Sporting soft, thick leaves, mullein is best described as a wildflower that originally blossomed through Europe and Asia, after which it was brought to North America where it grows now as well. Primarily used to treat diarrhea, respiratory diseases, and hemorrhoids, the mullein flower is comprised of close to 400 species of plant, most of which have clusters of miniature yellow flowers used for centuries in medicine.
Mullein could help you maintain a healthy respiratory system. Its leaves and flowers are considered”expectorants,” meaning they could help bring up mucus (many over-the-counter cough medicines have this effect) and are also “demulcents,” meaning they could soothe the irritated membranes. The plant has many other qualities as well, all of which combine to make mullein a fairly good remedy for your respiratory system — and, thus, common ailments such as the cold, flu, or mild bronchitis. The only downside, if you look at it in a negative light, is that medical science hasn’t explored this plant much so there is little clinical evidence to back up the claims supported by traditional herbalists.
Mullein contains many healthful ingredients: flavonoids, mucilage, saponins, tannins, and volatile oils. While that may not mean a lot to you, it means a lot to the herb’s effectiveness. It is the “mucilaginous” parts that are believed responsible for its soothing effects on your mucus membranes. Mucilage is basically large sugar molecules. Its the saponins that act as expectorants. Mullein wont lead to immediate, dramatic results with your flu, but it could certainly expedite your recovery from the virus. In the past, it’s been used to treat the common cold, cough, sore throats, asthma, pneumonia, and bronchitis.
Perhaps the most popular way of using mullein is steeping one to two teaspoons of dried leaves and flowers in a cup of tea for 10 to 15 minutes. Three cups a day could promote some healing and soothing actions on your lungs and mucus membranes. It’s also available in extract and tincture forms — ask your pharmacist or doctor about these. Side effects are rare, although since it hasn’t been tested in young children, pregnant women, or those with kidney or liver disease, it’s unadvisable for mullein to be used for these people.
Despite a lack of clinical research, you can rest somewhat assured in that mullein is recognized by the U.S. FDA, appearing on its “GRAS” list. That stands for “generally recognized as safe” when used by humans. And since not many people know of it, or know that mullein tea could act in the aforementioned ways, consider yourself in the know!