The common weed mullein is a great natural decongestant, especially for winter weather.
Natural Decongestant for Winter
We have had our first snowfall here in Ohio and lucky me, I had a lot of work that kept me warm and indoors. My children were another story and spent most of the day outside. While I watched them play I packaged herbs for my apprentice class that will be starting next weekend.
Beyond the long hours of standing required to package 69 pounds of dried plants into one ounce increments, there is the occasional dried herb that I just hate to handle. My husband volunteered to help me with the job and I shamelessly bribed him specifically into packaging the mullein for me. He abandoned me shortly after her got the bags done and was off trying to scrub the irritating hairs off his skin. Ironically, he left me to hang fiberglass insulation in the garage because it will cause less discomfort.
It’s very appropriate to be thinking about mullein with this turn in the weather. There will be quite a few people caught underdressed this week. I was out last night in a long sleeve shirt and sweat shirt. For those of us foolish enough to continue to deny the season, I would anticipate a return of the congested cough and mullein will be there to help.
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
This common weed has very furry leaves and is most notable for the tall candelabra of yellow flowers it sends up above its grassy neighbors. It is a biennial, which means you will see a low rosette of fuzzy leaves the first year before it produces its telltale flower stalks. You may even now be able to see where next year’s babies will be if you look across a field and see the dead brown stalks standing in the snow. Many people are accustomed to using the flowers for ear infections and are surprised to find that the leaves have much to give us as well.
Mullein leaves are expectorant (expel mucus), demulcent (mucilagenous and soothing), diuretic (help to move water out of the body through the kidneys), sedative (a relaxant in the nervous system) and vulnerary (encourages skin knitting).
This plant has a special affinity for the respiratory system. It has the ability to expel trapped mucus while soothing inflamed soft tissue membranes making it important for use with any type of cough, congestion, and hoarseness from a variety of aillments.
I love to add dried mullein leaf to my cough and cold teas. It’s funny to me that I scheme to avoid touching it. As irritating as it is on my hands and arms it is that soothing to my lungs.
My kids came in after an hour of play in a pretty stiff wind. I’ve set aside some of the mullein my husband didn’t put into bags and I think I’ll whip up some warm tea. I heard a couple coughs as they adjusted to the warm air in the house. It definitely won’t hurt to head off problems before we have them. Here’s the tea I’m making today:
Mullein Decongestant and Cough Tea
- 1 part mullein leaves (find organic dried mullein leaves here)
- 1 part raspberry leaf (find organic dried raspberry leaves here)
- 1 part peppermint leaf (find organic dried peppermint leaves here)
- ½ part ginger
- Boil water and remove from heat. Add 2-3 tsp per cup or 3-4 Tbsp per quart of water.
- Cover and steep for 10-15 minutes.
- Add a dollop of honey and enjoy.