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Make Friends with Mullein

In the “Back 20” we have a field of uncultivated wildness. I love to wander there in the early morning. The Farmer, my hub, has recently mowed paths through the field and these beckon to me to explore. This week, the biennial plant mullein, Verbascum thapsus, burst into bloom. In it’s second year the rosette of pale green fuzzy leaves pushes up a towering stalk.

This year, thanks to all the rain, these stalks tower way over my head, like saguaro cacti might do if this field was in Arizona instead of Pennsylvania. The delicate yellow flowers that decorate the fibrous spear-shaped stalk are beloved by pollinators and edible for humans. They are also prized by herbalists as a remedy for earaches. The blossoms are reputed to soothe the inflamed ear, and contain anti-viral properties that might help the condition as well. Because the oil has anti-inflammatory properties, it serves well as a topical liniment for achey muscles and creaky joints. Personally, I love to apply it in concert with another favorite: St. John’s Wort Oil.

To make the remedy I pick about a half cup of the tiny blossoms, place them in a clean jar and cover them with a high quality olive oil and a lid. I set this jar in a sunny window for about a month, shaking the jar whenever I remember. At the end of the month, I strain the oil, separating the flowers and debris from the golden oil.

After this infused oil sits for a day, I inspect the bottom of the jar for moisture droplets that settle there. If I see any, I carefully pour the pure top-oil into a fresh container, leaving behind the moisture droplets which can contaminate the oil. I like to store the final product in a small amber jar with a dropper top. At the first sign of ear ache, I gently warm the jar in a water bath, and place 1-2 drops in each ear.

Of course, an intact ear drum and certainty that you are dealing with a minor infection only is essential. When in doubt consult a healthcare practitioner who is familiar with ear infections, as well as botanical medicine.

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