Everybody catches a cold and flu from time to time. Some suffer chronic respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchitis, and allergies. Mucus that collects in your nose and lungs is the body’s way of surrounding intruding viruses and irritants to keep them from travelling into the bloodstream. Expelling this extra phlegm, however, can sometimes be difficult and uncomfortable.
The mechanisms devised to rid ourselves of mucus are involuntary and sometimes inconvenient and unpleasant, sneezing and coughing through your day.
What’s Wrong with Cough Medicine
Drug stores have entire sections devoted to cough, cold, and allergy medications. These synthetic concoctions may temporarily relieve symptoms but they never cure the underlying cause.
In addition, many come with adverse side effects (1), such as:
- Allergic reaction
- Shortness of breath
Labels on these products also warn of interactions with other drugs used for conditions (2,3,4) such as:
- Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Compromised immune system
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
The Case of Asthma Medication
Asthma medications are inhaled into the lungs or taken orally in a tablet. The active ingredients are artificial corticosteroids that reduce inflammation.
Although their use is wide-spread and considered safe, the Partners Asthma Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital warns:
“When steroid tablets are taken for many months or years, harmful side effects are likely and almost inevitable. The list of possible effects is long; it includes mood changes, forgetfulness, hair loss, easy bruising, a tendency toward high blood pressure and diabetes, thinning of the bones (osteoporosis), suppression of the adrenal glands, muscle weakness, weight gain, cataracts, and glaucoma. After being swallowed, these tablets are absorbed from the stomach into the bloodstream and taken not only to the bronchial tubes (to treat asthma) but also to every other part of the body. Their effects are widespread.”(5).
Corticosteroids can cause massive amounts of damage over the course of time, including eye disease, blood sugar irregularities, headache, and ulcers (6).
Sometimes it’s hard to know which is worse, the condition or the remedy.
Herbs are part of Nature’s very own pharmacy. The entire planet is covered with a vast variety of plants from which we can choose what best suits our needs.
Some can have adverse effects on a particular individual or can be dangerous in large doses, just like the stuff in the drug store. Some herbs, for example, aren’t safe to take during pregnancy (7).
The difference between pharmaceuticals and natural cures, however, is critical. The nutrients and phytochemicals found in plants are easily and readily metabolized—they aren’t manufactured and foreign.
The Benefits Of Mullein
Mullein is considered a weed, yet like many “weeds” it has potent medicinal qualities. Other such-labelled plants like dandelion, plantain, and cannabis have enormous positive potential.
Used for ages for its medicinal properties, mullein grows in sunny, unkempt places and has fuzzy leaves and yellow flowers. Its roots, leaves, and flowers can be taken as a tea to clean and strengthen the lungs, reducing inflammation in the respiratory tract.
Infused in olive oil and applied topically, it’s also effective in treating ear aches and infections due to its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antibacterial properties (8).
Mullein has been shown to be effective against streptococci (strep throat), respiratory infections, and trichomoniasis (9, 10, 11). The weed contains saponins that are efficient expectorants. Its iridoid, flavonoid, vitamin and mineral content account for mullein’s efficacy and versatility (12,13).
Hot Tea for Excess Mucus
The heat and steam of any tea loosen phlegm and expel mucus form your respiratory tract, but mullein is one of the most effective expectorants. Drink it with a bit of honey to fight inflammation and soothe a sore throat while killing off bacteria and viruses.
- 1 ½ cups water
- 2 teaspoons mullein leaves
- 1-2 teaspoons raw, local honey (optional)
- 1 teaspoon dried spearmint (optional)
- Boil water.
- Place mullein leaves in a strainer or tea ball and steep in boiling water. (You may also place the leaves directly in the pot with the water and strain after steeping.)
- If using spearmint, steep the leaves separately from the mullein and combine the two teas just before drinking.
- Steep mullein in a covered teapot or saucepan for 15 minutes.
- Add honey to taste and drink hot.