Mullein Tea has gained popularity in recent years, especially in the herb community, because of its long list of health benefits. Derived from the dried leaves of the mullein plant (Verbascum thapsus), this herbal tea has been used for centuries in traditional & Ayurvedic medicine practices and is known for its therapeutic properties. And just like a cup of Mullein Tea, we’re going to try to pack all of those benefits into a quick, digestible version. Let’s dive in.
Origins and Historical Uses of Mullein Herb
The Mullein herb, from which the nourishing tea is derived, has a rich history across different cultures throughout the ages. And to make sense of why the tea is so popular, we believe it’s important to first understand how the herb has been used.
Ancestral Utilisation and Folk Medicine
Mullein has a long history of use in traditional medicine practices around the world. Ancient civilizations such as the Greeks, Romans, and various Indigenous peoples recognized the medicinal properties of mullein and incorporated it into their healing practices. In Greek and Roman cultures, mullein was used to treat respiratory ailments, such as coughs, bronchitis, and asthma. The leaves were often steeped in hot water to create a soothing tea (aka Mullein Tea) or used in steam inhalations to alleviate respiratory congestion. Native American tribes used the leaves, flowers, and roots of the plant for various purposes, including treating respiratory conditions, soothing skin irritations, and relieving pain and inflammation.
In various tribes around the world, it’s also believed to ward off evil spirits and black magic. It’s used to make candle wicks or simply hung in doorways to serve as a safeguard.
Botanical Description and Habitat
Mullein is a biennial plant that belongs to the Scrophulariaceae family. It is native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia, but has become naturalised in many parts of the world, including here in Australia, though some consider it a weed. The plant can grow up to 2 metres in height and is easily recognisable by its tall, erect stem, large fuzzy leaves, and vibrant yellow flowers. Mullein thrives in dry and rocky environments, often found along roadsides, meadows, and disturbed areas. It’s a hardy plant that can adapt to various soil conditions and climates.
Now, onto the benefits of Mullein Tea, specifically.
Health Benefits of Mullein Herb Tea
Mullein Herb Tea offers a wide range of health benefits, making it one of the most popular herbal teas among herbal enthusiasts and holistic health practitioners.
Stronger Respiratory Health
One of the primary benefits of drinking Mullein Tea is improved respiratory health. The tea is known for its expectorant properties, which help to loosen and expel mucus from the airways. This can provide relief from respiratory conditions such as coughs, bronchitis, and congestion. Mullein tea is also believed to have soothing and anti-inflammatory effects on the respiratory system, helping to reduce irritation and promote easier breathing. It can be particularly beneficial for individuals with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Anti-Inflammatory and Analgesic Properties
Mullein tea contains compounds that exhibit anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, specifically due to the following flavonoids: luteolin, quercetin, apigenin, and kaempferol. This chemical composition makes it useful for alleviating pain and reducing inflammation in the body. Drinking Mullein Tea may help to relieve discomfort associated with conditions such as arthritis, joint pain, and muscle aches. The anti-inflammatory properties of the tea may also help reduce redness, swelling, and itchiness, providing relief and promoting healing. However, if you’re looking for topical relief, you should use fresh leaves to the problem area rather than consuming tea – this method will be more effective.
Antiviral and Antimicrobial Attributes
Mullein possesses antiviral and antimicrobial properties, which help protect against various pathogens. It is believed to have activity against certain strains of influenza and herpes viruses. Drinking Mullein Tea may help support the immune system and reduce the severity and duration of viral infections.
Moreover, Mullein Tea can be effective against certain bacteria and fungi. It has been used to treat ear infections, sinusitis, and urinary tract infections. Its antimicrobial properties make it a natural alternative to conventional antibiotics for minor infections. Again, tea is the least effective form of treatment for these bacterial & fungal infections – you should use fresh leaves and a suitable mixture instead.
For example, a well-known home remedy for ear infections is an eardrop mixture made from crushed mullein leaves, St. John’s Wort, and garlic in a safe carrier oil. This applied directly to the infected ear is far more effective than drinking a cup of tea, at least for this particular application.
Better Sleep Quality
Mullein tea has calming and sedative effects, making it a popular remedy for promoting better sleep quality. The tea can help relax the mind and body, reducing anxiety and restlessness that may interfere with sleep. Regularly drinking Mullein Tea before bedtime may improve sleep duration and quality, allowing you to wake up feeling more refreshed and rejuvenated.
Drinking Mullein Tea can also support digestive health. It is known to have mild laxative properties, which can help relieve constipation and promote regular bowel movements. Mullein tea may also soothe gastrointestinal inflammation and reduce symptoms associated with indigestion, bloating, and stomach cramps.
How Mullein Tea Works
Active Compounds and Constituents
Mullein herb contains a variety of compounds that contribute to its health benefits. Some of the key active constituents found in mullein include:
- Flavonoids – Flavonoids are plant-based antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties, which help protect the body against oxidative stress and promote overall well-being.
- Saponins – Saponins are natural compounds that can help loosen and expel mucus from the respiratory system. They also have antimicrobial properties, aiding in the fight against infections.
- Tannins – Tannins are a type of polyphenol that have astringent properties, meaning they can help soothe inflamed skin tissue, reduce swelling, and alleviate discomfort.
- Coumarins – Coumarins are aromatic compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. They can help relax muscles and promote a sense of calmness.
Extraction Process and its Impact on Composition
Mullein Tea is made by drying the leaves of the mullein plant and then steeping them in hot water. This process allows the active compounds to be released into the tea, resulting in a healthy, flavourful beverage.
The composition of Mullein Tea can vary depending on factors such as the plant's growing conditions, harvesting methods, and preparation techniques. It’s worth noting that the extraction process may affect the concentration of certain compounds in the tea. For instance, longer steeping times or higher temperatures may result in a stronger infusion with a higher concentration of active compounds. If you want to make a perfect cup of Mullein Tea, see our recipe: How to Brew Mullein Tea.
Considerations and Precautions
Should you choose to consume Mullein Tea, it’s important to be aware of certain considerations and precautions to ensure your health & safety.
Potential Side Effects and Interactions
While Mullein Tea is generally safe for most individuals, some may be allergic to mullein or other plants in the same family(Scrophulariaceae), so it is advisable to perform a patch test with mullein leaves or consult a healthcare professional if you have known allergies.
Additionally, it may cause mild gastrointestinal side effects, such as stomach upset or diarrhoea, especially since it is a mild laxative. If you experience any adverse reactions after drinking, discontinue use and seek medical advice.
If you are currently taking any medications or have any underlying health conditions, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating Mullein Tea or any herbal teas into your routine. It may interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners or diuretics, and may not be suitable for individuals with certain medical conditions.
Recommendations for Safe & Effective Consumption
To ensure safe and effective consumption of mullein tea, consider the following recommendations:
- Source Quality Products – Purchase the dried leaves from reputable brands or herbal suppliers to ensure the quality and purity of the product, like Herb Cottage.
- Follow Brewing Guidelines – Adhere to the recommended brewing guidelines, including water temperature, steeping time, and dosage. Over-brewing or consuming excessive amounts of the tea may lead to unwanted effects.
- Start with Small Amounts – If you are new to Mullein Tea, start with a small amount and gradually increase the dosage to assess your tolerance and response.
- Consider Individual Sensitivities – Pay attention to your body's response. If you experience any discomfort or adverse effects, discontinue use and consult a healthcare professional.
Remember, Mullein Tea is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment. If you have any specific health concerns or conditions, it is always best to consult with a qualified healthcare professional before incorporating mullein tea into your routine.
Mullein Tea offers a plethora of health benefits and has a rich history of traditional use, for good reason. Should you choose to add it to your holistic health routine, you’ll certainly reap the respiratory, anti-inflammatory, sleep, and digestive benefits of this herbal tea.