Mullein leaf tea is typically used to treat respiratory illnesses, including coughs. But does it work? Our latest blog post sets out to answer the question, can mullein leaf tea help a cough?
Mullein leaf tea is an age-old remedy for upper respiratory tract infections, lung conditions, and coughs. And it remains popular today, with many herbalists recommending it to help a cough or support lung health.
The tea itself is made from the mullein plant – a tall flowering plant that is native to Europe, Asia, and north Africa. Mullein is such a popular herbal remedy that it was also imported to Australia and the Americas, so can now be found across the globe.
Many consider mullein a weed and you’ll often find it growing wild in pastures and by roadsides. However, it can also be cultivated – gardeners often appreciate it for its height and bright yellow flowers.
Of course, herbalists who prefer to make their own teas and tinctures may also choose to grow mullein for its healing properties.
Mullein’s long history of use as a herbal remedy deserves respect, but does it work? To answer that question, we’re looking at the history and science of mullein leaf tea and its use as a natural cough remedy.
So, can mullein leaf tea help a cough? Read on to find out!
Traditional Uses of Mullein Leaf Tea
Historically, the leaves of the mullein plant have been brewed into a healing tea that is used to treat a variety of conditions.
The traditional uses of this plant include easing joint pain, treating earaches, speeding up wound healing, and even relieving haemorrhoids. However, mullein is best known as a herbal ally for the lungs and respiratory tract.
In 19th century Ireland, for example, mullein was commonly used as a treatment for tuberculosis. The famous 17th century herbalist, Nicholas Culpepper, suggests its use for persistent coughs, and several indigenous American tribes smoked it as a treatment for asthma.
Modern-day herbalists continue to use mullein to treat coughs and other respiratory conditions. It is considered an expectorant, meaning it makes it easier to cough up mucous.
Mullein also has a high mucilage content, making it a demulcent – a substance that helps to soothe irritated membranes.
When it comes to a persistent cough, mullein therefore has several benefits. It can help you to get rid of mucous and clear your airways and, at the same time, it can soothe irritated and inflamed tissues, easing that irritating tickle in the back of your throat.
What Does the Research Say?
There’s often limited scientific research into traditional herbal remedies, but investigations into mullein so far support its historical use as a treatment for respiratory illnesses and coughs.
Where modern science can be especially helpful is in investigating the mechanisms through which herbal remedies like mullein support us against disease.
For example, a 2022 review of the research into mullein found that it contains a range of health-promoting compounds, including vitamin C, flavonoids, saponins, and other polyphenols that have antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.
In particular, the review suggests that two of the compounds found in mullein, coumarin and hesperidin, have healing properties that make them beneficial for human health.
Other studies have looked at mullein’s effect on the microbes that often cause a cough in the first place. One study compared several traditional herbal remedies and found that mullein is especially effective at fighting off Influenza A – the group of influenza viruses that cause flu.
These strong antiviral properties, coupled with mullein’s ability to act as an anti-inflammatory, may help your body fight off illnesses and recover more quickly from a cough.
Although there’s more research to be done, the European Medicines Agency supports the use of mullein as a natural remedy for coughs and sore throats, based on its long history of traditional use for these conditions.
How to Make Mullein Leaf Tea
If you happen to have mullein growing close by (and are confident of your ability to accurately identify this plant), then you can have a go at making your own mullein leaf tea. You’ll need to harvest the leaves and dry them first.
However, you can more easily enjoy mullein leaf tea by buying pre-made tea bags, so the hard work is done for you.
Our favourite way to use mullein leaf tea to help a cough is to pair it with thyme, another long-established herbal remedy for coughs.
That’s why we’ve created our Mullein Leaf & Thyme flagship tea blend, which is a quick and easy way to make mullein leaf tea.
It’s a great tea to have in your cupboard ready for when coughs and colds next strike. And it also makes a thoughtful get-well gift for friends and family.