Our gardens in many lights

mardi 11 septembre 2012

Against ear trouble, Mullein oil on the double

Cet article en français.
Este artículo en español.

Louise :
There is this grandmother's trick I'm trying this year, for my next big cold, if one of my ear canals starts to hurt or sting. Apparently, before antibiotics, this was a known remedy in all families. I read on the internet very favorable comments about it, from people who still use it to this day. 
This tiny vial's shape is ideal to  prevent the flowers from floating at the surface.
And surprisingly, it was not very difficult to drain and wash.

The flowers must be macerated in vegetable oil
for two weeks. We expose the mixture to

sunlight to help the flowers render
their medicinal components into the oil.
It's possible to get this oil in an apothecary shop, but it's really easy to prepare it at home from the flowers in the garden. We are talking about Great or Common Mullein here (Verbascum Thapsus), the one that grows like a weed in fallow fields or vacant land and that sometimes appears out of nowhere in our own yards. (At the end of this article you can find the fact sheet for this plant.)


The flower harvest is easy
 (pinch and pull method),
overall I needed about 20 to 30

minutes to fill my vial.
I had access to about 40 mullein

 plants, all in the same field.
Different recipes on the net tend to vary. 

Some add garlic (for its antibacterial properties), others heat the oil on low heat instead of exposing the preparation to the sun, and yet even other sources place this oil, afterwards, in the refrigerator instead of keeping it at ambiant temperatures.

The recipe I tried is really simple. It only requires two ingredients, the flowers and olive oil. This way, I'll be able to conclude that if it works, it's entirely due to the mullein and not something else.

So it's all about harversting the flowers and letting them macerate (they can be fresh or dried) two weeks in the oil. I forgot to expose my vial to the sun for the first week, but I remedied that on the second. There's one recommandation that comes back often : You have to make sure to cover entirely the flowers with the oil. Otherwise, the exposed flowers may develop molds. You keep the mixture in a closed jar or vial or bottle in a warm spot, or even better, in the sun on a south facing windowsill. This will allow the flower's active components (what we actually want, the medicinal part) to transfer into the oil. After the two weeks, we filter the oil out and discard the flowers.

Only a couple of flowers are in bloom at the same time on each spikes. But you can also use  dried or wilted flowers, something that can be useful if you don't have a lot of plants on hand. Or you can also harvest a couple of flowers each day, dry them and then use them when you have enough. I'm pretty sure one spike of mullein can provide enough for a tiny vial like mine. 

Here's some information from the web that I found interesting :
Here's a two year old plant,
the spike is starting to form.

Great or Common Mullein, (Verbascum Thapsus in Latin, Verbasco or Gordolobo in Spanish, and Molène in French) is a biannual, meaning the first year, it only forms a crown of leaves pretty close to the ground and on the second year makes a very tall stalk that will support broad leaves and a spike of yellow flowers in July-August. Generally, it dies the following winter propagating its seeds all around it, seeds that can survive for years in the ground, assuring a descendance to the mother plant. Mullein likes sunlit fields, sandy soil and damaged soil made either by man or forest fire.

The leaves and flowers are still used today in herbalism, to treat respiratory problems, skin infection, sore throat, etc. They have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Mullein oil is apparently very useful for ear infection, located in the outer or in the middle ear. It allows one to avoid the use of antibiotics.

However, this medication is not advised it if the eardrum is perforated, or if the ear is leaking. It may also be used to help cats and dogs suffering from ear mites.

Mullein isn't only soft for the ears... You can also use the
leaves as you would toilet paper if  you find yourself in trouble 
in the great outdoors.
They are thick and soft. Some wild bee species use the hair on the
leaves to make their nest. If you want to harvest the leaves for drying,
it's preferable to do it before the flowering period.

P.S. I had the occasion, just before publishing this article, to try my new medecine on myself. I was pleagued by very itchy skin in the middle ear (I suffer from very dry and itchy skin, at times). One application of a few drops every two days during four days, and my peace of mind came back !

P.P.S. On the other hand, against a real otitis (something occuring rarely to me), this remedy didn't do any miracle. I applied it daily and waited for the pain to subside, which simply occured after a few days, as is the case for me, usually. Therefore, I can't say that Mullein oil really helped me, but it didn't hurt either ! Anyway, as usual, I didn't have to ask for a prescription of antibiotics. And as usual, I'm grateful to have been able to avoid it !

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