Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mullein Tea

I did a post a while back about how much I like the mullein plant in my garden. Now I want to tell you another thing that makes this plant great: mullein is herbal medicine as well. It's main use over its history is for lung ailments, such as bronchitis and even tuberculosis, but has also been used to make treatment oils for earaches and infections.

I have collected the leaves of some of the mullein in my garden for the last two years, because every year, guaranteed, I will get bronchitis. And nothing will touch it and it will go on for over a month, unless I start treating it aggressively. Once I began using mullein, I noticed a drastic reduction in the length of time it took for my bronchitis to go away.

Well, the inevitable has happened and I am currently facing a brewing case of bronchitis. So, mullein to the rescue! I have a jar of leaves that I dried this spring (very easy to dry - just pick them, lay them on a cookie sheet for a few weeks until they are crispy instead of leathery, then pack them into a sealed jar for storage). For lung ailments, you drink a tea made of these leaves, and the flowers if you have them. The flowers are actually more potent, but hard to store. Also beware, the seeds of the mullein are toxic. I'm not sure what they do, but it is best to avoid them.
For the tea, I crush the dried leaves into a coffee filter. You have to be very careful not get any of the leaves outside the filter as mullein leaves have tiny hairs that can irritate the mucus membranes.
I tie off the filter with a plastic twist tie that I re-use for this purpose and steep the bag in boiling water for at least 5 minutes to ensure a good potency. Other sites suggest at least 10 minutes, but, eh.
The tea ends up looking like chicken broth, and you know what? It is delicious! It tastes like wildflowers and honey. If you get a chance to use the flowers, it is even better. But, you are only supposed to drink a cup every few hours. I make my tea more potent than what some sites have suggested, using a couple tablespoons per cup vs teaspoons per cup.

I also sweeten it with local honey if I have it, because honey has its own herbal properties that enhance the work of the mullein. If I don't have honey, I use dark brown sugar, because I like it and it melds well with the mullein flavors.

I drink a cup or so immediately and save the rest for later in the day. To this batch I have even added a little dried Creeping Charlie. Yep, Creeping Charlie, the bane of my garden, just happens to be quite an amazing little herbal remedy itself! Among its laundry list of remedy potential is decongestant. Just what I need! I started collecting it this spring after reading what it can do. It also is fairly tasty and blends well with the mullein flavors.

And you know the best part of all this? These medicines are FREE! Most of us throw these medicines away every year as we weed our gardens and don't even realize it. I am spending part of my winter researching other potential remedies that I can collect next year with my son and a friend that is also into herbal remedies. Let me know of any that you know of, especially ones that you have used yourself!

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