread some more seeds out so that I can grow myself an even nicer-sized patch next year. :-)
I am a HUGE advocate of self-liberation from corporate dependency. Every little bit helps, and if we can exercise some independent control over our health naturally, we can not only enjoy these mother nature/gods-given glorious bodies of ours more fully, but also free ourselves from the expensive and often inhumane (especially if you are uninsured) medical-pharmaceutical complex, which has a sorry track record when it comes to treating many chronic conditions.
In a later post, I’ll share some of the resources I’ve used to learn about herbs and other wild edibles.