While the situation is the butt of many jokes in sitcoms or comedy routines, running out of toilet paper is no laughing matter (well, okay, it can be if it happens to someone else). Toilet paper has become a virtual necessity in our world of indoor plumbing. Of course, during a SHTF situation, resources become scarce, so, what do you do if you find yourself in a Venezuela moment and run out of toilet paper during a crisis situation?
The answer is that you look for a plant called mullein which is also known as “flannel leaf, bunny ears, beggar’s blanket, Quaker rouge, hag’s taper, donkey ears and tinder plant” which, fortunately, has soft, even fuzzy leaves which can be used for toilet paper (it can also be used as bandages).
In addition to its use as paper, mullein has some other medicinal properties. Erin Gooden writes,
Traditional folk medicine praised mullein as a remedy for asthma, bronchitis and tuberculosis. The plant is also said to be a natural painkiller and a cure for earaches and headaches. It also can act as an expectorant and decongestant. As a result, for centuries the plant’s leaves and its flowers have been made into teas and tinctures, and ingested. They even smoked it (which isn’t ideal for health).
Mullein is known to affect the respiratory and lymphatic systems. A study performed at Clemson University in 2002 found that the plant also has strong antibacterial properties. Its high mucilage content is likely responsible for its medicinal properties. Astringent tannins and saponins, which help protect the plant when it is injured in nature, give the plant its soothing effect on the respiratory system. It also contains high levels of iron, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C.
Now, with those benefits being noted, there are also some precautions about mullein to be aware of. Gooden continues:
Mullein is a relatively safe herb to consume, its primary side-effect being it can cause contact dermatitis or irritate the throat when consumed, due to the fine velvety hairs that cover its leaves. It also has been known to interact with antidiabetic drugs and prescription diuretics in a negative way. The seeds of some species of mullein contain high amounts of coumarin and rotenone, which can be toxic if consumed in large quantities. The seeds of the mullein plant should never be consumed under any circumstance.
Are you interested in growing your own mullein? Motherearthliving.com gives this advice:
Mullein is drought-resistant and grows easily from seed. Sow a small pinch of seeds about 18 inches apart and 1/16 inch deep in ordinary, well-drained soil, toward the back of the border or bed. A location in full sun is preferable, but mullein will grow in light shade. Clumps of seedlings and low rosettes will arise the first year. By the second year, the mature plants will provide a tall vertical element in the garden. Mullein self-sows readily, so take care to pull out unwanted plants to keep your mullein patch tidy.
One thing to remember when growing your own, however, is that mullein takes two years for a plant to come to maturity, so plan ahead so that you have what you need.
Do you have experience with mullein? Share your experiences below.