Mullein tea is a flavorful beverage that has been used for centuries to treat various ailments, including chronic coughs, colds, and asthma.
It has a rich, aromatic taste and is made from the leaves of the common mullein (Verbascum thapsus), a flowering plant native to Europe, Africa, and Asia.
This article examines mullein tea’s uses, benefits, and side effects — and tells you how to make it.
Potential benefits and uses of mullein tea
Mullein tea has been linked to several potential health benefits.
Mullein tea may treat respiratory conditions
Mullein has been used for thousands of years to treat respiratory conditions.
It may be especially effective at relieving asthma, which causes your airway to swell and results in symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
Animal and human research suggest that mullein tea reduces inflammation, helping relax the muscles in your respiratory tract.
The flowers and leaves of the plant are also used to treat other respiratory ailments, such as tuberculosis, bronchitis, tonsillitis, and pneumonia. However, no human research has studied whether mullein combats these conditions.
Mullein tea may help fight viral infections
Some test-tube studies suggest that mullein may possess powerful antiviral properties.
For instance, one test-tube study analyzed several medicinal herbs and found that mullein extract was particularly effective against the influenza virus.
Other test-tube studies show that mullein extract may also fight pseudorabies, a virus in the herpes family.
Nonetheless, human research is needed.
Mullein tea possesses antibacterial properties
Mullein tea may offer antibacterial effects as well.
One test-tube study found that mullein extract inhibited several strains of bacteria, including Bacillus cereus, which commonly occurs in soil and food.
Another test-tube study noted that mullein extract reduced the growth of certain bacteria that cause infections, such as E. coli and Streptococcus pyogenes.
Although limited human research is available, one study in 180 children indicated that this herb may treat ear infections often caused by bacteria.
This 3-day study, which used ear drops containing mullein and several other herbal extracts three times daily, reduced ear pain by 93%, on average. However, whether this effect was due to mullein extract versus other herbs used in the ear drops is unclear.
Thus, additional human research is needed.
Summary: Mullein may have antiviral and antibacterial properties and help treat certain respiratory conditions. However, further studies are necessary.
Potential side effects of mullein tea
Most people can enjoy mullein tea safely with minimal risk of adverse effects.
Yet, the mullein plant may cause skin irritation for some people, so be sure to exercise caution if you’re handling the herb directly.
The plant’s tiny hairs can also irritate your throat, so it’s important to strain this tea thoroughly before drinking it.
Additionally, no research is available on mullein tea’s safety for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Thus, these populations should consult a healthcare professional before using it.
If you notice any negative side effects after drinking this tea, consider reducing your intake or avoiding it.
Summary: Mullein tea is widely considered safe and has few side effects. Still, you should strain your tea properly and exercise caution if handling the herb directly to prevent skin irritation.
How to make mullein tea
You can find prepackaged mullein tea bags, extracts, capsules, tinctures, and dried leaves at many health stores and online.
Suggested read: Turmeric and ginger: Combined benefits and uses
Moreover, many people grow mullein in their gardens and dry the leaves on their own.
To make the tea with dried leaves, add a small handful of them to an 8-ounce (240-ml) cup of boiling water, then steep them for 15–30 minutes. To prevent throat irritation, use a strainer or cheesecloth to remove as many leaves as possible.
You can add raw honey, cinnamon, or a lemon wedge if you desire.
Summary: Mullein tea is easy to make with dried leaves or a teabag, though you should be sure to strain the leaves.
Mullein tea is made from the leaves of the mullein plant.
Although human research is limited, test-tube studies suggest that it may relieve certain respiratory conditions, such as asthma, and even fight viruses and bacteria.
This flavorful tea is easy to make at home and associated with very few side effects.