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What is Mullein Tea?

By Nick Doniger
Updated: Feb 02, 2024

The mullein herb, while considered a weed, may be brewed into a tea used to treat respiratory and digestive ailments. It may either be consumed orally or applied topically, depending on the condition or ailment being treated. Numerous health-promoting compounds found in the herb are transferred directly into the steeped tea. Few side effects are associated with mullein tea, and those that do exist are not considered seriously health-threatening.

This tea is brewed by mixing two teaspoons of mullein leaves in hot water for ten minutes. Advocates claim that it should be consumed at least three times a day in order to reap its various health benefits. Mucilage, flavonoids, vegetal sterols, tannins, sugars, and other compounds are transferred from the herb into the brewed elixir. It may also be beneficial to breathe in the steam from mullein tea as it steeps, particularly to support respiratory health.

Some respiratory benefits associated with drinking mullein tea include its ability to relieve bronchitis, asthma, whooping cough, laryngitis, influenza, pneumonia, and general congestion. The tea is believed to have both an expectorant and antihistaminic effect. There is, however, no real conclusive scientific evidence regarding such respiratory advantages.

Mullein tea is also consumed for the relief of numerous digestive ailments. It acts as a diuretic and mild laxative, and may also aid in fighting against bladder irritation and diarrhea. The tea may even be capable of expelling parasites, such as worms, from the intestinal tract.

Some ailments require a topical application of mullein rather than simply consuming the steeped tea. When soaked into a clean cloth and applied to the affected area, the tea may be beneficial in relieving pain associated with hemorrhoids. Additionally, mullein enemas are used to treat disorders of the spleen and liver. Certain topical applications of the herb do not require a traditional steeped tea, but rather a mixture of the mullein herb with olive oil to be applied to affected skin. This use is believed to be particularly advantageous for relieving pain associated with ear aches and infections.

Some side effects associated with the consumption of mullein tea include tightness in the chest or throat, hives, rashes, allergies, breathing problems, or chest pain. There have been some rare reports of skin irritation from the topical application of mullein as well. It is recommended that a physician is consulted if any such side effects are experienced.

Serious side effects have not been reported after consuming mullein tea, as long as it is made with the leaves and flowers of the mullein plant. If contaminated with mullein seeds, however, the tea may contain trace amounts of rotenone, a chemical used as an insecticide and fish poison. Despite this, the mullein herb has been deemed safe by the American Food and Drug Administration.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By bear78 — On Jun 21, 2014

My neighbor said that he is using mullein leaves/tea to make herbal tobacco. He is trying to quit smoking and apparently he smokes mullein now to get rid of the habit. It sounds like a strange way to use mullein tea to me but I think some people do use it this way.

By fify — On Jun 20, 2014

@ddljohn-- Mullein tea is excellent for the lungs. It helps remove congestion and improves breathing. So this is definitely a tea you want to have on hand if you tend to suffer from bad colds and coughs.

I have asthma and I drink a cup or two of mullein tea daily to keep symptoms under control. I believe it helps me breathe better. I like the taste as well.

I should warn however that if one is buying mullein bulk tea, make sure to purchase from a reputable seller with high quality, fresh mullein tea. Some mullein tea on the market is stale, meaning it has been waiting on the shelf for far too long and has started losing its benefits.

By ddljohn — On Jun 20, 2014

I have heard of mullein oil before. Like the article said, it's used for ear aches and it's a common remedy for children who often have ear infections and ear pain.

I had not heard of mullein tea before but it sounds like a great tea to have when I'm down with a cold. When I have a cold, I always develop a serious cough that lasts several weeks. It's very bothersome and I'm always looking for natural remedies to soothe my sore throat and cough.

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